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at the Krasl Art Center St. Joseph, Michigan
By Todd Camplin

I was traveling around southwestern Michigan this week when I came across the Krasl
Art Center in St. Joseph. The art center overlooks Lake Michigan along with several
other tourist spots. Although parking around town was a bit of a pain, the art center
provided a space and even let me stay there for a bit to walk around and see their
sculptures near the center. I was reminded of the Art on Henderson project in Dallas.
The twenty-one sculptures were installed in five locations in St. Joseph and Benton
Harbor, but what was really interesting were the models displayed in the art center.
Each sculpture had a corresponding prototype of the work inside. So ideas were
displayed at the center, while execution of those ideas were outside.
The art center had two main galleries that flowed into one another. One side had the Sculpture
Biennial with the models, but the other side had the works by Ray Katz. Katz received an MFA
from Wayne State University in Sculpture back in 1968. It is clear from his sculptures that
craftsmanship of his objects has become precise, while maintaining a little evidence of his
process.  His show had simple shapes combined into a complex sculpture. I say simple, but
really these are formal elements of thick straight lines, circles, squares, triangles, and curved
lines. He even employed a spring shape in a few works. Then he combined them together to
make interesting shapes that made you look around at every angle. Many works were small
enough to look a little above. Also, much of the works were brushed aluminum which made
the surface quite attractive. One sculpture titled Stargazer was a collection of shapes
overlapping and then framed by a square with a cut out circle. My children enjoyed
pointing out the shapes while I enjoyed the clean simplicity of Katz’s composition.
Installation View

Installation View
He also had large drawings that reflected his ideas in the sculptural works.  Somehow, his
drawings made his sculptures all the more interesting. His drawing style was loose in his
shading and highlights, but tight around his objects. The drawings also helped tie with
the Sculptural biennial. I find any concept work paired with product strengthens both
works. However, in Katz case, the the sculptures and drawings were both finished
products in their own right.
The Sculpture Biennial includes works by: Carl Billingsley, Jan Dean, Darrin Hallowell, Brent Harris,
Suzanne Horwitz, Indira Johnson, Terrence Karpowicz, Tuck Langland, Travis Lanning, Albert
Installation View
Installation View
The outdoor sculptures will be on display through September 2017. Ray Katz’s show titled Genesis
will be up through June 26th. Both shows are at the Krasl Art Center in St. Joseph, Michigan.
Even if you are going to visit Chicago, I encourage you to wander your way around the
bottom of Lake Michigan into the state of Michigan. Your excursion will be well rewarded
if you are a sculpture fan.  
Krasl Art Center
707 Lake Blvd, St Joseph, MI 49085