Oh, well, how to start? or better yet, where to start?
I know, by simply stating the obvious: my perception of Mayme. Let me describe little by little how this cover picture and new image of this great artist happened and how the story unfolded.
The magazine cover.
A recent afternoon, I received a call from Mr. Robert Sentinery, editor and publisher of JAVA magazine (a local magazine dedicated to covering and promoting the local art, cuisine, artists and culture of Phoenix) asking me a simply question. The message on the voicemail asked, ” Oscar, I am giving contemporary plastic artist Ms. Mayme Kratz the next cover of our magazine, and we will have an article on her as well. I know you two are good friends and you have collaborated in the past with her image and some other projects. Do you have any input about this cover and the photoshoot?”
I simply stood back and thought, “What? Me? Say something about that? I have everything to say about it! And I have been waiting for this opportunity for a long time…”
Why?, Well, my relationship with Mayme goes way back.
Perhaps, further than she ever expected. I was given the opportunity to talk about Mayme and her art during a presentation at SMoCA (Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art) when the curator was not able to appear due to health reasons. This evening was scripted by our program coordinator for the SMoCA Lounge, Ms. Tania Katan – and it was a distinctive event. This was the second round of the event called Wrestling for Art, a unique idea to create a program to benefit the museum, while creating a nightlife event inside the Lounge. The idea behind the very fun evening was to win an arm wrestling contest and the prize was a piece of art – and this particular evening, the art piece was by my Mayme.
Part of the evening’s usual schedule includes a preliminary introduction of the artist of the evening – and since I was a last minute replacement, I had to use a set of slides for my talk which had been prepped for the curator.
But even with a script I did not prepare, I knew what to say, which tone and what sequence, and the best of my rhetoric got a rehearsal eight hours prior the engagement. Unfortunately, my talk had to be cut short, since it was not the main purpose of the evening – I had only a certain amount of time to address the crowd, present the art and get them excited about the artist, as well as the art and the winning piece. But I had to end the talk prematurely, which left me feeling incomplete. I had so much more to cover in terms of definition, scale, study of color, transparency, gravity of elements and so many other subjects I have studied secretly about Mayme’s art.
I always had the idea to get to talk about Mayme somehow. So, the day I received that voicemail from Robert, I knew I had a responsibility to carry out this vision.
When I got back with Mr. Sentinery, I was told that the scheduled photographer for the shoot with Mayme was Mr. Chris Loomis, and my artistic heart grinned from ear to ear. What an opportunity! To pair my favorite artist along with the photographer which I had the pleasure to collaborate with previously in some other artistic projects, who is also a photographer with whom I have a tremendous aesthetic affinity – made for the potential for a great formula.
As I always do (and probably more so for this occasion), I visited Mayme in her studio,and sat for what I call “the vision”, which is an analysis of how she sees herself. What message did she want people to perceive of her? What specifically did she want to highlight out of her personality? How did she want to be portrayed?
We both have a passion for the ability some artists have to portray themselves within their art, within their pieces, inside their pieces, living with them, wearing them, be part of them. That conversation took place long ago while hiking and I took some pictures of her within the environment – which in the end – is part of her media. The artist that came to mind for both of us as we discussed the concept was the very rebellious French-American artist Ms. Louise Bourgeois.
So, that was our inspiration, and so I sketched some ideas and Mayme and I agreed originally on three very specific ideas. And in contrast to some other subjects of shoots, the production was easy – very easy – our discussion had no conflict as somehow we share an artistic connection. Once I presented the concept to Mr. Loomis, he understood and shared more and more ideas, so the combination was one needed and wanted.
So, on a Sunday afternoon and accompanied by soft euro-chill music, the five hour photoshoot took place. (Below are some of the photos from that day, and while some made it to the printed edition, this blog contains some remarkable shots that were never published.)
Her hair was a key factor in the shoot, as I always loved her curls and my direction to Ms. Louise Jay were very specific in terms of volume, shine and expression needed to surround her energy.
Nesting: I wanted to include Mayme’s art in the shots, as part of her reality. Prior to the shoot, I had asked if she could make a necklace made out of her signature birds nests, and I wanted to have different light exposures to highlight the elements along with, as well as independently from the artist. The technique of “chiaroscuro” was one I wanted to produce, so Mr. Loomis and I myself looked for the right background needed to create that effect.
And I had also requested to have at least one little nest to use as a headpiece.
Wearable: The curved metal seed pods frame she had designed sometime ago, were perfect for a vest.
Creations: She has a series of jewelry pieces produced from her “Tumbleweed Bower” installation, and I wanted her to use them as part of the original plan of wearing your art. Below is a bracelet she made, and in the pictures above, she is wearing the matching earrings.
Art and Person: As part of the inclusion of here art with her presence, I also requested one of her large pieces to use as a canvas on the floor – and place Mayme as the center object.
Cover shot: Since the magazine for these shots has a square format, and the moment I saw this piece – I knew it would be perfect for the cover.
Thank you, my Mayme for allowing me to create that vision we both shared. Thank you, Mr. Robert Sentinery for the opportunity. Thank you, Mr. Chris Loomis for your talents. Thank you to Ms. Louise Jay for your MUA abilities. And thank you, Ms. Irma Deihl for your positive, precise and dedicated assistance.
A great team!
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