The photographs of Mark Klett are consummate depictions of the untamable, immeasurable Western horizon as it intersects with our human experience of light, landscapes, and time. For nearly four decades Klett has documented the demanding environments and idiosyncrasies of life in the Southwest.
In his latest exhibition at Lisa Sette Gallery, Klett showcases his mastery of the medium in his new color “Saguaros” imagery, a series related to his “Desert Citizen” black and white photographs originally conceived as saguaro portraits.
Although the saguaro is seen as an emblem for the Southwest, it is truly a unique species confined to the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, Sonora, Mexico, and part of California. The hardy saguaro soaks up water and stores it to consume slowly, especially in times of drought - with a sense of survival and human-like ingenuity engrained within its spines.
Klett says, “The saguaro cactus is the icon of the Sonoran Desert...Individual cactus may grow as tall as nearly 40 feet and live over 200 years. For centuries desert people have considered saguaros to be the souls of lost ancestors. Their longevity marks time on a larger than human scale.”
Also featured in the exhibition will be a spectacular 30-foot wall expanse of hand-made “artifacts” by the artist. Each piece is a physical representation of a specific desert camping trip, used to predict light, mark time, and commemorate human experience:
“These sticks are used in the “Sunrise Stick Game.” I often play this game with traveling companions while on camping trips throughout the West. The game was invented as a way to settle campfire arguments about where the sun would rise in the morning (a subject of interest to landscape photographers). At night a circle about six feet in diameter is scraped into the ground and a stick is placed in the center. Players then put markers onto the circle in the exact spot they think the sun will cast the first shadow of the stick in the morning.”
Klett began making these sticks in the late 1990s and has made them on almost every trip to the present. The early sticks used in the game were discarded. But over time he began to carve them by the light of the campfire and adorn them with objects found during the day. Each stick represents a unique location and experience. Almost all the sticks make some kind of reference to the history of the land visited and the stories of the journey.
Klett has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Buhl Foundation, and the Japan/US Friendship Commission. His work has been exhibited and published in the United States and internationally for over thirty-five years, and his work is held in over eighty museum collections worldwide such as the Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Center for Creative Photography, Tucson; the International Center of Photography, New York; the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others.
He is the author/co-author of fifteen books including Camino del Diablo (Radius Books 2016), Reconstructing the View: the Grand Canyon Photographs of Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe (University of California Press 2012), The Half Life of History, and Saguaros (Radius Press 2011 and 2007), After the Ruins (University of California Press 2006), Yosemite in Time (Trinity University Press, 2005), Third Views, Second Sights (Museum of New Mexico Press 2004), Revealing Territory (University of New Mexico Press, 1990), and Second View, the Rephotographic Survey Project (University of New Mexico Press, 1984). Klett lives in Tempe, Arizona where he is Regents’ Professor of Art at Arizona State University.
The opening reception with Mark Klett will be held on Saturday, September 17, 2016 from 7:00 - 9:00pm
407 E. Roosevelt St. / +16024625516 / modifiedarts.org Fri 6pm to 9pm, Sat 12pm to 4pm
Modified Arts seeks to present conceptually rigorous work in all genres of art including painting, drawing, printmaking, video, installation