Progressing slowly from tractors to fine art
Art scene Local man explores the artistic side of metal, utilizes scraps to create fine abstract works
Metal working has been something Joshua Kraus has done all his life. Since about 9 or 10, his father taught him how to weld on tractors in Rupert, Idaho a small farming town of 5,000 in the southern part of the state.
Now 34, he works for Solid Form Fabrication in Newberg, one of two jobs he found accidentally.
When we lived in Portland me and my wife wanted to move out to the country so we looked for three or four years. We would just go out for a drive around the country looking for houses for sale and we came over this hill in Canby and heres this parking lot just full of these beautiful stainless steel tanks and I said, I want to work there, Kraus said.
Two days later he was interviewed at JVNW, Inc. and hired.
Seven years later, he was looking on Craigslist and discovered an opening at Solid Form which specializes in more artistic pieces instead of the tanks he was used to dealing with.
All the tanks were all different, but the whole process is the same. They get put together the same, welded the same, polished the same. I got bored the last few years, he said. I was looking for something more diverse. At this place Im working on something different everyday almost. Its a perfect fit.
His current position allows him to be more artistic in his everyday work, but also supports his artistic side during his free time. Kraus had his first gallery showing in October at Artisanal Wine Cellars. Although he said he didnt sell any pieces, he got a lot of great feedback and is planning his next showing for the summer in Carlton.
A lot of other stuff Ive sold in the past is from word of mouth, he said. Ive built a lot of kitchen hood vents instead of normal ones, fancy copper ones with crazy polish designs on them.
But most of his art pieces are abstract.
I dont start out with a plan. Most places I work have a scrap dumpster. I look in there from time to time, he said.
For example, take a giant eye he made out of metal. He said after a dome was made the wrong size, it was cut down to make a smaller one, leaving two curved pieces perfect for the outline of an eye.
Most of it is just stuff I stumble across. I kind of get an idea, That would make one of these, Kraus said.
A second piece he has is more abstract, and much smaller in size, spanning about 18 inches and 12 inches tall.
This one started from something we made for the fire department for Canby and had a bunch of extra pieces leftover, he said. I just kind of took a plasma cutter, cut designs into it then found a saw blade in the garbage and twisted around it for some texture and then at that point it looked too bland, so I found some mirrored stainless steel and cut that.
Although he said he thinks its a little too busy, he said people seem to like it.
But this craft is something hes still perfecting with each piece.
Ive been doing this stuff for six or seven years now. More of it lately because Ive gained a lot more experience working with metal, a finer experience (anyway). Theres a difference between welding on a tractor and building stuff for multi-million-dollar houses, he said. Theres a lot more quality and attention to detail. (My art) is easier and more refined. It doesnt look like some high school kid made it.
Kraus doesnt have a website up and running yet for his work, but he utilizes Facebook to showcase pieces he has available and get feedback. To view more of his work or to purchase a piece, visit www.facebook.com/joshua.t.kraus.