The artwork of Michael Kraus is a melding of his intense interest in history with an accomplished, refined talent for rendering three dimensional pieces. Kraus is well known and respected in both the historical and artistic communities. Being able to fuse the two world's together gives the artist a unique niche, which continues to garner accolades in both communities.
Through the body of work pictured on these pages you will see how the artist easily moves through stone or bronze with an eye that can capture elements from realistic sharp focus detail, to subtle surface texture manipulation. The artist exhaustingly researches his projects (see the Strong Vincent monument for example) to the point where clothing seam lines, stitching patterns, buttons, insignia, and accoutrements seen on the figure are historically accurate. The medium of lost wax, hot cast bronze allows for every nuance of Kraus's skillfully rendered clay surfaces to be translated into metal.
Kraus's stonework technique is influenced by the unfinished work of the master Michelangelo. Strong bold chisel marks give power and direction to each piece. The artist is also intrigued by the many unknown folk artists of the 19th century who left their anonymous pieces around the country. Michael's' stone pieces range from garden ornamentation, to unique cemetery monuments, to larger than life size figural work.
Michael has always been a student, and collector of history, particularly the Civil War. Kraus became familiar with the story of Strong Vincent while an art student at Edinboro University, near Vincent's' hometown of Waterford, Pa. Famous for his brilliant defense of Little Round Top during the battle of Gettysburg, where he was mortally wounded, Vincent was never honored with a monument.
A committee was formed in Erie in 1995 to honor the local hero with a long overdue statue. For Kraus this was a dream come true commission. Working with the committee, a pose was adopted showing Vincent in command at a critical point in the battle moments before he was struck in the hip by a confederate bullet.
Every detail of the Colonel's uniform can be seen. Kraus drew upon his personal collection of Civil War antiques and other reference material to make the details historically accurate. That, coupled with a very lifelike portrait makes the figure appear almost as if it could walk right off the pedestal and continue the battle. The statue was dedicated in September 1997 in front of a large crowd, and has received rave reviews.
The Original monument to Civil War veterans was dedicated in 1881 on the Town Square. It proudly stood there until 1976, when it was dropped in an attempt to relocate it to the other side of the square. The old white metal statue fractured into many pieces. The remnants of the piece were also nearly destroyed except for the efforts of Keith Metcalf, a local citizen, who stored the parts in his barn for 20 years.
Michael Kraus was given the job to restore the statue, so it could again be placed on its' worthy pedestal, which remained on the square devoid of the original. Kraus determined that the original piece was too badly damaged in the fall. The hands were completely missing as well as major areas of the coat and pants.
What was left of the original was welded together and Kraus used it as an armature to construct and resculpt missing parts in clay. A uniform surface was developed to unite old and new, then molds made from the reconstruction. Once the molds were taken a bronze copy was cast and the soldier was ready to be reinstalled on his place of honor.
Additional castings from this mold are available for sale, with proceeds donated to the McLaughlin Post of Son's of Union Veterans, Mansfield, Ohio. It was the SUV post, which raised the capitol for the restoration.
Carved from a single piece of gray Berea sandstone weighing 5500 lbs., this piece was completed and installed in 1999. It was commissioned by a developer as an entry piece to a newly developed shopping center called Sentinel Square. The charming town of LaGrange, Ohio has a quaint feeling with its' early 19th century architecture.
Sentinel Square has employed the elements found in town and added the sentry to enhance the feeling of a small town square. Kraus chose the historical figure of a Mexican War U.S. soldier of 1848 to carve in stone. This may be the only monument in the country to a common soldier of the Mexican War era.
Commissioned by the Westfield Companies agents as a gift to the corporation. The insurance company once known as Ohio Farmers Insurance has been in continual business since 1848. In the 1870's the logo of the Old Man on the Fence was adopted by the company and has been in use since that time. Kraus was commissioned to render the "old man" in 1995. The artist used the original 1870 version of the logo and brought the old man to life in 3 dimension. The statue can be seen in front of corporate headquarters in Westfield, Ohio.
Temple Ohav Shalom design committee and Dan Rothschild, architect, used the talents and energy of Michael Kraus to create this striking sanctuary. The back walls are two stone half circles, the shorter one-positioned 3 feet in front of the rear to accommodate the cabinet, which houses the Torah scrolls. The stones were individually hands cut and faced, by the artist, to resemble stones from the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The tablets on the front wall are solid bronze, weighing 300 lbs. each.
Kraus was interested in finding a different layout for the wording of the Hebrew text for the Ten Commandments. In an obscure book about Polish wooden synagogues destroyed in the Holocaust, Kraus found an out of focus photo of an interior from Suchawola showing a very small, but individual layout for the text. By rendering this lost example, the artist was able to subtly incorporate a holocaust tribute into the sanctuary.
One of the most personal and collaborative pieces an artist can do is a unique tombstone monument. This granite monument was made for, and with, a deceased child's family. The image is that of a severed tree, an allegory for life cut short. In the branch of the tree is cradled a dove, symbol of peace. The inscription was placed on top of the stone, which draws the viewer close in order to read the name and verse. It is an intensely personal and gratifying memorial.
Works of art can be commissioned from concept with a client. In this manner the artist and client produce a collaborative piece, which has strong appeal and gratification. Contact information can be found below.
1040 W. Ingomar Rd.