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Mark Klett
Lisa Sette Gallery, Phoenix, Arizona
Recommendation by Deborah Ross

Mark Klett, "Saguaro Lit by Headlamp with Moon," 2016, inkjet print, 46.5" x 35." Edition of 20. Courtesy of Lisa Sette Gallery

Continuing through October 29, 2016

Over the years, Mark Klett, as one of Arizona’s best-known landscape photographers, has created a series of black-and-white portraits of lone saguaros called “Desert Citizen.” The title implies a profound respect for these hardy, statuesque cactuses, and they are true citizens of the Southwestern desert, with a virtually sovereign right to the land just as surely as the encroaching human inhabitants. Klett presents a new “Saguaros” series, this time in color, which continues the theme. The individuality of the sentinels is striking, their arms outstretched or twisting. Very little distracts the eye from the plant except a parched desert floor, a mountain backdrop and a vast sky. “Saguaro Lit by Headlamp with Moon,” a tranquil night scene, is an example of Klett’s “tread lightly” philosophy.

Klett’s respect for the desert is also illustrated in a gallery wall dedicated to “Sunrise Sticks,” an array of 100 found wood sticks incorporating discarded objects. They are part whimsy and part tribute to indigenous cultures. Each stick becomes sceptre-like when decoratively carved and adorned with found objects from Klett’s group camping trips, things like rusty metal lids, bottle caps, cactus spines and tortoise shells. Another standout is a powerful political commentary titled “Fence Separating the US/Mexico Border South of the Gila Mountains, May 2015” in which a small section of steel fence is dug into an isolated gully, marking an official border-crossing deterrent where none is needed.

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