Home is where the art is

Metal sculptor and welder Irv Kranzler is turning his home into a work of art.

A home by definition is “a place where one lives permanently”. This definition, though succinct and decisive, leaves room for the imagination. We have all heard the kindred phrases, “home is where the heart is” or “home is where my family is” so as to remove the limits of one potential building. Lots of people have given their home wheels to test the boundaries of permanence. Friends may reside with friends in a complex and call that shared space “home.” The creative capacity of the human brain and the spectrum of human emotion compel us to restructure the word “home” to more suitably describe our lives. Anyone who has a home, no matter its shape or size, has one common denominator: their guest’s perspective.

If you think back to the first time you stepped into someone else’s home, undoubtedly your first inclination was to look around, observe and even study the layout and its components. The wallpaper, the lighting, the smells, the temperature, the decorative collaboration, all the resounding characteristics the homeowners use to define their space. Those first shuffled steps in someone else’s safe place are almost holy; like you’ve been invited in on their secret sanctuary. This is exactly the feeling that exists in lrvin Kranzler’s home on the hill overlooking Navajo Mountain in Greenehaven, Ariz.

Kranzler, a resident of Greenehaven for 29 years this March, is a geologist, a general contractor and unbeknownst to him; an artist. “Art”, like that of the word “home”, dwells in the subjective realm; lacking in a concrete and definitive quantification. The beauty of the subjectivity of “art” and “home” is its ability to inspire. Through this inspiration, Kranzler found art in an unlikely arena.

In 1975, while living in Montana with his wife, Kranzler consulted with many companies on drilling rigs in light of his background in geology.

“I observed that welders were like artists,” he said. “They could always bend and bow things to fit together perfectly. And I knew that I was neither an artist nor a welder. But I thought I might like to do that.”

For many consecutive Decembers, Kranzler and his wife would make the trip from Montana through Page. Kranzler taught a lecture series for the National Forest Service field school in Tucson, Ariz. Kranzler and his wife shared a thrill for their December drives and admired the landscape that surrounded Page.
“When the oil business died in 1986, me and my wife came down and were deciding where we should live,” he said. “At some point we looked at each other and wondered why we would look anywhere else to live than right next to the lake.”

Once the decision had been made, Kranzler began designing and therein building the entirety of his home.

“I designed this house. I was the general contractor for building it….and guess what? It’s still standing!” Kranzler said.

The design of his home emanates a humility and simplicity that allows his steel sculptures to do the talking. From glass top tables and woven lamps to weathervanes and figurines, Kranzler’s home is filled with his steel welding accomplishments.

The tedious, time consuming welds are assembled with thin steel (for flexibility) obtained from Page Steel. He uses an arc welder or an oxygen acetylene (torch devices) along with his keen eye to produce heat to bend the steel and create his crafts.

While some of sculptures were created for function, the majority of his work is sheer eye candy. Lining the top of the exterior wall, which is facing the view of Lake Powell, is a festive panorama of an interpretation of the Navajo people clothed in authentic tribal attire. The opposing wall shares the story of what Kranzler has coined “the bartender and his girlfriend” depicted by two back sides, one male and one female, standing next to one another clothed in Old Western garb, conveniently hung above a bar-like cabinet.

To Kranzler, his art is priceless. He has no plans to sell any of his artwork, only to enjoy them. However, his steel sculptures do more than bring him joy; they bring light to a different interpretation of the land and people of this canyon country. We know the beautiful and popular burnt red and turquoise paintings of the mesa and the authenticity and culture of the Kachina dolls. What we don’t often see are more structured and industrial interpretations of this rich culture that can be observed in welded steel sculptures.

It’s uncommon to hear a man’s story of how his drilling rig environment inspired him to learn an artform that he then used to detail his entire home.
His story is inspiring. The inside and outside of his residence is freckled with gold and silver spray painted steel sculptures. This is what gives Kranzler’s home its voice and its timelessness. Just as Kranzler’s art gives definition to his home, his home on the mesa gives definition to the land. It is just as refreshing to know that there are northern Arizona residents who preserve the history of this culture’s integrity through the galleries in their homes as it is that there are endless artistic ways to interpret this land.


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