Marjorie Claus received her first commission to create a piece of artwork at age 13, a Chinese brush painting of a horse, and horses have figured prominently in her work ever since, as has batik.
The Prescott Valley resident had worked in batik even before traveling to Indonesia and Singapore to fully explore the wax resist dye process. She taught art for four years in the Singapore American School, spending a total of six years in Singapore and a year and a half in Indonesia.
Her background working in batik has led to a recent exploration in mixing fabric and acrylic paints, Claus said. All but one of her five pieces now showing at Raven Café in Prescott use fabric as part of the artwork.
"I've been drawing ever since can I remember - at age 5," she said. "I've always had an interest in art."
Others recommended she go into teaching, but Claus studied and received her degree in art, figuring she could go back and earn a master's to teach. In addition to teaching grades K-8 students in Singapore, she has taught batik classes through Yavapai College.
From Singapore, she moved to Hawaii and made a living selling her artwork for six years. Around 1989, she moved to Washington State and continued making and selling art, and enjoying her horses and Jennifer the mule, until moving to Prescott in 2003, and later to Prescott Valley. For many artists, marketing their work is the least enjoyable part of their career. Not so with Claus.
"I really love selling my art, to share it with people like that. I love people, which is one reason I love my job here. I help people every day," she said about her job at Michael's Store as frame shop manager. "It's a reward for me when someone says, 'Wow, that's neat. How did you do that?' I just love it."
Why come to Prescott? "Because it wasn't Phoenix. It was in the mountains and cooler. It was a smaller town, and had a huge art community," she said.
She has one print hanging in Raven Café, a digital collage that has received some comments, but not near what Claus would like to hear to start a discussion about what's out there in the universe, or the omniverse, as she calls it.
She created the print by painting the background in reds, oranges and green, then brought in images of galloping horses and a cowboy. In the upper right corner hovers a spaceship.
"It's not just my sense of humor. I'm not really making fun of it. I want people to realize we are not the only people in the omniverse," she said, then explained, "Universe means one, and there's more than one. If creation is so huge, it stands to reason that we are not the only living, breathing creatures. That's what excites me. I'd like to start a dialogue by having the picture there."
Claus also has smaller pieces of her artwork for sale at Miller Valley Indoor Art Market and the Jerome Artists Cooperative Gallery. The Raven Café exhibit continues through Oct. 7.