Pamela Kraft, 77, Dies; Arts Magnet and Champion of Indigenous Rights

Pamela Kraft, 77, Dies; Arts Magnet and Champion of Indigenous Rights


In 2012, the NGO Committee on Spirituality, Values and Global Concerns recognized her efforts, awarding her its “Spirit of the U.N.” award.

Influenced by the shamanic teachings of Carlos Castaneda and others, her activism could veer toward the mystical, which somehow seemed appropriate, given Ms. Kraft’s interests in all things magical and colorful growing up.

Pamela Ann Kraft was born on Oct. 31, 1943, in Dover, N.J., to William Kraft, an Army veteran who worked at Picatinny Arsenal in Wharton, N.J., and Ida Kraft, a homemaker. As a child, Pamela loved making art and taking flights of fancy — she used to say that she believed her mother and aunts had been witches in a previous life.

Her creative interests led her to study fine art at Douglass College, a women’s college affiliated with Rutgers University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in fine art in 1965.

At Douglass, Ms. Kraft became a friend and muse to the artist Robert Watts, a professor there who introduced her to Fluxus, the international anti-art movement that balanced a revolutionary ethos with a spirit of cheeky fun and that attracted such artists as George Brecht, Nam June Paik, and Yoko Ono. Ms. Kraft appeared in multiple film and photography projects by Mr. Watts, including “89 Movies (Unfinished)” (1965), which was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in 1970.

Before long, Ms. Kraft made her way to New York City, settling in a spacious loft on West 28th Street in Manhattan’s flower district and working as a waitress at Max’s, a star-studded nexus of the city’s rock and art scenes.

“That first time I walked into Max’s it was like a strange dream of the most wonderful people that you loved in the art world all sitting in the same restaurant,” Ms. Kraft was quoted saying in the 1998 book “High on Rebellion: Inside the Underground at Max’s Kansas City,” by Yvonne Sewall-Ruskin. “It was a dream come to life. You had a sense of the absurd given to you in material form.”



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