Local artist conceptualizes art

Many people may walk by the Sacramento Convention Center Complex or Folsom Boulevard and 65th Street and wonder, “What is the deal with all these huge sculptures?” If they had gone to the lecture by Stephen Kaltenbach on March 29, they would know. As fellow attendee Peggy Murphy, 23, said, “It is nice to know who is behind those big heads.”

Stephen Kaltenbach has been an artist for over 40 years and has created pieces of art that are on display in the Museums of Modern Art in New York and San Francisco as well as the local Crocker Art Museum. He attained his bachelor’s degree as well as his master’s at University of California, Davis and began teaching at California State University, Sacramento in 1970.

Kaltenbach said in his lecture that his main focus early on in his artistic career was conceptual art. He said that instead of creating tangible pieces of art, he preferred to create concepts and ideas. One such idea, which he even admitted was a bad one, was a comment on global warming. His idea was to place iron plates around the sun to limit our exposure. Like he said, “bad idea.”

One student in attendance, Mike Ray, a 20-year-old who has not decided on a major, found the conceptual art to be interesting while also a little confusing, “I never really knew what conceptual art was, but I guess it was interesting to see how even just ideas can be art.”

Kaltenbach went on to discuss more of his tangible artwork including a massive painting of his dad, titled “Portrait of my Father.” He said this painting took him eight years to finish and that he was secluded for most of the time. His seclusion apparently led to some sort of spiritual conversion that Kaltenbach said “changed his life.”

The end of the lecture focused on the aforementioned large sculptures and heads in front of the Sacramento Convention Center named “Time to Cast Away Stones,” as well as the head on the corner of Folsom Boulevard and 65th Street titled “Matter Contemplates Spirit.” Kaltenbach finished the convention center project in 1999 and the large head in front of Dos Coyotes in 2005.

Kaltenbach said the 9-foot-by-7-foot-by-68-foot “Time to Cast Away Stones” sculpture was very difficult and time-consuming. The sculpture features heads of Hindu gods, Buddhist symbols, and other cultural images. Kaltenbach said it was meant to be a representation of cultures coming together.

Kaltenbach’s lecture was interesting and informative for all in attendance. For artists and non-artists alike, Kaltenbach provided interesting insight into being an artist.

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