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Former faculty to reminisce about funky art haven

03-03-2014

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Shown in this 1980s photo are (left to right) Stephen Kaltenbach, Ruth Rippon, Robert Arneson, Peter VandenBerge and Gerald Walburg. All but Arneson are former Sac State art professors.

If only the walls of the old Temporary Building 9 at UC Davis could talk. Fortunately, three former Sacramento State art professors, who were graduate students there in the late 1960s, have plenty of memories to share.

Stephen Kaltenbach, Gerald Walburg and Peter VandenBerge – all renowned artists in their own right – will trade stories during an informal conversation called “Remembering TB 9” at 6 p.m. Thursday in Mendocino Hall, Room 1003, on the Sacramento State campus. A reception follows in the Kadema Hall breezeway. The event, organized by Sac State art professor Elaine O’Brien, is free and open to the public.

TB 9 is about as legendary as a nondescript corrugated metal building could be. There, for a decade beginning in the mid-’60s, a revolution in ceramics (suddenly, clay was being fashioned into sculptures, not just something functional like dinnerware) and the Funk Art Movement were born. Reigning over it all was Robert Arneson, a bearded ceramics professor with a wacky sense of humor.

“What interests me,” O’Brien says, “is the connection between Sac State and UC Davis. It was very close in this period. The artists were going back and forth. They all got together socially. There was a culture of creative friendship and competition. It wasn’t just academics.”

O’Brien is working on a book about Northern California artists who made their name in Sacramento and Davis – and as far away as the Bay Area. When she interviewed VandenBerge, he suggested that they call up Kaltenbach and Walburg and remember TB 9 together. That gave O’Brien the idea for Thursday’s public forum.

“They have great stories to tell,” she says.

For media assistance, contact Sacramento State’s Office of Public Affairs at (916) 278-6156. – Dixie Reid