Walnut Creek, Calif.
A Surrealist painter.and sculptor whose “visionary art” reflected spiritual transformation informed by meditation and Oriental thought, Norman Stiegelmeyer was also an influential teacher at the San Francisco Art Institute. Born in Denver in 1937, Stiegelmeyer enlisted in the U. S. Navy when he was nineteen, serving on the U.S.S. Twining in the Pacific Ocean. Port calls in Japan allowed him to travel in Japan and visit a Buddhist monastery. After discharge from the Navy in 1959, he studied art for two years at Pasadena City College. Stiegelmeyer moved to San Francisco in 1961 to study at the San Francisco Art Institute, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1963 and a master’s degree in 1964. While there he exhibited in group shows at the University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University and the Legion of Honor Museum, and in 1964 had a one-man show at the New Mission Gallery in San Francisco. During this time he also took meditation classes at the San Francisco Zen Center. Awarded a Fullbright Scholarship (a German Government Grant) after receiving his master’s degree, Spiegelmeyer studied at the Academy of Art in Nuremberg, Germany for the academic year 1964-65. After his return to San Francisco he lived the North Beach district and resumed the practice of meditation at the Zen Center. The Richmond (Calif.) Art Center gave him a one-man show in 1966. Stiegelmeyer participated in numerous group exhibitions for the balance of the decade, including exhibitions at the Legion of Honor and the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1967 and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, in 1968 and 1969. The 1969 Whitney exhibition, “Human Concern, Personal Torment,” traveled to UC Berkeley the following year. One of his paintings shown in the 1969 San Francisco Art Festival won an award of merit and was selected for a one-man exhibition at the Legion of Honor, which took place in 1970. From 1972 to 1975 Stiegelmeyer abandoned painting and focused on constructing boxes, often out of plexiglass, filled with Surrealist images. Stiegelmeyer had several one-man gallery shows during the 1970s. Notable group shows included works in the San Francisco pavilion at Expo 70 in Osaka, Japan in 1970 and “Painting and Sculpture in California: The Modern Era” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in 1976. He died in Walnut Creek, Calif. on January 1, 1985. (TNB 7/2016) Selected bibliography: Albright, Thomas. Art in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945-1980: An Illustrated History, pp.177-178, 316. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1985