70th Anniversary

A virtual art tour of CSULB’s 1965 International Art Symposium collection

Scattered throughout Long Beach State are towering sculptures and murals that mark the campus, but students may not be aware of the art and its history. 

Many of these sculptures and paintings, created by several world-renowned artists, were placed on campus in 1965 as a part of the California International Sculpture Symposium. This symposium was the first large organized gathering of artists in the United States, and it aimed to combine technology and new materials.

To learn more about these sculptures, the Daily Forty-Niner went on a campus art tour with Curator of Education Christina Alegria, and Public Affairs & Communications Specialist Amanda Fruta, both from the Carolyn Campagna Kleefeld Contemporary Art Museum. We stopped at six sculptures around upper campus to learn more about the artworks’ history, significance and the artists who created them.

To watch the full tour on IGTV, visit our Instagram page @daily49er on Oct. 2.



“Sun Forces” by Rita Letendre

Commissioned for the 1965 California International Sculpture Symposium

Ryan Guitare/Daily Forty-Niner

Sun Forces by Rita Letendre, which was recently preserved with a fresh paint job, is located next to the Liberal Arts-5 building. This piece is mostly known for its abstract and colorful designs that students walk under on their way through the LA buildings. Letendre has created several large-scale murals and public works, many of which explore light and color. 

“Rita Letendre is known for these very energetic, colorful, abstract pieces all over her Native Canada,” Fruta said. 

The mural echoes her focus on vibrancy as the geometric shapes in hues of green and yellow stand out against the black background.


Courtesy of Special Collections & University Archives, California State University, Long Beach

“Now” by Piotr Kowalski

Commissioned for the 1965 California International Sculpture Symposium

Created using explosives and stainless steel, Piotr Kowalksi created “Now” with the intention of having viewers connect with the universe. The sculpture’s reflective properties through the triangular sheets of steel reflect sunlight in various ways, bouncing light back-and-forth between the sheets and creating a campus mirror next to the University Student Union. Kowalski worked with Northern American Aviation, who produced metal for aerospace projects at the time, to create this piece. 

“In your mind, if you go back to 1965, you can think about what is happening in the South,” Alegria said. “[The nation] had a huge aeronautical [program] going on.”


“Homage to Kenn Glenn” by anonymous students

Commissioned for the 1965 California International Sculpture Symposium

Courtesy of Special Collections & University Archives, California State University, Long Beach.

While it may appear to be a pile of wood from a distance, the fifteen ton and 12-foot high mixture of timber and steel next to the CSULB sign on Seventh Street is a sculpture, titled “Homage to Kenn Glenn.” An anonymous group of students created the piece as a part of the 1965 California International Sculpture Symposium, but it was not planned to be a part of the event.

“Not only did [the symposium] bring together artists and innovative science and industry, it also used students as collaborators and assistants in making all these sculptures come to life,” Fruta said. 

In the summer of 1965, a group of students were excited about the symposium and greatly admired director of the symposium Kenn Glenn, so they created a monument to show their enthusiasm and artistic potential.  

VIDEO: The Carlson/Bloc Tower by André Bloc

Commissioned for the 1965 California International Sculpture Symposium

[aesop_video src=”youtube” id=”CrhT9rYGiYw” align=”center” caption=”Towering at 65 feet, André Bloc’s Carlson/Bloc tower serves as a majestic landmark on the CSULB campus. Though conceptualized in 1965 at the California International Art Symposium, the structure was not fully constructed the same year due to funding concerns. It wasn’t until 1972 that the sculpture was fully erect, thanks to funding from Louise Carlson.” disable_for_mobile=”off” loop=”off” controls=”on” mute=”off” autoplay=”on” viewstart=”on” viewend=”on” revealfx=”off” overlay_revealfx=”off”]

Video by Paula Kiley

Edited by Paula Kiley

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