Shreveport artist and art gallery owner Lewis Kalmbach has died

On Saturday, July 16, Lewis Kalmbach, artist, designer and a prominent figure in the Shreveport arts community, passed away. Kalmbach is best known for opening a rotating art gallery in Artport Airport and in 2021 opened Big Sun Studios downtown, continuing to showcase Shreveport’s hidden talent.

Kalmbach grew up in Shreveport and spent most of her life traveling the world before moving back to Shreveport with her husband Greg Ott and son Jasper to settle down.

“Lewis Kalmbach was the epitome of a ‘Mover and Shaker’. Shortly after the Philadelphia Center was established, Lewis established ArtPort in the Shreveport airport terminal, which benefited the Center and our customers. His artistic influence in Shreveport cannot be underestimated,” said Philadelphia Center Executive Director Emeritus and Shreveport Little Theater Artistic Director Dr. Robert Darrow.

Kalmbach’s commitment and passion for the arts and his determination to put Shreveport on the map as a place where artists could flourish and his love for life, is what the community remembers him best for. .

“Lewis was so passionate about life! He made everything and everyone around him a little brighter. He had such a big heart and never stopped caring for others and doing for others, even when he was the one who needed help,” Steven Galbraith said. “He lives across Jasper, Greg, and those of us were lucky enough to know him.”

Kalmbach returned to Shreveport in 2020 and began looking for a location for a new art gallery. The abandoned old loan building on the corner of Edwards and downtown Crockett caught his eye and now houses Big Sun Studios.

The mission of this new gallery was to exhibit regional artists, serve as a meeting and event space where all were welcome, and provide video production services to the community with the help of Kalmbach’s nephew, Julian Tizian.

Scott Cooksey, Lewis Kalmbach, Brad Campbell and Steven Galbraith.

“I have known Lewis Kalmbach for years, but got to know him when he was looking for a downtown location for his art gallery/business, and later when he was running the business” , recalls the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority. Liz Swain. “I probably can’t say much more about his talent and creativity, but what stood out to me was his willingness to share his knowledge and partner to better other businesses and events around the world. He saw a bigger picture than himself and acted He wasn’t part of downtown long and I regret that, but I’m so glad we had him while we were there. ‘Have done.

A bright spot has been created in the community through Kalmbach’s efforts and his legacy will continue to enhance the arts in Shreveport through family and friends who were touched by his passion and determination.

Deborah Allen and Lewis Kalmbach

“Lewis, I love you with all my heart my dear friend. So many milestones in my life you were there, lovingly reminding me to keep moving forward, saying, you can do it! I doubt you can know what a powerful, loving generational influence you’ve been in my life and countless others,” Deborah Allen said.

“The first time I met Lewis he scared me to death. During that period of my life I was in hiding, but he exuded fearlessness. Somewhere in his heart he must have known that he there was no time for fear. Everything he did was without hesitation as if another force was warning him not to waste a second. You can see that in his paintings. Steven and I have a painting of passion flowers which he donated to the Philadelphia Center Auction Against AIDS. he captures a moment on canvas almost as quickly as that moment has passed. Another thing I’ve noticed in his art is the brightness of the colors, like the flash of a firework. Something bright but brief. Some people called him “The Golden Boy”, maybe because he seemed to live a charmed life. I disagree. Rather than “charmed”, I believe he was accused of something few of us exploit in our lifetimes. longer strokes; it is a completely consuming passion. Anyone who was close to Lewis knows what I’m talking about: he just couldn’t sit still. As soon as one project was finished, he looked for the next one. The morning after Lewis left his body and before I found out, I was doing the dishes and looked up to see a hummingbird at the feeder. But this one was different. He didn’t drink and flew away immediately; he was suspended in the air, looking me straight in the eye almost defiantly. Then he took a sip and hovered in front of me again. After taking another sip, she left as quickly as she appeared. Until the next bright bloom,” said Brad Campbell

Meredith G. White is an arts and culture reporter for the Shreveport Times. You can find her on Facebook as Meredith G. White, on Instagram and Twitter as @meredithgwhite, and email her at

William E. Bennett