Grass Valley artist leaves behind art legacy

German-born man loved nature, travel
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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Claus Sievert will forever be a part of the natural world he loved so much. The German-born artist was unexpectedly killed last week when a drunk driver lost control and crossed the double-yellow lines on a stretch of Highway 49 just north of Brewer Road. The Grass Valley man’s vehicle hit Sievert’s minivan head-on as Sievert was coming home from an appointment in Auburn. Sievert’s immediate death left his friends and family shocked and devastated. “He had a rich life so we feel there is a big hole in the world,” said Marti Cate, Sievert’s friend and former wife. Cate, who was married to Sievert, 59, for 22 years before the couple made a mutual decision in 2007 to divorce, said she remained close friends with the man she describes as passionate and very loving toward his family. Even after deciding to make a permanent move to the States in 1981, Sievert remained a “very devoted” son, who would visit his parents in Germany on a nearly yearly basis. “He loved his family very, very much,” Cate said. “He was very close to his parents.” She said Sievert’s sister, an art education professor at the University of Frankfurt, and his brother, an attorney and notary in the German town of Lage, are both dealing with the enormous loss of losing their parents in 2006 and now their younger brother. Cate said everyone who loved and was touched by Sievert, including a large Northern California community of artists, is dealing with his tragic death in their own way. She said she first remembered meeting an “excited” Sievert at a San Francisco art festival. He had just recently decided to move to America after he fell in love with the Sierra Nevada following a summer trip with his high school art teacher. “It was his first art show and he was kind of like a little kid, so wide open and excited,” Cate said. “America was his dream land, San Francisco was his dream city and California was his dream state.” From there, Sievert’s art career grew. A printmaker who created limited-edition etchings from copper plates and a hand-turned press, Sievert’s work won awards, illustrated a children’s book by Leo Tolstoy, was commissioned by the Sierra Club and Golden Gate National Recreation Area to illustrate their publications, and he had his images published in several calendars. His art was also featured in Ansel Adams Gallery, Muir Woods and the Nature Company. His work was also shown at the Auburn Arts Building and in several regional and national festivals. Sievert developed a special connection with nature from an early age, Cate said, as he explored the woods near the German home he grew up in with his parents and two older siblings. She said the avid gardener shared his passion for the outdoors and learned skills such as cooking, canning and preserving from his parents and older sister. Later on, when Claus moved to a five-acre Grass Valley home, Cate said at least an acre of that land was dedicated to gardening. He had at least 30 large tomato plants and surrounded them with asparagus, zucchini and bell pepper plants as well as fruit and nut trees and grapes. “He was not only growing these things he was cooking, preserving and also photographing them,” Cate said. “He was an excellent photographer as well as printmaker.” In addition to his love for art and nature, Sievert was an avid traveler. He had explored a plethora of locations around the world including European countries, Morocco, India, Mexico, Central America and Fridley, Minn., where he spent his first year in America as an exchange student. “He had a really adventurous spirit,” Cate said. “He loved exploring.” Sievert is survived by his brother, Arnd Sievert and sister, Adelheid Sievert, both of Germany. Plans for a memorial have not been finalized. The Journal's Jenifer Gee can be reached at or post a comment.