Master Of Stone
Mason and sculptor leaves a lasting legacy
By Jessica Laskey
In 100 years, people can still admire the work of Stephen Michael Bouska.
The master stone carver works in materials that last centuries with proper care. That’s what he hopes—that his work will survive to “help us express ourselves for multiple generations.”
When he first started in stone work, it was out of necessity. As a teenage father, Bouska needed a way to provide for his young family and “feed my soul at the same time.”
Bouska has always been mechanically inclined, thanks to a family of masons, ironworkers and mechanics. He received an excellent industrial science education at Foothill High School. When he realized his aptitude to visualize systems could be combined with art to make something beautiful, he was hooked.
He studied sculpture with Adan Romo, artist and son of sculptor Jesus Romo, who created the California Firefighters Memorial in Capitol Park. During his studies, Bouska opened a book on Michelangelo and “fell in love.” He made it his mission to replicate the David in clay. Adan Romo was impressed. Bouska knew he was on the right path.
Next came apprenticeships in masonry, tile, stone slab and monument work with various masters. His first big break came with now-defunct Chapman Monument Company in Roseville, run by one of the last Rocklin quarry workers.
“I was always searching for a path forward in sculpture and architecture,” Bouska says. “Different people would take me under their wing. They saw the talent, potential and passion in me, my purity of intention, and gave me a chance.”
Once Bouska reached journeyman status, he traveled to expand his “bag of tricks” by studying other methods and materials. He lived in Australia for two years and eventually landed in Santa Barbara.
Having learned what he calls “the how” of cutting stone, Bouska felt his education wasn’t complete. He enrolled at Academy of Art University in San Francisco. He attended school fulltime while parenting and working in architecture stone carving throughout the Bay Area. He eventually received a bachelor’s degree, along with loads of experience.
“Without those experiences, I wouldn’t exist now,” Bouska says. “All of these parts and pieces segue into other opportunities.”
Since returning to Sacramento five years ago, Bouska reestablished a studio, Old World Stone Design, on Q Street. He does masonry and sculpture in limestone, marble, sandstone, travertine and granite. He still does some plaster and bronze when the urge—or commission—arises.
Services include stone cutting and carving, custom fireplaces, lettering and monuments, architectural models, plaster castings and mold making. A licensed masonry contractor, he handles public and private commissions, restorations, design development and drafting.
Work keeps him busy, but Bouska would love to carve out time to pass his knowledge onto the next generation.
“Poor is a master without an apprentice,” he says. “If I can help, I would love to. The more I can cultivate, the more it helps the craft of sculpture. I’m a proponent of improving training and creating more opportunities for everybody as a community. Every individual we can find and help to cultivate their talents will send ripple effects of beauty through other generations.”
For information, visit bouska-art.com.
Jessica Laskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.