The Art of Fame
An artist in every sense of the word, local creative force Sarah Sandin reflects on her roots, life in L.A., and spreading her wings southbound.
Here, artists are neighbors and cheerleaders to one another. Rounding each corner is not unlike surveying a bright, beckoning buffet. One turn in particular reveals multi-sized canvases sprayed in a splattered shine - call it a cubist-meets-graffiti style. In the lower left hand corner of a wall supporting nine such works is a skateboard peeking from behind a longboard. To the left, a mirror and an image of two horses (a mom-and-baby perhaps) silently watch the room and the patrons of The Stables wander.
Enter Sarah Sandin.
A leather jacket compliments a light corset top and short skirt combo. Her pink heels accentuate her height, and I look up to study her face and ask where she got her earrings. She smiles and we formally meet.
The owner and founder of The Stables, Sandin lives as colorfully and resourcefully as her work. The fact that she lived and worked and, to an extent, “made it” in Los Angeles does not surprise me. She looks L.A.— the artist matches the art in this scenario.
If you follow her on Instagram, the hints are there. The art in front, the creator standing next to or casting a shadow onto. The woman in vogue, the artist shimmering. A video of her painting. An in-memoriam of Anthony Bourdain smoking directly into the camera - a rare archival of neither Sarah nor her canvases. She does not simply put a face and figure to her work. She is the art.
Color Her Uncustomary
Sandin considers her life one ongoing performance piece/art project. With everything from a stint in rehab, stories of stealing emeralds from a drug lord she worked for in Fiji, a career as a backup dancer for the likes of Madonna and Lady Gaga, and friendships with eccentrics including Bourdain, she lives the type of existence only written in novels. Having followed her on Instagram to educate myself on her aura, her followers are allowed a rather intimate view of her adventures. This summer, her followers saw her camping in a teepee in California while visiting her sister and taking photos of coffee canteens and her silhouette against the sun’s rays descending into the mountains.
After first meeting her in person, her life presented in the social sphere made sense, and I grasped how such a subdued, sweet woman in pink heels might be the perfect piece of work the South needs.
A visual and conceptual artist by profession and personal accounts, Sandin expresses herself, as she always has, through any means necessary and available. Born in Victoria, British Columbia, she comes from “an extremely unconventional family,” and learned about art and how to recognize it anywhere early on. She grew up in California, but was also raised on several “cultish communes” in the Canadian woodlands.
“As I grew older, I learned to decipher what I thought was art as compared to what most people thought was art,” she explains, musing on her upbringing. “It doesn’t really match up. I see art everywhere: the way light catches a moment, the decay of a building, the way someone may talk with their hands as if conducting a symphony.”
She recalls how her parents refused to limit their minds to what they saw or heard. Their willingness to live “outside the box” and on the edges of society’s code of normalcy shaped Sandin’s world.
“I have always been creative and my parents really nurtured that in me,” she says. “I believe they would’ve rather I had become an artist and musician than a doctor or lawyer. Even as a small child, I was creative in the way I dressed and the things I wanted to do, like dance.”
The Artist Paints the Town
Shortly after moving to Savannah, Sandin noticed a significant lack of spaces for artists, photographers, musicians and “creative folk.” She immediately set out to create an artistic haven and community with The Stables, what she calls one of her proudest accomplishments.
Unsurprisingly, the South’s spell emerges in her art, particularly, as Sandin puts it, its “haunting darkness that tends to lurk in the moments between quaintness and charm.”
“I paint intuitively,” she says. “That’s my favorite aspect of abstract art. There is no end and no beginning. It is just a suspended moment in time.”
Whether sharing her adventures on Instagram or releasing her emotions through her painting practices, Sandin has lived a lot, achieved much success, and reconciled a rich zen within herself. She cherishes the artists and creative powerhouses she’s befriended and encountered in all realms. Call it another one of her favorite life-long projects.
“I am a very ambitious person, but what drives me and what I’d like to accomplish in my life seems a bit different than most. I see myself more as grateful than successful. There are only a few things that make you truly happy and successful in life: Connection with yourself, connection with others, and a connection with nature.”
The true testament of Sarah Sandin manifests in an open interpretation of the meaning of imaginative freedom. For her, that involves the ability to dismantle the narratives we are told about identity, profession, and behavior, and rethink the value and definition of success, beauty, wealth, and fame.
Follow Sarah on Instagram at @sarahsandin.