Recycled Art & Painting
"Recycled Art from the Ground to your Heart”
Bottle caps, nails, wires, broken cds, glass, tin can lids and even brake pads can be found in Sara Spanjers' recycled art. Hailing from the Midwest, she has embraced the Southwest as her home and artistic inspiration. Her professional background of painting murals, portraits and landscapes inform her work as she brings a lifetime of artistic experience. Sara sees the potential in everyday discarded objects with the ground offering an endless source of material for her imagination! Using a unique combination of paint, second-hand jewelry, and found objects, her collages come in many forms, from framed pieces to free standing totems. The end results will delight your eye as you explore and discover what she has used in her one of a kind creations. Sara splits her time between her recycled art, and her first love- painting.
Recycled Art from the
Ground to your Heart
When Sara Sanjers was studying art in college her professor gave the students a special assignment — to make a piece of art from found items. The rule was that the students could not purchase anything for the project.
“This challenge really appealed to me,” said Sara. “It took my creative thinking to a whole new level.”
Little did Sara know that one day she would be known for her art that used recycled materials. She certainly could not have predicted that her future email address would include the phrase “bottle cap girl.”
The Acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree
When Sara was six she remembers her mother waking all her children up with orders to keep their pajamas on. Instead of the usual day’s activities their Mom gave them paintbrushes and instructed them to paint whatever struck their fancy on the staircase wall.
“I painted a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” said Sara with a smile. “I remember that wall was always a topic of conversation among friends that came to visit our home.”
Sara’s mom was an artist herself and nurturing her children’s creativity came naturally to her.
Sara put her years of art training at home and through school to use as an adult. She started her career as an interior decorator.
Living an artful life in Tucson
Sara who hails from Eau Claire, Wisconsin moved to Tucson in the early 80s, shortly after she married.
“I started painting commissioned pieces, when I first moved to the desert,” said Sara. “I was particularly inspired to paint after taking a two-week class with my mother from Vladan Stiha in Santa Fe.” Stiha, a Yugoslavian painter, is know for his Western American landscapes.
Sara still paints desert scenes. She also loves painting chickens. However the bulk of her artistic endeavors took a turn when as an Interior Designer a client wanted a mural and Sara could not find anyone to do it.
“I just had to do it myself,” she said. “It did not take long before word spread. I actually have murals in public spaces. One is at Fort Huachuca which is still on display today. The others include two Tucson McDonalds, other restaurants, as well as a series of murals inside the emergency examining rooms at St. Joseph Hospital.” Those have since been retired.
Sara has earned an outstanding reputation for painting murals and faux finishes in Tucson. Eventually the murals became full time work. She still does the occasional mural as a commission, but has moved on to other art mediums.
Coming full circle
Sara and her husband raised two boys in Tucson. They are grown men now — with one living in Durango, Colorado and the other one in Los Angeles, where he is an actor.
The actor started as a kid in sitcoms and doing commercials. Sara went with him to jobs in L.A. when he was a child.
“It may sound a little bit odd, but while I was waiting on outdoor sets I would see all these bottle caps that were so awesomely weathered,” she said. “I started collecting them.”
Sara started making crosses with the bottle caps, but soon her inventory included all sorts of items and all types of found objects. The same enthusiasm she once had in college for creating art with recycled items returned.
Once on the path of recycling she found that her son in Durango lived close to an abandoned rail yard. While visiting Colorado she was able to collect railroad spikes and bands.
“I love painting but I also love texture,” said Sara. “When I see an item that I am considering for an art piece, it is as if it is telling me what it wants to be. That is how the journey to make something unique begins.”
“When I am in my studio, Casita de Arte, I feel meditative. I work until the piece pleases my eye. Once done I feel excited and have been known to jump up and down,” she laughed.
Although Sara has shown in various galleries throughout her career, her home gallery for the past four years has been the Chris Bubany Artist Gallery.
“I had lunch one day with Chris, who I had met from doing the Holiday Market at Harlow Gardens. She was planning on increasing the size of her space and needed more artists,” Sara explained. “It has been a wonderful experience being in the gallery with Chris and 14 other local artists.”
Sara handles merchandising at the gallery as well. She oversees everyone’s space, helps new artist set up, and handles the window display which she changes monthly. She sees each display as its own composition.
“Art in all forms is about connecting,” said Sara “I think it is rewarding to connect with a piece of art at home, especially an original.”
It is even better if the connection is personal. Lately Sara has been making commissioned collages for wedding gifts and anniversaries.
“I collect little items from the people I am making the art for and use them to create a customized collage,” described Sara. “It is such an individualized way to commemorate an important milestone in someones life, while at the same time acting as a treasured piece of art.”