2021 Featured Artist

Sandy Larsen, Escalante, UT and Yucca Valley, CA

I love to wander in the desert, often in old town dumps, where I pick up bits of glass, broken things that were discarded years ago, changed by the harsh desert, yet to me, beautiful. I like to think of my work as if a tiny ancient gnome, or a pack rat, had gathered broken fragments of glass to piece together a little window for their little dark house.  — Sandy Larsen

Born in Ephraim, Utah, Sandy is a proud third generation descendant of Utah pioneers.  On his father’s side, his great, great grandparents immigrated from Denmark and settled in Ephraim in the 1850s.  On his mother’s side, Sandy’s ancestors came across the plains with the second wagon company to enter Salt Lake City in late 1847 and in the Willy Handcart Company, later to be sent by the Mormon Church to settle Manti.  Sandy’s family had a farm and raised sheep west of Ephraim.  As a child in the mid 1950’s Sandy and his family moved from Ephraim to Garden Grove, California where he graduated from Pacifica High School.  Sandy attended Cypress College in Cypress, California and California State University—Fullerton where he studied art, design, sculpture, and geology. After school he moved to Pasadena, California and worked as a graphic designer and magazine art director for several years until the pace and stress of monthly production deadlines drove him to seek another field.

As a young man, on trips with family and friends, for the first time Sandy saw the Southern Utah and Escalante landscape and geology.  Spellbound, he longed to return.  He did return.  In 1984 Sandy built a house and art studio west of town from cabins he purchased from Bryce Canyon on property he bought from the late Arnold and Smith Alvey.  Sandy later restored the 1880s rock house built by Willard Heaps and his son Joseph that was already on the property—actually the same rock house Sandy had first glimpsed from Highway 12 on a trip he made earlier to Escalante as a young man.  Believing that pioneer heritage is visual, Sandy muses on what a remarkable experience it must have been for early pioneers coming into these valleys, being among these rocks.  For Sandy, who studied art and structural geology, high art is rocks—yes, rocks–beautiful undulating rocks which ultimately led him to create undulating three-dimensional works of art in glass.

Sandy helped coordinate the plein air section of the Escalante Canyons Art Festival from its early years, serving for many as the Plein Air Coordinator.  The Festival was originally called Everett Ruess Days after Everett Ruess, a young California plein air painter who mysteriously disappeared on the Escalante desert in the early 1930s.  Sandy likes to imagine that Ruess with his burros, may possibly have passed by the Heaps rock house and visited with the Heaps children when the road from Cannonville passed right in front of their house. 

Currently, Sandy summers in Escalante where he makes art in his studio and winters in Pioneertown, California in the Yucca Valley where he sells antiques at Pioneer Crossing Antiques.  With a longtime interest in art and antiques, Sandy began to buy and resell art and antiques as early as 1983—a practice he continues to this day.

Restored Heaps Ranch Rock House