We had the good fortune of connecting with Eric Sanders and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Eric, what matters most to you?
For the last twenty-five years I have carried a piece of paper around in my wallet- on it are these six words: respect, learning, emotional courage, creativity, self-actualization, and connection. Each of these concepts guides me on my journey. All of my pursuits in life strive toward self-actualization: my practice as an artist, the philanthropic work that I do, how I relate to my family and the world; in all of these I seek to better myself each day.
What should our readers know about your business?
As I previously mentioned, my current practice as an artist is still relatively new. After many years as a businessman, husband and father, my return to art comes with the exhilaration of one who has made a profound change in the course of their life. I feel that I am developing as a painter quickly, with the freshness of a beginner’s mind, and I am pleased that I can channel all of my life experiences into my art. I feel a profound sense of joy to have found a way to combine my passions: philanthropy- the deep desire to reach out and help people to rise from poverty through education, food security and health, and fund it through my art with the sales of my paintings. In my paintings I am exploring all of the creative paths that are open to me. I enjoy moving from painting with oil or acrylic to working in digital media. The art world is casting off the old hierarchies that limit what one can do. There is much more stylistic freedom to move from one approach to another and I am giving myself the freedom to follow what moves me and inspires me. My paintings are explorations of freedom, of breaking through anything that tries to confine me. This feels liberating after so many years in the business world to explore a world without rules. The philanthropic work that I do brings another layer to the content of my work. Though it is not something you can point to and see as an element in the work- it is there. It is shimmering through the pigments as a reflection of the values I mentioned earlier. Character matters; it matters in how you choose to live your life and how you pursue your passions.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them?
I would start in my neighborhood with a walk along the Strand, the walkway next to the ocean in Manhattan Beach- taking in the ever-changing views. We would make our way down to the Redondo Beach Pier and stop at Naja’s to hear some live music. From Naja’s we would walk to the seafood market on the other side of the pier and pick a fresh Dungeness crab from their live tanks. They serve it steaming hot, with a hammer and a container of melted butter. And then we would order a pitcher of tap beer and enjoy it while watching the sunset over the Pacific. I would call that a classic Southern California experience. The next day I would want my friend to experience a taste of DTLA. We would start the day walking along Broadway and Spring Street taking in all of the classic 1930’s architectural jewels: the Bradbury Building, the Eastern Building, the Mayan Theater, Clifftons and many other Art Deco gems. Afterwards, a stop for lunch at the Grand Central Market- a time capsule from another era, with the original signage, counter tops, and stools from the 1930’s- classic! Oyster bars, a Micro Brewery, a French cheese shop, Wexler’s Deli, and a range of choices from world cuisine: Asian, Latin American, etc. are all under one roof within an open court. From there, a walk across the street to catch a ride on Angeles Flight, a cable car built in built in 1901, for the short ride to the top of Bunker Hill. From here we would spend several hours seeing the collections at the Broad Museum and MOCA as well as a walk exploring Frank Gehry’s masterpiece- The Disney Center. To finish the day- a walk to the Ace Hotel for a drink and a bite to eat overlooking DTLA’s skyline: a perfect finish to the day. Hollywood is a quintessential icon of Los Angeles, so a visit along Hollywood Blvd is a must. I would start with a visit to Grauman’s Chinese Theater and spend time locating some of the handprints and signatures of our favorite movie stars. Then continue with a stroll along the Walk of the Stars, taking in many of the historic buildings along the way, like the Egyptian Theater and the Roosevelt Hotel, and then stop for a drink at Musso and Franks, to refresh ourselves with something elegant from the bar. We would top off the day with a walk to the Hollywood Bowl for a picnic in a box seat, and enjoy a concert of the LA Philharmonic. On day four, we would head up the coast to Malibu and start the day off with a hike in the Santa Monica Mountains. On the hike I would pause to look out over the Pacific Ocean and point out the beautiful sweep of Malibu’s coastline- and looking south- the cluster of buildings that distinguish Santa Monica, Venice and the beach cities beyond. After our hike, a visit to the Getty Villa perched on the cliffs above the Pacific, a perfect Museum dedicated to Roman Art, housed in a replica of a 1st century Roman Villa. To finish the journey, a drive up the coast to Geoffrey’s for dinner overlooking the ocean while watching the sunset to bring this day to an end. Spending a morning window-shopping in Beverly Hills would be a nice start for day five. We could catch our breath sitting at a sidewalk café to enjoy an espresso, then off to LACMA for an afternoon exploring their eclectic collection. Afterwards, a drink at the very hip Stark Bar at the museum, to give us a second wind and then dinner at Bazaar, a world class restaurant under chef Jose Andres. A trip to Pasadena for some old world elegance would add another flavor note to my friend’s experience of Los Angeles. A morning spent touring the vast and beautiful world-class Huntington Gardens would give us a bit of exercise as we wander through the various plants, trees and cacti from the different ecosystems of the world- with a stop for some tea and a snack at the Tea House in the Rose Garden. Then off to The Norton Simon Museum to enjoy its collection of art from early Medieval, to some of the finest Van Gogh’s on the West Coast. Afterwards a walk through the tree lined streets to the Gamble House and tour one of the masterpieces of the Arts and Crafts era: to finish the day- dinner at Sushi Roku in Old Town Pasadena. For the last day of my friend’s visit to Los Angeles, I would start close to home again with a bicycle ride on the Strand from Manhattan Beach heading north. First stop: Caffe Pinguini in Playa Del Rey, a small charming Italian restaurant for lunch. To burn off some calories, we would continue to ride several miles up to Venice beach to take in the eccentricities of this iconic Los Angeles beach city: from street musicians, performers, and vendors, to the body builders working out at Muscle Beach. Next a visit to one of the most historic galleries in Southern California: LA Louver- showing artists from David Hockney to Ed Kienholtz. Afterwards, we would stop for a quick beer across the street at James Beach: a bar and restaurant where, after openings at the gallery, many of LA’s most notable cultural icons go for a meal. From here we pedal to Santa Monica for dinner, watching the sunset on the outdoor patio overlooking the Pacific at Shutters.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My father was pivotal in shaping who I am. He was an artist, a successful businessman and a published philosopher. His love of art inspired me at a young age. I began when I was six years old with my father’s help, teaching me how to paint- to this day the smell of paint still brings me back to my childhood. My mother and father together created a home environment where the importance of art was taught: my father’s paintings hung on the walls, and later as his business career grew, he became an art collector. My intimate connection to the creative world was deeply rooted. My mother also encouraged and nurtured my creative identity. It’s probably not a coincidence that two of her four children turned out to be artists. At the age of 10 we turned our basement into an art studio, we had painting supplies, a pottery wheel, we spun wool and made our own dyes. She would take the yarn we made and knit sweaters for us. She always tried to facilitate our creativity. When I was 16 she made sure that I was able to spend six weeks at a summer camp where I learned photography, drawing, painting, and watercolor: it was a life changing experience. The people we love can have a profound effect on the course of our lives. Several years ago, after I had retired from the business world, my girlfriend Anna gave me a set of paints and encouraged me to begin exploring my creative life that had been put on hold for many years. I cannot overstate the brilliance of her intuition to lead me in that direction. That simple gesture of love and support; three tubes of paint and a brush, reignited my passion for painting and reactivated my artistic self that had been dormant for many years. Many years later, my friend, interior designer Robert Gallagher, encouraged me to start marketing my work. I said “I am doing this for my own pleasure. I have no interest in selling my work.” He suggested the idea that I could sell paintings and put that money directly into my philanthropic efforts. In my head a bell went off- it was a beautiful symmetry- to combine my creative pursuits with my philanthropy. I really owe him a debt of gratitude for awakening this idea that is now a guiding force in my life.