aura Sanders at Rita Deanin Abbey Art Museum, courtesy of Rita Deanin Abbey Art Museum

Fabulous People: Laura L. Sanders

Laura L. Sanders is the executive director at the Las Vegas-based Rita Deanin Abbey Art Museum, which displays the work and bears the name of a multidisciplinary artist known for painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, porcelain enamel fired on steel, stained glass and computer art. Learn about Laura L. Sanders…

Follow at: @Laura.Lee.Sanders; @RitaDeaninAbbeyMuseum

Hometown: Rapid City, South Dakota

First job: I worked as a shoe clerk at my grandfather’s infamous F&M Bootery in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Favorite ways to spend your free time in NV: Exploring Nevada’s lesser-known trails off the beaten path is one of my favorite pastimes. These hikes unveil the high desert’s unique geology, featuring everything from dinosaur tracks to Native American rock art. My fascination with navigating by the stars makes nighttime hikes incredibly captivating. Learning about the desert’s edible and medicinal plants is interesting, deepening my connection with the natural surroundings.

Your biggest accomplishment and why: As an art archivist, I developed a specialized database to organize and track the life and work of professional artist Rita Deanin Abbey. I transliterated and edited Hebrew text for an art book featuring Abbey’s stained-glass windows, commissioned for the sanctuary of Temple Beth Sholom in Las Vegas. At the same time, I was the president of Sky’s the Limit, Nevada’s original Climbing School and Guide Service, with my late husband, climber, and alpinist Randal Grandstaff. During the 1990’s, I frequently appeared on BBC and PBS outdoor educational programs, introducing wilderness ethics and land stewardship. I am a Leave No Trace instructor passionate about making a positive difference in conservation.

The biggest obstacle you overcame: I have faced many hardships in life, including the loss of my husband, business and home all at once. Every life has an ebb and flow; we’re all on that river of time. Obstacles will come, but you reveal your true self and strength when facing the most difficult situations.

Someone who inspires you and why: My daughter Stephanie has taught me about unconditional love.

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Go for it. There are many opportunities and various topics, and the people involved are interesting, tolerant, and forward-thinking.

Favorite quote: “Every one of us is, in the cosmic perspective, precious . . . In a hundred billion galaxies, you will not find another.” –Carl Sagan

Galileo Galilei’s quote comes in second. “The sun, with all those planets revolving around it and dependent on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.”

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you:I left the art world for 12 years and worked as the global sales director of Five Ten, an Adidas subsidiary. However, I left that high-profile job to become the ranch manager for the historic Mantle Ranch on the Yampa River in Colorado, the last wild river in America. Living off the grid and testing my mettle had always been a dream of mine, so I lived without running water, electricity or indoor plumbing for three years. During this time, I ran a one-woman cow-calf operation within the Dinosaur National Monument, where I dedicated myself to raising free-range cattle.

What makes someone fabulous: Being able to find joy in every day and not afraid to pursue it, even if the path is uncertain, makes someone fabulous.

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