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8 Things You Didn’t Know About Sarah Cain

Los Angeles-based artist Sarah Cain moves beyond the traditional notion of painting within the frame by exploring abstraction and spatial interventions in a wide range of media and found materials. This practice will soon be seen in a brand new, colorful, site-specific exhibition called Sarah Cain: In Nature. Before coming to see the free exhibition, opening at the Momentary on February 13, learn a little more about the artist and her practice below.

Sarah Cain, Self Portrait, 2020, acrylic, gouache, latex, prism beads, plastic thread, 90x90x3 in., Courtesy of the artist and Vielmetter Los Angeles. Photo credit: Jeff McLane

1. Sarah Cain’s birthday is today, February 3!

2. She grew up in Kinderhook, New York. As a teenager, she remembers admiring works by Joan Mitchell, Philip Guston, and Robert Motherwell which, thanks to a public arts fund, lined the walls of an otherwise dismal underground mall in Albany, New York, not far from where she grew up. [1]

3. Sarah Cain believes that life is lived to the fullest through an acceptance of lack of control, saying, “You never really have control over anything. Abandoning the idea of control is at the core of everything I do.” [3] When discussing her cats, Cain says, “[cats] are like the most loveable creature, it’s like the perfect example of loving something, but accepting it’s going to leave whenever it wants to leave or accepting your lack of control around everything.” [5]

4. Cain often contributes her love for bold, bright colors to being raised in the 1980s. As a child, she was surrounded by vibrance and fondly remembers watching a multi-hued hot air balloon fall on a field of white snow. [3]

5. Cain first started making works on-site in 2002, explaining: “I started making works on-site because I wasn’t ready to deal with everything that went along with making objects. In a lot of ways, the works on-site began out of an attempt to eliminate control. By embracing the ephemeral, I had to think and act in the present tense.” [3]

6. Love Seat by Sarah Cain was inspired by her neighbors’ break-up. After the engagement ended, Sarah’s neighbor left his wine-stained couch on the curb for trash. Sarah reclaimed the couch, painted elaborate hues on it, and created an exhibit for break-ups to flourish through color. [3]

7. In 2019, Sarah Cain created a 150-foot-long glass rainbow in the San Francisco International Airport. Within Cain’s first permanent public work, she channeled the outsider ethos of her early pieces as well as the rainbow-colored prismatic compositions of her more recent paintings and drawings. [1]

8. Cain’s interest in stained glass began with the Hollyhock House, Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1921 Mayan Revival-style residence in East Hollywood. While working on We Will Walk Right Up To The Sun, Cain decided to start working with zinc rather than a traditional lead mixture, having no idea that this was a signature of Frank Lloyd Wright—an uncanny choice, considering our initial connection came through her passion for Wright’s work. [4]

Sarah Cain, Love Seat, 2015, courtesy Honor Fraser, Los Angeles, Galerie Lelong, New York, Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco.
Sarah Cain. Photo by Jeff McLane
Sarah Cain, i touched a cactus flower, 2019. Frieze LA 2019, curated by Ali Subotnick. Image courtesy of the artist.

Sarah Cain: In Nature opens at the Momentary on February 13 and is free to view.

Sponsored by Coca-Cola, Soapbox Influence, and Juan, Marcy, and Joaquin Camacho.


Written by Kat de Sonnaville, communications intern.









Cover Photo: Sarah Cain, We Will Walk Right Up To The Sun, 2019 [detail], Permanent installation at the San Francisco International Airport Grand Hyatt Hotel Air Train Station, San Francisco, CA.