CEDAR RAPIDS — “Oh, that one sold,” Sara Sorensen exclaims as she winds her way through the Mercy Medical Center hallway toward the cafeteria. “And that one sold.”
For Sara, a Cedar Rapids artist for more than 35 years who is as critical of her own work as anyone, it is always a pleasant surprise that a painting she created entices someone to spend $100 or more to take it home.
The sale of the 20 watercolors displayed here, the framed and matted florals and abstracts in bright colors with wispy brush strokes and intricate three-dimensional touches, will benefit the Alzheimer’s Foundation.
“I have a lot of friends that have had Alzheimer’s,” Sara says. “I have friends that have it. I just think this is some little way I can help.”
Throughout her painting career — one she discovered after teaching elementary school for five years — Sara has generously donated proceeds to various causes. In recent years she’s had shows at the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, The Garden House at Brucemore, McAuley Gallery at Mount Mercy University. Guaranty Bank on Bever Avenue SE and Ginsberg’s Jewelers.
This, she says, is her last hurrah.
“I used to do a lot of shows. It’s a lot of work. I’ve done enough. It’s time for somebody else to take over.”
That doesn’t mean Sara will stop painting — she has too much fun with it — only that she’ll stop selling her work at organized shows.
Wander the hallway at Mercy with her and she’ll talk about yesterday and today, about painting grapes and vines, about how she first came to Mercy as a volunteer.
A Mount Pleasant native and graduate of its Wesleyan College, she came to Cedar Rapids to teach and fully embraced the community. From volunteering here and at St. Luke’s, she’s been a Cedar Rapids ambassador and champion of cancer prevention.
When Mercy’s Hall-Perrine Cancer Center opened this summer, she donated a pair of watercolors — “Reflections” and “Harmony” — for the lobby. Her other painting titles reflect Sara’s penchant for the positive, from “Happiness” to “Summer Remembered” and “Energy of Nature.”
She loves to talk about “negative space,” those areas in a painting where she’ll go back and fill it in with more leaves or background flowers.
“I don’t follow the norms,” Sara says. “I like to do what I want to do. I put my spirit into it. I put my personality into it.”
As she has started over in life before — she and her first husband divorced and her second, Al Sorensen, died last year — Sara has no qualms about retiring from public showings.
“I feel like I’m on a treadmill all the time,” she says. “I’m always going, doing things around the community. I’m just a goer and a doer.”
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