The arts have always been a part of Sarah Greenman. As a child, this painter, playwright, and activist spent hours with her maternal grandmother, a watercolorist in a small attic studio. Her grandfather built the sacred room, because he knew it was important for his wife to have space of her own. That tradition has continued, with Greenman now having a studio behind her own home in Oregon. Its name is “The Little Shed That Could” and it is a place for Greenman to spread out, get messy and experiment.
Growing up in California, Greenman spent a lot of time active with the local community theater. Both of her parents were involved with directing, scriptwriting and performing. Her paternal grandmother even lent her seamstress skills to designing their costumes. Having caught the acting bug, Greenman went on to graduate from the Pacific Conservatory Theater (PCPA).
While serving as interim Director of Outreach and Education at PCPA, she fell in love with her partner, Jack, an accomplished actor and voice dialect coach. The couple relocated to Dallas, where Jack worked at a local university. Greenman frequently contributed to the home tour site Houzz.com and also worked on her lifestyle blog, La Maison Boheme, which focuses on modern bohemianism and art.
Together she and Jack are raising two sons, Walker and Charlie. Charlie lives with a host of special needs that stem from an pediatric stroke and Craniosynostosis. During his early years, Greenman took up painting, because it was something she could do with Charlie in a chest baby carrier. A neighbor saw several of her works and commissioned Greenman to create three inspirational pieces for a fitness studio.
“That commission changed my life,” said Greenman. “Because of Charlie’s medical care, I could no longer work traditional theatre hours and had to step away from acting. It was very isolating and painting became therapeutic. From that first commission came another and more work started selling. I never dreamed it would become a lucrative profession and am so grateful the art speaks to many people.”
In addition to large pieces, Greenman paints house portraits for clients. She considers them little painted love letters because in her words “homes shelter the hopes and dreams of the inhabitants.”
Prior to marriage, Greenman attended Mills College in Oakland, California, where she earned a BA in Creative Writing with a Women’s Studies emphasis. While there she was awarded the Gertrude Hung Chan Playwriting Prize for her original play LENI and the June Jordan Prize for Poetry. LENI opens with audiences meeting two Leni Riefenstahls, one in the passionate prime of her youth and the other looking back, editing and tinkering away at the events of her life.
“What would happen if the older self confronts the younger’s actions, that’s something I explore in the work,” Greenman surmised. “And the two selves cannot agree on the facts of their life. With everything presently going on in our nation, there’s been new interest in the contradictions LENI examines.”
Greenman’s second play, THE CENTER, is currently in development.
In 2017, Greenman and her family relocated to Oregon. In addition to embracing a new community, Greenman became the Operations Director for StateraArts. The organization focuses on bringing women into full and equal participation in the arts. Mentorship is a key element, as is leadership, pushing for higher salaries, and improved childcare and family housing.
“Statera is the Latin word for balance and for the past several years we have focused on increasing opportunities for theatre artists who identify as women,” Greenman said. “We have to change who is sitting at the table, making decisions. For far too long women, especially women of color have been denied a spot. There are powerful movements going on in the country right now and it’s up to each of us to participate.”
In addition to supporting Statera’s program development, Greenman assists with website maintenance, newsletters, social media presence, and public relations. The organization’s fourth annual conference will take place in October and every spring it organizes Support Women Artists Now (SWAN) Day.
When she’s not working to change the world or composing works of art, Greenman can be found walking the trails near her home. Often she’s quietly contemplating what her next creative move will be.
Creator Spotlight features interviews with artistic women/girls and showcases their work. If you know an artist you’d like to see spotlighted, email Erin at erin(at)girlsthatcreate(dot)com.