10 questions for Danny Salzhandler, president of 101 Artists Colony

Danny Salzhandler has been a member of the 101 Artists’ Colony Board of Directors since 1999 and has served as its president since 2003. He started Full Moon Poets in 2001 and the Arts Alive Foundation in 2014.

A member of the VFW and Encinitas Rotary, he also served for 10 years as a board member on the now Cardiff 101 Main Street and then Cardiff-By-The-Sea Chamber of Commerce.

He grew up in Houston, and was a zookeeper at the Houston Zoo and supervisor of the Reptile Department at the Waco Zoo in 1968. Drafted in 1969, he spent a little over a year in Vietnam where he met his future brother-in-law.

“I was just passing through Dallas in 1973 to visit this friend from the Army on my way back to a grove of eucalyptus trees I lived under in Watsonville, California. He introduced me to his girlfriend’s sister (Norma), we fell in love and got married.”

They lived in Dallas for 20 years where he started a construction company called Industrial Automation & Construction, designing and installing conveyor systems until 1994 when Norma received a job offer in California.

“We were fortunate to land in Cardiff,” he said. “I gave up on the conveyor business and got back to my old zookeeper days, combining welding and reptile/amphibian knowledge to create sculptures that contained a vivarium within the sculpture.”

A departure from these sculptures, which he calls Biosculptures, are large-size steel animal sculptures, including a 22-foot-tall, 5-ton woolly mammoth sculpture in the courtyard of an office complex in San Juan Capistrano, and leaping dolphins sculptures in Mission Viejo and Encinitas.

Salzhandler answers 10 questions:

What brought you to Encinitas?

My wife, Norma, got a job offer from a candy company out here. Lucky me.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in Encinitas?

Below-grade railroad tracks through Encinitas with a park on top. A permanent home for the 101 Artists Colony.

Who or what inspires you?

Poetry slams, art, conversations at the Java Hut.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, who (living or deceased) would you invite?

Jonathan Winters, Dalai Lama, Stevie Nicks, Townes Van Zandt, Maggie Houlihan, Bob Hord, Mamie Van Doren and Billy Stewart .

What are your favorite movies?

“Midnight Cowboy,” “Big Lebowski,” “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” the original “Out Of Towners,” “Dead Man” (if there’s lots of coffee)

What is your most prized possession?

Besides my wedding ring, it is a small antique green glass net float I found in 1968, half buried in the sand on a little uninhabited island in the Exumas.

What do you do for fun?

Drive country backroads with Norma, and the music playing; cooking pancakes on the 4th of July for my friends at Moonlight Beach.

What is it that you most dislike?


What would be your dream vacation?

Riding in Willie Nelson’s tour bus through the Texas Hill Country.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

Always allow for mistakes.