Sculptor Danny Salzhandler’s 30-foot Colombian Mammoth sculpture in San Juan Capistrano. Photo by Jim Babwe.
A Brush with Art

Metal sculptor combines art, nature and community service

There are no two ways about it: Danny Salzhandler is a great guy. But many people who know him for his community contributions may not be aware that he is also an award-winning metal sculptor who has received an abundance of recognition for his artwork.A native of Houston, he and his wife Norma came to Cardiff in 1994 when she accepted a position with a San Diego based corporation. The war veteran said lightheartedly, “As an infantryman in Vietnam I met my best friend, who then became my brother-in-law when I married his wife’s sister.”

Although the self-taught welder had previously used his skills for industrial applications, Salzhandler began welding and constructing steel sculptures soon after arriving on the West Coast. Merging his experience in steel construction with his past experience as a zookeeper at the Houston and Waco zoos, he began creating vivariums: steel sculptures that encase terrariums containing animal and plant life. His company “Biosculptures” was subsequently born.

His first vivariums were not only juried into the Del Mar Fine Art Show, but also won People’s Choice and 2nd place awards that year. He soon began receiving numerous commissions and requests to exhibit in galleries and museums, including San Diego’s Museum of Natural History. In 2006 Salzhandler was selected by the City of Encinitas to create a Biosculpture as a gift for its sister city of Amakusa, Japan.

Salzhandler explained, “I sculpt Biosculptures to frame the diverse microcosms that make up the wildness of our world.” He continued,” I enjoy bringing nature into a direct experience, creating sustainable eco-systems for life within art.”

Salzhandler’s roots extend deeply into the local community. An article in “Ocean Magazine” said of him, “Without (his) high level of energy, organizational skills, (and) willingness to donate many hours of time, the nationally recognized Arts Alive Banner Program, The Full Moon Poets, The La Paloma Poetry Slam, among many other projects in progress, would flat-out not exist.” As a longstanding member of Encinitas Rotary Club, Salzhandler has frequently donated sculptures created specifically for their fundraising events.

For his tireless volunteer work, promoting the involvement of art in downtown events, and for his ongoing work with the Arts Alive Banner program, Salzhandler was named Volunteer of the Year by Downtown Encinitas Mainstreet Association. In 2008, he and his wife Norma were presented with an official proclamation of appreciation by the City of Encinitas. Two years later, he was recognized as 2010 Citizen of the Year by the Encinitas Chamber of Commerce.

Most recently, Salzhandler was acknowledged by Alison Burns in her book entitled “Legendary Locals of Encinitas” for helping initiate the Arts Alive program in 2000, as well as for creating a five-ton sculpture of a Columbian Mammoth in San Juan Capistrano. Other examples of his work can be viewed locally, including stainless steel dolphin sculptures located in the garden setting of the Mammoth Professional Building on Saxony Road in Encinitas.

More of his work can be seen by visiting his website at

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