Bay Area Street Portraits: Terri
[Editor's Note: This series comes to us from Charlotte Buchen of StreetsblogSF and chronicles residents in the Bay Area and the role transportation plays in their lives. This is the first in the series.]
Terri Saul paints impossible childhood fantasies on canvas. Inspired by her Choctaw-Chickasaw roots as well as memories of childhood bike rides through the outer edges of Los Angeles, many of Terri’s paintings combine classic Tour de France imagery with the regalia of Native American dancers. And now, her daughter Lydia, too, is taking to the magic and independence of the bicycle.
Woman 1: [0:06] Wait...let me try that again.
Terri: [0:13] Saul: I'm Terri Saul, and I live in Berkley, California. I am a painter. I grew up in Los Angeles, and I would come home after school, I would just get on my 10-speed, and take off and explore the city. [0:32] To me, I felt like I was the only cyclist in L.A., and I was a kid, and that was my perspective. Everyone drove. I felt like I was seeing things that other people were not seeing. I thought that I could be like a professional cyclist; like I could be in the Tour De France.
[0:50] You know how it is when you are nine years old. It is like, "Oh yeah, I will definitely do that someday!" [laughs]
Lydia: [1:05] is my daughter, she is 13 years old. She cycles to school almost every day. She also appreciates the same things about bicycling that I do, I think. Getting around by the power of her own body, and feeling strong and independent. [1:30] It also helps me feel safe letting her go a little bit, because I know that I did it, even at a much younger age than she is doing it now.
Lydia: [1:50] My mom's bicycle paintings are really cool. They are not super realistic, but they... I definitely sense kind of a movement in the bicycles. It is almost like she paints them not as an inanimate object, but as something living.
Terri: [2:11] I am Cherokee, Choctaw and Chickasaw. My Grandpa Chief was Choctaw-Chickasaw. He was a painter, and so his artwork, his native artwork was in our home, and we would talk about it. I would copy it a lot. He painted with these graceful long lines. [music]
[2:31] So Native Americans started riding bicycles in my work, out of the blue, just from my unconscious I started dressing my Tour De France riders in Native American regalia; all kinds.
[2:48] It just came out unconsciously.
[2:51] And later I figured out that, you know, these were sort of impossible childhood fantasies that were coming together. I had these dreams that Native Americans would ride bicycles instead of horses. You know, like this was the new pony.
[3:28] There is something magical, something really transformative to be able to move forward without touching the ground. They become one with their bicycle, they are like a creature. Like the bicycle and the rider, they are an animal. It's like a pack of wild coyotes. [laughs]
Man 1: [3:45] Again-1, 2, 3, 4! [music]