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Lulu and My Salida Bike Project

Getting to Know a Town through its Bikes

Ron and I moved to Salida in August. In the few short months we’ve been here, we’ve met lots of friendly and interesting people. We’ve also discovered lots of interesting bikes. Before we arrived, I was working on a series of paintings inspired by the bike form – painting bikes in various poses as a way to experiment with color combinations, media and surfaces. I displayed some of them in my show in August called Hikes & Bikes.

But after the move, the series evolved. I began to notice the bikes in Salida. Old-school townie bikes. Tricked out with bells, flowers, stickers, unique colors – people seem to use them as a form of personal expression. They’ve been elevated to an art form.

I started painting them – but not in a generic sense – more like bike portraits. Unique and individual like the bikes themselves. I wanted the owners of the bikes to be able to recognize them. And I want to get to know the town through its bikes.

Lulu, 8×8″ acrylic on panel

Then last night a connection was made! Lulu.

I’d noticed a blue bike with pink wheels, a basket and a pink flower about a month ago at the Steamplant. It had great personality so I photographed and painted it. I honestly didn’t know what to call it. Then last night we went back to the Steamplant to see a film about John Lennon. As we left, we discovered that same bike parked there so we waited a minute to see if its owner would walk out. And she did. It was Devon, who I had met previously. I was so thrilled to connect Devon to the expressive bike and showed her a picture of the painting. She told me the story of the bike.

She once had a similar bike. Sadly, it got stolen and Devon tried to find a replacement but couldn’t. They just don’t make them anymore. Then her brother, during a trip to San Francisco, found one. He bought it, dismantled it and carefully shipped it to his sister in Salida. Upon its reassembly, she named it Lulu. We so enjoyed connecting with Devon and meeting her husband Harald and feel like we’ve met new friends.

I’m loving getting to know Salida through its bikes. Now, a few more people I need to meet…

See more bike paintings on my StoreĀ 

Devon and Harald with Lulu at their anniversary party.