Sue - Artist, Designer, and Rocker

Loyal readers may remember how Sue came to be a Lava Pup.  But for others, here is the four sentence recap.  In June 2012, a year after releasing our CD and playing some gigs, Paul the Pyronaut moved to the idyllic Victorian village of Ferndale, five plus hours away.  We grappled with whether to have, and how to find, a rhythm guitar player.  Fortunately, the answer sat across the breakfast table every Sunday morning -- my sister Sue, who could play rhythm, albeit on ukulele, “with the best of them.”  She agreed, and the rest, as they say, is history.

In the Pups, Sue’s electric ukulele locks in with Glenn’s drumming to provide a solid rhythmic foundation upon which Robert and I tread.  Robert treads, and often romps, adroitly.  Lacking his daring, I occasionally stumble a bit.  Sue and Glenn, however, stay on beat.  Sue plays with aplomb and some attitude.  Often after shows, people come up and say, “Sue looks like she is really having fun.”  Or “Sue really was rockin’ out tonight!”

But Sue is more than a rocker, whose ideas and vision help differentiate us from other bands.  She also is an artist by education, and a designer by virtue of her creativity.  Sue graduated from UC Davis with a degree in fine arts.  At that time, the arts had not been relegated to a back seat in America’s education bus.  Instead, balance, artistic expression, creativity, and impracticality were respected and often encouraged.  Counterculture was visible and extolled in the media.  America reveled in its rebels as counterweights to the practical, button-down status quo that the Eisenhower years produced and as beacons for the optimism generated by the Kennedys.

While Sue studied, the UC Davis faculty included Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Arneson, Roy DeForest, William T. Wiley, and Manuel Neri.  The school was an art incubator.  It pulled the Central Valley out of impressionist landscapes into exciting new subjects and forms.

But, through the years, painting was not the only outlet for Sue’s creativity.  She lived in a loft before that was de rigueur for Sacramento’s urban dwellers.  Fiercely independent and entrepreneurial, she embarked on novel -- and possibly pioneering -- businesses.  She owned a midtown store long before that became a community staple.  She started a dessert diner near Broadway and 16th, when Tower Records, the Tower Theatre, and Melarkey’s offered an nightlife alternative to gentrified, yuppy bars and new wave clubs.  Later, as she settled into the 1990s, Sue owned a restaurant and bar that became a neighborhood hangout.  Nothing upscale; no celebrity chefs; nothing complicated; just a friendly place to have a meal and good conversation.

In her business and other endeavors, Sue’s creative juices continuously flow.  Something new is always just around the corner.  Even though she never really left, she has returned to painting in earnest.  Her works have appeared in numerous group shows in our City’s galleries.  And her commissioned dog renderings now are hung with care by proud owners.

Several months ago, Sue struck upon another creative outlet to add to painting:  eco friendly jewelry.  She conjured up recycling bicycle inner tubes by cutting them up and using them in necklaces and earrings.  Wow!  “Eco friendly jewelry.”  No blood diamonds.  No plastics.  But how did she even come up with that idea?  That is the mystery of creative people.

Last week, a 20-something woman noticed Sue’s earrings.  “Where did you get those?”  Offering the earring for touch, Sue responded, “I made them out of bicycle inner tubes.”  The 20-something inquired, “Can I get a pair?”  Sue, the entrepreneur, replied, “Sure.  Here’s my card.”

Yes, indeed, Sue is not only a rocker.  She applies her creativity to be an artist and designer.  The Lava Pups are lucky to have her.  And -- I probably will get an earful for writing this -- I am lucky to have Sue as a sister and, occasionally, a fashion adviser.
  But, as lucky as I may be, you will not see me modeling recycled bicycle inner tube earrings any time soon!


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