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The Short Version:

The wish would be to make people happy in the way a person would feel happy if they were being carried upward in a funny little tram, or maybe a rocket, and things look different as they go higher, and everything is silly, or breathtaking, or peculiar, or hilarious, or resplendent, or delightful, or sad, and they are there, and they are not, looking up to catch sight of the stars and planets and the asteroids. Feeling like existing and feeling like the world exists, with them in it. Dreaming. Going all around, but being still, too. That sort of happy.

The Longer Version:

Betsy Streeter (she/her) is a native of the East Bay in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA. She is an artist.

In the past she has slung pizzas, painted sets, answered phones (badly, so badly she once asked a fellow how his name was spelled – his name was ‘Ed’), developed a training program that featured a bear with no clothes and no gender, built “knowledgebases” before dynamic web pages or any of that whatnot, and spent many hours in board rooms watching executives assert their dominance. “Mister Toad’s Wild Ride Through Corporate America,” as she terms it, featured an IPO, some mergers, some acquisitions, some being-aquired-s, some ‘user-group conference’ boondoggles, many now-obsolete computer systems (iOmega!), so much mis-use of PowerPoint, and what she hoped was stylish but was probably just nerdy business attire. And slippery business-y shoes.

One of Betsy’s cartoons is taped to the cabinet in Paul Giamatti’s character’s office in the movie San Andreas starring The Rock. Another travels around with the Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory’s exhibit on black holes. She has been learning to tattoo and so far has inked herself and one of her kids.

Betsy is an East Bay baby – she grew up rooting for the Raiders and the A’s and Ray Guy and Kenny Stabler and Hendu and Dave Stewart and Jim Plunkett and the San Jose Earthquakes (and for a while the Stompers) and World Team Tennis. She was and is a huge fan of Martina Navratilova, David Bowie, and Jacques Cousteau and Carl Sagan. She was a kid who needed to run around a lot so she played all the sports. She had Bjorn Borg and Pelé posters on her walls and watched Cosmos and The Muppet Show and a lot of MTV.

Betsy’s hometown was/is the semi-rural site of a national laboratory, so the adults around were chemists or biologists and sometimes rocket scientists – and/or, ranchers or vintners. They were musicians and photographers and artists as well. Scientists do a lot of art and vice versa.

As a kid she was obsessed with the Painting section of her parents’ encyclopedia, which had a color plate of Raft of the Medusa by Géricault. She loved the covers of science fiction and fantasy novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs and Asimov and all those folks. She also gravitated toward Cy Twombly and Jenny Holzer, and record album covers at Tower and Rasputin and Amoeba and any other record store, and street art, and Indigenous American art. The narrative/illustration impulse has always been there in one form or another.

Betsy’s parents had a theater company with their friends in a one-room schoolhouse that burned down in the 70s. Her mom acted and directed and sang soprano and her dad acted and played trombone or piano and built sets and did lighting. Her dad played the piano for hours every day – Chopin, Schubert, Scriabin, Beethoven, and Bach, mostly. Their small-ish living room was the site of an endless progression of rehearsals and performances.

David Bowie/Klaus Nomi/Joey Arias on SNL

Betsy did her high school FORTRAN homework on a Cray that her dad used for work (considered a supercomputer at the time, these days’ it’s probably an iPhone) by way of a teletype with tractor-feed paper. Her family would visit the Lab on Family Day (where her dad worked as a systems programmer), and she was enthralled with a role-play game running on a teletype sitting in the hallway. The computer room full of donut-shaped Crays was used to film scenes in the movie, Tron.

Portable teletype machine like the one her dad would bring home – you stuck the phone receiver into that thing at the top

When she got to college she studied painting and drawing with Nathan Oliveira (printmaking and monotype) and Frank Lobdell (who reminded her to “slow the brush down”) and Communication (documentary film and journalism, where she learned to edit film by hand). At her school if you weren’t a “techie” – pre-med or pre-law or an engineer – you were “a fuzzy” or just lacked direction in general.

Like many people Betsy got started drawing cartoons on paper placemats at restaurants. That evolved into Brainwaves, a single-panel feature that grew to over 2,000 panels that travel the world in many forms such as wall paintings and psychology textbooks and a tennis water bottle.

She collaborates with Grant Petersen of Rivendell Bicycle Works on books, the first of which is Bicycle Sentences. An illustrated history of the American bicycle is in progress and will probably comprise two volumes when all is said and drawn.

“In the alchemy of art, once you embed your consciousness in material, one plus one equals three.
That is, one thing placed with or next to another produces a new third thing.
This third thing then combines and re-multiplies with and off of all other previous third things.
These form colonies and networks that then become culture. Each culture is in constant dialog with other cultures.
In this way art forms our consciousness and culture that then forms art and culture that then – – it is culture all the way down.” – Jerry Saltz

“This is a donut.” – David Lynch

Clients/Publications (partial list)

King Features

The Funny Times

Utne Reader

Body + Soul Magazine (a Martha Stewart publication)

Coaching Sanctuary

For Women First Magazine

Z Magazine (cover, double issue)

Universal Press

Wiley Publishing

Thomson Learning

Henry Stewart Talks

Daily Press, Newport News Virginia

Utah Statesman, Utah State University

The Lamoni Chronicle, Lamoni, Iowa

The Rake, Minneapolis, Minnesota

She Shines (YWCA), Rhode Island

Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory Exhibit, “Black Holes and Time Twists”

Mommy Tracked

Oxford University


Stanford University Press