Don’t Fence Me In

Cheri Uno, Artist Athlete

In seeking out more “Artist Athletes,” I just realized that I have more friendships with trail runners. Something about running in the woods has created space for me to get to know someone on a richer level than running the roads. I met Cheri Uno when I was a trail newbie. While running with the Pasadena Pacers, I became fast friends with Kelly. She invited me for at least a year to join her and some others on Sundays, running trails. When I finally decided it was okay to get my shoes dirty, my world suddenly got bigger. I could have never dreamt the gifts I was to experience thru trail running.

Cheri Uno was one of the Arroyo Trail Blazers, founded by Sachiko Pedder (I credit Sachiko & Kelly for leading me to the dirt). During this time, I read “Ultramarathon Man” by Dean Karnazes. I think it was around 2006. I had never heard of this ultra stuff. Around 2007, the Arroyo Trail Blazers that were not running Mt. Disappointment volunteered. Cheri and I offered up to help out an aid station (drawing a blank at the moment – Red Box?). This is where I met Fred Pollard to whom I credit for the nudge to get me to run long on trails. He asked if I wanted to sweep. I balked. He said you don’t have to train for this. I asked Cheri if it was okay to go and with her consent, off we went. Shortly after that, I began training for my first 50K. I could go on & on about Fred but I’ve already written more about me than Cheri. I’m just trying to connect the dots of the wonderful influences I’ve had in in my life thru trail running.

I’m also drawn to creative folk. Cheri is one of those. Cheri has probably taken as many classes as she has logged miles. She has a thirst to learn while exercise keeps her sane. We haven’t shared a run in a long time but I can usually count on seeing her participating in the same events. I always appreciate seeing her and saying hello. It’s like seeing family – my cousin that watched me grow up on the trails (late bloomer I am). In 2009, Cheri and her husband loaned me their largest cooler. I was asked to crew at Badwater. My first assignment was to obtain a cooler that a person could sit in for an ice bath. Cheri always jokes about her cooler getting TV exposure (weather channel doc).

I asked Cheri when she started making art and when did she begin exercising.

I started making art when I was about 7 years old. We had these art books around the house so I started painting watercolors, copying pictures from magazines. In high school I took a ceramics class, worked the kiln at a local art center and fell in love with ceramics. I knew I could not make a living at it so I went to nursing school for income. I played tennis during nursing school. Finished nursing school, started art classes while working as nurse and got a BA. For graduate school, I applied to Otis Art Institute for painting. To my disappointment, Otis did not have PE classes. I began running at local track at night and loved it. I ran a 10K and surprisingly did better than most of my friends. I continued to run just for fun. Running was my meditation time to think about art projects for grad school.

Upon finishing school, I worked at an Art Library and painted in my studio. I discovered computers at library! So off to grad school again for computer science. Here, I added swimming to the mix. Running and swimming saved my sanity from intense school work. I got a job doing computer graphics – the early days. I discovered a great pool at Caltech so continued to swim and run. I loved computers.  Programming was like talking to a machine. Just seemed so amazing. All during this time, I was still drawing and painting with watercolors and some oils.

ceramics by Cheri Uno

During a 6 month stay in Japan, I saw a pottery studio along the river where I was running. This made me long to get back to ceramics. When I returned to LA, I began taking classes in ceramics while continuing to paint. Then I began taking printing classes. All the time running. Triathlons caught my attention because I had the running and swimming and just needed the bike.

Art and exercise (currently, just walking) keeps me happy and grounded from all the BS of life. I think I have never been depressed because I know I can go lose my head to doing either! Many times I use the exercise as a type of meditation and social event. I sometimes love just to run/walk on my own. As art is a solitary activity, I can make my own decisions. I do it mostly for myself. I have sold some pieces but they are mine and I feel no one can love them as much as I do. Exercise helps the art process for me and art is the object produced from the thought processes while running and swimming. Both are very relaxing for me – stress relievers

Nurse. Computer Science. Painter. Ceramics. Print Making. Runner. Swimmer. Triathlete. I bet there’s more but you get the picture. Don’t fence yourself in. You like, you do, like Cheri Uno!

ceramics by Cheri Uno
by Cheri Uno
by Cheri Uno
Cheri Uno, Artist Athlete



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