Into the Artist's Lair


  • Joy Dellas

From a high wall overlooking my kitchen, the Angel of Purses and Keys monitors my distraction and does her best to keep me on track. Or at least that's what I would imagine she does if I were prone to angels.

But just looking at her in the morning makes me consider: black purse in left hand, set of keys in right, smart red heels, red dress, brown hair, massive white wings. She stands on black-and-white tiles at her open front door. Behind her, beyond the tidy rooftops of Manila, puffy clouds of steam drift sideways from the (now-dead) pulp mill. "Be prepared as you walk into the world each day," she seems to say. Mostly, her goofy aspect makes me smile.

I bought this colorful small painting directly from the artist, Joy Dellas, during Open Studios one year. I had thumbed through stacks of unframed work in Dellas' cramped, colorful studio till the angel appeared. There were others (amid the winning cats and stolid dogs) — including a winged male holding a hammer and toolbox, which someone nabbed before I could get it. Dellas told me she had painted my angel literally to remind herself not to forget her purse and keys. I took my painting home, glued it to handmade fuchsia paper and a recycled wood frame, and hung it up.

This is the beauty of Open Studios: You find treasures, and you get to talk to the artists in their own habitat (which sometimes includes chickens).

The 15th Annual North Coast Open Studios is this weekend and next weekend, June 1 and 2 and June 8 and 9, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. You will find a directory of artists, a map to their studios, images of their work and more at Be aware that some artists only open their studios for one weekend, others for both.


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