With her white, wispy hair and smiling eyes behind delicate glasses, 92-year old Phyllis Thelen looks every bit the great-grandmother that she is. But she's got a biting sense of irony.
If you step into her San Rafael art studio, one of the first things you notice are the 12 wooden globes up on a high shelf. They're big -- the size of soccer balls. Each globe is covered in something representing the various ways humans are despoiling the planet -- homes, flames -- and sits atop a silver screw, screwed into a wooden block.
Phyllis calls her collection "Planet Earth Screwed."
This is Phyllis Thelen's moment.
I don't paint flowers. I don't do the usual beauty that most people think about. I look at the wrinkles in a piece of bark, which has a really attractive look that nature did herself. I like to look at pieces that fell off of trees and plants that are dead -- totally dead -- because they are dry and I can keep them looking that way forever.