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Artist consigns work to local art gallery

When the partners of Saaren Productions viewed a documentary about Phyllis Diller "Good Night, We Love You," they had a good laugh and listened to her talk about her art work. She seemed to be so gracious on the screen that DeeJay Arens decided to write her a letter about the re-opening of the Fleur de Lis Gallery in the Wild Rose Theater.

"I thought, what the heck, I'm going to write her a letter and tell her about how we opened this theater, leased out the Masonic Temple and opened a gallery because it's very cold and we get bored in northern Minnesota," said Arens. "I thought I'd be funny, too."

They also said that they would like to hang some of Diller's artwork, that they loved her and that she was a legend. They sent a packet about Saarens Productions off to Diller with no expectations and two weeks later, they received a card from her personal assistant asking them to phone her on a specific date and time.

"We called her assistant and she asked how big a picture we wanted and how long would we keep them on loan (consignment). Diller herself picked the two pieces, and one of them is her favorite," said Arens.

The two pieces, one a print of an original watercolor, "Sunset on the Bay" and the other a mixed media, "Lisanne" weresent to the gallery along with a signed autographed picture to DeeJay and two other autographed pictures to accompany the purchase of her work.

But we Bemidjians will not have to travel to California to see a sample of her work. The two pieces will be included at the 5-8 p.m. Nov. 5 First Friday reception at the Wild Rose Theater. When her pictures are sold, Diller promises to send replacements.

At 93 years old, Diller still has "art parties" at her mansion in Brentwood where she offers her guests a martini first because it makes looking at the pictures easier. Diller started her parties in 2003 when she was 86 because she wanted to start selling her work and doesn't want to leave anything behind. The parties have all the trappings and humor of Diller as she always dresses in costume, fright wigs and all.

There is a waiting list of people wanting to attend her art parties to see originals of such notables Meg Ryan and also to purchase collectibles like the red velvet cape she wore in a "Love Boat" episode.