A cheery gray-haired woman sits on a red stool in a light-filled room, a colorful painting with red flowers and very green grass behind her on the wall and a backyard garden behind her through the window.
Sas Colby in her Berkeley studio. Credit: Farrol Mertes

As a mature woman artist, Sas Colby knows the importance of community and collaboration. She particularly values an artists’ breakfast group that meets informally once a month at Café Leila to share information. 

Colby, whose work is internationally collected, is a member of the Bay Area Women Artists Legacy Project. “We women are writing our own histories since our contributions are frequently overlooked,” Colby said.

Colby came to Berkeley in 1975 from Connecticut to begin a new life after a divorce, with her 14-year-old daughter who attended Berkeley High. A resident of South Berkeley, her studio is just a few steps from her back door. She works diligently, pausing to document various stages of work or to take observation breaks on abstractions from her garden.

“I extend the painting day as long as possible,” Colby said. “My dog will start barking at me when it’s time for his evening walk, and that will end the day.”

Over five decades, her multi-disciplinary practice has encompassed painting, collage and photography, textiles and book arts. Involved in current and upcoming exhibitions, she is busy painting and creating one-of-a-kind books made of canvas, including a limited edition printed book with a lot of handwork.

A tattered-edged book on a blank background with a page being turned. A skull and a flower are visible and, on the turning page, three dots.
‘Mento Mori,’ 2023. An eight-page canvas book made with acrylic paint, found objects and gold thread. Credit: Sas Colby

Berkeley is home for Colby because of long-standing friendships, art world connections, an attachment to her neighborhood, and all that Berkeley has to offer.

“I love the Botanical Garden, walks at Cesar Chavez Park with my dog, and going to concerts at Zellerbach and Freight & Salvage,” Colby said.

Through June 18, San Francisco Center for the Book. “Craft & Conceptual Art: Reshaping the Legacy of Artists’ Books.” See website for gallery hours. FREE

Sept. 13-Nov. 17. Richmond Art Center. “Secret Orders from the Heart.” Sas Colby with Joell Jones, Irene Imfeld, and Kim Thoman. See website for gallery hours. Opening reception: Saturday, Sept. 16, 12-2 p.m. FREE

Mary Corbin is a writer and artist who has lived in Berkeley for over 30 years. Mary moved to the Bay Area from St. Louis to attend California College of the Arts in Oakland where she completed her BFA...