Chryssa Wolfe Painting
Gaudi Girl in Foyer
Artist: Scott Causey
Formal Dining Room
Formal Dining Room
Master Bedroom Sitting Area
Large paintign at the top of stairs.
Guest Room and Sitting Area
Salmon Mobile in Stairwell
Owners Donnee and Candy Ramelli
The Art of Home Décor
Works by artists both local and global enliven this North Shores abode
Visitors to the Rehoboth Beach-area home of Candy and DonneeRamelli are greeted at the front door by a glass mosaic creature, fondly referred to by her owners as the “Gaudi Girl.”
“We don’t know what she is,” Candy says. “I guess some sort of mystical creature.”
The giraffe-like figure, 3½ feet tall and created by Newark artist Celeste Kelly, reminds the couple of work by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi, who incorporated stained glass in many of his buildings. She is just one of many original works of art that the Ramellis have in their collection — from a pair of 18th-century wooden Chinese foo dogs (with some of their original black paint still intact) to comic-like paintings by Rehoboth artist Matt Adler. “If you’re lucky enough to live at the beach, you’re lucky enough,” one of Adler’s characters says in a speech bubble. “Mirror mirror on the wall, what the hell happened?” another says.
Built in 1991, the Ramelli house is one of 10 properties on this year’s Rehoboth Art League Cottage Tour. Candy and Donnee bought the North Shores home in 1997 as a vacation getaway, and immediately had all the oak floors pickled, to lighten them up. When they made it their permanent home in 2006, they hired EH Custom Homes, of Lewes, to remake the dining room into a family room, enclose a screened porch for a new dining room and build a large screened porch on the back of the house. That porch has since been enclosed with windows to make it a Florida room.
The Ramelli art collection includes nearly a dozen paintings by Washington, D.C., artist Chryssa Wolfe, several of which hang in the living room. One depicts a lively cocktail party; another shows a woman seemingly kissing her goldfish goodbye. “We like the playfulness of Chryssa’s paintings, and at the same time they can be meaningful,” Candy says.
Also in the living room are the foo dogs and, hanging over the wood-burning fireplace, an early-19th century convex mirror that Candy bought in England’s Cotswolds region. Walls in the room are sky blue and the two sofas are white.
The sitting room, across the hall from the living room, is painted white. Its furniture is also white with the occasional black highlight, including the painted steel frame of an elegant glass-top coffee table in front of the sofa. An 18th-century waist-high chinoiserie cupboard, made in England, stands in a corner.
The Ramellis’ formal dining room — where they eat every evening, no matter what’s on the menu — is painted flat black. Despite that, it’s not a dark space. Several windows allow plenty of light in. The chandelier and sconces are white and the 10 dining table chairs are covered in white floor-length slipcovers.
Artwork in that room includes another painting by Wolfe, a Picasso lithograph and two lithographs by American psychedelic artist Peter Max. Another painting, by German artist Lilian Adcock, was purchased by the Ramellis at a flea market in Brussels. “We’re not quite sure what it is,” Candy says. “Maybe some sort of cocktail party. There’s a woman in a tutu and a man with a number on his back. We don’t understand it, but we like it.”
In the kitchen — aka the Matt Adler Gallery, as several of his paintings hang there — a colorful glass monkey created by Sarasota, Fla., artist Scott Causey stands on the quartz counter. The 2-foot-tall “Jimmy,” already named when the Ramellis acquired him, is 20 inches long, from the tip of his front extended paw to the end of his curling tail.
The Ramelli collection doesn’t follow a particular theme, Candy says. “In general, our art is pretty eclectic. We have mainly happy art, with bright colors.”
Donnee adds that, when looking at a painting or sculpture, he likes to remember where he and Candy were when they bought it.
His wife agrees. “We are lousy photographers, so what happens is that we have memories through our paintings, and the other art that we’ve purchased,” she says.
In any case, “we always have had a lot of art. It just feels like home.”