I grew up in a neighborhood which had a small river and a swamp. This is where I spent the largest part of growing up. Here I developed a deep love of nature and the patterns that existed within it. Watching the water flow and create chaotic swirls made me think deeply of the complexity of fluid dynamics and life. I became interested in art and creativity in my early teens, when I started building model cars. The real inspiration at this time was Ed “Big Daddy” Roth. His amazing car designs and Rat Fink drawings fueled my imagination and inspired me to want to create. It is not surprising that later I found that Big Daddy Roth was considered the Salvador Dali of car designers. Big Daddy was not only an amazing car designer and artist, but a unique personality, and reading about him affected me. I drew constantly as a junior high student and looked forward to high school where they actually had organized art classes as an elective. Problem was, the teacher wanted to teach art history and not the mechanics of perspective, drawing or shading which I wanted so badly to learn. He ended up finding me disruptive and would often lock me in the art area's clay room during class. This unfortunately turned me off to art altogether and I did not take, or do art after my freshman year.
I graduated high school in 1968 and that winter I was in a shopping mall when I happened to find a book in a card store that changed my life. It was Dali, by Draeger. The candy box cover, the melting watches and the amazing imagery inside resparked an interest in art, and brought my mind back to those days in the swamp, contemplating the complexity of fluid motion. While the surreal and in particular, the nuclear mystical images affected me deeply, it was one peculiar image of the baby Dali biting a rat that convinced me I had a deep connection to this man. I could not afford the book but sometime later went to the library and read Dali’s “Secret Life”. From that autobiography I knew Dali spent several months in NYC each winter at the St. Regis Hotel, so in the winter of 1970 I decided to call him. After a few fruitless attempts, Dali answered the phone one Sunday. I introduced myself and said I would very much like to meet him.
He invited me to come to see him that evening at 6PM in the hotel. I arrived a little late and asking for Dali at the front desk I was directed to the cocktail lounge (now gone). In the room, Dali was seated at the back table with large candelabra mimicking his famous moustache. There was a long line of people seated to Dali’s left and it seemed as though the most rich, famous or outrageous person to appear would be the next one to sit next to the master. In watching this I realized I did not know what I had to say to him, and after an hour or two, introduced myself briefly and excused myself. At this point I decided I had to teach myself to paint to have something with which to relate to him. I returned home and bought some supplies. After making a few paintings squirting color directly out of the tubes and doing little to mix color I realized something was very wrong. Again I went to the library and read about master's techniques and found out that one should use a medium to spread paint. This made things much better and over the summer I completed several paintings very much in the style of Dali. I photographed them, and come winter of 1971 when Dali returned to NYC, I called and was again invited to see him 6PM on a Sunday evening. This time I arrived early and was the first to sit with him. I showed him my painting photographs which he critiqued one by one: ” this was good", "this one needed more work", "this I did better than you”. At the end of the photos, he folded all the pictures and declared, “We will do some collaborations”.
Thus started my Dali adventure. For the next 5 years I would travel to NY 2-5 times a week to work with Dali during the winter months, and during the summer I would do research and find projects for the following winter. There are too many stories and anecdotes to cover these amazing times in this short biography. I will try to eventually cover many of these within these pages and some are already covered in picture descriptions on this website. Basically I started not as an artist but as a chief cook and bottle washer type, doing odd errands like running to bookstores, doing research and even cleaning brushes (Dali would not only smell a brush to see if I had cleaned it to his liking, but he would even taste it at times).
Working with Dali was starting to wane in 1976 when two things happened, Dali was upset with me because I was getting more local press that mentioned me than he was getting, and I got a girlfriend. This led to seeing Dali less and less until he was ill and not returning to the US, when I would call him occasionally until only Gala would answer saying Dali is too ill and in bed medicated. Having such a deep reverence and love of the man I was actually surprised when he died in 1989. Being close to him afforded me the romantic notion that he actually would be immortal.
In 1977 I got a job at Perkin Elmer and started my career in semiconductor lithography. This field is highly technical and is responsible for printing circuit patterns on silicon which later become the chips that run our computers, phones and electronic devices. I still work in this field and have worked at Intel, IT&T and spent eight years supporting IBM. While I have done little or no artwork throughout this period I poured my creativity into patents, of which I have approximately 30 worldwide. Perhaps here, or at an evening with Dali where some engineers brought into the St Regis one of the first graphical computers, I developed a love of technology and in particular, computer graphics.
As soon as home computes were doing something graphically, I had to have one and started with an Atari. While Apple had a system available it did not have the graphics capabilities of the Atari, where I learned about graphics, sprites and character animation, when character animation was making several versions of text characters and flipping through them to animate the pixels. With the Advent of the Amiga and a special graphics mode that allowed 4096 colors on screen. This allowed me to start using the home computer for reasonable looking art, even though the resolution was low. I started doing Dalinian themed art and quickly was doing magazine covers and articles on techniques. Most of the art and 3d software companies would send me their products for testing and I made advertising art for many of them. Excelling in 3D, I formed my own small software company and made 2 iterations of 2 products which were quite popular as they allowed anyone to get great surface qualities on their 3D objects easily.
I brought this forward in my work in semiconductors and did technical illustrations and animations to demonstrate difficult technical topics. These were used by the company for internal meetings and customer demonstrations.
Last January I was fortunate enough to have my longtime girlfriend Diane marry me. This has afforded me a new outlook on life and on my art, and has acted as inspiration to get back to work, and evolve concepts long forgotten.
Projects started or talked about with Dali have gained interest for me. Art in general seems to be on vacation, and while there are many amazing painters, there is little in the way of content that is thought provoking, or at the lead in philosophy or science. Art and painting needs to return to the ideals of the Renaissance. It had always been my plan to resurrect these ideas and scuttled projects when I retired, but with the support and encouragement of Diane, I am again excited to work on art, and the creative process, in particular, advances in the field of 3D fractals. Each new work has been more and more exciting and I am recapturing the nuances of technique and execution. Join me here to see what the future of Surrealism and Nuclear Mysticism will bring.
Patterns in Nature
Ed "Big Daddy" Roth
My Technical Graphic Work