Patty Dryden, the illustrator of the FIRST PERSON article in the back of this issue, likes small, furry mammals and television, and combines the two whenever possible. If Finch, Dryden's 3�-year-old rabbit, isn't lounging in its tiny chaise in front of the TV in her Manhattan apartment, it is usually gnawing around its own library, which is stocked with matchbook-sized novels like From Hare to Eternity.
Dryden is a fan of TV's Love Connection, but she preferred the now-canceled The Newlywed Game. Says Dryden: "Love Connection has yet to have anything as good as the time a question on Newlywed Game was: 'What's your husband's favorite rodent?' The woman said, 'The saxophone.' "
Dryden has had to cope with dyslexia—a catchall term for a group of learning disabilities that cause characters, such as letters and numbers, to be reversed or distorted. Partly for that reason she does most of her work on glass. Her easel consists of two parallel poles extending from floor to ceiling with a pane of glass fixed between them. Dryden, who likes to work while wearing lipstick and old pajamas, uses her fingers as brushes. The images are meant to be seen from the other side.
"Glass gives me the chance to experiment," she says. When the windows in Dryden's apartment building were replaced, most of the residents saw it as an opportunity to cut down on their utility bills; she saw it as an opportunity to collect new "canvases"—and to paint Dante's Inferno.
In 1972, when she was 22, Dryden moved to New York from Thousand Oaks, Calif., to try her luck as a freelance artist. She tried reaching Milton Glaser, then the design director of New York magazine. Whenever Dryden phoned, his secretary said he was out. Then one time when the secretary asked who was calling, Dryden said, "It's his scatologist."
Seconds later Glaser was on the phone. "What's a scatologist?" he asked. "It's someone who studies animal droppings," Dryden said. Glaser was puzzled: "What's that got to do with you?" "I'd like you to look at my portfolio," she said.
He did, liked what he saw and got her an assignment—and so launched her career in the Big Apple.