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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 1/2-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
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 free-lance 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.