David Wells Roth, a portrait and land/cityscape artist, was born in Florida in 1957 and grew up in Sudbury, Massachusetts from 1966-1975. While in high school he received private instruction from Boston expressionist David Aronson then studied painting in Boston University under a Ford Foundation scholarship, graduating with a BFA in painting. After his studies he moved to New York City for two years to paint then on to France for fifteen years showing his paintings throughout Paris an Boston. He returned to New England in 1997 where he now lives and paints.
Roth's interest in the urban setting began in early childhood with Bronx native parents. Throughout his childhood, his family made numerous trips to New York City to visit relatives and art and science museums. As a child, his father started him drawing city street scenes as a means to learn perspective and he would watch his mother, a painter who studied under Robert Motherwell, as she painted views of the Golf of Mexico across the street from where he lived in Florida. In high school, he explored, through drawing and painting, the images and emotions from his parents' old neighborhood in The South Bronx which at the time in the early '70s, was comparable to a burned out war zone (some examples of these early images: 1964-1975). Right after college in 1980, as a logical progression, Roth moved to New York City to exclusively paint. Despite the financial hardships of being a fledgling artist in New York (which included living in his car for a time as well as basement storage spaces and attics, etc.), he painted cityscapes, views in Central Park and street scenes throughout New York City and sold them to passersby off of his portable easel (1980-1982).
In 1982, a French family he met through a family friend offered Roth the opportunity to live in their home in the town of Fontaine de Vaucluse in the South of France for several months in exchange for a painting. He painted the region of Avignon. A relative of that family offered a similar arrangement to barter one of those paintings for an apartment in the Paris suburb of Le Pre St. Gervais for two years, but the arrangement lasted through 1997 (paintings from France: 1982-1997). While in Le Pre St. Gervais, he continued to paint city life, cafes and landscapes of Europe, including painting throughout Italy (1984-1986) While in France he was involved in exhibitions in Paris and Boston, including solo exhibitions at the French Library in Boston (now the French Culture Center) and the Copley Society of Boston. He participated in group shows in Paris, including shows at the Grand Palais, a juried competition at the Cirque d’Hiver called Les Trophees de la Couleur, and a juried salon exhibition in the 10th district city hall of Paris. While in Paris, from 1995-97, he commuted back to Boston for a commission to paint a series of historical paintings for the Boston historical landmark and America's oldest continuously operating restaurant, The Union Oyster House. The series was about the life of the Boston Revolutionary War publisher, Isaiah Thomas, and Daniel Webster, as well as some images of early Boston history which are on view in their Heritage room and along their sidewalk windows.
Since returning to the states, Roth participated in group shows in the Allan Stone and DFN galleries in New York, had solo exhibitions at the American Institute of Architects in Boston and the Whistler House Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts and was a finalist in the Blanche E. Coleman Award Competition. The Boston Public Library recently acquired several of his drawings and watercolors for its print and paper collections.
From 2006 through the present, the federal and state courts in Massachusetts commissioned judicial portraits including a portrait of judge Richard G. Stearns which is hanging in Boston’s federal courthouse.
From 2007-2010 he was awarded a commission to paint the portraits of all 34 judges (past and present) of the United States federal court of the district of Puerto Rico.
Boston University, BFA, Painting.
Studied under: David Aronson (pre-college private mentor then professor at BU), John Wilson, Arthur Polonsky, David Ratner, Iso Papo, Morton Sacks, Joseph Ablow
Rhode Island School of Design, Pre-college studies program.
Studied under: Richard Merkin, David Mccoulay
Awards and recognition
2012-15 St. Botolph Club, Boston - Fellowship, Fellow
2006 Blanche E. Coleman Award Competition, finalist
1993 Lefranc & Bourgois, Winsor Newton, Les Trophees de la Couleur, France
1975-76 Ford Foundation, Educational Grant, Boston University, Boston, MA
1975 Gold Medal, M. Grumbacher Artist’s Material Award, New York National Scholastic Awards, New York, NY
1974-75 Boston Globe Scholastics Art Competition, various awards