Great minds think alike: Local artist understands the big picture

Published 12:10 am Sunday, April 23, 2023

SALISBURY — Robert Toth doesn’t want to stop working. Even after founding RT-Designs USA and accomplishing so much as an artist, Toth is still lit with the same kind of fire his kilns use. He has busts, drawings and paintings that he has produced and accumulated over the years placed all over his house, a true collection of a life well lived.

“I just do what I like and it seems to take off and I get paid for it and it’s been very interesting for me,” Toth said.

Toth is from New Jersey who attended the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Art. His mother was a painter herself and encouraged his artistic aspirations. Her impression on him is still felt to this day.

“She was an inspiration to me and my life,” Toth said.

Toth has made sculptures and busts for the Franklin Institute, the Smithsonian, and the Lincoln Center through out his long career. Busts of Elvis Presley, George Gershwin, Albert Einstein, Mozart and Beethoven take up real estate in Toth’s house and work spaces. Currently, he is working on 18 Harry S. Trumans in his basement and sells his artwork on his website. Toth says it takes six months to make one of his busts, but that hasn’t deterred him from taking on more projects.

Toth’s admiration for these amazing figures came when he was younger when he visited Thomas Edison’s laboratory on a school field trip and would later meet one of Edison’s sons when he was in his 30s.

Several Hollywood studios have reached out to Toth to have him make artwork for their productions. Toth made a witch doll that was used in “The Amityville Horror” that he still owns. One of the more recent films he’s worked on is the Angelina Jolie movie, “Salt.”

When he first came to Salisbury in 1995, Roth got involved with Rufty-Holmes Senior Center. “It’s a clubhouse! It’s a fun place to be, it almost reminds of the Newark School of Fine Art,” Toth said.

Toth used to work as a substitute teacher in his 20s and that calling never seemed to leave him. “I always kept my hand in teaching because I liked it,” Toth said.

Now, Toth teaches an art class at Rufty-Holmes called “The Realm of Art” every Monday where he goes over watercolors, oils, impressionism and pastels. This week, Toth talks about how pastels bring out new uses for colors. He demonstrates this technique on his own version of a classic piece of art.

“What would da Vinci do now if he had the colors available to do the Mona Lisa?” Toth said. “We practice intuition by bringing out stuff from the subconscious and bring you forward. By bringing you forward, we touch on creative concepts.”

Even though Toth never did great in school, he takes advantage of what he knows now and tries to be the kind of teacher he wish he had growing up. Rick Evans is a photographer who comes to Toth’s class every week who appreciates how much about art it encompasses. He takes those lessons and applies them to his own pieces.

“It’s a nice camaraderie-type thing. I was told from the beginning I can’t paint, but I like to keep coming back. Occasionally, I’ll bring in some photography and we just chat. We talk about seeing a lot,” Evans said.

Toth seems to agree to the fluidity of his class structure.

“We have a show and tell thing. Anyone who wants to bring something that would be inspiring for the group,” Toth said.

Art has always been a way Toth can express his feelings and his intelligence, he hopes with his class he can impart that on others. Watching his videos of him illustrating in several styles can draw comparisons to Bob Ross. When Toth works, he’s making sure art continues to be one of the ways we best remember the past.

“It’s never ending, it’s like we’re joining a great history of art that goes back to the cave drawings and all through the Renaissance and the ancient Greeks and the Egyptians,” Toth said.