Pamela (Brown) Roberts (1953-1998) became interested in art as a teenager and pursued formal studies in college, graduating from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. As she would ruefully later say, she learned a lot about art concepts from her formal studies but not nearly enough about how to draw. A true polymath, after graduation she sidetracked into the punk music scene, becoming a well-known regular at CBGB’s, the legendary East Village punk music club. She wrote for Punk magazine. For a time she was Joey Ramone’s girlfriend.
She met and married the noted tattoo artist, Bob Roberts, and upon moving to Los Angeles, revived her interest in art. When her twin sister, Kathy, contracted and then died from breast cancer, Pam’s urge to get back into art became much stronger. She immersed herself in learning how to draw and trying out different styles, continuing to do so even after getting breast cancer herself.
Working with growing urgency as she fought the disease, Pam became increasingly adept and increasingly original in her paintings. She began to attract attention in L.A.’s “urban outsider” art community. Her eye for color, her fine sense of proportion, her innate sweetness, and her wit and humor pervade her work, infusing them with qualities that make them stand out. She had several gallery showings, and she sold paintings to a number of celebrity art collectors, including Nicolas Cage and Tony Curtis.
In spite of her advancing illness and the challenges of raising her daughter as a single parent, Pam continued to experiment and grow rapidly as an artist in the last few years of her life. The more her cancer advanced, the more warmth and beauty there was in her paintings, as if in defiance of the deadly disease. Pam died in the Spring of 1998 at the age of 45. In a tribute to her in International Tattoo Art magazine (for which she had been a contributing writer), editor Chris Pfouts wrote: “Everyone who knew Pam was richer for it. She changed people’s lives, and always for the better.” Her generosity, her genuine love of people, her kindness, her feeling for beauty and her gentle wit enabled her to defeat time and pain by creating a body of work so full of humanity that it is unforgettable.