Born in Salem, Oregon in 1922 it was clear at an early age that he had a great gift. When he was 24 he began to take his talent seriously and dreamed that one day he would be able to use his talent to support his family.
Addison (or Curly as he was called ) served in the United States Air Force as a pilot during World War II. After the war he tried to get work as an airline pilot but soon found out the huge influx of post war pilots had flooded the market. He and his wife Mae decided to start a family and took up residence in Oregon. For the next 12 years he had different jobs, for several years he was a big timber logger, but all the while he gave as much time as he could to his art. They decided to move to Southern California. It was there that he hoped his dream would become reality.
It was 1961 and a new beginning; he and his wife found jobs to make a living and raise their 4 children. It was in these years that Addison did his drawings “The Hands” and many other oils including a painting of a dream he had called “The Blue Trumpet”. He landed a job as a janitor at Marineland of the Pacific; the world’s largest oceanarium of its time located on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. From 1954 to 1987 Marineland hosted up to 10,000 people a day from around the world. It was here that he would make his mark in oil painting history.
He worked his way up to a position as a diver doing the underwater “shows”. In the huge oval tank that was 22 feet deep and held 540,000 gallons of sea water. His job was to descend into the tank with a wet suit, helmet with air hose, a microphone and a feeding box. There were over 4,000 fish as well as sharks from around the world in this amazing structure. The guests could look through the glass windows surrounding the tank on 3 levels. As the fish came to him for a snack he would describe the type and origin of each one over the intercom in the building. One day a fellow diver asked Curly if he ever thought of painting underwater. This idea sparked the creation of 15 underwater oil paintings.
From 1966 to 1974 Curly became one of Marinelands main attractions. Not only painting but for a period drew quick portraits of paying guests that would pose just outside of the windows. Two of the paintings were done on regular canvas but soon he found that it would not hold the paint. A specially treated piece of masonite board would be the material of choice. Fourteen paintings were done on this “canvas”, the average measurement was 18x24. Curly attached lead weights to his easel and tied his tubes of paint to his wrists so they would not float away. He did not use a pallet to premix the colors; he did it on the painting themselves.
At first the light refraction was a problem, when he brought the painting to the surface the colors were not as brilliant when he blended them underwater. He had to blend the paint to be overly brilliant so that when it came to the surface it was just like he saw it underwater. It took an average of 40 hours to complete each one. He could only spend about an hour at a time working on the painting before his body temperature began dropping too much because of the cold water.
Only one fish stopped to pose; a 175 pound, 4 foot long, dapple grey grouper that he named Gerome. He quickly became Curly’s companion hovering at his side. For several years Marineland hosted Curly’s work in the world’s first and only underwater art exhibits. The newspapers and the media in the area and overseas did stories on his amazing work over the years. What he had hoped would be his big break for his artwork never came to be.
Curly left Marineland in 1976 and moved to Colorado to pursue another dream of his. Finally, several years later after trying multiple different avenues to promote his artwork to no avail he gave one more effort to see his dream realized. He put his underwater paintings in a homemade wooden box and boarded a bus for New York. Staying at the YMCA he spent many days taking his work to the companies he had hoped would embrace and promote his artwork. At last with no one interested he got back on the bus and headed home. He went on to do a few more paintings, drawings and authored a couple of short stories. He ended up in Oregon where he later passed away at the age of 67 from a brain tumor. Husband, father, grandfather, writer and artist Addison Rockwell Loomis died on May 7, 1989 his dream never realized…