Longtime Palisadian Petko Kadiev died on January 5—19 days short of his 94th birthday—in the loving care of his wife Eva-Maria, his daughter Anya and son Dimitri.
Petko and Eva-Maria Kadiev’s house is filled with memories of the places they’ve lived and the people they’ve known and loved. Large canvases employing an energetically colorful palette convey the intense intimacy that artist Petko recalled the scene.
Whether a view from the couples’ patio in Pacific Palisades or of Campanet, the ancient village on Majorca, or his wife, his kids, his neighbors, Petko left a living memory book.
While a short glimpse of Petko’s life pales in the light of his own autobiography, “In the Heat of the Cold War,” which he wrote in Majorca, his circuitous nine decades describe a man whose ambition, passion and luck led him from his birth in 1925 in Burgas on the Bulgarian side of the Black Sea to Pacific Palisades.
When he was a teenager, his family moved to the capital Sofia, where Petko completed his education and attended the Karl Marx Institute for political and economic sciences. Demonstrating what was to be a lifelong political consciousness, he declined his degree and instead pursued a career in graphic design and film.
In 1956, he had the opportunity to travel to work in the film studios in East Germany, making sure to feign allegiance to the Stalinist regimen. After being accepted on an exchange program with the film academy in East Berlin, he escaped to West Berlin, where he declared himself a political refugee and got involved in the political struggle between East and West.
Accepting a job with Radio Free Europe proved to be a conduit to his eventual immigration to the United States. Petko met his future wife Eva-Maria just months before his departure. The couple married and shortly thereafter, Petko left for Hollywood, followed by his wife upon receiving her visa in 1959.
After four years at Disney Studios, Petko broke into the major studios as an illustrator and art director. For his original contributions, he was honored with a voting membership in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1985.
While Petko retired from the film industry in 2000, he continued conjuring his world on canvas in vibrant colors while living on the island of Majorca and 14 years later when he returned home to Pacific Palisades.
He leaves behind his wife, children and two grandsons, Micah and Asher; his brother George and wife, Nina, and their daughters Anna and Boryana (husband Jason) and their sons Nicholas and Garett.
The families thank everybody who expressed their sympathy and offered their condolences.
Petko’s family, according to his wishes, plans to scatter his ashes on the Black Sea.