Thursday, October 20, 2016

Lois Dodd: Endless Summer

“Magenta Touch-Me-Not,” oil on linen, 2007

Looking at Lois Dodd's paintings it is easy to say that we all have a little Lois Dodd in us. I know I do. Call it morning sun. Call it The Sound of Music. Call it warm, green grass under bare feet, or call it a fresh breeze playing mischief with curtains and kites and skirts, or call it happy days. At 89, Lois Dodd has painted that forever, a sweet and gentle world at the end of a country road.

Lois Dodd, “Self-Portait in Green Window” (1971),
 oil on linen, 53 1/2 x 36 inches

Wouldn't it be nice. When we want that, need that, we have her work. It is a little like Giorgio Morandi. Through World Wars and revolutions we got still-lifes of jars and bottles and glasses, maybe some flowers, maybe a shift in palette. Something that didn't change in a changing world.

Lois Dodd, Red Shirt and Window, 2013, oil on panel, 15 3/4 x 16 inches

The same could be said of Lois Dodd. Through Elvis, walking on the moon, JFK, the 60s, the Vietnam War, the sexual revolution, bellbottoms, AIDS, Mr Gorbachev tear down this wall, personal computers, 911, the Iraq war, smart phones and so on, never mind the passing myriad of seismic art world movements, trends and isms, she has stayed the course.  Plein air painting.  It is actually a steel-eyed vision in the face of all that. Negativity is easy; she has a positive mission. A fierce choice. Lois Dodd is far from naive; she may paint in Maine, but she lives in New York City.

Lois Dodd, “Cows and Clouds” (1961),
 oil on linen, 33 1/2 x 39 1/2 inches

Some people could find this unwavering constancy of her work unnerving, even disturbing. Others might find it comforting. Her work really begs the question, but it is not a fair one.

White Catastrophe, (1980)

An artist is free. Free to follow their own path. See what they want to see. Celebrate what they want to celebrate. Share what they want to share. The world, art world or otherwise, can make of it what they will. Take it or leave it. They are free too.

Red Poppies and House, 2004

Lois Dodd gifts us a world apart that we cannot sustain. Most of us live a in different and more complicated world, a world where we cannot help ourselves. We want more. We need more. We are driven and distracted and scheduled and worried and afraid. She gives us simpler times. Simpler pleasures. Still but fleeting moments. Stilled. Care free moments where we can catch our breath. Feel our breath. Smile. Forget. Lose ourselves in sunshine. Trust in sunshine. Trust that life is good.

Lois Dodd, "Cow Parsnip in Bud," 2011.
 Oil on masonite. 20 1/8" × 13". 

Addison Parks
Artdeal Magazine
Spring Hill, October 2016

Lois Dodd: Windows and Reflections 
List Gallery at Swarthmore College
November 3 - December 15, 2016

Lois Dodd is the 2016 Donald Jay Gordon Visiting Artist. Featuring a variety of paintings made between 1968 and 2007, this exhibition reflects Dodd’s life-long fascination with windows and similar structures that focus attention and kindle new ways of seeing. Lois Dodd: Windows and Reflections will be accompanied by a color catalog with an essay by Barry Schwabsky.

Lois Dodd was born in Montclair, New Jersey in 1927. From 1945-1948 she attended The Cooper Union in New York. In 1952 she was one of five artists to establish the Tanager Gallery, where she exhibited until 1962. From 1971 to 1992, Dodd taught at Brooklyn College, and has, since 1980, served on the Board of Governors of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She is an elected member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and National Academy of Design. 

She is represented by the Alexandre Gallery in NYC. Her next show will open Jan. 7, thru Feb. 25,'17

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