March 7 - April 4, 2001
As both an artist of singular vision and an enthusiastic advocate for artists of wide-ranging diversity, Lois Dodd has enjoyed a long and fruitful career. Establishing herself in the male dominated New York art world of the nineteen fifties, Lois Dodd had the courage to take a place in the center of things while retaining the wisdom to know the value of critical independence. Recognition of her characteristically quiet and confident participation in the cultural atmosphere of the past half-century is essential to understanding the significance of her work. By successfully embracing Modernism without assuming its divisiveness, Lois Dodd has created a body of work that has outlasted countless styles and movements, and continues to expand in poetry and intelligence.
For the student of painting in particular, Dodd's work becomes a sturdy bridge between realism and abstraction. Standing before her canvases one is apt to wonder why anyone would consider realism and abstraction in terms of contention. In her hands the treatment of both perspective and picture plane are informed by the same careful consideration of nature's role in perception. A spontaneous yet thoughtful observer, Dodd constructs remarkable images of substantial stability and proportion.
But there is more to these canvases than formal sophistication. While clearly displaying her reputation for handling compositional structure and instinctively true color, this particular selection of paintings suggests intriguing thematic similarities. Notice how the reflective surface and elliptical shape of a framed glass mirror reappears horizontally in the still water of a quarry. Note too how windows, doorways, even furniture carpentry seem to frame space in the same rhythmic pattern trees impose on sky and earth. In "Morning Woods, Back of Canvas - 1976", the canvas crossbars visibly tied to a tree in the distance speak volumes of the nature/culture dichotomy so much a part of American painting since Thomas Cole. The canvas, one of a pair tied to tree trunks to avail the painter of both morning and afternoon light, reveals fundamental even archetypal relationships; that of the carpenter to the tree, for example, or the woods to the painter, the sun to the canvas. There is a metaphorical energy in these relationships that place Dodd in that distinctly transcendent continuum we associate with the New England woods she so often paints.
Each painting hints of a complex, interwoven universe, made visible to us in frank, unpretentious strokes of color - strokes left by an artist who, like the poet Wallace Stevens, seems able to expand the meaning of ordinary things through a familiarity with the delicate threads of consciousness.
Maine Woods, Back of Canvas 1976oil on canvas
Door, Window, Ruin1986oil on canvas
Window and Ice1982oil on canvas
Morning Woods1981oil on canvas
Single Tree1972oil on canvas
Oval Mirror, Blue Stool1973oil on canvas
Pink Quarry1988oil on canvas
Sunset at Quarry1995