Technology says that an airbrush refines a painting. Tradition says it’s a paintbrush. Smart artists know that art is delivered by the eyes, which ignite the senses.
Open your eyes at the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, offering both natural and artist-created art. At times, you can’t see the boundaries of the two. Place and imagination are blended to the point of overload The entrance to this museum, set above the Atlantic Ocean on ledges of outcropping land, takes your breath away as you experience the panoramic view of crashing waves and distant vistas of Downeast Maine through its back-window wall. Just spectacular.
And in fact, this is the space — the sculpture gallery — where the current exhibition, “Lois Dodd: Drawings and Paintings,” is showcased. A much-loved and highly celebrated artist of 91 years, Dodd was a pioneer artist beginning back in the 1950s. She congregated in Maine with other noteworthy artists who belonged to an influential circle — Fairfield Porter, Rackstraw Downes, Alex Katz, Yvonne Jacquette and Neil Welliver — to pursue her passion in this idyllic setting.
Although not a retrospective of Dodd’s work, this exhibition is a compilation of pieces she’s favored over the decades. Her work includes observational renderings, landscapes, still lifes and figurative works, each executed in her own style. Despite the accolades of dozens of awards and honors over the years, she remains humble and honest about her work; no veneer here. She explains that it’s a visual process for her: “I’d see something, get excited about what I’d seen, and I’d paint it… it was a visual process more than a thinking process.”
As a younger person, she attended The Cooper Union in New York City where she intended to study textile design. Art ultimately took her in a different direction, but the influence and passion she had for textile patterns then sustains her work now.
Dodd was one of five artists who established Tanager Gallery in 1952, a co-op gallery in New York City where many young artists displayed their art. Her work was exhibited in the Tanager for 10 years, and then she went on to teach at Brooklyn College for 21 years.
In the previous issue of Artscope (July/August 2018), I covered a Gertrude Fiske exhibition at the Portsmouth (New Hampshire) Historical Society. There are some parallels between these two artists. Both women paid their dues in terms of learning the societal artistic expectations of the times, and then moved on to create her own “voice.” Dodd was immersed in the abstract expressionism and pop art movements, but then carved her own niche. Known for the simplicity of her paintings, she captures, like no other, her immediate environment and interests.