Campus News

Lois Dodd's Small Plein-Air Paintings on Exhibit at Art Museum

Story posted June 30, 2004

Four Seasons in Maine: Lois Dodd's Small Plein-Air Paintings is now on view at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art. The exhibition will run through September 5.

The sixth in the Museum's annual summer series of unconventional responses to the Maine landscape, the exhibition showcases 32 intimate oil paintings by Dodd, comprising loosely abstracted scenes of a landscape touched by humans - a flower garden, a local barn, a quarry, a reflected steeple - though devoid of human presence. These small works convey a large respect for the modernist tradition of bold color, undisguised brush strokes and tension between implied depth and active surface.

Dodd is a native New Yorker who exhibits her work nationally and has summered in Maine for over 50 years. Her quick, expertly executed studies of the everyday focus on the Maine outdoors. Paintings of dappled mid-summer light and the shadows created by an apple tree, the symphony of color in a neighbor's garden at a particular moment on a particular day, of rock formations at a nearby quarry, and of the physicality of one particular flower blossom are, in part, formal exercises in the depiction of qualities of light, color, line, and form. But these are not purely analytical investigations of composition. Her visually nuanced descriptions of the Maine outdoors instead simplify the elements of nature in an effort to translate the reality of the everyday into something akin to poetry.

Dodd cites a number of artists as influencing her work, including 20th-century American modernists Marsden Hartley, Edward Hopper, Charles Burchfield, and Arthur Dove. Curator Alison Ferris notes in her catalogue essay that, in addition to being influenced by American modernists, Dodd also appears to be in a kind of conversation in her work with the enormously influential late-19th-century French painter Paul CÚzanne. Four Seasons in Maine demonstrates Dodd's affinity for painters who have come before her but more importantly the exhibition shows Dodd's distinct contributions to the long tradition of modernism.

Also on view through August 15 at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art is The Maine Landscape: Works on Paper, featuring well-known American artists from the mid-1800s to the present day who are known for their work in Maine. Included are lush watercolors by Rockwell Kent, lively and gestural grass studies by Susan Hartnett, quiet charcoals of the edges of Cranberry Island by Emily Nelligan, and bright, energetic watercolors by Marguerite and William Zorach.

Additionally, Selections of Winslow Homer's Art and Artifacts will be on display, showcasing a sampling of woodblock engravings, etchings, and watercolors from Homer's extensive oeuvre and a selection of artifacts from Homer's Prout's Neck studio, including Homer's palette, watercolor box, brushes, mannequins, and family photographs.

Also featured are a small handful of the beloved illustrations of children's book illustrator Barbara Cooney.

The programs and exhibitions of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art are open to the public free of charge. Museum hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 2-5 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays and national holidays. For more information call (207) 725-3275.

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