Drawing • Talking

Leo Dodd watercolor painting of O'Rourke Bridge construction

My father was drawn to construction sites. And he drew construction sites. He was attracted to the scale of man to machine and machine to the project, in this case the O’Rourke Bridge. The new bridge went up while the nearby Stutson Street Draw Bridge continued to carry traffic over the Genesee River near the Port of Rochester. And then they demolished that bridge and reconfigured the end of River Street. Change is good and my father was excited by it all.

There are four Leo Dodd paintings of this scene in “Witness,”the show that opens Friday at Rochester Contemporary. One shows both bridges, the new one meeting from both sides of the river while cars chug by on the old bridge. He must have done thirty watercolors of this bridge. Some were done on the site, some rather quickly, but mostly he would sketch the men and machines while work went on and later he would assemble the painting at home. And when he got the composition right he would do multiple versions until he was happy with the painting.

Axom Gallery‘s director, Rick Muto, wrote “What is most distinctive in Leo Dodd’s art is the composition and design, particularly in the activity filled construction scenes. In these works he has created images which have been distilled down to a lyrical interplay of geometric shapes and expressive color that reaches into the abstract vocabulary of the modernist period.”

Leo loved to draw and would fumble for a pencil while he talked to you, saying, “I can’t talk without a pencil.” Sure enough a quick sketch would clarify a thought. There is a real sense of drama in his paintings and it’s mixed with whimsy. You can sense his delight at capturing a movement or a gesture. The ease with which he lays out the perspective blows me away. He could draw. I hope his show will be a draw.

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