Archive for the ‘Notes On Painting’ Category

Complicated And Contradictory

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

Jessie Walp "Persistance" Maple, Dye, Concrete at R Gallery in Rochester, New York

Each of the three Rochester Biennial locations feature curated exhibitions that investigate collaboration, influence and partnership. Leo’s and mine at RoCo certainly had elements of all three facets. Bridget Elmer from Saint Petersburg, Florida partners with Emily Larned in Bridgeport, Connecticut and have formed a collective called ILLSA. Their artwork itself is all about these facets. And at R Gallery Buffalo artists, Bethany Krull & Jesse Walp, life partners and 2006-7 graduates of RIT’s Sculpture and Ceramics programs, collaborate in “Bound” to fill the space with both organic and organic-influenced man-made objects.

According to the wall text Krull “addresses the complicated and contradictory relationship between humans and animals” while Walp creates sculptures that “show no signs of the artist’s hand, making the work seem otherworldly.” I don’t see that but I remain open. Instead of complicated and contradictory I feel more like the animal I am and I I thought hand of the artist was striking, say in the concrete, the carved maple and dye in the piece above. I loved this show.

Ceci N’est Pas Une Pipe or Good Morning Tom

Monday, October 9th, 2017

I did my second live Facebook event of the week on Saturday afternoon at RoCo. Wednesday’s Margaret Explosion stream from Ken Colombo’s phone was primarily for Bob in Chicago but Peggi and I watched it when got home from the gig. The two songs he caught, our first two with Phil Marshall on guitar, sounded pretty good. My Artist’s Talk did not. My voice is to meek to reach to back of the room where the camera was positioned. Peggi video it as well and she was sitting in the front row so I posted it here. One of the audience members mentioned he read my blog every morning so this post post goes out to him although, as I’ve noted before, I do this primarily for myself.

Bleu, RoCo’s curator, made the talk a breeze by asking me questions. Funny how the best questions are the ones that have no answers. By the end of the video Gary Pudup can be heard trying to bail me out by saying, “like Freud said, ‘Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.'” At which point I was fumbling for the Duchamp quote, “Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” but I could not come up with it until it was over.

After my talk we headed over to Visual Studies Workshop to see “Implement,” the sister Rochester Biennial show by ILLSA (Impractical Labor in Service of the Speculative Arts), an evolving publishing & public practice platform committed to investigating labor, time, and what we value. Co-founder, Emily Larned, gave her artist’s talk as we examined the show. The visuals take some explaining as they are intended to explore and expand the potential of the toolkit, inviting participants to consider and share what they deem to be essential tools for living.

At the end of the talk we participated by filling out a form where we answered three questions. “What is one of your essential tools for living? Why? Where do you find it? Peggi and I answered them all similarly. “Eyes, Ears.” “They enrich our life.” “In my head.”

Am I Obsessing?

Friday, October 6th, 2017

Bleu and Collen hanging title type for Witness show at RoCo

It’s First Friday tonight and instead of gallery hopping I will be holding court in RoCo. I wish Leo could have been here for his opening but I know that was not meant to be. We drove by Rochester Contemporary yesterday and saw that their windows were all papered over. I came awake last night worried about one of my charcoal drawings. Am I obsessing or is that one not holding its own with the other twenty? I think the answer is “both.” I’d like to take it home, rework it and bring it back.

We stopped out at MCC for an opening last night. Monica Frisell was showing photos from her “Looking Forward: Portraits from an RV” series. If that name sounds familiar she is the daughter of a famous guitar player. And her mom, Carole d’Inverno, had a fabulous show at MCC’s Mercer Gallery a couple of years ago. This is a talented family.

We chatted with Monica and Carole at the show and then left for Ossia’s first performance of the year at Kilbourn Hall. On the way out we ran into Bill who was out walking Monica’s dog. Peggi asked if she could take a photo. We told him we were planning to send the photo to Bob Martin in Chicago and tell Bob that Phil didn’t work out and we had hired this guy.

Rogues Gallery

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

Purple round wall at Rochester Contemporary for Witness show of Leo Dodd and Paul Dodd paintings and drawings.

I created a movie of my sources, some of them more than twenty years old. I used to hold the CrimeStopper page in hand, folded up to reveal just one of the mugshots, and work from that. I held the page with the thumb of my left hand, pressing it against my paint palette. At some point I started scanning the page and blowing up the small photos so I could print out the mugshots at a larger size. The photos didn’t get any better, just larger. For the past few years they have been putting the CrimeStopper page online so I download the pdf, crop the photos and print them out.

I don’t need all the CrimeStopper pages, I just paint and draw the same faces over and over, only refreshing the batch from time to time. I rounded up my collection of scans (blown up they have a golf ball sized dot pattern) and cropped photos from the pdf (no dot pattern but a rather limited resolution) and I put the jpegs into Keynote. I turned the images on their side and cropped them to the 16 by 9 wide format. RoCo will spin their wall mounted, large Sony monitor on its side and the movie I created from the slide show will go ’round and ’round in a dvd player mounted in the ceiling.

That monitor is mounted about four feet up, in the dark, on the inside of this round room (near the back of Rochester Contemporary). They painted the title wall near the entry and the round wall purple, the purple I got when I sampled my father’s Freddy Sue Bridge painting to do the postcard for Witness. Show opens this Friday 6-9pm.

Drawing • Talking

Sunday, October 1st, 2017

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.

Something Else

Friday, September 29th, 2017

Paul Dodd Model from Crime Page painting 2017

This painting was still wet when I dropped it off. I know that’s a risky thing to do, show something before the dust settles, but I wanted something that got away from the grid. Or grids. I’m showing a lot of them. Twenty new charcoal drawings, ten of the Bug Jar Mugshots, 12 of my 2008 oil on canvas “Models from Crime Page,” a double triptych of the 2004 “Models from Crime Page” (36″ x 24″ oils), six of the 2015 small oil on wood panel “Models from Crime Page,” and all six of the original 4″x4″ 1971 mugshots of my Bloomington friends. So this one at 4 feet by 5 feet, will position itself on one wall.

There’s other stuff there too. The place is huge. Original Crimestopper pages, scans of my sources on a monitor and the earliest mugshot painting I could find, one from 1996. I fretted for days about showing that one, thinking my new stuff is so much better. And then I came back down to earth. RoCo wanted an early piece to show show the scope of this project. I searched everywhere for one that was even earlier. A have a photograph of it but I must have thrown it away.

Which reminds me of one of my favorite Philip Guston quotes.

“There is the canvas, and there is you. There is also something else, a third thing. In the beginning’s dialog – between you and the surface. As you work, you think and you do. In my way of working. I work to eliminate the distance or the time between my thinking and doing.

Then there comes a point of existing for a long time in a negative state, when you are willing to eliminate things that have been looking good all the time; you have as a measure – and once you have experienced it, nothing else will satisfy you – that some other thing or force is commanding you: only this shall you, can you, accept a this moment.”

A Dream Come True

Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

Leo Dodd paintingsI in the back of our car, headed downtown for the Witness show at Rochester Contemporary

We saved the big painting for last, the only full sheet watercolor in RoCo’s upcoming show of Leo Dodd paintings. The glass was spotless. We used a homemade concoction of 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol, 1/2 cup water and 1 tablespoon of of vinegar, a recipe we found online. The painting, of the old stadium on Norton Street, was sandwiched between an off white matt board and acid-free foam core but every time we nestled it into the frame we managed to suck in some tiny little pieces of our rug or some other disturbing micro fibers. We finally got a clean version but only by taking it into the bathroom under bright lights and assembling it on the edge of the bathtub.

I was thinking about the Red Wing games we saw in that old stadium. Havana, Montreal and Toronto all had teams in the International League back then. The time the guy sitting behind us burned a hole in my brother’s sweater with his cigar.

RoCo selected a great batch of paintings for this show. They focused on his Rochester paintings. My father was attracted to the scale of construction projects so there is a batch from the O’Rorke Bridge construction, the Bausch & Lomb headquarters downtown, the Freddy Sue Bridge and the biggest project of them all, the reworking of the Can of Worms, a project that coincidentally started in 1988, the year my father retired.

He’d sit off to the side and sketch the activity. The newspaper did a piece on Leo at the time and I like this quote. “It was a dream come true,” Dodd said last week, probably the only person in Monroe County who would say that with a straight face when it comes to the Can.”

“But most people haven’t spent the past two and a half years sketching the construction of the new $123 million interstate interchange. Dodd, a retired Kodak engineer who has taught courses at Rochester Institute of Technology, has made hundreds of sketches of the Can reconstruction since work began in March of 1988. Dodd, who started sketching large‐scale construction projects four years ago, said the Can project was a blessing because it was just minutes from his home on Corwin Road. So while tens of thousands of people were dreading three years of detours, Dodd was delighted.”

I think he would be delighted with this show. It opens Friday, October 6.


Tuesday, September 19th, 2017

Venus statue in Wolcott New York

I’m determined to swim today. Although we’re in charge of the chemistry for the street pool this week, I haven’t had time to get down there. I’ve been trying to complete a painting for this upcoming show and it has taken all my time. Even when you are “finished” with a painting there is no real sense of satisfaction. The painting may be finished but the next one is already all you can think about.

There must be some good in collecting your thoughts. Reluctantly. I have done so and I’m now ready to move on. I may find clarity in the swimming pool.

I am not comfortable in front of the camera. It is hard for me to stand still and a broad smile seems unnatural. I feel vulnerable, trapped. Maybe that is why I find mugshots so interesting.

Maybe it is because my brother was arrested at such an early age. He served time for possession of a small quantity of marijuana in 1970. I posed five of my friends in front of a white canvas shortly after that. My entire family’s life was impacted by his arrest.

In 1976 I took a job as a graphic artist for the City of Rochester. I worked on the fourth floor of the Public Safety Building in the Rochester Police Department’s Crime Analysis Unit. I had access to the mugshots and I constructed flyers and posters with them in an attempt to link perpetrators to crimes in particular areas of the city.

In the mid-nineties I started painting portraits of local people. My source was, and often still is, the Crimestoppers page from the Democrat & Chronicle, people who are wanted for violation of parole. I have continued to revisit this subject for many years and recently competed twenty charcoal drawings for this show.

Pure Creation

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Paul Dodd "Models From Crime Page" paintings from 2008 getting sun at the pool in 2017

Peggi is practicing sax upstairs while I work on a painting in my studio. There has hardly been time to come up for air since I found out about this show last winter. I suppose I could have just just put work in from the past. Bleu, the gallery curator, wanted to show the scope of this project, the “Models from Crime Page.” I’ve been revisiting it for over twenty years now. But as he was pushing me to show examples of the earliest pieces I could only think about doing something new. So the summer flew by and I’m still banging away, but not on my drums. I haven’t touched those since June. Not that I have any chops to lose but I don’t like cramping up after the first hour. Margaret Explosion is back at the Little on Wednesdays in October and we will be joined by the great Phil Marshall.

I haven’t been listening to music while I paint. It is too distracting. But the sound of Peggi’s sax, as she plays along with Margaret Explosion recordings and melodies that she originated the when those songs were recorded is very inspiring. I can barley hear the backing tracks over the dehumidifier but her lines come through perfectly. From my vantage point it is extraordinary, the way Peggi pulls these melodies from the air. An act of pure creation. She is my favorite artist. I can always tell when she’s winding down because the last few play-alongs are from John Coltrane’s “Ballads.”

I took a bunch of paintings from 2008 down to the pool so they could sit in he sun. A funny thing happens to white oil pigment when it sits in a box for a few years but a few hours in the sun bleaches that yellowish tint.

Margaret Explosion - High Life

Margaret Explosion – High Life

Bug Mug

Sunday, August 20th, 2017

Margaret Explosion live at the Bug Jar 1998. Jack Schaefer - guitar, Paul Dodd - drums, Peggi Fournier - sax, Pete LaBonne - bass.

Our band, Margaret Explosion, played a Friday Happy Hour gig at the Bug Jar for two years in the late nineties. The band at that time was Jack Schaefer on guitar, Peggi on sax, me on drums and Pete LaBonne on bass. We eventually recorded a cd with this lineup but because Peggi and I were playing with a different Margaret Explosion lineup we called the band on the cd “Invisible Idiot.”

Casey, the Bug Jar owner and bartender, brought in vegetarian food from the India House and Rolling Rock beer was a dollar a bottle. One night, before the band began, I set up a stool, a light and white canvas background in the back room and asked whoever was there if they would like to sit for a photo. I remember not calling it a “mugshot” so that aspect wasn’t overplayed but the setting dictated the pose. I’m thinking about putting some of those prints in the show at RoC.

I was using a one megapixel Kodak DC210 camera that my father bought for me at the Kodak employee camera shop. I brought home about thirty photos that night and took them into Photoshop where I converted them into black & white bitmap photos with a pronounced dot pattern. I created Quark documents to scale and printed tiled pages on our laser printer. The print-outs were shown in the Bug Jar later that year.

Margaret Explosion as Invisible Idiot – “Abstract Express”
Margaret Explosion – Abstract Express


Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Boat coming in to Charlotte Harbor from Jetty Restaurant

I can’t believe how much work is involved with organizing a show. It turns out creating the work that goes on display isn’t even half of it. You have to sort the good from the bad (a moving target) and coordinate your choices with the gallery director. And to promote the show you need photographs of the work and then those images need to posted on the website for the virtual presentation. That could take a few days.

Of course there are the space considerations and the arrangement of the pieces within that space. The show needs a name and then a short amount of copy for a blurb. And the artist statement! Was it always like this? Did we always have bios and post cards and wall tags to explain the art?

But I am not going to let this ruin the summer. We drove north as far as we could in this part of the country and had dinner at the Jetty, the restaurant in the old Fast Ferry terminal.

Pete LaBonne – Artist’s Statement

White Gloves

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Green forties car In Four Mile Creek Preserve in Webster, New York

We spent the afternoon in Webster where my brother, Fran, lives. He wasn’t home. He was working like he does everyday unless it rains. We stopped at the farm stand on his road and bought a dozen ears of corn. I wanted to make sure it was the right farm stand so I asked the lady behind the counter if this was where Fran bought his corn. She said “I knew you looked familiar. Fran lives on corn. He’s a real hoot.”

We were out here to pick up a few of my father’s paintings and to go through my father’s repository which is temporarily being stored in a spare bedroom in his home, my sister’s old room.

In preparation for the upcoming Rochester Biennial Peggi and I have been culling my father’s paintings. We have a few hundred on Leo’s website but there is only enough room for thirty in the show. The final decision as to which ones to use is up to the curator but we are making sure we can get our hands on the actual paintings in case they are selected.

There is a book shelf that fills a whole wall in this bedroom and it is stocked from floor to ceiling with Leo’s sketchbooks. We went through half and took a walk in the woods across the street from Fran’s house. That’s where we came across this old car. We’re hoping to make some of the sketchbooks available during the show. Maybe one of those white glove scenarios.

Show Needs A Title

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Me and Bleu Cease in my studio preparing for the RoCo's October Biennial

I had this date on my calendar for a long time. In fact I had a 3 page document on my iPad with notes for the meeting. But mostly I’ve been working on a batch of new drawings for this show – the subject of our meeting – the Rochester Biennial. MAG used to host the show with six upstate artists featured but they have given the concept and name to RoCo, Visual Studies Worksop and R Gallery. Each of those three places will feature two artists and RoCo picked one living and one dead, me and my father, Leo Dodd. On the surface the work is very different but the impulses are the same. The contrast is a quality.

I had just finished photographing twenty new drawings before our meeting. I had Duane’s light gear out, four Totas, and my tripod. I found the display on the back of my camera is easily twice as bright when its plugged in. It was so readable I kept finding that I would spot problems while viewing my drawings at that tiny scale. I know some people use a reducing lens for that.

Bleu, the gallery director, wants to show Leo’s Rochester paintings and he wants to show an overview of my ongoing “Models from Crime Page” project (Rochester faces). I showed him my Bug Jar Mugshots and he liked them so I’ll show ten of those. Bleu pulled these oil paintings out of a pile and chose a few triptychs as possibilities. I’m most excited about some new paintings that I’m working on.

Crystal Blue Persuasion

Monday, July 24th, 2017

View from Thomas Schutte Crystal at The Clark

The Clark in Williamstown, just down the road from Mass MoCA, is a jewel of a museum. We spent the night nearby after touring Mass MoCA and we thought we’d visit the place before heading home. We weren’t prepared for how substantial the collection was or how beautiful the grounds and buildings are. What is this place doing in the middle of the Berkshire Mountains?

The featured exhibition here is “Picasso: Encounters,” thirty-five Picasso prints and three paintings, including the Clark’s rare impression of The Frugal Repast (1904) and Ecce Homo, after Rembrandt (1970), made just three years before his death.

One of the coolest pieces in their collection is up on a hill outside the museum buildings. You can get to Thomas Schütte’s “Crystal” by taking a path through the woods from the building that is currently housing Helen Frankenthaler’s beautiful large abstracts. Once inside the Crystal I starting thinking of Tommy James, not his real name, and this song.

Wall Therapy

Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

Sol Lewitt wall drawing at Mass MoCA

Sol LeWitt would kick ass if one of his wall drawings was executed here. We set the alarm and took off early for the Berkshires. They happen pretty quickly after Troy so we had most of the day to wander around Mass MoCA. We walked through the Nick Cave installation and started our tour proper with nine of James Turrell’s pieces. Not really light art, as he says, but art about perception. We had reservations for a view of his “Perfectly Clear.” I could have stayed in there all day but we were only allowed nine minutes.

Sol LeWitt has three floors of wall drawings in one of the giant industrial buildings, buildings that used to house Arnold Print Works, a company that specialized in printing cloth. They supplied uniforms to the Union soldiers during the Civil War. You don’t just look at Sol Lewitt pieces. You digest the concept that led to its creation. We spent hours here but didn’t have time for it all.

We saved the last hour of the day for Anselm Kiefer, on view here through 2028. His monumental nautical paintings, “Velimir Khlebnikov,” take up a whole building and we were the only ones, other than the guard, in it. Like DIA Beacon this old industrial complex makes an ideal setting for viewing art. The experience will change you.

Follow Up

Thursday, July 6th, 2017

Pig roasting on the beach July 4th at Durand Eastman Park in Rochester, New York

“A relaxed mind is a creative mind.” So my Yogi tea bag read tonight. I don’t know about that. When I’m relaxed I don’t seem to get anything done. But instead of dismissing this fortune I plan to take it for a spin.

I’ve been preparing for an art show and I’ve been pushing it. I’ve been preparing the coffee maker before we go to bed so all I have to do is push the button in the morning. I’m down there drawing before I am awake. And I stop only when I’m nearly exhausted. I’m going to start relaxing and I will report back.

Carrying On

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

10 new Models from Crime Page on studio wall, June 2017

I ran into a guy who was in my painting class for many years. He asked if I was still painting. I said I am drawing. He said I haven’t done anything in two years. That would be just about the time our teacher died. Fred Lipp affected many people that way. He was a way of going forward. Criticism, correction, repeat and then on to the next piece.

I too took a long break but I never stopped thinking about his advice. I live with his words in my head and the absolute last thing he would want would be for someone to stop when he left. I was going to move on from this whole crime face stuff but I’m not finished with it yet. I never will be but it sort of encompasses everything so why bother. And I have an opportunity to show a lot it in October so I’m carrying on.

Brilliant Distillation

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

Park bench in Durand Eastman Park, Rochester, New York

Who would go to a documentary about Sol Lewitt at two in the afternoon on the warmest day of the year? Well, we would. The screening is another installment in the series of events surrounding the “Minimal Mostly” show at R1 Studio.

The movie had a maximal amount of substance, much more than Wednesday’s lecture at the gallery. Although I really enjoyed MAG director, Jonathan Binstock’s, take on Ellsworth Kelly’s work, a brilliant distillation launched by the Kelly prints in Deborah Ronnen’s show. He said “sometimes I feel like I could round up all the art in my house and replace it with one Ellsworth Kelly because his work is the essence of art.” Peggi and I had just seen a show of Kelly’s last paintings in Chelsea and I knew exactly what he meant.

The Sol Lewitt movie was insanely beautiful.


Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

Religious nuts in Times Square 2017

I’ve been working on some new charcoal drawings. I love the graphic quality of the medium. I find it dangerously graphic. I get way out ahead of myself with bold, confident strokes and then I step back and discover I put those beautiful marks in the wrong place. That’s just one of my problems. And that is why God made erasers. Working subtractively is every bit as exciting as building things up.

There was an article in the Styles section of yesterday’s paper about the artist, Wayne Thiebaud. He is in his nineties and still active and the article prompted me to get my Wayne Thiebaud book out. My sister, Amy, worked at University Press in the early eighties and they published the book. She gave it to me. I dove in again and spent part of my morning looking at his work. He is quoted as saying: “I think of myself as a beginner. If you could just do it, there’d be no point in doing it.”


Friday, May 26th, 2017

Barbara Fox 'Light Play" Collage at UR Gallery at Art Music Library

Barbara Fox’s opening for “Light Play,” a show of recent collages at the Art Music Library on the UR campus, is next Thursday, June 1. We have family in town for my mom’s funeral and probably won’t be able to make that so we stopped by today. It was just us and the art today and that enhanced the experience.

We had just seen Rauschenberg’s sometimes heavy-handed collages at MoMA where my initial inclination was often to just look away. Barbara’s work is just as playful but it is delicate and it draws you in. There are smudges and drips and her hand is present. With a graceful color sense the collages are drawn and painted, layered, and pasted in multiple layers. They are loose and gestural and then perfectly formed. There is a musical dialog in this work that I found most enjoyable.

It was also a treat to find my brother, John’s, “Get Together,” concrete sphere chairs sitting by the entrance to the gallery. We went out for a walk when we got back and spotted three baby foxes playing near a drainage pipe in the big gulley at the end of our road. We watched quietly for a bit and one of them tackled and killed a squirrel. They didn’t eat the squirrel, this was just for sport. The poor thing is laying upside down and I’m sure some other facet of nature will come into play to dispose of it.