Archive for the ‘Notes On Painting’ Category


Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

Kelly Jacobson untitled piece on wall at Colleen Buzzard's gallery space

Even the MAG was closed yesterday with the big snowfall so we expected First Friday to be slow. We intended to start with Colleen Buzzard‘s Studio and then move on to Axom and RoCo. We got as far as Colleen’s and settled in with a beautiful show of Kelly Jacobson’s work entitled, “The Difference Between Their and There.” Colleen told us when she booked the show there was the hope that Jacobson would do a new installation piece for it but when that didn’t work out Colleen rounded up Kelly Jacobson work, books, prints, portraits in stone and these (above), from local collectors. The show is stunning. I fell in love with these three concrete-filled metal tubes. This piece is hanging in Colleen’s husband’s work space at UR and he was there last night to visit it. In fact it was their anniversary and we celebrated part of it with them and this beautiful work.

Both Ends

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

Subtle Lake Ontario colors in winter

We didn’t walk along the lake today and I missed it. The sand, the water, the sky. These three elements in combination never look the same from one day to the next. This view, the way it looked yesterday, is at both ends of the spectrum between subtle and dramatic. The dark purple at the horizon, the pink just before it and the torquoises before it. The dirty snow and grey brown sand bring out the red in the branches. And the sky, on an overcast day in the middle of February is the stuff Agnes Martin and Mark Rothko played with.

I used a photo of the horizon on the the lake for the cover of “Disappear,” the title song of Margaret Explosion’s “Disappear” cd. Curiously, the song is not on the cd. It was recorded after the Disappear cd was released. Margaret Explosion returns to the Little Theatre Café on Wednesdays in March.

Margaret Explosion - Disappear
Margaret Explosion – Disappear

True North

Saturday, February 3rd, 2018

Rodney Taylor Untitled painting at Rochester Contemporary

According to Rodney Taylor’s notes, his painting explores the June night in 1872 when Frederick Douglas returned to Rochester after learning his family farm on South Avenue had burnt down in a suspected arson. It is my favorite piece in the new show at RoCo, a show that explores “The Living Legacy of Frederick Douglass” on two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Rochester’s most important figure.

The 1899 statue of Douglas, the one that used to be in front of the New York Central Train Station on the corner of St. Paul Street and Central Avenue and is currently in Highland Park, was the first statue dedicated to an African American in the United States. Later this year it will be moved again to spot closer to his old house.

Writing in his newspaper, The North Star, Douglas said, “While Rochester is among the most liberal of northern cities it nevertheless has its share of that Ku Klux Klan spirit which makes anything owned by a colored man a little less respected and secure than when owned by a white citizen.

Taylors painting is shows what was left of the house. Nothing but the horror.

Show Me

Sunday, January 28th, 2018

Mise En Place art group artist talk at the Little Theartre Cafe in Rochester, New York

I gather that Pete Monacelli put the Mise En Place art group together, a bunch of artists who meet once a week for lunch. They say they talk about art but Peggi and I met them one week, by chance, and the talk was what I would call free-ranging. We have gotten to know all these guys over the years and it was fun to hear them tell their familiar stories at the artist talk/closing party for their group show at the Little Theatre Café. A key member, Kurt Feuerherm, left before the talk and Bob Conge was recovering from an operation. My favorite part of the talk was when Bill Keyser, on the far right, spoke about how he was interested in found materials. He would finish a piece of furniture after working on it for a few months and come back into his studio to find a leftover piece of wood or odd cut that he found more intriguing than his piece.

Bill Keyser was in Fred Lipp’s painting class with me for many years. If you talked about what you were trying to do in Fred’s class he would say, “Don’t talk about It. Show me.” You can see three of Bill’s abstract paintings on metal panels in the blow-up of the photo above. I hope you can get over to see the show before it closes.

En Plen Air

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

Rick Muto oil on panel,  plein air painting of marsh along Sterling Creek 8" x 6,"  on view at Axom Gallery in Rochester New York

Axom Gallery, across the street from the Barrel ‘O Dolls, is one of the nicest spaces for art in the city of Rochester. We have seen so many really good shows there over the years and we have slowly gotten to know Rick and Robin Muto, the gallery owners. Rick runs his decorative and fine art business (murals, faux pieta dura and marbling) out of their space. Robin runs her interior decorating business and increasingly her retail shop out of another portion of their space and their daughter used to be the gallery director but she took a job at the MAG and Rick is now the gallery director.

Rick’s passion though is en plein air oil painting and he has a show at Axom now with twenty exquisite paintings of local nature scenes. Rick told us he usually finishes these paintings on site in one session. We spend a lot of time in the woods and I would say his sense of space and color is spot on. I particularly like the ones that look the loosest, the most expressive, like this one of the “Marsh Along Sterling Creek.”

Can you imagine going out for the day and coming back with one of these? If I could do that I would throw away my camera.

Do No Harm

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

Frozen Lake Ontario shoreline in January

Matisse is a saint in my book, a candidate for pagan idolatry.

I ordered this cut-out book, “Expressionism in Germany and France,” while I was in the throes of preparation for “Witness” and I’m just now getting into it. I love German Expressionism, the more rough and tumble, the better, and I find it interesting those guys, coming out of WWI, were influenced by the dainty French. But this quote from Matisse is foundational!

“What I am after, above all, is expression … Expression, for me, does not reside in passion bursting from a human face or manifested by violent movement. The entire arrangement of my picture is expressive: the place occupied by the figures, the empty spaces around the, the proportions, all that has its share.

Composition is the art of arranging in a decorative manner the diverse elements at the painter’s command to express his feelings. In a picture every part will be visible and will play its appointed role, whether it be principal or secondary. Everything that is not useful in the picture is, it follows, harmful. A work of art must be harmonious in its entirety: any superfluous detail would replace some other essential detail in the mind of the spectator.”

Me Too

Sunday, December 31st, 2017

Bauer Pottery coffee cups from Teri in California

Peggi’s sister sent us four coffee cups from the Bauer Pottery Company in LA. They look like California and have livened up our mornings.

Duane sent us up a copy of “Leon of Juda,” Robert Frank’s newest book of photos, published by Steidl. I mention the publisher because the book is beautiful. The photos are as well but that goes without saying. I’ve looked at the book (it is without text) everyday since it arrived and it still seems mysterious and fresh.

And a paperback also arrived from Louise in time for the holidays, one based on a 1972 BBC series, “Ways of Seeing” by John Berger. Parts of it are so thought provoking I will never forget what I read.

Berger starts Chapter 3 with a passage from Genesis. Catholics weren’t so big on the bible when I went to school so I was familiar with the story but still not ready to read it.

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof and did eat; and she gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat.
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig-leaves together and made themselves aprons …. And the Lord God called unto the man and said unto him, ‘Where are thou?’ And he said, ‘I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself ….
Unto the woman God said, ‘I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband and he shall rule over thee.'”

With these words he makes the case that all of European culture was ripe for the #MeToo movement. With rare exceptions, paintings of female nudes exist for the delight of men. “You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, you put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting Vanity, thus morally condemning the woman whose nakednsss you had depicted for your own pleasure. The real function of the mirror was otherwise. It was to make the woman connive in treating herself as, first and foremost, a sight.”

And he notes, “other non-European traditions – in Indian art, Persian art, African art, Pre-Columbian art – nakedness is never supine in this way. And if, in these traditions, the theme of a work is sexual attraction, it is likely to show active sexual love as between two people, the woman as active as the man, the actions of each absorbing the other”

He finishes the chapter with a challenge. “Choose from this book an image of a traditional nude. Transform the woman into a man. Either in your mind’s eye or by drawing on the reproduction. Then notice the violence which that transformation does. Not to the image, but to the assumptions of a likely viewer.”

Matisse Leaves

Saturday, November 25th, 2017

Red barricade on Zoo Road in Durand Eastman Park, Rochester, New York

I never noticed this until Peggi pointed it out. The white oak leaves, the ones that look like they belong in a Matisse painting, tend to land with their backsides up in the Fall. The leaf is usually cupped and it must fall like a parachute. The back side of the leaves are duller so you have to turn them over to get the most color.

We didn’t buy anything at today’s Holiday Show at Philips Fine Art. It was one of those shows where you could take the piece home if you laid down the cash so pieces were disappearing as we talked and Warren was quick to rearrange the show, removing the empty hooks and clustering the remaining paintings artfully. I love this space. Warren frames work in the back and rotates work in the main gallery on a monthly basis. Pete Monacelli hangs the shows and is often one of the featured artists. And then there are two other rooms in this gallery with work by big names from Rochester’s recent past, always top quality work that Warren has purchased to resell.

The Holiday Show featured some beautiful watercolor and pen drawings by Kurt Feuerherm, abstracts by Judy Gohringer and George Wegman, and wooden sculptures by Peter Gohringer. Peter is fan of the band and we talked music. If I bought something it would have been Tarrent Clement’s orange and black assemblage. I fell in love with it and it was still on the wall when we left.

Work Of Art

Saturday, November 18th, 2017

Edvard Munch Self Portrait at Met Breuer

The special low airfare didn’t sound so good after spending most of our first day in Rochester but the plane to the train trip went smoothly and Duane’s vegetarian curry made everything right in Brooklyn.

We headed into Chelsea earlier than usual the next morning with no notes. We usually have a short list of galleries but this time we wandered up and down 22nd to 26th between ninth and tenth and struck gold with a stimulating mix of familiar and new names.

We stopped for coffee at the diner on 9th Avenue. The place has undergone a deep reboot. Peggi spotted an avocado open face on someone’s plate so we ordered a couple of those. A thick slice of sour dough toast was topped with fresh avocado, thin slices of radish and cilantro leaves. A work of art.

Hauser and Wirth on 22nd does everything right. They’re building a brand new facility while they carry on in a rented space next door. Prime gallery space for their stable of living and dead all stars. Geta Brătescu showing currently with Philip Guston and Eva Hesse in the deceased category. They have a choice bookstore, a cafe and – a real rarity – a bathroom.

We worked our way uptown to the Met Breuer where a cross section of Edward Munch’s life’s work filled the third floor. He painted for most of his eighty years and got better and better all the way. The self portrait above, one that looks like it could have been painted today, was completed a year before his death.

Saying Goodbye

Sunday, November 12th, 2017

Rochester Contemporary "Witness" show with Bug  Jar Mugshots, 3 "Models From Crime Page" and large 2017 oil painting by Paul Dodd

Today was the last day for the Witness exhibition. We stopped by yesterday for a last visit. My brother, John, was there, studying my father’s sketchbooks. Peggi and I were in the round, video-installation room making another video of the video of mugshot sources. The first attempt had a few glitches and Peggi walked in front of the camera at one point. I felt like it added scale but she wanted to do it again.

We were almost done when we heard a lot of conversation out in the main room. A group of eight people or so were talking about the paintings. One guy thought one of my portraits looked like him and he was posing in front of it. Someone else was making a video and talking into the microphone. Bleu, the gallery director came out of the back room and greeted everyone. He told someone that I was the artist and I was introduced to the others.

Rahsaan. P. was the name of the guy making the movie. He said he plans to use the footage he shot of the show in a video he is making with a singer. The song is called, “The Mona Kiesha” and he said it should be available on his video channel by Thanksgiving. One of the guys with him is known as the “Tarmac Dancer.” Country singer, Terry McBride, was flying out of Rochester and he shot this video of Kyran Ashford doing his job at the airport.

Next Best Thing

Sunday, October 29th, 2017

Peggi and I visited Rochester Contemporary last week so I could take some still photos of the art installation. While I was moving my tripod around the gallery Peggi took some movies with her iPhone. She edited them over the weekend and made this composite video. We added a soundtrack of our band, Margaret Explosion, two live songs that were recorded last week at the Little Theatre Café. The exhibition runs through November 10. I hope you can out and see it. If you can’t, I guess this video is the next best thing.

An Adventure

Saturday, October 28th, 2017

Giant puffball mushroom in Durand Eastman Park, Rochester, New York

“I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see, and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” That quote is from Joan Didion. We watched the Netflix documentary on her last night and loved it.

“A painting is an adventure. It is not the execution of a plan.” That one is from Fred Lipp. Somebody should do a documentary of him.

Meditation On The Mugshot

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

Three "Models From Crime Page" paintings 1999, 2009, 2008 by Paul Dodd from "Witness" show at Rochester Contemporary through November 12, 2017

Peggi and I stopped by Rochester Contemporary to take some pictures of the show. I brought my tripod and set the timer to ensure the shots would be in focus. I was prepared to use the incandescent or florescent setting on my camera but the cast from RoCo’s’ led lights looked most natural in the auto mode. Peggi took a movie of the show, walking from front to back, panning slowly along each of the walls in and out of the round video room, sound the display case and back up to the front. I’ll post that here when she gets it edited.

For me the best thing about the show is the freedom it gives me to move beyond it. I will surly revisit the theme, my “meditation on the mugshot” as Bleu calls it. I keep coming back. But for now I am moving on. Have you seen the most recent Crimestopper page?

Middle Finger

Sunday, October 22nd, 2017

Renée Valenti in Main Street Arts studio, Cliffton Springs

Clifton Springs is a hike. Any place you have to take the Thruway for is a hike. It’s really only 35 minutes away and it is worth the drive. It is one of the most well preserved old New York towns you’ll find. We were there for the opening of “Sacred Curiosities,” a group show of Rochester area artists at Main Street Arts. Martha O’Conner has about thirty of her exquisite, mostly clay small abstract figures in the show. Two were sold by the time we got there. This is a beautiful gallery space and there is a great restaurant across the street when the gallery closes.

But we drove a short distance to Manchester and had a “Middle Finger Lakes IPA” at Reinvention Brewery. This place is like a small town Irish pub, warm and friendly, a family style beer hall. Painter, Renée Valenti, is doing a month long residency in one of the upstairs studios at Main Street Arts. She had a piece in the recent Whitney Biennial. I really loved her paintings. She told me she had been doing figurative work but had recently started painting abstractly with flesh tones and charcoal. I spent the way home thinking about her work.

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.”