Here’s The Church. Here’s The Steeple.

Saint Mary's tower being repaired in downtown Rochester, New York
Saint Mary’s tower being repaired in downtown Rochester, New York

We took Pete and Shelley up to see the Leo Dodd painting show at Geisel Gallery. It closes on Wednesday so, sadly, this will probably be our last visit. We spent some time studying the four that are in B&L’s permanent collection. They were painted in 1994 and 1995 when the building was being constructed. Jean Geisel bought them then and they will be returned to B&L’s Goodman Street plant when the show is over.

These paintings are very interesting to me because they were executed rather quickly, like big sketches. Parts of the paintings are what you might call “unfinished” but those sections work especially well to convey the construction and action going on. Not only that, the expressively drawn, mostly white areas are the real subject and the reason he was standing out in Washington Square Park. They are alive today and what more could you hope for from a painting left behind.

Men were working on the steeple of Saint Mary’s when we stopped by. The church, just across the street from the park, played a big part in our family history and my father would have loved seeing this. Our cousin, Ray Tierney, bought one of the Saint Mary’s paintings from this show. His wife liked the painting because of the political activity it depicted (protesters with Occupy signs) and Ray like it because, as he told me, he was an alter boy at Saint Mary’s. In fact he was paid to serve mass (I never was) because Saint Mary’s had no grade school and they needed boys to serve. He took the bus downtown from Saint Boniface’s and loved getting out of school to serve at funerals.

We are really excited about the Champion’s League final on Saturday. We have been follwing Real Madrid all year but have a soft spot from Liverpool and Salem so we’ll be happy whoever wins. I just hope it will be a good match. We walked up to Wegmans and came back with some corn, vegetables and fish to grill after the game.

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Am I Obsessing?

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.

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Rogues Gallery

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.

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A Dream Come True

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.

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Ultimate Compliment

Leo Dodd and Fred Lipp in Advanced Painting class at the Creative Workshop in Rochester, New York

I had to tell my mother again that her mother had died. She asked me where her mother was. She cried again. My mother was always very direct and she would not want me to lie to her even though she is suffering from dementia. I showed her a few photos of her mother and she liked them but she wasn’t sure who the baby was in this one.

My father started taking Fred Lipp’s painting class with me in 1995. My father called it “therapy” and there were many rough exchanges. Neither one of them were direct and they didn’t know what each other was talking about for the longest time. My father who was immensely talented had some rules that lived by. Fred claimed he could break any rule he wanted. He trusted his eye and his eye, developed by trust, was immensely talented. It took a some time for their relationship to mature and I was privileged to watch the whole thing develop.

I photographed my father’s paintings every four or five years and put them on his website. When he died last year I brought a huge pile of them here and I’ve been working my way through them. It is a huge project but I’ll eventually have them all on line. Fred helped my father a lot. I can spot the before and afters butFred help everybody – if they were open to being helped. Surprisingly some people would take the class who did not want to budge. Fred claimed his students helped him more than he helped us but I didn’t buy it. On Fred’s death bed he told me, “You’re father is a trip.” We both laughed at this ultimate compliment.


Hyperlink To Bobolink

Leo Dodd Bobolink sketches from former meadows on Westfall Road

Miss the smell of the cigars that our former neighbor used to smoke in their backyard on a humid summer night. And I miss seeing his wife through the back porch windows, working away on her writing.

My father misses the Bobolinks that travelled all the way from Argentina to find a girlfriend in the former meadows off Westfall Road in the town of Brighton. He gave talk on Sunday to 30 or so people at the restored Buckland House which sits on the former Edmunds property there, surrounded by “improvements” that the Town has made in recent years. Ball fields, parking lots, a lodge and a war memorial. And of course everything is handicapped accessible, something the birds could care less about.

Bobolinks like meadows and my father used to walk these fields and sketch the Bobolinks. He projected pages from his sketchbooks of drawings he made “en plein air” of the Bobolinks in these very fields. Development comes with a steep cost. And something as simple as a meadow is like heaven to birds and birdwatchers.

Hyperlink to Bobolinks

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Pure Dynamite

Leo Dodd watercolor entitled Maine Harbor Sketch

My father maintains his website with iWeb. Apple stopped supporting the program years ago but it still does a great job with drag and drop html page construction. I help him with some sections and I just put a new batch of his paintings up. I was with him while he worked on quite a few of these but I never get tired of looking at them. They are so much fun. My current favorite is the one up top, not the detail but the image you get when you click here. I just love how dynamic the white is.

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Into The Woods

Leo Dodd presentation on Edmunds’ Woods in Brighton, New York

Cobbs Hill near the aptly titled Pinnacle Hill in Rochester, New York was named after Gideon Cobb, the quintessential pioneer and brick company proprietor in the Brighton neighborhood. Saturday was Gideon Cobb Day and about fifty people gathered in a lodge near Edmunds Woods for Leo Dodd’s presentation on the old-growth forest. The annual event was sponsored by Historic Brighton and a boxed lunch was included. The woods, an integral part of the old Edmunds farm, is now trapped between a suite of medical offices, parking lot, mosque, retention pond and expressway but it is a real gem with abundant wildlife.

The event started with a series of technical issues, first of which was helping my father find his glasses. They were in the side pocket of his car. My dad constructed the presentation in Keynote (Mac version of PowerPoint) and he transferred it to his iPad. The projector had a hard time recognizing the iPad so a restart was in order and then the wireless mic which my dad had charged up the night before wouldn’t work even though the red on light was lit. That turned out to be the “stand-by” position so that too was a relatively easy fix.

The first slide had an audio file on and I tried holding the iPad up to the speaker which only caused a screeching feedback loop. I was in charge of swiping the iPad to advance the slides while my father talked and I had a quite a time trying to anticipate when to swipe so he wouldn’t have to say, “next slide please” between each graphic. I jumped the gun a few times and had to go back and I clearly caught him off guard a few times as he looked back up at the screen and saw that I had already advanced the slide he was talking to. But the presentation was flawless on my dad’s part and thoroughly enjoyable. Afterwards he led a group out into the woods.

The presentation is available here.

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That’s My Dad

Orchard in front of the Stone Tolan House in Rochester, NY painted by Leo Dodd
Orchard in front of Stone Tolan House in Rochester by Leo Dodd

My father likes to say he “can’t talk without a pencil” and it is pretty much true. Armed with a pencil he talks better than anyone I know. He knocked this painting off in our last class and it knocks me out. It’s a sketch of the orchard in front of the Stone Tolan House on East Avenue and it was done from a sketch in one of his many sketch books.


Magic Carpet

Margaret Explosion watercolor by Leo Dodd

I’m sitting over at Jerome’s Ignition while Igor looks at our car. It’s been making a clunking noise in the front end. This is already sounding like a Click and Clack episode. We are planning to drive to New York soon to see the Marlene Dumas show at the Modern and we are a little concerned about the thump. Igor didn’t see anything so he took it for a spin. When he got back he noticed that the lug nuts on our left front tire were loose. These guys are the best in the world. If only they had a wireless connection here.

I didn’t sleep very well last night and while I was awake I started worrying about my opening tomorrow night. Somebody was saying if I call it an “opening” that would not imply free food but if I call it an “opening reception” that would imply free food. I put “opening reception” on the post card so I stand to look like a cheapskate. I don’t really understand all the protocol of openings and what little I do understand I resist. For instance I can’t bring my own food or beverages in there because that’s their (not for profit) business. I could buy food from them and serve that for free but that’s part I don’t get.

Painting class started up again at the Creative Workshop and my father did some quick watercolor sketches from photos he took on Sunday night of Margaret Explosion on WXXI’s “OnStage”. I took this photo over his shoulder. I’m not sure that he spelled “Margaret ” right but I like the magic carpet under us.


American Vs European Impressionism

Raoul Dufy painting from the MAG
Raoul Dufy “The Race Track at Saint-Cloud”. Click painting for enlargement.

I didn’t even know there was an American Impressionism movement but the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester has mounted a show in the main gallery of such paintings from the Phillips Collection. It is not my cup of tea and I do like tea. My favorite of late is Yogi Tea “Green Tea Rejuvenation”. And I love the European Impressionists.

The MAG has a beautiful small show at the same time in the Lockhart Gallery of Impressionist Masterpieces from the Permanent Collection. Don’t miss this show. There are some real beauties in there that are not normally on display. The Raoul Dufy painting above reminded me of Leo Dodd’s paintings. The Europeans win hands down.

A more interesting contest is the one between Wendell Castle’s clocks and the Midtown clock that he calls “1960s’ kitsch” and “junk”. I like the Midtown one better. Someone has been quietly tidying up MAG’s permanent collection and familiar paintings are shown in new company. I have my own favorites.

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