PORTLAND — Lois Dodd is best known for painting the world around her, from her apartment windows in New York City to the woods and gardens of Maine and New Jersey. The Portland Museum of Art opens a new exhibition, “Lois Dodd: Catching the Light,” next week that explores the career of the painter and features more than 50 paintings from six decades. The exhibition will be on view Jan. 17 through April 7.
Dodd was part of the wave of New York modernists to explore the coast of Maine in the latter half of the 20th century. Like Fairfield Porter, Rackstraw Downes, Alex Katz and Neil Welliver, she started spending summers in Maine beginning in 1951.
Attracted by rambling old farmhouses, endless woods, stone quarries and bright sunshine, Dodd and her fellow artists sought companionship and escape from the demands of city life. At one time, she shared a house with Alex Katz, who refers to Dodd’s work as, “fresh, honest, direct” in the exhibition catalog. To this day, Dodd can be found trekking through the fields and forests in Maine with canvas and paint supplies in hand.
Born in 1927 in New Jersey, Dodd moved to New York as a student at the Cooper Union. She was a key member of New York’s post-war art scene, and later taught at Brooklyn College for 25 years.
She often works en plein air, starting paintings on site and finishing them in her studio. In her essay, exhibition curator Barbara O’Brien writes, “Her paintings are premised on the truth that she stood in this place, with the light casting shadows just so, the temperature of the air warm or cool, the sun warm against her face, protected by the brim of a straw hat; her fingers able to employ brush to linen against the wind of a New Jersey winter.”
Dodd is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Academy of Design, and a member of the board of governors for the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.
Among many honors, she was awarded the Benjamin West Clinedinist Memorial Medal in 2007 from the Artists’ Fellowship Inc., and Cooper Union’s Augustus Saint-Gaudens Award for professional achievement in art in 2005.
Her works can be found in museums including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; and the Portland Museum of Art, among others.