In control

Every day, in every way, things are not necessarily getting better.

In Control (Grace and her unicorn), 24X36, is one of the paintings that’s going to Rye Arts Center’s Censored and Poetic: the works of Carol Douglas and Anne de Villemejane, March 2022.

A visitor to my studio recently asked me about the gender disparity in painting. “Eighty percent of art students are women,” I said—and that may be a low estimate. “But 80% of the top cadre of professional painters are men.” That, too, may be a low estimate.

“Why?” she asked. I was stumped for an answer. If I’d thought about it at all, I’d have attributed it to change—women moving up through the atelier system to take their rightful place in the art world. But since the 19th century women have studied and practiced painting with great seriousness. There were more girls in art class when I was young, and the earning disparity didn’t disappear when we came of age.

Michelle Reading, 24X30, is one of the paintings that’s going to Rye Arts Center’s Censored and Poetic: the works of Carol Douglas and Anne de Villemejane, March 2022.

This is not anecdotal. There have been many studies worldwide that document this phenomenon. The most exhaustivewas done in 2017. It analyzed 1.5 million auction transactions in 45 countries, and found a 47.6% gender discount in prices. The discount was worst (unsurprisingly) in countries with greater overall gender disparity.

Do women drop out, practicing art as dedicated amateurs rather than professionals? No; 51% of practicing visual artists are women.

Are women’s paintings somehow more ‘girly,’ and therefore less attractive to buyers? In blind studies (with the artist’s name excised), participants could not guess the gender of the artist. Women’s art sells for less because the signature is feminine. Period.

The Beggar, 36X48, is one of the paintings that’s going to Rye Arts Center’s Censored and Poetic: the works of Carol Douglas and Anne de Villemejane, March 2022.

My childhood chum Cynthia Cadwell Pacheco was a professional ballet dancer. While she was traveling around the world, her mother regaled me with stories of the culture of submission, abuse and body-shaming that the corps de ballet were subject to.

It’s a miserable career choice for women, but, ironically, serious ballet used to be a women-led art form. That was before it spun money. Today, it’s a multi-billion-dollar business. As it has grown in economic importance, women have been pushed out of leadership. Today’s companies are run by men, the work is choreographed by men, the jurors are men, and the big bucks go to men. Let that be a lesson to you if you believe that every day, in every way, we’re getting better and better.

“Despite the fact that girls outnumber boys 20 to one and pay most of the fees in ballet schools, and despite the audience and donor base being 70% women, female artistic directors are paid 68 percent of what their male counterparts earn,” wrote Elizabeth Yntema.

Saran Wrap Cynic, 20X24, is one of the paintings that’s going to Rye Arts Center’s Censored and Poetic: the works of Carol Douglas and Anne de Villemejane, March 2022.

Our culture actively discourages boys from dancing. That’s foolish and unfair, and it leads to a tremendous imbalance in dance classes. If there is a boy at all, he won’t lack for principal roles, no matter how execrably he dances; the great classical ballets require male dancers. No wonder boys in the dance world grow up thinking they’re the cock of the walk.

No other legal American industry is as gender-skewed as ballet, but the visual arts do share some of its daft values. You only have to compare the career of Lois Dodd with her contemporaries to see that.

Identifying the problem is only the first step. What can we do about it? Young artists might choose a gender-neutral nom de pinceau, but that perpetuates the problem. Women’s role in the arts will only be as strong as women’s role in the greater culture. I’m old enough to have seen some remarkable changes in society, but I’m also alive to the very real risk that we can move backwards, just as the dance world has.

What comes after art classes?

Painting is a lifelong exercise in self-guided learning.

Clary Hill Blueberry Barrens, watercolor on Yupo, available through Maine Farmland Trust Gallery, by Carol L. Douglas

A student asked me why I teach all levels in my classes. Indeed, adding a brand-new painter to the group can sometimes be difficult, as I need to spend a little more time with that person at the start. I’ve found, however, that almost everyone needs the same lessons repeatedly. Painters make the same errors at almost every level—of value, color-mixing, contrast, line, and focal points. It takes a surprisingly amount of time to convince students of the value of process, including value sketches and drawing.

My own experience in taking master classes hasn’t been good; they’ve been less about mastery and more about marketing. That’s not to indict all painting teachers, but unless the teacher knows you in advance, they know very little about your painting level before you start the class, even with portfolio review.

Clary Hill Blueberry Barrens, oil on canvas, available through Maine Farmland Trust Gallery, by Carol L. Douglas

With twelve or fewer students in a class, I have time to meet each person where they are and encourage them a little farther along the road. This is very intensive, and I blow it more than I like. Yesterday I had a painter whom I should have pushed harder on establishing a focal point, but I didn’t realize that until dinnertime.

I still occasionally take classes myself, although it’s not common. It happens when I run across a painter who’s doing something I want to master. I took Poppy Balser’s watercolor workshop a few years ago, because Poppy can make a line of dark spruces shimmer against the sea. I wanted to know how she made that value jump in watercolor.

There are other painters I would like to learn from. Dick Sneary and Dave Dewey are both consummate watercolorists, and I admire their drafting and composition skills tremendously. Likewise, I admire Lois Dodd’s ability to drive to the emotional nut of a scene by removing all extraneous matter. And I often return to Clyfford Stillto think about composition.

Part of my class on Clary Hill, photo courtesy of Jennifer Johnson.

An old and reliable way to learn is to copy master works. I recently started drawing frames from Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko comic books. This led to copying images from the first great cartoonist, Peter Paul Rubens.

But, in general, I’m done studying with others. “How do you know when that happens?” my student asked me. In my case, I realized that the time I was spending traveling to the Art Students League of New York from Rochester would be better spent in my own studio working.

“What comes after I’m done studying with you?” she asked. Go out and paint (which students should be doing anyway). If you like the social side of classes, find a painting buddy or join a painting group. We make the most progress when we’re picking up our brushes several times a week.

Jean Cole’s painting on Clary Hill. She just came back from my Pecos workshop. The goal ought never to be to make ‘mini-me’ painters, but to develop each person’s own style.

I’m doing a FREE Zoom workshop on Friday, October 2 at 5 PM. Consider it Happy Hour, and join me with a glass of wine, a spritzer, or whatever else. We’re going to talk about studying painting. What should students expect to get from a workshop or class? What should teachers offer? Have you always wanted to try painting but been afraid of classes? Are you taking classes but want to get more out of them? Join us for a free-ranging discussion.

While this is in advance of my Find your Authentic Voice in Plein Air workshop in November in Tallahassee, everyone is welcome. There’s absolutely no charge or obligation. Signups are already brisk, so register soon!

Painterliness

Your brushwork is your handwriting, and that develops with practice.
Tom Sawyer’s Fence, by Carol L. Douglas.
The idea of painterliness was developed by Swiss art historian Heinrich Wölfflin in his Principles of Art History (1915). In it, he contrasts painterliness with linearity. Wölfflin was primarily concerned with defining classic and baroque art, but the terms can be applied to any period and any media.
To Wölfflin, linearity was a focus on draftsmanship, contour, and fixed boundaries. Painterliness included tactile brushwork, non-local color in shadow, and patterns of shadow and light. The painterly artist used these things, instead of edges, to define shapes.
Best Buds, by Carol L. Douglas. Courtesy Trove on Main.
Today we have reduced his thesis to one point: a painting is painterly when there are visible, uncontrolled brushstrokes. By our lights, Lois Dodd is painterly; Rackstraw Downes is linear. That’s a gross oversimplification.
What are brushstrokes? They are so well-understood by non-artists that they’re used as metaphor (“broad brushstrokes”). Yet brushwork is highly individual and difficult to teach. Still, there are rules that painting teachers lay down about them, such as “when you’re Pierre Bonnard, you can dab; until then, it looks amateurish.”
Bracken Fern, by Carol L. Douglas
I have never liked my own brushwork. I recently decided that I’ve intentionally smoothed it over because it’s embarrassingly self-revelatory. This summer I stopped overpainting, and suddenly people have been telling me I’ve made a breakthrough.
A bad solution to brushwork insecurity is to become extremely stylized, especially in the manner of someone you admire. This is instantly appealing to uneducated audiences, so it’s a popular idea. It’s also a stifling trap. Far better to take the time to let your own brushwork emerge naturally.
Dry Wash, by Carol L. Douglas
Deborah Lazarposed an interesting idea to me a while ago. She compared brushwork to the envelopein musical sound. This has three parts. Attack is the changes occurring before the sound reaches its steady state. Sustain is the sound at its maximum intensity, and decay is how it fades to silence. Together, they create the distinctive tone color of a sound.
As painters get more experienced, they’re able to control the attack and decay better and hold the sustain longer. That, by the way, is one powerful reason to use a bigger brush. It holds more paint.
Spring thaw on the Pecos River, by Carol L. Douglas
Unlike the violinist, the painter has many brushes. Each has a different envelope. That’s why painting teachers generally don’t dictate what brushes students should use, any more than we teach the Palmer Method of Penmanshipin school today. We teach you how to make the shapes, and it’s up to you to develop fluency.
It takes most kids the better part of a decade to learn to write beautifully. The more you practice, the more fluid your brushwork will be, but if you don’t cut corners, it will be unmistakably your own.

In Nova Scotia, the tide is turning

PIPAF is emerging quickly in the plein airmovement. But in terms of gender equality, it’s already a leader.
View From Back Street Oil on Panel, by Chantel Julien was the 2017 PIPAF Best in Show winner. (Photo courtesy Parrsboro Creative)
Parrsboro International Plein Air Festival has emerged quickly as an important contender in the plein air scene. It attracts big-name artists, sales are increasing, and visitation is up. But there’s one way in which I hope it remains unchanged: gender equality.
Each year since its inception, the grand prize winner has been a woman artist: Chantel Julien, Nancy Tankersley, and Poppy Balser. (A hat tip to Becky McAndrewsfor noticing this.) And it didn’t stop with the top prizes, either. The lists have been remarkably fair-handed.
At most plein air competitions, top prizes are taken by male artists. Some sponsors have tried to address this by alternating between male and female jurors, but have found that the gender of the juror doesn’t make much difference. Painting is one of the last bastions in western culture where men’s work is perceived as more valuable than women’s work.
Nancy Tankersley was the 2018 PIPAF Best in Show winner. (Photo courtesy Parrsboro Creative)
This imbalance is unfortunately not just for dead artists. A data-mining exercise last year found that the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) collection is only 11% women-made. At the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 18% of the artists are female.
A search of MoMA’s database reveals one painting by Lois Dodd, View through Elliot’s Shack Looking South, which they acquired a few years ago. Meanwhile, there are 86 works on their website for her contemporary and peer, Alex Katz.
Is gender in the eye of the beholder? Identifying cultural attitudes with art auction prices, by Adams, Kräussl, Navone and Verwijmeren, found that women’s art in the secondary market traded at a 47.6% discount. It was worse in misogynistic cultures, and better in western nations. However, the world’s new wealth is being minted in those misogynistic places. That doesn’t bode well for the future of women’s art.
The Romantic ideal of the Cult of Genius underlies much of the misogyny of the modern art world, because Genius was thought to be a male trait. “Underlying the question about woman as artist, then, we find the myth of the Great Artist—subject of a hundred monographs, unique, godlike—bearing within his person since birth a mysterious essence, rather like the golden nugget in Mrs. Grass’s chicken soup, called Genius or Talent, which, like murder, must always out, no matter how unlikely or unpromising the circumstances,” wrote Linda Nochlin in a ground-breaking feminist essay in 1971.
Sunset Glow at the Weir, by Poppy Balser was the 2019 PIPAF Best in Show winner. (Photo courtesy Parrsboro Creative)
The great virtue of plein air painting is that it rejects the Cult of Genius in favor of craftsmanship and hard work. And despite its lack of recognition in the art establishment, it is the first new art movement in decades, and overall one of the greatest in art history.
Adams, et al sought to burst the idea—once and for all—that art prices reflected any difference in quality between male and female painters. They devised two experiments where paintings were assigned arbitrary genders. In both cases, knowledgeable buyers appreciated paintings less when they thought the artist was female. Ouch.
But in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, the tide is turning. I can’t credit Canadian culture for this: two of the three jurors have been American. Nor is it a case of women jurors crediting women painters, because two of the three jurors were male. However it happened, it’s wonderful to see prizes awarded to women painters.

We’re all emerging artists

It’s not really a question of labels, but of who can work his way through the shifting sands of market change.
More work than they bargained for, by Carol L. Douglas
Recently I had the opportunity for a nice chin-wag with a friend. I don’t remember what the subject was, but she told me, “I’m just an emerging artist.”
This is a term that’s annoyed me since it was first coined. Until we’re dead, we’d better be emerging, as part of a process of constant growth. We must restlessly seek better galleries, bigger shows, and more important venues, just as we improve our skills.
But what does that mean to gallerists, who sometimes want to show ‘emerging artists’ and sometimes want to show ‘mid-career’—another meaningless term until we’re dead—or ‘established’ artists? These are terms that are hardening into acceptance, so it behooves us to think about what the people who bandy them around are trying to say.
The terms have nothing to do with age, and everything to do with experience. You may be 15 or fifty, but if you’re just starting out, you’re an emerging artist. You’re working, you’re probably selling, but you haven’t got an inventory of paintings or a settled, consistent practice.
Dinghies, Fish Beach, Monhegan, by Carol L. Douglas
The mid-career artist is someone who’s been doing art for several years, created a body of work, and shown and been recognized. He has had a significant number of solo shows at recognized venues, and been written about in publications. His following is not regional, but national or even global.
A mature artist is one who’s been commodified. His work sells in the secondary market and he has a sales record that supports rising prices.  He is represented in public collections, and by excellent galleries in major metropolitan areas. In short, he is at the pinnacle of career. Sadly, this often means someone with one foot in the grave, as well.
Drying sails, by Carol L. Douglas
The problem with these descriptions is that they’re about success, rather than experience. There are factors involved in success that have nothing to do with skill. Just compare the public recognition of Alex Katz and Lois Dodd. Similar pedigrees, similar experiences, similar skills, and yet he’s far more widely recognized than she. And misogyny is justs one factor that comes to play in determining who’s going to be a star.
The art market is just too vast for anyone to categorize painters in this way. Even the greatest landscape painter on the Maine coast or in Santa Fe may mean nothing to a Manhattan dealer who hunts relentlessly for the next enfant terrible to promote. Would he, for example, have a clue who the quiet, reflective Scottish painter James Morrisonis?

Ask the Manhattanite who’s emerging and who’s established, and you’re going to get a far different answer than if you ask in, say, Houston. Meanwhile, regional landscape art—including plein air—sells like mad.

Spring, by Carol L. Douglas
Anyone who’s been selling paintings for a while also recognizes that the whole marketplace is changing rapidly. What happens in the art markets of New York and London is almost completely irrelevant in the decentralized world of painting sales elsewhere, including on the internet. It’s not really a question of who’s emerging or established, and I’d make no business decisions based on what label you think applies to you. Rather, it’s a question of who can work his way through the shifting sands of the current art market.

Writing or rewriting history

We need to redress the artist gender gap in the here and now, not in museums.
Allegory of Fame, c. 1630–1635, Artemisia Gentileschi

I smiled at a headline that read something like, “Artemisia Gentileschi and eight other woman artists found at the National Gallery.” Gentileschi has only been ‘lost’ to those who don’t know art history.

For those of us who study it, she’s exactly where she should be. Not in the first rank of the Baroque, for she was not the innovator that Caravaggio, Velázquez or Georges de La Tourwere. But a solid, workmanlike painter, on a par with, say, Zurbarán or her own father, Orazio Gentileschi. That’s no small achievement after 450 years of winnowing.
David and Goliath, c. 1605-1607, Orazio Gentileschi, courtesy National Gallery of Ireland. Artemisia Gentileschi’s father was no minor painter.
Rediscovering women painters is all the rage right now. A recent study found that, in our major museums, 87% of artists represented are men. While I take exception to their methodology (crowdsourcing), I think the overall percentages are probably pretty accurate when it comes to the Renaissance and after.
For anything earlier, it’s pure speculation. We have no idea who created most of the pre-Renaissance art in our museums. We can’t assign gender or race to its creators based on our assumptions, since they’re so often wrong. Starting with Minoan culture, the great classical cultures were empires. Empires are, above all, cosmopolitan.
Judith and her Maidservant, 1613–14, Artemisia Gentileschi, courtesy Palazzo Pitti, Florence
Still, western art, from the Renaissance until the middle of the 19th century, was overwhelmingly produced by white men. This is a fact, and there are only two options—accept it and move on, or rewrite the story of western art.
All art criticism is by nature subjective. That doesn’t make it untrue. We respect great painters not just for the superlative canvases they produced, but for the influence they had on later painters. This is true not just for those who were feted in their lifetimes, but for those who lived and worked in relative obscurity, only to be discovered by later generations. Over time, our culture has reached consensus in the recognition of great art.
To change that, to elevate certain painters because of their gender would be to upset that narrative in an historically inaccurate way. Women primarily worked in the home until the late 20th century. Why try to whitewash that fact?
Self-Portrait as the Allegory of Painting, 1638–39, Artemisia Gentileschi, courtesy Royal Collection

Where that falls apart is in the modern era, and that’s exactly where we need to redress the gender imbalance. An excellent example is the disparity between the reputations of Lois Dodd and Alex Katz. They’re contemporaries with similar achievements and resumes. But Katz is represented by innumerable top-flight museums worldwide, while Dodd’s first painting was only recently acquired by MoMA.  


Women in the arts, in 2011, earned68¢ for every dollar earned by men. That was far worse than in the broader economy, where women could expect to earn 79¢ for every male-earned dollar. I haven’t seen much change in the last eight years.
Let’s put our efforts where they matter, in the here and now, and leave the art canon to mind itself.

My favorite painter?

I admire too many artists to have a ‘favorite’. Here are some I profoundly admire.
The Procession to Calvary, 1564, Pieter Bruegel the Elder

“Who are your favorite painters?” a reader asked. That’s an impossible question. Instead, here are some painters who’ve influenced me.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder was the most significant of the Dutch/Flemish Renaissance painters. Among the first generation to paint other than religious scenes, he was a great landscape artist. His paintings, especially genre paintings, are a whirl of human activity. But what I admire the most is his ability to hide the focal point, or multiple focal points, in insignificant corners of his paintings. His figures are as fresh and realistic as when they were painted.
Knight, Death and the Devil, 1513, Albrecht Dürer.
Albrecht Dürer was a great painter, but I admire his engravings, woodcuts and drawings most. He was a superlative draftsman, particularly in perspective. It’s his simple, profound understanding of the Passion that moves me most. He did at least three versions, and they’re the visual equivalent of J.S. Bach’s St Matthew Passion.
The Fall of the Damned, c. 1620, Peter Paul Rubens

Peter Paul Rubens may have been intellectual, classically trained, and the favorite painter of the Counter-Reformation, but to me, he’s the progenitor of comic-book art. I draw a direct line between his dynamic canvases and the work of the late Steve Ditko. Both dealt with cosmic issues in a restless, complex way.
Weymouth Bay, c. 1816, John Constable
John Constable is best known for his great set-pieces like The Hay Wain, but he is also the (largely uncredited) inventor of modern plein air painting. In place of a classical education, he spent his youth wandering the fields of his native Essex. This “made me a painter, and I am grateful,” he said. By the time he convinced his father to let him study art, the damage was done—he was a fresh, observational painter in an age when classicism was king.
The Railway Station, 1873, Édouard Manet

Édouard Manet is known as a pivotal painter in the transition between Realism to Impressionism., but his importance to me is his surface treatment. He was the first painter to eschew sparking bright lights and a superlative finish in favor of his own, raw, handwriting. He is, in this sense, the father of Modernism.
The Red Vineyard, 1888, Vincent van Gogh
Vincent van Gogh hardly needs any introduction, being one of the most influential painters in art history. His importance to landscape painters can’t be overstated. He was the precursor to Fauvism, and that, far more than Impressionism, is what speaks to our own times.
Algoma Sketch 48, 1919-20, by Lawren Harris (member of the Group of Seven)
Tom Thomson and the Group of Sevencame into being across Lake Ontario from my hometown of Buffalo, but I didn’t really learn about them until adulthood, since realism was so out of favor in my youth. Still, these painters did more than any others to apply the principles of Impressionism to the North American landscape. They vary greatly in style, but they were united by their love of the Great White North and the wilderness. They were intrepid extreme plein air painters.
Resurrection Bay, Alaska, 1965, by Rockwell Kent
Rockwell Kent was eulogized as “a thoughtful, troublesome, profoundly independent, odd and kind man” by the New York Times. That’s all true, but he was also terrific painter, aggressively simplifying his subjects to their essence. His subjects—concentrating on the Adirondacks, Alaska and Monhegan—are all about the ever-changing light of the north.
Red Shirt and Window,2013, Lois Dodd (courtesy Alexandre Galley, New York.
Lois Doddcould be admired just for her tenacious success in the male-dominated New York art scene. Her credentials are as sterling as any of her male peers, but she had her first career museum retrospective in 2013, when she was already in her eighties. That would mean nothing if she weren’t also a superlative, self-directed painter. She ignored Abstract-Expressionism and Pop Art to forge her own, realistic way.

When bad things happen

It’s not what you say or what you do, but how you make people feel that matters the most.
Damariscotta Overlook, by Carol L. Douglas.

Yesterday started auspiciously enough, with clearing skies and a warm sun. I was potting around in my studio when I noticed something awful. The rain on Saturday night had pounded torrentially on the roof above our heads. It also washed its way down an interior beam of my studio and across four of my watercolor landscapes. They were fixed with Krylon acrylic, and the result was a series of sticky driplines.

I reeled. The damaged work represented a quarter of my oeuvre for this residency. “I bet you feel like crying,” Clif Travers said, sympathetically. If he’d looked closer, he’d have seen tears pricking at the corners of my eyes.
Well, there was nobody to blame and nothing I could think of to do about it. My studio space at the Fiore Art Center has a spanking new roof, door and siding. Water must have migrated along a beam from elsewhere and down the wall. This was freak damage, which can happen anywhere, at any time. Furthermore, our work—as precious as it is to us personally—is still just stuff. It was a rotten experience, but by no means did it rise to the level of disaster.
Damariscotta Lake, by Carol L. Douglas. I’ve finished this residency with eight pairs of landscapes, one in oils, one in watercolor.
“It’s no use crying over spilt milk,” I told myself sternly, and set off to paint.
Paint is a perverse mistress. I’ve struggled for a month in oils (which are my primary medium) while watercolor has flowed much more smoothly from my brush. Here on this last day, in the grip of distress, the paint flowed freely from my brush. In fact, it went so smoothly that when Anna Abaldo of Maine Farmland Trust contacted me about the damaged paintings, I declined to talk. Why drag myself back to earth when my work was going so well?
Clouds over Teslin Lake, by Carol L. Douglas. This was painted in 2016, and is quite small.
When we eventually met up, she—with very few words but immense compassion—made me feel infinitely better. She has a plan to deal with the damage, which is in itself reassuring. More importantly, the experience cemented my already-high confidence in her character. “At the end of the day it’s not what you say or what you do, but how you make people feel that matters the most,” said Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.
Point Prim, watercolor, by Carol L. Douglas. This was painted in 2017, with a pretty bad head, I’m afraid. That’s all Poppy Balser’s and Bobbi Heath’s fault.
Later that evening, Lois Dodd—who’s a personal idol and Maine’s greatest living oil painter—came for supper. I’m totally star-struck around her, and can’t think of a thing to say. However, she’s a lovely, warm, articulate lady. She critiqued one of my paintings. That’s an experience I’ll treasure.
David Deweyslipped me a small notebook before our meal. It contains a series of charts that were the basis of Joseph Fiore’s color exercises. They’re little mathematical puzzles, and they fascinate me. Today I’ll stop at a drugstore and buy some graph paper, and tomorrow—my painting finished for this residency—I’ll sit quietly and try to puzzle them out. I couldn’t ask for a better end to a lovely month.

Lois Dodd in New York

It’s not often you get to see the work of a living master, so go see this show while there’s still time.

Two Red Drapes and Part of White Sheet, 1981, Lois Dodd

If you like reading phrases like, “sets up a dialectic between an implication of distance and the optical immediacy of design,” by all means buy Lois Dodd, by Faye Hirsch. I don’t, but I like picture books. And I appreciate any attention paid to Lois Dodd. She is one of the masters of 20th century art, but has been overshadowed by her male brethren.

The 90-year-old painter has summered in Cushing, ME for six decades. She was part of a wave of New York modernists who came to Maine at the end of World War II. They were following an historic line of painters, starting with the Hudson River School artists. All of them found freedom and inspiration here. For Dodd and her peers, Maine was where they could break away from the strictures of Abstract Expressionism and explore representational painting.
Dodd never achieved the fame of the men who joined her on this trek to Maine: Fairfield PorterRackstraw DownesAlex Katz, Charles DuBack, and Neil Welliver. This was despite her sterling pedigree as a painter.

Globe Thistle, 1996, Lois Dodd

She was educated at Cooper Union, and one of five founding members of the Tanager Gallery. This was one of New York’s first artist cooperatives and central to the avant-garde scene of the time. Dodd taught at Brooklyn College and at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. She is an elected member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and of the National Academy of Design.

Dodd didn’t receive her first solo museum show until 2013, and it wasn’t in New York, but at the Portland Museum of Art. “Artists who have experience in both New York and Maine will tell you that Maine is much friendlier to women artists,” wroteEdgar Allen Beam at the time. “Indeed, Caldbeck Gallery in Rockland, Dodd’s Maine gallery, can boast of gender equity with 51% of the artists it represents being women.
“I suppose the fact that Dodd mostly paints interiors, landscapes, gardens, flowers and female nudes in a very matter-of-fact modernist style of realism might explain why New York area museums – in love as they are with flash and fads – have failed her,” Beam continued.
View Through Elliot’s Shack Looking South, 1971, Lois Dodd
Well, yeah. She’s not agonizing over sex, and she has an affection for the things she observes. What room does the art establishment have for that?
Meanwhile, the Alexandre Gallery, her New York representative, is finishing up its thirteenth show of Dodd’s work. Lois​ ​Dodd:​ ​Selected Paintings​, runs for one more week, until January 27, 2018.
Two Trees, Afternoon Light, 2014, Lois Dodd
At 90, Dodd continues to paint, although she doesn’t get out like she used to. Mortality is staring her in the face, as it does with us all. She is one of the greatest living American masters, and this might be your last chance to see her work before she is frozen in time. If you’re in the metro New York area this week, you really should go.

Addendum:

Rewriting Painting

A panel discussion chaired by Barry Schwabsky, featuring painters Lois Dodd, Thomas Nozkowski and Philip Taaffe, and art critics Faye Hirsch and John Yau
Thursday, April 19, 2018, 6:30pm – 8pm

Join Barry Schwabsky and a panel of leading painters and critics for a lively debate on the state and shape of contemporary painting and its critical reception. How far have artists extended the boundaries of the medium in the 21st century, and what does it mean to be identified as a painter today? Is the word ‘painting’ still adequate to describe a practice which no longer necessarily involves paint or flat surfaces? And to what extent do the ways in which we write about painting influence both the public’s reception of the work and contemporary practice itself?