Parts & Labor Beacon opens an exhibition of works by Lois Dodd and Shara Hughes

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Parts & Labor Beacon opens an exhibition of works by Lois Dodd and Shara Hughes
Installation view.

BEACON, NY.- Parts & Labor Beacon is presenting Lois Dodd and Shara Hughes, an exhibition featuring recent paintings by contemporary artist Shara Hughes alongside a selection of paintings by Lois Dodd dating from 1966 to 1988. In keeping with Parts & Labor Beacon’s mission, this show, which began with a meeting between the two artists arranged by the gallery in spring of 2019, envelops the spirit of cross-generational exchange of like-minded approach.

The images of Lois Dodd (b. 1927, Montclair, NJ) reveal the artist’s intimate and focused interest in painting her immediate environs — the surrounding woods of her summer home in coastal Maine, the interior-exterior views of her East Village apartment window, and the winter scenes of her home near the Delaware Water Gap — that she has revisited through her 70-year career.

Dodd studied painting at Cooper Union from 1945 to 1948. Devoted to the plein air tradition, she became a forerunner in a group of artists that continued to paint from observation during the height of Abstract Expressionism. Dodd developed a representational style that, through close exploration of natural forms, disrupts the viewer’s established perception and ways of seeing. In 1952, she became one of the five founding members of the artist cooperative Tanager Gallery, part of the New York 10th Street avant-garde scene. Dodd began to spend summers in coastal Maine in 1953 where the surrounding rock quarries, woods, gardens, buildings, and rural scenery have since influenced the subject matter of her painting. Dodd reveres the passage of time in the landscapes that inspire her, stating: “I work best going back to the same places. I change, they change, or the weather changes. I used to think the subject would dry up, and I would have to make a move. But that never happened; it is the reverse.”

Dodd’s landscape paintings — though ostensibly simple in subject matter — emphasize geometric elements, patterns, and forms in nature that may otherwise be overlooked. Her images of intersecting tree branches create apertures and portals that, through light, shadow, and pictorial illusion, draw the viewer into the interstices of the composition. Dodd’s interest in framing mechanisms is exemplified by her use of windows; the window as a painting within a painting encourages the viewer to look carefully and explore multiple modes of perception.

Shara Hughes (b. 1981, Atlanta, GA) creates images of invented landscapes and surrealistic environments defined by chromatic radiance and abundantly lush density. Addressing qualities of light and flora, Hughes defines the interaction between these two elements as they create portals that allude to spaces beyond the picture plane. Anticipating the mystery of what is on the other side of a floral pathway, for example, Hughes opens her envisioned landscapes just enough to absorb the viewer’s sense of balance and focus and initiate their journey. For Hughes, her paintings are about the lure of spaces and portals created by elements of nature, rather than a rumination on nature itself. They are images of places that function as subliminal passageways, probing the subliminal forces of spatial constructs derived from landscape elements. Hughes describes the process of how she develops an image and how she will often allow it to change multiple times “until the space starts to emerge and I can see what kind of landscape is showing up… The minute I start controlling the color or the narrative of the painting I change my mind and take a left turn. It remains exciting and fresh for me because I let the painting have a mind of its own.”

In a contrasting approach, Dodd renders with fidelity the sense of space and light, which she translates directly from her own physical presence with the subject. Her scenes reflect a direct consciousness of human interaction and involvement without overtly including human figures. In the imagery of both artists, there is a sense of query about transition and a kind of pause that is alluded to when one space is delineated from another.

Lois Dodd’s work has been featured in over fifty solo exhibitions. Her most recent exhibitions include Lois Dodd, Modern Art, London, UK (2019); Lois Dodd: Paintings and Drawings, Ogunquit Museum of Modern Art, Ogunquit, ME (2018); and Lois Dodd: Flashings, Alexandre Gallery, New York, NY (2018). Dodd’s works reside in museum collections throughout the United States and Europe including: Cooper Hewitt Museum (New York, NY); Farnsworth Art Museum (Rockland, ME); Museo dell’Arte (Udine, IT); The Museum of Modern Art (New York, NY); National Portrait Gallery (Washington, D.C); The Ogunquit Museum of American Art (Ogunquit, ME); Portland Museum of Art (Portland, ME); Wadsworth Atheneum (Hartford, CT); and the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY), amongst others. Dodd is represented by Alexandre Gallery (New York, NY).

Shara Hughes earned her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2004, and later attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. Hughes has shown extensively throughout the United States and Europe, including recent solo exhibitions: Day By Day By Day, Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zürich, CH (2020); Unmanageable, Pilar Corrias, London, UK (2020); In Lieu of Flowers, Rachel Uffner Gallery, New York, NY (2019); and Sun Salutations, Newport Art Museum, Newport, RI (2018). Hughes was featured in the 2017 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. Her work can be found in numerous museum collections, including: Dallas Museum of Art (Dallas, TX); Denver Art Museum (Denver, CO); The Foundation Louis Vuitton (Paris, FR); Jorge M. Perez Collection (Miami, FL); and The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY) amongst numerous others. Hughes is represented by Rachel Uffner Gallery (New York, NY), Galerie Eva Presenhuber (Zürich), and Pilar Corrias (London).

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