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Grand to Preview New Maine Masters Film on Lois Dodd
(reprinted from Ellsworth American, August 9, 2007)

By Ellen Hathaway
Ellsworth – Artist Lois Dodd walks up to a flower, caresses it and tips it toward the camera. Her eyes twinkle as she talks about her art, what inspires her, what she sees.

"What is in front of you, what I pass, what I notice is what I paint," she says.

Dodd is the subject of the latest installment in the Maine Masters film series. On Monday, August 13, at 7:30 p.m., artist Robert Shetterly and filmmaker Richard Kane will be presenting four episodes of the Maine Masters series at The Grand in Ellsworth. The highlight will be a special preview of the episode on Dodd.

Dodd is a worthy subject for the series. She graduated from Cooper Union, one of the finest art schools in the country; founded the Tanager Gallery in New York with husband/artist Bill King; and her work is in the collection of the Whitney Museum, Portland Museum of Art, the Farnsworth, and hundreds of other collections.

The film begins by following Dodd around outside her Cushing home. Interspersed with the images of Dodd moving around through her flowers and trees, are images of her paintings of flowers and trees. Some are reminiscent of Matisse, but she rejects the comparison.

"I never thought I was that skillful," she says.

She describes what she calls "one shot paintings," largely completed on site with rapid, gestural brushstrokes. "If I'm out in the landscape, there is (no) way I'm going to come back a second time." Part of the reason is the change of time, weather, sun, but also she says, she changes, too.

Despite her one-liners and often simple statements about art, Dodd is very serious about what she does. We don't hear the narrator's questions, but in response to what must have been, "Why do you paint?" Dodd responds "I think there's no other reason to be alive."

The frosting on the cake for the film is the sound track by Paul Sullivan.

While the lush images of Dodd's paintings are engaging, the film itself is a work of art. Dodd is posed against a weathered clapboard wall for one sequence. The muted colors of her shirt blend perfectly with the background creating a Wyeth-like feel to the scene.

Like most films that use still images, this one pans around to give a sense of motion, but in this case in a playful, artful way that is seamless with the art on the screen. Kane's direction and editing are superb, as is the camerawork by Deb Vendetti.

Kane has been making films for over thirty years. His early documentary, "Tough, Pretty or Smart," won first prize in the Cork International Film Festival and went on to complete for an Academy Award.

He and Melody Lewis-Kane established Kane-Lewis Productions in 1980 in the Washington, D.C. area where they developed a successful business providing communications, video, and sound services for television, arts centers and government institutions. In 1990 the couple purchased land in rural Downeast Maine and in the summer of 1998 they moved Kane-Lewis Productions to Sedgwick.

Kane has continued his work making films on the arts and collaborates with Maine painter/activist Shetterly on the ongoing Maine Masters series of half hour PBS documentary portraits of Maine artists. Currently in development is a six hour documentary series on Shetterly's series of portraits of courageous Americans, "Americans Who Tell the Truth."

The Maine Masters video series, sponsored by the Union of Maine Visual Artists (UMVA) features artists less well recognized but deserving of further attention. The project's current direction is to get the DVDs into Maine's schools through the development of companion curriculum guides available free to all Maine teachers through the website www.mainemasters.com. To support this effort or to learn more about the screening, contact the Union of Maine Visual Artists Maine Master Project at 359-2320, or email kanelewisproductions@gmail.com.

In addition to the film on Lois Dodd, the screening at The Grand will include the films on Robert Hamilton, Alan Magee and Olive Pierce. A $7 admission goes toward the ongoing funding of the series. arts@ellsworthamerican.com

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