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
"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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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