Lois Dodd & Shara Hughes
Founded in 2019, Parts & Labor Beacon touts a program oriented entirely around two-person shows that balance newer work by a mid-career artist with selections culled from the art-historically sanctioned achievements of an established figure.
Highlighting two distinct approaches to landscape paintings, the gallery's latest show juxtaposes pieces made by Lucy Dodd between 1966 and 1988—a mere chapter in the nonagenarian's seven decade-long practice—with new and recent paintings by Shara Hughes.
Hughes is at a roughly equivalent stage, in terms of life and career, to where Dodd was by the mid-1960s: having become well-regarded as artists, each with a firm grasp of her niche, yet still actively exploring the possibilities therein.
When Dodd graduated Cooper Union in 1948, abstract expressionism was about to dominate the art world for the better part of the next decade. By 1960, Dodd was a rarity not only as a figurative painter who stood her ground throughout the peak of the movement—but also as one who found success in her own right in the interim.
In this exhibition, the works on view reflect Dodd's affinity for capturing her surroundings—from the view out a window, as in Skylight in Barn (1971), to a variety of picturesque wilderness vistas—all rendered in a formal, almost analytical style that draws out delicate, crisp imagery through precisely-proportioned, rigorously-structured backdrops.
The intensely-hued landscapes appearing in Hughes's paintings certainly suggest—not incorrectly—that she and Dodd share an interest in depicting the natural world. Even so, standing in stark contrast to Dodd's realism, Hughes's compositions tend to embrace an element of drama, with sensuous linework coalescing around sweeping areas of color to create vivid, spectacular panoramas—too spectacular, as it were, to have originated anywhere but the artist's imagination.
Shara Hughes, Ready to March, 2020. Oil and acrylic on canvas, 56 x 50 inches.