Terrific appreciation of Lamar Dodd by Jamil Zainaldin at the Saporta Report:
Life in Depression-era New York was hard for Dodd, as well as for his family back home in LaGrange. He and his new wife, also of LaGrange, decided in 1933, against the advice of his teachers, to return to the South, where he took a position in a Birmingham art store. He continued painting with heart, mind, and eye, honoring the humble and dignifying the ordinary in settings that he seemed to understand in his deepest being. His reputation continued to grow, inside and outside the South.
At the age of 28, he received a summons out of the blue from the head of the University of Georgia’s fine arts division, who urged him to come to Athens as the university’s artist-in-residence. They were looking for “a live, recognized artist doing actual creative work” who would not only serve students but act as a cultural influence on “the people of our state.” If this agreed with him, then the university would up the visual arts budget from $50 to $5,000.
As we say whenever anyone asks, Dodd was a real ambassador for the arts, who believed with conviction in the importance of a cultivated citizenry. Let us resolve to never be shy about that, and that his legacy remains alive and well on campus.
Image: Venice Reflection, Rain (1958) by Lamar Dodd. Credit: Georgia’s State Art Collection, Georgia Council for the Arts