Sight unseen, a collector in Switzerland commissioned me to make her a sculpture of a hippo, since that is her favorite animal. We started with the choice of wood- she wanted Cedar of Lebanon, since her mother is from Lebanon, but that seemed difficult to obtain, so we debated cherry versus walnut and finally settled on walnut. I sent her weekly progress updates. We decided to meet in Amsterdam for the delivery, and spent the weekend catching up while strolling through art museums together.
Stephen Fletcher, chief auctioneer at Skinner and guest appraiser for Antiques Road Show, was featured in Cape Cod Home Magazine in 2011. An image of my piece, Ugly Duckling, appears on page 4 in the article, 'Treasure Found: Antiques Road Show appraiser Stephen Fletcher welcomes us into his old house full of wonderful period furnishings in Provincetown.' When Stephen saw this piece at the grand opening of the Provincetown Art Museum, he knew immediately that he wanted to purchase it. He told me that it reminded him of a girl he knew in school when he was a child that was unloved. He wanted to buy the sculpture, take it home and love her.
Ugly Duckling, 30" tall, wood, paint 2005 by Donna Dodson Photo Credit: James Zimmerman
The following article 'The Elephant in the Room,' by Jim McDonald, appeared in The Art Connection newsletter in 2010 with 'Earth Mother.' This was the first sculpture of mine that he and his wife Joni purchased. I premiered this piece in my show, 'Elephant Tribe', at Boston Sculptors Gallery in 2009. They continued collecting my work, with their second purchase - the Dancing Crane, from 'Flock Together' my second solo show at Boston Sculptors Gallery in 2012.
Earth Mother, 20" tall, wood, paint 2009 by Donna Dodson
Dancing Crane, 32" tall, wood, paint by Donna Dodson Photo credit: Jeff Baird
Gallery Wright in Wilmington, Vermont, helped place my sculptures with one of my earliest collectors who bought the Goose Goddess for his wife. His daughters loved this piece so much that he bought one of my pieces for each of them, The Red Rabbit and the Cherry Cow. Shortly afterwards, both of his daughters got pregnant, and so my sculptures became 'fertility charms' in their family.
Goose Goddess, 22" tall, wood, paint 2002 by Donna Dodson Photo Credit: Jeff Baird
Red Rabbit, 16" tall, wood, paint 2002 by Donna Dodson Photo Credit: Jeff Baird
Cherry Cow, 18" tall, wood, pigment, paint 2002 by Donna Dodson Photo Credit: Jeff Baird
On a similar note, I created a piece for a group show I was in at Nancy Margolis Gallery in New York City that was curated by Edward Del Rosario and Jordin Isip. 'Permanent Collection,' featured 130 artists who were asked to select any single piece from the over 15,000 works in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection and create their own version with restricted dimensions. I chose Jeff Koons' 'Pink Panther' as my inspiration and sculpted a panther headed goddess figure in pink ivory, an exotic hardwood from South Africa. The weekend after the show came down, I got a spontaneous invitation to the Hamptons from a woman who would become Pink Panther's new owner. She graciously showed us all that Sagaponack had to offer including drumming on the beach, tours of private collections, cocktail parties at sunset and a VIP dinner party at her home with local gallerists. At the end of the weekend, she announced that wanted to buy the sculpture and to celebrate our weekend together, she wanted to give it a new name. In honor of the grand and glorious sunsets we had seen, she named it 'Pink Sky.' And in all subsequent emails, she signed affectionately, the 'Mama Panther.'
Pink Panther, 12" tall, pink ivory, 2012 by Donna Dodson
Bill Houser, a consultant to the Boston Sculptors Gallery, admired my work and wanted to buy it. He asked me very candidly, how he should collect my work. He wondered if he should buy one of my pieces from each series, or the ones he liked the most. I told him that I do have collectors who like to buy one from each series, but that if he felt strongly about certain pieces, he should buy the ones he liked. I'm glad I did, because I only have two series and he bought four of my sculptures.
Banality, 22" tall, wood, pigment, paint 2010 by Donna Dodson
'I got to know Red Lion over several visits to the studio where she was made. This feline seemed self-contained and quiet at first compared to some of the others around her.. I was attracted to her smooth red-brown surface and the soft energy in her proportions. I liked her cracks. Perfect beings can have cracks, perhaps must have cracks.
Now, perched by the sofa, Red Lion blesses our home with her gentle nurturing presence. Before I purchased this sculpture, I had begun to appreciate the remarkable benevolent radiance that shines through her compact form. She is also very strong. Nothing affects her equanimity. She is pure and forever young.'
'I have been following Donna's work for many years and always loved it, especially for the combination of elements it conveys: softness and strength, energy and serenity. But when I saw the Black Swan, I knew she was The One. As I've lived with her, I realize that her importance to me has many layers. On an intellectual level, the Black Swan has become a key concept within my investment profession, reminding us that the most important events are beyond our anticipation or control. I love how my own Swan reminds me that this concept can work both ways - it is not just crises that are unforeseen, but gloriously positive events as well. On a more personal level, I feel that the Swan is a reflection of the nature of humanity - beautiful and strong, despite (or perhaps because of) a deep crack that runs right through her heart. And on an aesthetic level, I have The Black Swan placed just above the entry to my home. Every time I walk through the door I glance up to see her watching over me; I feel welcomed and protected, surrounded by strength and beauty and wisdom.'
The first time I went to Boston Media Makers, I met C.C. Chapman who commissioned me to make a sculpture of his tattoo. Read the full story here.
On a much more personal note, my very first collector was my grandfather who asked me to carve him a grizzly bear out of a piece of hedge (osage orange) that he had in his barn. I completed the commission for his 80th birthday. I followed the grizzly bear with a polar bear on his 85th birthday and a monkey on his 90th. Unfortunately, he died before he reached his 95th birthday but at his funeral, I gave the sculptures away to my two cousins and my brother as remembrances of our grandfather.
Grizzly Bear, 12" long, wood, 1996 by Donna Dodson, Photo Credit Paula M. Dimidis
Polar Bear, 12" tall, wood & paint 2001 by Donna Dodson, Photo Credit Donald G. Dodson
Seated Monkey, 12" tall, wood, 2006 by Donna Dodson