by Randy Sturgis
Painting really began for Lockwood by recalling a distant landscape, an emotional place. By making paintings of his surroundings, he was able to reconnect with the enduring beauty of this inspiration.
A nostalgic ornate building, a hundred years old, firmly occupies the right side of the canvas. Pedestrians are absent from the sidewalk. Arched windows above the street reflect golden light. Sound and movement are suspended and one is drawn to the painting surface by pleasing shapes, rich colors and broken strokes that create ever-changing movements of color dancing with light.
Lockwood "Woody" Dennis has been painting "places" for forty years. Woody uses these places or settings, often industrial sites, as a vehicle or opportunity to explore shape, light, color and, most importantly to the artist, space.
Woody commented recently: "The important thing for me is making a space you can move through. I use places that I find exciting that way."
It could be Africa, Wapato, Port Townsend, San Francisco or Onomichi, created or actual, these places are steeped in the artist's memory of growing up in Portland. It is a sense of the unexplored mystery that creates the first layer that draws the viewer to the painting surface itself.
Woody acknowledges a central compositional concept or actual feature and then relates the other elements of the painting to this anchor. From this point he creates another layer, "forcing perspective into the flat painting surface." One can see the inspiration of Cezanne and the "painters of light" in the beautiful handling of the color, composition and musical brushwork.
Influences of German Expressionism, Japanese woodblock prints, comic art and WPA industrial design are deeply rooted in the bold and graphic images of factories, automobiles, cities, barns and landscapes. Woody's fantastic forms and shapes carry bold flattened colors - edges acknowledged with dark graphic lines. Complicated compositions, in his hands, are suddenly simple and accessible, the work of an artist who has not settled into a comfortable niche, rather a painter still seeking - space in that flat surface and emotional place.