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Jim Hodges’ Camouflage Doesn’t Cover Up

Guest Blogger Gail Sachson owns Ask Me About Art, offering lectures, tours and program planning. Ms. Sachson will be organizing and leading the  Community Tours to the  city-wide Nasher XCHANGE installations , celebrating the Nasher Sculpture Center’s Tenth Anniversary.

The traveling exhibit, Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take, just opened at the Dallas Museum of Art, and what he gives is himself. All real art is autobiographical, sometimes easily read, sometimes oblique; always personal, yet universal.

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“All in the Field,” Jim Hodges

The DMA survey of Hodge’s 25-year practice was conceived by DMA Senior Curator Jeffrey Grove and Walker Art Center Executive Director, Olga Viso . The show will travel to  the Walker Art Center, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston and the UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. Looking closely, lingering with the titles and being somewhat familiar with Hodge’s background, we can easily see the trees within the forest. In this case, it is really through the forest, a love and an emotional inspiration for Hodges.

In much of his work, Hodges weaves and morphs the tress, the leaves and the forest debris into organic swirls of camouflage design. In those and other works, he combines his love of nature, man, art, drama, theater and an unabashed affinity for “prettiness”.

The DMA is exhibiting a particularly stunning 72″ x 48″ embroidered fabric camouflage work, “All in the Field”, 2003.. It is pretty and pretty powerful. Delicate candy-colored flowers of all sorts peek out from a camouflage background of greys and whites. Hodges, a gay man, seems to be asserting his presence and that of his friends, many whom had succumbed to AIDS.  The popping colors of the flowers, midst the maze, seem to say, “I am/was here.”

At the DMA Opening, Hodges spoke eloquently and fervently about the importance of the individual and the energy of art. “Every voice is important”, he said, and “…it’s (art) saving us. The power of what it could do is beyond our imagination.”

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Hodges’ work in the Wyly Theater.

Dallas is said to be the city with the largest collection of Jim Hodges’ work in public and private collections. One Dallas-commissioned major camouflage work is ironically somewhat hidden, but most appropriate to the place. Where else would a pattern that speaks of disguise, masks, conflict, and drama be better placed than in a theater? And there is it, covering the walls and windows of the  sixth floor Patron Lounge/Studio Theater Lobby of the WYLY, home of the Dallas Theater Center.

Blending into its self-made environment, the Hodge’s designed room scape of 24-28 shades of paint and silkscreened fabric, ranging in color from mulberry to black, swirl organically in jigsaw puzzle-like shapes, camouflaging the space.  One more good reason to be a Patron of the Dallas Theater Center.