The light has dimmed since the passing of Doreen ‘Dody’ Kolb last month. Family and friends, artists and art lovers, especially, will miss her wise ways and extraordinary friendship.
She had many connections in an impressive web of arts organizations and institutions, including the UNH Art Gallery, the Currier Gallery, Gallery on State Street and the Coolidge Gallery, where she presided for many years. Patrons of the (now defunct) Rye Home Center were privy to her hand selected arrays of art, showcases of color, light and artistry that became the hallmark of her displays.
Many will recall her outstanding collection of Asian art (I still have the many notes she sent me on stationery featuring artworks from her Kolb Collection) and the many incredible shows at the Coolidge Center. Beyond the art itself, Kolb’s unfailing spirit and sensitivity, her kinship with artists and others whose eyes linger on the work of artists, will certainly be missed and pushed forward by the many she touched with advice, encouragement and gusto for living. Here are a few remembrances from her circle of friends:
Jane Kaufmann, Printmaker, Ceramic Artist:“If you ever saw her greet people in bathing suits – tourists – coming into the gallery. She was so gracious, so gracious to everyone.”
“As soon as I heard Dody died I went up to my studio and made a little Dody Kolb angel with straight gray hair, a black dress and a Susan-Pratt Smith pin right under her chin. Like everyone else, I want her for my Guardian Angel.“I remember when we had the celebration for Dody at the Rye Art Club and Wendy Turner said Dody kept her alive for one whole year by buying her paintings. There was a lot that Dody did that no one ever knew about.”
Lisa Noonis, Painter:
“Dody was very dear to me. She was always honest and thoughtful. I remember the first time I went to see her at The Coolidge Center for the Arts. I had a handful of paintings with me. She looked at each piece and talked to me about what she saw. She told me that she had great hopes for me. She said ‘yes’ to me. That is how our relationship began. I loved being part of the shows at the Coolidge Center. Dody poured her heart and soul into all of those exhibitions. I believe that is why they were so incredibly successful. They were always well attended. She knew all of her artists so well. What a blessing.
“Dody = love.”
Frank Corso, Copley Master painter:
“It was with great sadness that I learned of Dody’s passing. She was an inspiration and a true friend to me for many years. She discovered my work in the first days of the Home Center in Rye NH and took me on as an artist there immediately. She began to give me pointers and direction and focus in my work and also tips on framing and presentation. Paintings began selling very well and she continued to push me in different direction. She lined up demos for me and art appreciation nights and got me mingling with clients. We continued long discussions about art and she taught me about prints and introduced me to her extensive collection.
“As the years went by we remained close and she continued to sell my work. She suggested Florida to me as a market and I then came to Florida 14 years ago on a seasonal basis buying a house here and did 15 consecutive one man shows with my Gallery. I introduced Dody to the Gallery and Dody began working there part time and still continued a high success rate of selling my work. She came to most every show I had and would call me the next day and critique what she saw.
“I give Dody much credit for the success I have enjoyed in the art business as anyone I have ever met along the way. Her wonderful smile, advice and friendship will always be terribly missed.”
Don Stone, Painter:“My connection with Dody was primarily through the Coolidge Gallery at the mansion. Dody was always very helpful with her knowledge of art and her willingness to accommodate our spending the summer on Monhegan Island in Maine. She would store my paintings until the show opened and sometimes even come to our house to pick them up in the spring. She was a wonderful person and friend and a valuable part of Portmouth’s art community.”
Chuck Hayes, Proprietor of The Artist’s Eye in North Hampton:
“My memories of Dody are all very sweet. She had the ability to make everyone she met feel immediately like you were special to her, which because you found her to be so nice, intelligent and perceptive was important to you. She was a good judge of character, which is probably how she surrounded herself with a lot of good and dedicated people. If she endeared herself to you and you to her, she became your advocate forever.
“I once was complaining to her that there was no place on the Seacoast that my wife and I could legally enjoy a bottle of wine by the Ocean. She told me to try the lawn at the Wentworth Coolidge house, and if anyone had a problem with it I was to say Dody gave me permission. So we did. What a sweet woman, seems like you can only say it so many times, but it fits.”
Stan Moeller, Painter:
“Dody called me before the (I believe) second season at the Coolidge Center (2002) to see if I would like to show my work at the Coolidge Center for the Arts, by the Wentworth Coolidge Mansion, in Portsmouth, the next season. We became close friends almost immediately and we were friends from then on. I think she first saw my work at The Artist Eye, in North Hampton, NH, run by our mutual friend, Chuck Hayes. I have been with Chuck longer than any other gallery.
“Dody and I were kindred spirits in our love of the visual arts; we talked for hours about favorite painters and how the whole art world seem to work (or not work)...We both LOVED, “The Painted Word” (1973) by Tom Wolfe, and passed many (art) books and titles back and forth.
"She was an amazing help to me, not only showing my work, but also her ability to connect artist with collector. She would call me up in my studio to tell how much she liked a painting of mine she had just seen, or saw in a magazine. I could ask her questions about career moves and her advice was always spot on. Whenever I would discuss the idea about going out on a limb with an artistic idea or traveling to France or Italy to paint, she would encourage me (us)...saying, do it now, while you are young enough to enjoy it.
“When I started showing my work in a prestigious gallery in Naples Florida, she invited Tammy and I to come and stay with her and her husband, Frank (of 61 years), on Marco Island (near Naples). We enjoyed their company became even closer as friends. She had a lust for life and and such optimistic view that was contagious.”
Tammy Moeller, Friend and Fan:“Dody was a role model to me to continue to stay interested in meeting new people and to stay invested in life as I grow older. She taught me that friendship knows no age. She was always upbeat and looking forward to bringing people together; she had a genuine interest in not only connecting artists with collectors, but nurturing bonds of lasting relationships between them.
“Another cool thing about Dody: she showed both the Augustas, (father/son) both of the Stones (father/son), Sean Beavers and his wife, Sydney Bella Sparrow, and other generations of artists.
Dody was also a dynamo: a doer, a mentor, a pack leader. She was gentle, elegant and fun. An incredible mentor and supportive friend to many of the Seacoast’s finest artists. We will miss her so much.”
Dustan Knight, Artist:
“She always asked about my children and remembered their names and ages and seemed to share a particular sense of humor and wit with my husband. That’s kind of rare, she really liked him and he isn’t the art scene sort.“Because of her, I try to meet the spouses and families of my students and learn a bit about their interests. I think, as artists, our nurturing support network is vital and it is richer when it includes folks outside our field. I will miss her and so will my husband.”
Jinny Eshoo, Associate at Coolidge Center of Art:
“Dody was Director at the Coolidge Center for Art and I was her associate there for seven years.
Dody knew her audience--the artists, the buyers, and the art lovers. Her respect for the artists ran deep. Plans for the next summer season were firm early in the new year. Artists were invited, exhibition titles and scope were set, dates in line. The artists were prepared.
“The mission of the Wentworth-Coolidge, which included art education, was paramount to Dody. She presented a broad spectrum of works, not just for the sophisticated museum-goer, but also for a steady faithful following who often claimed, ‘We never miss a show.’ Dody offered visitors opportunities to discuss works, artists, and life experiences. We never had an artist or buyer complain, and that’s saying something.
“Highly respected for her breadth of knowledge, her unquestioned integrity, and her disarming charm, Dody was as unassuming as she was a committed advocate. One in a million.”