MTSU’s Todd Art Gallery will celebrate the life and work of the late Professor Emeritus David G. LeDoux with a special weeklong exhibit focusing on his prolific talent and helping to raise funds for student art scholarships.
“David LeDoux: A Life in Paint” opens Monday, May 23, at 8:30 a.m. and continues through Friday, May 27, at 4:30 p.m. An opening reception is set May 23 from 5 to 7 p.m.
The free public exhibit is on display during the Todd Gallery’s regular hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.Monday through Friday.
LeDoux, a native Louisianan, taught at MTSU from 1956 until 1994, retiring to continue what would become a 60-plus-year career in abstract painting at his home studio in Woodbury, Tennessee. He died in May 2010 at age 83 with an exhibition record reaching from galleries in New York and Indiana to South Carolina and Texas.
His work is included in collections around the country, including The Tennessee Arts Commission Collection, the Louisiana Arts Commission Galleries, The Ohio State University Collection and the Hunter Museum of American Art in nearby Chattanooga.
“David spent 38 years teaching art, and it was such a huge part of his life,” said his wife, Pat LeDoux. “He wanted his work to be seen and believed in the importance of education.
“He wanted to give back by donating some of his paintings to the MTSU Department of Art for scholarships to benefit current students, which is why we created the David LeDoux Department of Art Scholarship.”
The LeDouxes moved to Cannon County in 1987, and David LeDoux continued working on what had become a four-series body of work: his “Black Period” from 1985 to 1990; “Red Period,” 1990-95; the “Violet Period” from 1995 to 2000; and his concluding “Blue Period,” which began in 2000 and ended in 2004. He chose to work in periods of color as a way to fully develop his understanding of a color and the experience it offered the viewer of each piece.
Over his six decades of artistry, LeDoux created hundreds of modern abstract paintings, some oil or acrylic on canvas and others oil on paper. Included in the May 23-27 exhibit is an assortment of work the couple donated to the university before the professor’s death, along with some of Pat LeDoux’s favorites — a LeDoux self-portrait, one from his Blue Period, and 10 paper paintings — to round out the concluding years of his life’s work.
“I am in search of images that are new and fresh, not familiar or shopworn,” LeDoux said in a commentary preserved at his website. “A viewer following suit must be ready to deal with ‘the new’ as well. To me, making art has been and continues to be a journey, one involving mystery and discovery.
“The process is improvisational, trusting my knowledge of how a painting is made, of structure, of color, of evocative shapes, etc. At a certain point, the work offers something based on the ‘moves’ I have so far made. I try to capitalize on that and go further. Then when the work wants to ‘close,’ I try to either help or get out of the way or both. At the end, a little refinement, but not too much.
“In later years, I have thought a lot about how the painting is painted and about the ineffability of the human experience. Even in the smallest things.”
A special portion of the May 23 reception and exhibit will be one of LeDoux’s final interviews, taped by former student E. K. Waller. Installation work by this year’s recipient of the David LeDoux Scholarship, Keisha Lambert, also will be featured alongside the main exhibit.
“David was a man of great talent and a strong supporter of the department and his students. This exhibit is a way for all to celebrate his life,” said professor Jean Nagy, former chair of the Department of Art.