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Dolt sees faces in grains of plywood. Often, the crude construction material inspires portraits of characters with elaborate back-stories: the Ugly Messiah, Soup Head, Minotaur, Broken Bottle Head, Mother Nature.
But, sometimes, the pseudonymous artist throws a coat of red paint or polyurethane over a sheet of wood and his work is done. Dolt’s artistic range is on display in the solo exhibition, “AN ALPHABET FROM ANOTHER PLANET…” on view at OneWay Gallery from November 12 through November 27.
The prolific painter and sculptor, who lives in Narragansett and daylights as a carpenter, studied at the Art Institute of Boston. He’s maintained a studio at OneWay for a decade.
Many of A. Dolt’s materials are sourced from construction sites. He often lets his panel dictate the subject. “Sometimes I’ll just stare at a piece of plywood until I see something — a face, or a nose,” he says.
One of his most recognizable forms, the Ugly Messiah, is an intricately sketched figure who appears in white underwear with a golden halo floating above his head. Each portrait includes a short anecdote that offers a glimpse into the character’s — and, in turn, A. Dolt’s — sense of morality.
Other works under the A. Dolt moniker include poly-coated slabs of wood with unusual textures and the “Shared Canvas” series, in which the artist inserts his own characters onto landscapes destined for the Johnston landfill.
The OneWay exhibition encompasses the extremes of A. Dolt’s work. His newest portrait series, Mother Nature, features risqué depictions of a nude woman with wood grain skin. During A. Dolt’s solo show, those portraits will hang in a back room, separated from the rest of the gallery by a black curtain with an “Adults Only” sign. Dolt says his reason for making art is a simple one: “Self Entertainment” — also the title of his 2014 solo show at OneWay’s former outpost in Pawtucket.
After a near-death experience three years ago, the artist says he was back to making art almost immediately. He incorporated the experience into his art in darkly humorous ways — think: “.001% bovine” scrawled on the back of a portrait to represent the cow valve replacement surgery that brought his heart back from the brink.
“It’s also a form of art therapy,” he says.
The public is invited to an artists’ reception on November 19 from 5 to 9 p.m. Regular gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.