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Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024

Imaginative Endeavors


Clif Dopson displays some of his original art work at the Meadows Museum at Centenary.

Clif Dopson’s experences come to artistic life

Some of you might know him as the mild-mannered psychiatrist who patiently listened to their issues in a quiet session. Others might remember his participation in local worship services as a musician playing his guitar. Still, others might remember his presence on outdoor excursions with the Indian princesses or trips abroad to experience the world firsthand.

To say Clif Dopson is a polymath is too limiting. He is one of those individuals whose chronic curiosity and high energy filled his life with learning and adventure. His mantra might be described as “what can I do to make it more interesting?”

The “it,” in Dopson’s case, can be virtually anything.

From now to Feb. 9, you can see the products of some of his imaginative expeditions in an exhibit of his two- and three-dimensional artwork at the Meadows Museum on the Centenary College campus. It’s called “Dr. Dopson’s Cabinet of Possibly Artistic Curiosities” and represents just a tiny fraction of his imaginative endeavors. In a preview of the exhibit posted on Facebook, his daughter wrote that the show is about what her dad is good at and what he’s dabbled in, and it’s all enjoyment.

The show represents works from his youngest days through his school years, professional endeavors and beyond. There is a life-size model of a dinosaur, paper models of famous architectural landmarks, minutely detailed medical illustrations and portraiture of friends and family sprinkled among figures of monsters, mythic creatures and some highly curious takes on familiar characters.

Artistic curiosities are featured at The Meadows.

Art has always been a part of his personality. “It goes back to elementary school. I was improving comic books and Little Golden Books when I was 5 years old.” Improving in Dopson-speak means making the usual, expected or prosaic more “interesting.”

In his spare time, which has multiplied since his retirement, Dopson experiments with paint, pencil, various other media, wood, polymer resin, leather, metal, ceramics and just about anything. Like most of the boomer generation, he grew up with plastic model kits of cars, planes, monsters, superheroes and the like. But they were not enough, Dopson said.

“When I was a kid, I started out like everybody else. Then figures started coming out, all the Aurora ones, you know, the monster ones. Even before that, I was doing the sheriff and the Dutch boy.

“I wasn’t an inveterate modeler until I started going to WonderFest.” According to the official website, WonderFest, now in its 34th year, features movie special effects guests, the largest model contest in the U.S. for sci-fi, horror and comics-related subjects, model and toy dealers galore, and seminars to entertain and improve hobbyists of all ages.”

That experience opened his eyes to the possibilities for the growing “garage kit” modeler segment.

“It’s guys who decided they wanted to make models of things nobody has made models of. Mostly it was focused on science fiction and horror movies, pulp fiction, superhero comics, things like that. They would sculpt them and put them out as a kit. When you start modifying, that’s where the fun begins,” he said.

For example, one of his favorites in the show is Scarecrow, albeit a somewhat updated steampunk version. “It’s not from ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ it’s from ‘The Wizard of Zo.’ This Scarecrow is not afraid of fire; he operates a flame thrower. He’s still got the brainless part, though; they sculpted the top of his head clear. I just made it look like a washing machine with soap suds. You can do little fun things like that.”

Portraits along with medical illustrations are part of the exhibition.

There is too much on this relatively small slice of Dopson’s creative side to go into in this space. You just have to see it to believe what found items, repurposed deodorant packaging or pimiento cheese lids can become.

“I love the detail. I love making things look real. Even if they’re not real. And even if they’re strange and bizarre and they shouldn’t be real.”

To sum up, Dr. Clif Dopson probably says it best.

“I do have a good time.” The Meadows Mueseum is located on the Centenary campus. For more information, visit the website at www.themeadowsmuseum.com.


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