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Art and soul: Dorothy Fall

Greater Reston Arts Center 'All Member Exhibition'
Greater Reston Arts Center 'All Member Exhibition'
James George

Last evening at the Greater Reston Arts Center, “Artist Member Exhibition,” the opening kicked off with dignitaries welcoming a wonderful turnout at the exceptional gallery space located in one of the best planned communities in America. Next came short speeches by some of the participating artists. Before and during some of the speeches I swept through the exhibit to view the work and to prioritize. It is all very good, but there was one piece that lept from the walls, and it was by Dorothy Fall.

Dorothy Fall, artist and author at Greater Reston Arts Center
James George

Interesting is that Dorothy Fall studied fine art at Syracuse University. She did graduate work at American University and Academie Julian and Atelier de la Grands Chaumière, Paris, France. Sometimes one can sense the depth of an artist’s training and experience by just looking at their work -- this is rich, robust in energy, highly creative and dynamic, I thought. I don’t know the artist, but this is special.

I picked up the color catalog directory to the exhibit provided by the gallery and found her page with this description:

“In my travels I am entranced by the mystical trees of each country. I feel the spirits inhabiting them, calling out to be released. Or, as in ‘Enfolding,’ the spirit is watching us, invisible, waiting to capture us in the tree’s protective arms. Roots extend and dance so as to ensnare us in their web.”

Dorothy Fall, Greater Reston Arts Center Artists’ Catalogue

Such description is poetic, don’t you believe?

Since the 1970s, Dorothy has amassed an incredible resume of gallery exhibits and art production. It wasn’t until I researched her website that I realized that she was the wife of the late Bernard Fall, a distinguished journalist that I remembered from his reports from Vietnam where he lost his life to his line of work as a war correspondent.

First, consider her current work, and then look back and reflect from where she has been. She lived in Cambodia in the 1960s and you can see that impression as she developed work to support her writing about her husband. (

A tree grows from seeds that put down roots which multiply and expand deep in the soil. As a tree sprouts and grows upward, its branches reach for the sun and bend to follow the daily cycle whose fate is planted in that location by circumstance. Weather and climate affect the tree which along the way bears scars from events that leave impressions on its bark.

As an artist-journalist who also paints trees, I know this firsthand.

As you explore Dorothy’s forest of lifelong work, you will discover that she is a complete artist who sometimes makes her own paper. She is a printmaker too.

What distinguishes her current work is her command of the oil bar. See the Windsor-Newton demonstration.

“Written by his widow Dorothy, Bernard Fall: Memories of a Soldier-Scholar tells the story of this courageous and influential Frenchman, who experienced many of the major events of the twentieth century. His mother perished at Auschwitz, his father was killed by the Gestapo, and he himself fought in the Resistance. It focuses, however, on Vietnam and on two love stories. The first details Fall’s love for Vietnam and his efforts to save the country from destruction and the United States from disaster. The second shows a husband and father dedicated to a cause that continuously lured him away from those he loved. With a foreword by the late David Halberstam.”

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