Michael “Doc” Doyle believes that the hardest thing you experience in life is your best chance to find out who you are.
For Doyle, a carpenter who studied metal sculpture in art school, that chance came in the form of jail time.
After battling addiction and depression, Doyle attempted suicide in such a way that he was charged with felony eluding, and because that act was considered a public danger, he was sentenced to more than a year in jail. He spent time in a psych ward, where a counselor introduced him to mindfulness. Upon returning to jail, he began meditating, practicing yoga, reading, and drawing. Art became part of his therapy—he’d ask the universe to send him an image as a means to understand and process what he was thinking and feeling, however difficult it was.
“These images feel gifted to me,” says Doyle of the few dozen pen-on-paper drawings exhibited in his show, “Drawings from Jail,” on view this month at the New City Arts Initiative’s Welcome Gallery. They are allegorical images of the psyche, exhibited semi-chronologically beginning to the left of the gallery’s entrance.
One of the drawings, “Melancholia,” was inspired by a 1514 engraving of the same name by German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer. A huddled figure hugs his knees to his chest, his back to the viewer. He’s surrounded by a host of symbols: an hourglass (time), scales (justice, balance), a gavel (a sentence), a book (knowledge), a pencil and a drawing (creativity), a sphere (the mystery of life, always right behind you). In the near distance, a tombstone (death), a ladder (a way out), as well as a village (human connection), a radiant sun, and a rainbow—hope.
Many of the drawings Doyle made while in jail aren’t on display; he used some to barter for cigarettes, food, or coffee, and gave away others that meant something to someone.
For Doyle, the show is a final send-off to a finished chapter of his life; he’s ready to move on. He hopes the messages contained in these works will encourage people to stop avoiding and start talking about addiction and depression.
After all, Doyle says, “even though these images are deeply personal, they are universal.”
October 2018 Gallery Listings
FF Angelo Jewelry 220 E. Main St. “Out of Season,” featuring Mae Read’s oil painting meditations on permanence/impermanence, perceptions of beauty, and solitude. 5:30-7:30pm.
Annie Gould Gallery 121B S. Main St., Gordonsville. An exhibition of works by William Van Doren and Erica Lohan, focusing on distant and intimate points of nature.
FF The Bridge PAI 209 Monticello Rd. “Gallery of Curiosities,” a community-curated wunderkammer showcasing the unique, bizarre, fanciful, sacred, ill-defined, celebrated, historical, alternative, supernatural, and otherwise curious collections and creations of central Virginia. 5-9:30pm.
FF Chroma Projects 103 W. Water St. “Embodying a New Narrative: A Visual Discussion between June Collmer and Aidyn Mills,” an exhibition of photography in which Mills chose her own poses for Collmer’s lens. And in the back room, “Drawing Together: Five Bay Area artists Reunite in Charlottesville.” 5-7pm.
FF CitySpace Art Gallery 100 Fifth St. NE. The Feminist Union of Charlottesville Creatives hosts its premiere exhibit with visual art and live performances from a variety of artists, including Candice Agnello, Mihr Danae, Eileen French, Sam Gray, Sri Kodakalla, Sabr Lyon, Jiajun Yan, and others. 5:30-8:30pm.
Create Gallery at Indoor Biotechnologies 700 Harris St. “Faces at Work,” an exhibition of Blake Hurt’s 40 small oil-on-canvas portraits of people who work at 700 Harris St. Opens October 12.
Crozet Artisan Depot 5791 Three Notch’d Rd., Crozet. “Copper Abstractions: Etched & Verdigrised Copper Art,” featuring work by Cathy Vaughn.
FF C’ville Arts Cooperative Gallery 118 E. Main St., Downtown Mall. “Fall Into the Arts,” a group show of original oil paintings, hand knit items, fused and stained glass, wood works, jewelry, and more. 6-8pm.
FF Dovetail Design + Cabinetry 309 E. Water St. “Blame,” featuring oil-on-canvas works by Adam Reinhard. 5-7pm.
FF Fellini’s Restaurant 200 Market St. “Italian Memories,” an exhibition of watercolors by Linda Abbey. 5pm.
The Fralin Museum of Art at UVA 155 Rugby Rd. “Reflections: Native Art Across Generations”; “Excavations: The Prints of Julie Mehretu”; “Unexpected O’Keefe: The Virginia Watercolors and Later Paintings,” opening October19; “Highlights from the Collection of Heywood and Cynthia Fralin,” opening October 19; and “Oriforme” by Jean Arp.
FF The Garage 100 W. Jefferson St. “Black and White and a Little In Between: 2018 Abstractions,” an exhibition of work by Sarah Trundle that explores a constantly shifting process of obscuring and defining, of complicating and simplifying. 5:30-7:30pm.
FF Kardinal Hall 722 Preston Ave. An exhibition of work by Jesse Keller Timmons. 5:30-8pm.
Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection 400 Worrell Dr. “Freshwater Saltwater Weave,” a series of glass works by contemporary urban-based Arrernte artist Jenni Kemarre Martiniello; “Beyond Dreamings: The Rise of Indigenous Australian Art in the United States,” revealing the ways in which, since 1988, Indigenous Australian artists have forged one of the most globally significant art movements of our time; and “Experimental Beds,” in which Judy Watson removes the whitewash from concealed histories.
Les Yeux du Monde 841 Wolf Trap Rd. “Out of the Light Into the Light,” an exhibition of still-life paintings by art historian, critic, philosopher, and painter David Summers, closing October 5; and “John Borden Evans: Blue Moon,” an exhibition of Evans’ otherworldly landscapes, opening October 13.
Louisa Arts Center 212 Federicksburg Ave., Louisa. “Rhythm and Light,” featuring 2-D and 3-D works by amateur and professional artists.
Loving Cup Vineyard and Winery 3340 Sutherland Rd., North Garden. “Nippy Autumn Holidays,” an exhibition of work by the BozART Fine Art Collective.
FF McGuffey Art Center 201 Second St. NW. In the Sarah B. Smith Gallery, “This Strange World,” an exhibition of wet plate photography of fairy tales, monsters, and retaining walls, as well as portraits from the ongoing “People of Charlottesville/Know Your Neighbor” project, all by Aaron Farrington; in the Downstairs North Hall Gallery, “The Bonnet Maker,” a series of live photographs by Will Kerner and Rochelle Sumner, conceptualized and installed to tell the narrative of an Old German Baptist Brethren woman; in the Downstairs South Hall Gallery, “A Retrospective on the Escafé Operas,” oil on canvas murals by Dominique Anderson; in the Upstairs North Hall Gallery, a group show of works created during McGuffey figure drawing sessions; and in the Upstairs South Hall Gallery, “Paintings and Sculpture: Recent works in 2 and 3 dimensions” by David Currier.” 5:30-7:30pm.
FF Milli Coffee Roasters 400 Preston Ave. Ste. 150. “The Mind Blossom,” featuring mixed-media photography and paintings by Frank Donato. 7-10pm.
FF New Dominion Bookshop 404 E. Main St., Downtown Mall. An exhibition of pencil drawings by Jane Skafte. 5-7pm.
FF Radio IQ 216 W. Water St. An exhibition of floral paintings and landscapes by Nancy Wallace, and Joe Sheridan’s pencil-and-charcoal drawings of the chairs he’s designed. 5-7pm.
FF Roy Wheeler Realty Co. 404 Eighth St. NE. An exhibition of intuitive process paintings by Shirley Paul that explore, among other things, suspension of fear, expectations, and the analytical brain. 5-7:30pm.
FF Second Street Gallery 115 Second St. SE. In the main gallery, “water. poison. drink. dive.,” an exhibition of paintings, works on paper, and puppets by Lana Guerra, through October 19; in the Dové Gallery, “siren x silence,” paintings by Madeleine Rhondeau. 5:30-7:30pm.
Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital 500 Martha Jefferson Dr. An exhibition of five landscape paintings by impressionist artist Lee Nixon. Through October 9.
Shenandoah Valley Art Center 122 S. Wayne Ave., Waynesboro. The 47th annual “Virginia Fall Foliage Art Show,” featuring work from about 150 artists from across the country. Opens October 13.
FF Spring Street Boutique 107 W. Main St., Downtown Mall. “The World of Color,” an exhibition of Christopher Kelly’s acrylic and mixed-media works on canvas and wooden board. 6-8pm.
FF Studio IX 969 Second St. SE. An exhibition of new work, mostly paintings focused on the human form, by Cate West Zahl. 5-8pm.
Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church Unitarian-Universalist 717 Rugby Rd. “Organic Geometry,” featuring paintings by Judith Townsend. Opens October 7.
FF Top Knot Studio 103 Fifth St. SE. “Keep It Like A Secret,” mobile photography by Chelsea Hoyt. 5-8pm.
FF Welcome Gallery 114 Third St. NE. “Drawings from Jail,” an exhibition of Michael “Doc” Doyle’s pen-on-paper works drawn over the course of a year spent in jail, exploring themes from isolation to redemption. 5-7:30pm.
FF First Fridays is a monthly art event featuring exhibit openings at many downtown art galleries and additional exhibition venues. Several spaces offer receptions.