The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Behind Doyle's

Springfield's Doyle the Twig Painter (above with a half-naked nutcase) has suffered the most devastating loss any painter can ever endure - he's gone blind. Thanks (or rather no thanks) to diabetes his eyesight has degenerated to the point that he can no longer paint pictures or continue teaching as an art professor at American International College.

Fortunately, after a period of suicidal depression, Doyle has discovered a new way of painting - with words! Instead of using the handmade twigs he used to use to create images, he now uses a pen to write words to describe what he sees in his head. A book of his writings will be coming out later this year, and I've seen some of it. It is quite good, and when it is available I'll let you know how you can buy it through this blog. In the meantime, any of you thousands of Valley residents who own a Doyle painting, hold on to them because there ain't gonna be anymore, which means the existing paintings are rapidly increasing in value. Here is a great portrait that Doyle painted of Jerry Garcia.

Doyle served in the Army in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and painted this picture to offer his opinion of that conflict.

The title of the painting is For Nothin'.

Recently I was visiting Doyle in his Pine Point gallery. He no longer sells commercially, in fact when he needed extra space recently for a new air conditioner, he let the workers cut a hole in the sign in front of his shop. It no longer matters anymore.

In the course of my visit, Doyle asked me to visit "the refreshment stand" for something to "inspire the muse." By which he meant go next door to the liquor store (package store, as we call them in New England) and get him a quart of vodka. I left out the back door, and observed on the walls that remnants remained of the used colors he used to fling out the back door after a day of painting, permanently staining the walls.

Further observing the walls, I noticed something I hadn't seen before, this air vent covered with a rusting Victorian shield. I'm surprised no one ever stole it, as that's probably worth something to antique collectors.

By the stairs I saw how Doyle would have gotten to the refreshment stand had I not come by - his wheelchair. Diabetes is a mercilessly cruel disease which takes your life only after it has robbed you of everything else you have. Besides his sight Doyle has also lost his left foot.

In decades past this area behind Doyle's gallery was an infamous party place. Believe it or not, sometimes even the cops used to stop by to chat, indifferent to the wild scenes that often took place there on an almost nightly basis. Today it is deserted.

The famous composer Beethoven suffered the musical equivalent of Doyle's fate - he lost his hearing. Yet he continued to write and even perform, declaring that "Life without music would be meaningless." That artists of every sort often continue to be productive even after suffering losses that should have ended their career is a wonderful testament to the indomitable spirit of the creative human mind.

When I got back with the vodka, I mentioned this, and Doyle insisted that the first toast be to Beethoven. That was not the last toast of my visit, but it was the most sincere and best deserved.

Hey, it's finally happening! This week the often post-poned tribute to my mother, Joyce Devine, a beloved decades long city employee who was a pioneer in teaching ecology in the public schools, will be held in Forest Park, where a bench will be dedicated and a section of the park will be renamed "The Devine Way." I hesitate even to post this, lest I jinx it, because previous attempts have been cancelled due to vandalism and flooding. But this time it looks for real, and is to be held at the old skatehouse at three o'clock this Wednesday. If it's raining, it will be held on Thursday at the same time and place. All the poohbahs will be there, and lots of familiar faces ranging from her old team members from the girl's softball team she coached, The Balliet Bombers, to lots of city employees, political people the media and even her black sheep son, yours truly.

Y'all come.


Mary E.Carey said...

That's fascinating that your mom taught ecology. I would love to hear more about that and see a photo of her sometime.

Anonymous said...

I had Doyle as an art instructor at AIC. When I was ready to start my first composition for three (3) credits, it was of a black and white version of a Pine tree. Not much of anything

Typical of Doyle, and his speach. he told me to show that I had balls and to choose something more creative. Little did he know of what he was about to unleash.

I chose a Rockwell to plagerize. This was the year he was trying to film his style of painting and to earn extra monies from it.

After looking at the work I was doing,he threw one guy out of the center section where he was filming and put me in it.

I enjoyed the experience so much that I returned as a Post Grad and continued to pain a la Doyle.

His classes were always entertaining and instructive.

Now to learn of his medial problems, I am so sorry to hear of it. I can understand his suicidal position.

I wish only the best for him.
Although I do not have any of his works, I have his knowledge to continue with my own works

Justice Richard C. Authier

Joe Rysz said...

Took basic training with Doyle at Fort Dix NJ in 1968. He was a character alright, always ultra passionate about his art! Saw him many years ago at his studio on Boston Road. Will try to stop by and visit on a future trip to Springfield. I hope and pray that he is doing alright!

Fran LaFreniere said...

Dick Doyle and I sat next to each other on the bus ride to Ft. Dix on Feb. 6th, 1968. Everyone on the bus was a most likely drafted because of the Tet Offensive. My wife had died 7 months earlier after a long illness and I was in no mood for the military or anything at that time. Long story short: Dick Doyle's humor dragged me out of the psychological mud all the way through basic and I believe without him, I'd have never made it through.

Fran LaFreniere

Anonymous said...

Steve Manelski said

I bought a hand signed numbered and colored lithograph from Richard Doyle titled "Skippin School" from Richard Doyle at a street fair in MA sometime in the mid-seventies. I was a flight attendant on a long layover, bought it on site, because it reminded me of my own wayward youth. Like Doyle, I am a Vietnam Veteran The picture sits prominently on the wall in my office. I will always treasure it.
I live in Clovis, CA and have lived in this area for 38 years. IS Richard still alive ? Can I visit him ? It would be an incredible irony. Every Vietnam veteran wants closure. As Richards' painting said "For What"?

Tindomerel said...

Mr Doyle is indeed still alive! The book mentioned here? I'm one of the people who had the honor of transcribing it. Met him in person myself just last Friday. He's a lot of fun to talk to!

Peri Rasmussen said...

I worked at an art Gallery in CT. Where we sold Doyles' art. I used to have to call him once in awhile and what a character he was!! A very funny man. I was saddened to learn of his medical problems I wish him all the best! And so glad he's chosen to find a new art... His voice! And what's in his head! I am so looking forward to that! I am also very fortunate to have 2 signed and numbered pieces. 1 is of a barn wall with old tools hanging on it. And the other is a forest winter scene. I also have 1 of his sticks signed and dated lol it's one of my prize possessions!! All the best to him!

Izabella Monticello said...

I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but Doyle passed away about a month ago..sorry. He was from my neighborhood, he used to sit outside his studio and paint, leaving a 2nd chair for passerbys...people would sit and talk for hours at a time. He was a very nice man

Anonymous said...

There is a great segment about Mr. Doyle from the 80's on youtube titled The Twig Painter PM Magazine. What a passionate and nice guy. Rest in Peace and thank you for your service, sir.

Anonymous said...

We purchased Skippin School dated 1973. It may have been a 10th anniversary present to ourselves. Copy 151/285. It has been on our walls since then and brought us a great deal of joy. Thank you Mr. Doyle. Rest in peace.
Does anyone know the value of his works? Jules Corn

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