Joe Doyles’s Star Chart Inspired by Polynesian ‘Stick Charts’


Had a conversation with Joe Doyle today, always a pleasure talking with and hearing about what inspired some of his work. I’ve been fortune enough to acquire a few of his Abstract Illusionism pieces with plans to continue.

During the conversation we spoke about some of his earliest work, one being “Star Chart” featured in galleries and a number of publications in the late 70’s. Though never specifically written about in any publication I can find, the real inspiration for the piece came from Polynesian navigation charts sometimes referred to as “stick charts”.

Joe Doyle’s “Star Chart” 1975

Star Chart (1975) acrylic on canvas 72”x 72”
Star Chart (1975) acrylic on canvas 72”x 72”

According to Tegan Mortimer

“These are deceptively simple grids made from small sticks and coconut fronds, which represent the major ocean swells in the South Pacific, with small shells showing the location of islands. The charts showed how the swells interacted with the island shores, the undersea slopes, and currents coming from different directions. While the stick maps were easy to construct, it took many years of study to be able to accurately interpret the real ocean dynamics which they represented.”

Here’s an example stick chart.

Polynesian navigation device showing directions of winds, waves and islands.jpg
By S. Percy Smith, Public Domain, Link


Abstract Illusionism – Joe Doyle (1941)

Abstract Illusionism - Corium X by Joe Doyle 1986
Corium X by Joe Doyle 1986 27.75″ x33.25″

I recently picked up this piece entitled Corium  X by Joe Doyle created in 1986 . In the 1970’s Doyle helped established Abstract Illusionism, one of the earliest styles in postmodernism. Doyle was born in 1941 in New York City. He received his B.A.  and M.A. at San Francisco State University in 1969 and 1971 respectively.



This is one of those pieces that will be enjoyable to examine many times from many angles ..

corium-closeup-1 copy

The following is paraphrased from Doyle’s retrospective book “Tea Cups, Firing Squads and Very Large Bombs: The Art of Joe Doyle 1967-2009”


In the mid 1970’s Doyle made a huge leap in his work and began experimenting with optical spatial illusions in a style that became known as abstract illusionism. The genre is characterized by gestures of paint that give the illusion of shadows and floating expressions above the picture plane. Doyle also worked with traditional three-dimensional imagery and perceptual experiments with cycloptic vision. Abstract illusionism allowed him to create vibrant complex work that played with traditional gestural painting while adding a new twist: the semblance of depth. Corium is one of those examples


In Corium, a hand-painted serigraph frame this period, curvilinear stripes float above a gestural field. The ground appears to be punctured by two holes, revealing a space behind the plane marked with pencil scribbles, a persuasive illusion in another medium.

A modern music artist you might enjoy listening to while absorbing one of the pieces from Joe Doyle is NZCA/Lines.


Thomas Hart Benton’s last painting the ‘Sources of Country Music’


Thomas Hart Benton’s last painting, the ‘Sources of Country Music’ in the Nashville Country Music Hall of Fame presents five distinct scenes that show the music of ordinary Americans and preserves an image of American folkways. It also pays homage to the country music singer Tex Ritter, who had helped to persuade Benton to accept the Nashville commission but died before it was completed.

The train is the only element of the complex composition that Benton felt he couldn’t get quite right. Unfortunately, Benton died while standing before the mural in January 1975, trying to decide whether to repaint the train.

Sources of Country Music mural in Nashville Country Music Hall of Fame

Hajime Kato (加藤一) Autobiography English Translation


As one of my pet projects I hired someone to translate Hajime Kato’s (加藤一) Autobiography. I can’t imagine there is enough interest in actually publishing an English version of the book, so for the time being this is just for my own interest. The project began last year and we are slowly picking away at it. I hope to have it complete by the end of 2016.

Hajime Kato Autobiography cover
Hajime Kato Autobiography cover
Hajime Kato autobiography intro
Kato autobiography intro









The autobiography was originally published in 1987. Here’s a short excerpt from the intro. Keep in mind this has not been “edited”.

From the Atelier
Soft light of early autumn coming through the northern window and filling my atelier. It’s a quiet afternoon. I’m working in a classic atelier with entresol in Paris that’s as old as me. If this were in Japan, this type of building would be condemned, and no one would want to use it. However, here in Paris, it’s still very much usable. One draft sketch on the easel. I’m planning to have a private show in Tokyo in 1987, and this is the draft for one of my signature works, “transformer of the wind”. Based on this sketch, I’m going to create a large painting that’s 2 meters by 12 meters. Being loyal to the title, I’d like to paint the dynamic image of the wind’s transformation into wings filling the canvas. My racing bikes are hung upside down from the ceiling . I have 8 of those in total. Those bikes are specially ordered to perfectly fit my body type. I even have so-called “haute-couture” bicycles that could cost as much as a small car. A poet who’s visited my atelier before was amazed, describing it as “cicada’s wings”. He’s right, it’s almost transparent, very light, delicate and strong at the same time, and hardly looks like a device that crawls on the ground.
Those who don’t know about my biography get somewhat weirded out when they look at those bikes hung in the atelier. In fact, before I became a painter, I used to be a cycling sprinter and cycle racer. Bike-racing was my everything back then. However, in later years, I separated myself from the past and moved on as a painter. Painting became my life, and I came to Paris. It’s been 29 years already since I made that decision. Luckily, since the day I sold my first painting, I’ve met people who became fans of my art little by little and I have been able to feed myself. However, I have say, I haven’t completely separated myself from the world of bike racing. It’s been 10 years since I was chosen as a vice-president of Union Cycliste Internationale, and I’ve been part of the effort to hold the world championship in Japan as well.

If you are not familiar with Kato’s work you can check some of it out over on my Pinterest board.

Follow Vintage’s board Hajime Kato (1925-2000) on Pinterest.




Virginia Gould Early California Watercolorist


I’ve recently stumbled on an early California Watercolorist named Virginia Gould. She is also found under the name variants, Virginia Belle Gould McCray, Virginia Gould McCray, as well as V Kay. I’ve also seen signatures with each of these variants. From what I have found she was born in 1917, and is still alive as of this writing.

What initially turned me onto to her was her piece titled “Golden Gate Bridge” which is listed in the book American Scene Painting California 1930’s & 1940’s (ISBN-13: 978-0961052034) page 170.

watercolor by virginia gould
Golden Gate Bridge – Virginia Gould (1917 – )

Virginia studied at Alfred Frankenstein’s Berkeley School of Watercolorists in the late 30’s and early 40’s. It is said she and other students would take field trips with John Haley, their teacher, along the East Bay shoreline and Berkeley Hills. It was one of Virginia’s favorite spots in these hills where she painted the above watercolor.

I like her sense of light, colors and the simplistic intensity she achieves. Another example is below is a depiction of what appears to be Monument Valley. There’s a lot going on with minimal strokes, I like that.


From the little research I have done, her earlier works were signed “V Kay”, and later works most notably in the 1990’s are signed with “Virginia Gould…”


Here are two examples of her signatures.

virginia-belle-gould-signature virginia-gould-signature-v-kay