Arts + Entertainment

Artist in Profile: Frank Doherty

Artist in Profile: Frank Doherty is the first installment in a series featuring the artists of the OASIS Fine Art + Craft cooperative gallery in downtown Harrisonburg.

Since asking for a digital camera for his 50th birthday, Frank Doherty (now 61) has been seeking out scenes of natural beauty as a way of not only exploring the world around him, but also encouraging others to do the same. A self-dubbed “accidental artist,” Frank draws inspiration from books and magazines, as well as his spirituality. A Native American saying helps to explain his approach: “Certain things catch your eye, but pursue only those that capture your heart.”

Lake Shenandoah. Photo by Frank Doherty.

Lake Shenandoah. Photo by Frank Doherty.

Frank has devoted much time to pursing education through online classes in subjects like travel photography, printing, and digital storytelling. Through these experiences, he has not only gained professional instruction, but also a growing understanding of how to develop a photographic eye.

Florence, Italy. Photo by Frank Doherty.

Massanutten Peak. Photo by Frank Doherty.

Massanutten Peak. Photo by Frank Doherty.

As the Director of the Office of Institutional Research (OIR) at James Madison University (JMU), Frank has been able to combine his expertise in studying the university culture with his love of photography when he founded the PictureIt JMU project in 2006. PictureIt JMU followed a group of twenty students through the four years of their undergraduate education. Students periodically took photographs of their personal, social, and academic experiences and participated in conversations with each other and OIR staff about their photography and growth over time. The photographs were showcased not only on the PictureIt JMU website, but also in various JMU galleries and publications.

Throughout his career and photography work, Frank has focused on strengthening his abilities and using his talents. In addition to exhibiting his work at OASIS Fine Art + Craft, Frank’s photographs have been displayed at JMU’s Edith J. Carrier Arboretum, Augusta Health, and Bridgewater Village.

JMU's Carrier Arboretum. Photo by Frank Doherty.

JMU’s Carrier Arboretum. Photo by Frank Doherty.

He takes a simplistic approach to his work by only capturing what he sees, without being distracted by more modern or avant-garde styles. He feels each moment captured is a way to honor his beliefs and devotion.

Photo by Frank Doherty.

Photo by Frank Doherty.

“I feel like the photography I take is a gift,” he explains. “I get these photos, these opportunities that come truly by grace. My best shots are gifts.”

Photo by Frank Doherty.

Photo by Frank Doherty.

Learn more about Frank and his work at, or contact him at Visit OASIS Fine Art + Craft at 103 S. Main St in downtown Harrisonburg and online at

Research and interviews by Rebecca Lazeration.

Nicole Martorana is a writer and visual artist, the Editor of the Do Downtown blog, and the Director of Promotions  for Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance.

All photos by Frank Doherty.


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