Rick Bragg on Nall

Rick Bragg on Nall

I used to believe I came from a place without art. My Alabama had been

cotton fields that stretched so far, and so long, you wondered if there was

anything at all on the other side, or if the world just ended there, like

some map from the Middle Ages.     Don’t try to tell us, Bubba, that the

world ain’t flat.   If it ain’t, how come nobody who leaves this place ever

comes back? Surely, beyond the pine barrens, the red dirt, the pipe shops

and cotton mills and the hard-eyed preachers, there was a ledge that you

would step right off of, and vanish.

This was a world of men who worked cussing under V8 engines hanging from

tree limbs by a chain, their knuckles chewed to mush from a slipping wrench.

It was a world of women who pierced their fingers with the sewing machine

needle at the sweat shops, got a Band-Aid, and went back to work.   They did

not buy paintings or shop for sculpture.   Most of our pictures were of

Jesus, enshrined in a dime store frame and a film of dust.

Art? Who had time for art? Art was for the rich folks, who lived in the

white houses, not the tarpaper ones, who paid for portraits of thin-nosed

women and hung them on walls of eggshell white and delicate yellow.   Art

was for the mommas who had other people clean their floors, who taught their

children not to touch us, and who would point with pride at the portrait of

Great-Great Uncle So-and-So, who had survived the “War-ah”—the War of

Northern Aggression—to die peacefully in his own big bed.

There were no portraits of us, no record of us at all, except maybe at the

courthouse, when we got caught making whiskey or, as sometimes happened, we

knocked some rich man off his horse.   Instead of art, we had work.

Instead of paintings, we had the calendars from our ten-dollar-a-month life

insurance policies from State Farm.   Instead of sculpture, we had a hoe

handle, or a neck of a whiskey bottle.   We were blacks, poor whites, faded

gentry whose money had vanished or whose reputations had been somehow

soiled, and a few Indians who had somehow evaded the Trail of Tears and

genocide, and we powered the culture with our sweat and blood.   Did we ever

sit in a museum, admiring an Impressionist? We considered ourselves blessed

if, when the sun finally sank into the pines, we could get someone to rub

our back.

I am a grown man now, and I know better.   I know I just wasn’t looking hard

enough.

Art was in the quilts my grandmother sewed from scrap, turning other

people’s leavings into precious keepsakes.   It was in the stories my uncles

told on the front porch, their words painting as rich and as vivid a

portrait as any oils ever could.

It was in the baskets and fishnets the old men and women wove, the patterns

as delicate as spider webs, and in the cornices and lattices my uncles

carved and hammered into place, hanging from ladders, nails between their

teeth.

No, we always had art in us.   We may have had a secondhand sofa sitting on

our front porch, but we had, by God, art.

When the painter Nall, who left Alabama a long time ago for fame and a life

among art’s world-class elite, first asked me if I would write something for

this collection, I did not think I could.   I did not think I was qualified.

But after talking with him, and learning how his own family had once been

looked down upon in south Alabama because of a closet’s rattling bones, I

felt a little better.   And when I got a look at the art of some of the

pieces in this collection, at Nall’s “Dogwood” that seems to drip blood, at

the eerie beauty of Clifton Pearson’s sculpture, I was convinced.   This

collection contains a little bit of everything, from artists whose works

have hung in Paris, to artists whose works have hung on the back porch.   It

is done by people like Jimmy Lee Sudduth.   No one taught him to paint.   He

just does, using six shades of mud, and pine needles and leaves and grass,

to get colors that are probably not for sale in Soho.   But it’s art, I

reckon, for sure.

Rick Bragg

New York Times correspondent,

author, and winner of the

Pulitzer Prize for Journalism

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Robert Trent Jones Trail Guide

“From massive mosaics and sculptures to inspiring photography and quilting, the walls of the RTJ Resort Collection properties feature local art worthy of fine museums and galleries. The center of the Alabama Art focus is a gentleman who simply goes by the name, Nall.”

An Alabama artist with an international following, Nall has a unique style that has captivated the attention of the world. The gifted artist grew up in Troy, Alabama, and began drawing arts and crafts at his family’s city park at just four years old. A graduate of the University of Alabama, Nall was awarded top score entrance at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

Surrounded by painters, musicians, and writers, he excelled among his contemporaries. At that point, he was mentored by Spanish Surrealist, Salvador Dali, who advised him to “Draw from life, draw, again and again.” Nall was also inspired by American psychedelic art, fauvism, impressionism and Japanese wash drawings but then returned to basic black and white drawing and on concentrating on building a solid artistic foundation on drawing skills.

Having exhibited his works all over the United States and Europe since 1971, Nall returned to his roots as artist in residence at The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, where students had the opportunity to apprentice in his on-campus studio and saw his retrospective at the Sarah Moody Gallery.

In 2000 Nall was the curator for “Alabama Art,” an exhibit of 13 Alabama Artists, with the aid of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Art and the Alabama State Council on the Arts. Nall compiled the works and did the layout for the book titled “Alabama Art” published by Black Belt Press. This book won the Mary Ellen Lopresti ARLIS/Southeast Publishing Award for “Best Art Book” published that year in the Southeastern U.S.A. After serving two semesters as artist-in-residence at Troy University, Nall was awarded a Doctorate Honoris Causa from Troy University, Alabama. In July 2000 Nall created an illustration for the 51st Monaco Red Cross Ball per the request of H.S.H. Prince Albert of Monaco.

Nall has worked extensively with the Retirement Systems of Alabama and its resorts to showcase the “Alabama Art” collection. All eight RSA hotels along the Trail feature works exclusively by Alabama artists, including Nall. The artworks range from primitive, outsider art pieces to intricate mosaics and oils to photography.

Living in his home state of Alabama, in 2005 he completed building his studio in Fairhope, Alabama, where he invites apprentices to work with him, and spends his summers in France at the N.A.L.L. Art Association. Nall divides his time working between the Alabama and French Rivieras. ■

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NALL – Giclee Camellias

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About Giclee PrintsThe Definition : Giclee (zhee-klay) – The French word “giclée” is a feminine noun that means a spray or a spurt of liquid. The word may have been derived from the French verb “gicler” meaning “to squirt”.

The Term : The term  “giclee print” connotes an elevation in printmaking technology. Images are generated from high resolution digital scans and printed with archival quality inks onto various substrates including canvas, fine art, and photo-base paper. The giclee printing process provides better color accuracy than other means of reproduction.

The Process : Giclee prints are created typically using professional 8-Color to 12-Color ink-jet printers. Among the manufacturers of these printers are vanguards such as Epson, MacDermid Colorspan, & Hewlett-Packard. These modern technology printers are capable of producing incredibly detailed prints for both the fine art and photographic markets. Giclee prints are sometimes referred to as Iris prints, which are 4-Color ink-jet prints from a printer pioneered in the late 1970s by Iris Graphics.

The Advantages : Giclee prints are advantageous to artists who do not find it feasible to mass produce their work, but want to reproduce their art as needed, or on-demand. Once an image is digitally archived, additional reproductions can be made with minimal effort and reasonable cost. The prohibitive up-front cost of mass production for an edition is eliminated. Archived files will not deteriorate in quality as negatives and film inherently do. Another tremendous advantage of giclee printing is that digital images can be reproduced to almost any size and onto various media, giving the artist the ability to customize prints for a specific client.

The Quality : The quality of the giclee print rivals traditional silver-halide and gelatin printing processes and is commonly found in museums, art galleries, and photographic galleries.

©1997-2014 Giclée Print Net, Inc.

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NALL – Giclee Florals

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About Giclee Prints
The Definition : Giclee (zhee-klay) – The French word “giclée” is a feminine noun that means a spray or a spurt of liquid. The word may have been derived from the French verb “gicler” meaning “to squirt”.
The Term : The term “giclee print” connotes an elevation in printmaking technology. Images are generated from high resolution digital scans and printed with archival quality inks onto various substrates including canvas, fine art, and photo-base paper. The giclee printing process provides better color accuracy than other means of reproduction.
The Process : Giclee prints are created typically using professional 8-Color to 12-Color ink-jet printers. Among the manufacturers of these printers are vanguards such as Epson, MacDermid Colorspan, & Hewlett-Packard. These modern technology printers are capable of producing incredibly detailed prints for both the fine art and photographic markets. Giclee prints are sometimes referred to as Iris prints, which are 4-Color ink-jet prints from a printer pioneered in the late 1970s by Iris Graphics.
The Advantages : Giclee prints are advantageous to artists who do not find it feasible to mass produce their work, but want to reproduce their art as needed, or on-demand. Once an image is digitally archived, additional reproductions can be made with minimal effort and reasonable cost. The prohibitive up-front cost of mass production for an edition is eliminated. Archived files will not deteriorate in quality as negatives and film inherently do. Another tremendous advantage of giclee printing is that digital images can be reproduced to almost any size and onto various media, giving the artist the ability to customize prints for a specific client.
The Quality : The quality of the giclee print rivals traditional silver-halide and gelatin printing processes and is commonly found in museums, art galleries, and photographic galleries.
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