Nall’s new art pieces capture ‘home’ now and then

Published 11:00 pm Monday, July 9, 2012

Internationally acclaimed artist and Troy native Nall Hollis continues to capture the essence of home with his art.

Whether his “home” is Troy or Fairhope, Ala. or Vence, France, Nall has a passion for the places of his heart.

He now spends much of the year in his adopted Alabama home, Fairhope, where he lives and where he works at The Nall Foundation and Studio in the city’s downtown area.

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His most recent artwork plays homage to Fairhope and is on display at his studio on Equality Avenue and was featured at Fairhope’s First Friday Art Walk on Friday.

“This show is of subjects that I love,” Nall said.

“Fairhope reminds me so very much of Troy, where I grew up. A small southern town, with oak trees lining the streets to provide shade from the oppressive heat, the cumulous clouds that move so swiftly overhead on a summer day, and the occasional cabin shack that litters the fields and country roads. A small town where people know people, traffic is not offensive, but better yet to bicycle or walk most places you wish to go.”

The Grand Hotel in Fairhope is a hangout for locals as well as visitors, much the same way that Nall’s grandmother’s boarding house and Troy University were and are in Troy.

“One could meet new people and feel somehow in the loop,” he said. “A college town where young people and old saunter along the streets. In Fairhope one does not have to lock the car, lock the door, or worry too much about crimes.

“Because Troy and Fairhope are both inside the Alabama state line, that gives me a sense of security of being close to the womb.”

Home is surely where the heart is, and although Nall has lived in many places around the world for the last 42 years, he has not lost touch with “this very dear sentiment.”

“Alabama will always be my home,” he said.

“Its writers and artists speak my language, have lived the same perspectives, and appreciate a good sound work ethic. ‘Doing the right thing’ still exists in a small town as a philosophy, as we are conscious of our daily misdemeanors and generosities each day.

“Walks on the beach or through the forests put one in touch with nature, which supplies me with much inspiration. It puts one closer to God and reminds me daily that we are but tiny specks in this wonderful and amazing universe.”

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,” which won the Mary Ellen Lopresti ARLIS/Southeast Publishing Award for “Best Art Book” published that year in the Southeastern United States.

“‘Alabama Art’ highlighted 13 artists – painters, sculptors, fabric artists and writers –that have made their mark in the arts in Alabama,” Nall said.

“They are among the growing number of artists who are recognized, not just in Alabama, but throughout the country and abroad for their outstanding talents. Alabama is recognized in the art world and well it should be.

Nall served two semesters as artist-in-residence at Troy University and was awarded a Doctorate Honoris Causa from Troy University.