Alabama RenaissanceMonday, August 10, 2009
When we were in Montgomery recently, I ran into the Renaissance hotel there to see all the art that Nall had curated since the hotel opened last year - every piece is by an Alabama artist. This is Nall's largest mixed-media piece ever:
The red and white camellias, the state flower and colors, were grown in Mobile’s Bellingrath Gardens and Elmore County’s Jasmine Hill Gardens. The patchwork composition is similar to that of the Gee’s Bend quilts, sewn originally for warmth and as family entertainment.
Golf clubs and tees represent the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, stretching from Muscle Shoals to Mobile. The athletic equipment extols the state’s excellence in sports.
Metal car tags represent Southern work ethic. From war veterans to our diverse universities, each tag marks Alabama’s political, literary and social expressions. All pencil paintings are enclosed in Plexi glass boxes, a petroleum byproduct, which could have come from Mobile Bay.
The Yellowhammer, the state bird, along with Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Fannie Flagg’s A Redbird Christmas inspire much of the work. Pinecone petal mosaics in the frame represent Alabama’s vast pine forests and allude to Winston Groom’s Forest Gump.
The mirrors between the piano-like keyboard disperse and float across the piece like “Stars Fell on Alabama” by Frank Perkins and Mitchell Parish.
Pecans, used in local cuisine, are also native and widespread, renowned for their flavor as a result of the soil in which they grow. Cotton appears as a crop that played an important role in our state, along with the boll weevil, which marked a new chapter in its history.
A Japanese rifle from Iwo Jima pays tribute to all war veterans who suffered for our freedom. Gun casings symbolize hunting and the right to bear arms. Turkey feet, beards and feathers accent the luxury and abundance of wild deer and turkey in our many state and private parks.
The mahogany frame symbolizes Alabama’s melting pot of cultures in the early beginnings of our state. The arrowheads trailing across pay tribute to Alabama’s Native American heritage whose name comes from two Choctaw words for “vegetation gatherers.”
"Black & White Buttons" by J.J. Gaudel:
"Charles Entry" by Natalyn Havenick Rose:
Some of the works displayed at the hotel are for sale, in fact many of them include the figure on the caption. There are similar displays that Nall has assisted with at the Renaissance Ross Bridge Hotel in B'ham and the Grand Hotel in Point Clear.