In June and July 2019, the Eastern Shore Art Center hosted internationally renowned artist Fred Nall Hollis’ exhibit “Alice in Wonderland”. The extensive exhibit boasts over 50 original pen and ink drawings done over the course of 3 years, 1977 – 1979.
After the exhibit’s closing, the Eastern Shore Art Center approached Nall with an intriguing opportunity. To keep the legacy of “Alice in Wonderland” alive, Executive Director Bryant Whelan suggested to Nall that ESAC operate on behalf of the artist to create a traveling exhibit, coordinated by the Art Center. Whelan explained, “From the get-go, Nall expressed unequivocally that the collection was only to be exhibited (or sold) as a complete body of work. He wanted the entire exhibit to stay together always.” Whelan said the at the conclusion of the two-month exhibit, the staff of ESAC did not want to see the exhibit leave. “We were concerned that the exhibit was likely to go in hiding once it came down. We felt this historic, international treasure by an Alabama native and Fairhope local artist needed to be shared with the world.” Board President Jimmy Prestwood of Birmingham has followed Nall’s career for many years and was excited about the opportunity. “It happened quickly,” said Prestwood. “The Board met and unanimously agreed to make a proposal to Nall that ownership of the exhibit be transferred to the Art Center. We presented it the next morning to Nall, who literally said “Where do I sign?,” and within days an agreement was made,” said Prestwood.
The next steps are to apply for grant funding and donations in order to create a visually captivating catalog to represent the artwork, and to begin developing communications plans to offer the opportunity for national galleries and museums to exhibit the collection.
“This is an exciting opportunity for our little non-profit,” added Marketing and Exhibits Director Adrienne Clow. “This is ESAC’s first chance to promote an internationally recognized artist and exhibit directly from the Eastern Shore on a national level. In the past we have been able to bring national traveling exhibits to Fairhope, like the American Watercolor Society, but this is our moment to bring a part of ESAC to the rest of the country,” said Clow.
The Eastern Shore Art Center has already begun making plans for promoting the ‘Alice’ exhibit to other museums.