The Center for the Advancement and Study of Early Texas Art in San Angelo features the works and influence of Palestine artist Ancel Nunn in a recent video. The Great Texas Curatorial Wanderer video series is creating awareness of early Texas art and promoting its preservation and appreciation.
The series features the Tyler Museum of Art’s current exhibit, "Building A Legacy II: Selections from the Permanent Collection," which features one of Nunn’s early paintings. The exhibit runs through October 24 and is part of the museum’s 50th anniversary celebration.
The Wanderer spotlights a recently-acquired painting by Nunn titled “Landscape with Victorian Cottage and Gazebo” (1968). The artist used acrylic on panel, painting in a realistic style juxtaposed with a prairie landscape. “Landscape” is the earliest of Nunn's paintings owned by the museum.
Speaking on The Wanderer, TMA Curator Caleb Bell describes Nunn’s painting style as “crisp” and “photorealistic” and notes that Nunn often depicts buildings in barren landscapes. The video also features Nunn’s iconic “Bright and Early Coffee” image — actually titled, “Good Morning America” — painted as a mural on his art studio wall and later reproduced as a print.
Nunn’s influence persists in works by other artists. One is his son, Palestine artist William Young. Young is creating a series of five art posters for the Palestine Dogwood Festival.
The works of Texas artist Lee Jamison also reflect Nunn's influence. Jamison's works were displayed at the TMA earlier this year. The exhibit was based on paintings featured in a book titled Ode to East Texas: The Art of Lee Jamison (2021).
The Wanderer video explains that Jamison features Nunn’s mural in his own 2019 painting. Jamison depicts Nunn’s former studio in disrepair with the mural clearly visible on its original brick wall. Jamison told The Wanderer his painting of the original mural shows “the perishability of human experience” — one of his own favorite subjects.
Nunn was born in Seymour, Texas, in 1928 and later moved to Palestine in 1969, where he first painted at a studio called The Foundry. Nunn later moved east of town. He also taught art at the University of Texas at Tyler, where his paintings and drawings were displayed many times.
Nunn’s works were also featured in two books, Ancel E. Nunn: A Timeless World, And Where Goes the Parade, as illustrations in books and magazines, and in exhibitions at the TMA.
The Ancel E. Nunn Art Gallery opened in 2010 in historic downtown Palestine’s Axiom Building but is no longer open.
The Ancel E. Nunn Papers, located at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin, include many of his works, biographical, and legal documents. A biographical note from the collection describes Nunn as “an acclaimed Texas artist known for his super-realism style and acrylic in egg tempera technique.”
Nunn received the Texas Arts Alliance Award and the Chicago ’76 Certificate of Excellence. His works were featured in two television films, one for the Public Broadcasting System and another for the Institute of Texan Cultures. His art is also part of many Texas museums and private collections.