"I found Nelson Grice and his work almost by accident. My son grew up through the Star Wars years and my grandchildren through the Harry Potter years. There is something magical in Nelson's work. It takes me to realms beyond. For those of you with vivid imaginations and a love of art, come in and spend some time with his unbelievable iconic pieces. And then there is Nelson himself, a handsome unassuming loving family man, who is inspiring in many ways."
"Ventriloquist" 24 x 10 x 10 Clay
"Thespians" 24 x 10 x 12 Clay
"Traveling Companions" 17 x 10 x 8
"Cuffswinger" 17x26 clay
"Resting Between Measures" 12" tall, bronze
"Snail" 3" tall, Bronze
"Mane Pulleys" 14x11
"Coastal Cuisine" 12 x 8 x 28 Clay
"Wheels and Steed" 19x24 clay
"All That Jazz" 20 x 12 x 8 Clay
"Love Birds" 18 x 8 x 8 Clay
"Carousel Rest" 8 x 16 x 13 Clay
"Hear No Evil" 11 x 10 x 8 Clay
"Horse Play" 15 x 24 x 8 Bronze
"Magic Carpet" 2/7 5" x 7" x 17" Bronze
"Back In Terrapin" 10 x 5 x 8 Clay
"Three Little Birds" 6 x 18 x 6 Bronze
Nelson Grice is a highly talented Alabama artist specializing in uniquely entertaining animal sculptures and paintings. After graduating from Berry High School in 1987 he enrolled at the University of Montevallo where he received his BFA with a concentration in ceramics. In 1994 Nelson enrolled in the School of Education at Montevallo and completed his masters degree in 1996. He has been teaching sculpture at Hoover High School since that time. Nelson's work is inspired by the childish play of building with legos and Lincoln logs. Through a process of creating his own components or custom legos he is able to then assemble the parts together and explore his imagination as when he was a child. Nelson's hope is that the viewer will find a laugh whether through the irony of the material and the subject or just through the animated personalities of his characters.
American Art Awards
Best Representational Sculptor
3rd Place - "The Piper is Calling" - bronze sculpture by Nelson Grice
‘Making things and building stuff’
By Jessica Spradlin
Published Sunday, January 1, 2017
Sculpture becomes Nelson Grice’s passion–and avenue for connecting with students
Story by Grace Thornton
Nelson Grice says he was kind of saved through art in high school.
“I was kind of a mess,” he said, “into a lot of stuff I shouldn’t have been. And this art teacher really just changed my life through her encouragement and seeing something in me that kind of validated who I was as a person.”
Grice had taken that class — a photography course — because, as a senior at Berry High School, he’d thought it would be an easy A.
“It was just a switch that went off,” he said.
And it changed the course of his life.
Grice went to the University of Montevallo to get a degree in photography, but when he got there, “if you’re getting a BA in fine arts, you have to do it all,” he said.
And when he got into sculpture, he knew he’s found his love.
“I’ve had my hands in clay since 1990, and I haven’t stopped,” he said. “Since then, I’ve done sculpture work almost every day of my life.”
And he’s using it to connect with students who might need a little extra hand, much like he did.
“When I did my bachelor’s, I decided I would go back to high school to connect with those kids who fall through the cracks who I think are like me, like I was in high school,” said Grice, a longtime visual arts teacher at Hoover High School. “I get a chance to really connect with those kids here in high school. I feel like I owe society a little something because a teacher changed my life.”
He loves “making things and building stuff,” and he loves being around teenagers, so his job is perfect, he said. The imagination of teenagers inspires him and his work.
And his sculptures have continued to evolve and grow with each passing class of students across his 21 years of teaching, Grice said. “I’m always learning something new.”
He paints. He does ceramics. And just recently, he got into bronze and won Best in Show in the Shelby County Art Council’s 8th Annual Adult Juried Art Show on Sept. 30.
The piece, called Storytime, beat out more than 100 pieces of art submitted by 25 other local artists. Forty-four of them were selected for the show and judged by Ted Metz, a retired University of Montevallo professor and artist.
“Storytime is about 80 pounds of bronze, and it’s about 30 inches tall,” Grice said.
The sculpture is a jester with a monkey face who’s “telling a story and he’s got this giraffe in his hands,” he said.
Monkeys and giraffes are recurring themes in Grice’s whimsical work, he said.
“Monkeys are fun. They are so close to human that you can do something comical with them,” he said. “When you put a human face on a sculpture, it takes on some other feeling. So I take the monkeys and put them in situations that are adult and human.”
And jesters are his signature subject. His sculptures are often kind of like self-portraits, he said.
“In this piece (Storytime), he’s sitting in a chair telling a story like a teacher would do,” Grice said. “He’s the jester, the one who always brings the comedy or entertainment into the king’s court.”
The pieces are always pointed in a humorous direction, “albeit dark at times,” he said. “I’ve had mixed comments over the years. Some people think it’s a bit too scary, others think it’s pretty sublime.”
His work has been shown widely on a number of occasions — most recently in Andre Kohn Fine Art gallery in Scottsdale, Ariz., and notably in a one-man show in New York in 2010.
Grice said he hopes that his pieces make people smile and laugh when they see them.
And the magazine Ceramics Monthly said people who encounter Grice’s work should “look a little closer” — if they do, they will “see that the work is about the child living on in the adult.”
Grice now has several children of his own in addition to the ones he teaches every day, but that only encourages him in indulging his own inner child in his art. He builds “custom Legos” and makes things with Lincoln Logs in order to exercise his imagination.
“Everything is fresh and new” that way, Grice said.
Mary Martin, who has displayed Grice’s art in her galleries in Charleston, S.C. and Naples, Fla., said there is “something magical in Nelson’s work.”
“It takes me to realms beyond. For those of you with vivid imaginations and a love of art, come in and spend some time with his unbelievable iconic pieces,” Martin writes on her website. “And then there is Nelson himself, a handsome unassuming loving family man, who is inspiring in many ways.”
Mary Martin GALLERY
103 Broad Street,Charleston, SC 29401 843-723-0303 Gallery Row on Historic Broad Street
Selected as best gallery in South Carolina 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Selected as one of the top twenty-five galleries in America 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017.