The Caretaker by Jim Gray:
Mr. Tullis of Mobile, AL
Editorís Note: I recently saw something for sale on
eBay that I just couldnít resist. It was a print of a painting by Jim Gray
entitled "The Caretaker". But the interesting part is that the
subject of the painting was identified as a "Mr. Tullis" who lived
in Mobile, AL. Below is the story of the painting. If anyone has any clues
as to who this Mr. Tullis was, Iíd appreciate hearing from you (TomTullis@aol.com).
The following story about the painting was provided by
Mr. Glynn Twyman of the Jim Gray Galleries, which he indicates is mostly
from Jimís book, Roads Iíve Travelled. The book as well as prints
of this painting can be purchased on their web site at http://www.jimgraygallery.com.
"His territory was the old Church Street Cemetery,
in Mobile, Alabama. Mr. Tullis spent his days there strolling in the shade
of the huge ancient oak trees, often stooping to pick up any litter that
might mar the beauty of the place. He would sit for hours in the sun of the
crisp Autumn days. Jim found him there one morning a few years ago. They sat
and talked. Jim sketched and took a few photographs of the self appointed
old Caretaker. Jim recalls, "He had a small Bible in his pocket and
several rings on his fingers, a real character, full of yarns and home spun
philosophy. You could tell the sun felt good on his back as we sat
together." A couple of years later, Jim ran across the sketches and
photos... "it was time to paint!" The old man is gone now, but his
spirit lives on with this painting.
Iíve also been told that this gentlemen lived on an
island in the river and took a boat over each day to the cemetery. At one
point his house burned. But he was well liked by everyone and a group of
people got together and rebuilt his home."