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Fred Uhl Ball papers, 1936-2002

Fred Uhl Ball papers, 1936-2002

Ball, Fred Uhl, 1945-1985

Enameler, Illustrator

Collection Information

Size: 1.0 linear feet

Summary: The collection provides scattered documentation of Ball's career through biographical material, family photographs, photographs of artwork, a few letters, and printed material. The collection also includes a small group of papers concerning Ball's father, ceramicist F. Carlton Ball, his mother, illustrator and enamelist Kathryn Uhl Ball, and his grandfather, silversmith George Uhl. The collection consists primarily of photographs and slide transparencies of Ball's artwork, but also includes photographs of Ball, his studio and some of his exhibitions. Papers and printed material include a vita compiled after Ball's death, news clippings providing an overview of his career, a folder of writings, and several items commemorating him.

Biographical/Historical Note

Enamelist; Sacramento, Calif. Fred Uhl Ball died at age 40 from injuries suffered in an assault. At his death, his art passed to his mother Kathryn who died in 2000 without any heirs. Susan J. Willoughby, a close family friend, served as Trustee of the Kathryn Uhl Ball Trust. Unfortunatley, most of Fred Ball's papers were discarded after his death. The remainder of the collection was assembled by Lois and David Warren, retired college professors.

Provenance

Donated 2001 by Susan J. Willoughby, a close family friend and Trustee of the Kathryn Uhl Ball Trust, as part of the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America. Most of Ball's papers were discarded after his death. The papers donated were assembled by Lois and David Warren. Several 2002 news clippings were added to the collection in 2002 and a letter from Kathryn Ball to Lois and David Warren, ca. 1985, was added in 2012.

A Finding Aid to the Fred Uhl Ball Papers, 1936-2002, in the Archives of American Art
AAA.ballfred
Biographical Note
Fred Uhl Ball was born in Oakland, California, in 1945. Ball's interest in enameling began in childhood, and was fostered by his mother, Kathryn Uhl, an illustrator and enamelist who taught life drawing at Mills College, and his father, a ceramicist, who was head of the art department at Mills.Ball received his bachelor's and master's degrees in art from Sacramento State University. His first exhibition was a two-man show with Gerald Silva at the Barrios Gallery. His first national exhibition was held the same year, and his work was shown in Stuttgart, Germany, two years later. In the early 1970s Ball began experimenting with test tiles and assembling torch-fired enamels on thin copper foil into collage-like panels. He also experimented with using brass as a surface and with exposing white enamel to varying degrees of heat to produce a range of hues. In 1972, he published
Experimental Techniques in Enameling
(New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold), which has since been considered the definitive text on enameling.Ball was best known in Sacramento, where he lived and had his studio, for his large-scale public murals. In 1976 he joined the city's federally funded Comprehensive Employment and Training program (CETA) and created his first truly large-scale mural for the Sacramento Community Center. The mural won him critical acclaim and for the remainder of his career Ball would combine his personal work with additional commissions, and would continue to experiment with innovative enameling techniques and material in his sculptural collages. His Sacramento parking garage mural is one of the largest enameled murals ever attempted.During the last decade of his life Ball was commissioned to create a number of large, site-specific works for corporate clients in the Sacramento area. In September of 1985 he was working on a fifty-foot copper mural,
The Great Sacramento Valley
, when he was assaulted at his studio. Ball died three months later at the age of forty from injuries sustained during the attack. The mural was completed by his mother and his associate, Bruce Beck, and was unveiled at Sacramento's Sutter General Hospital in December, 1986. A memorial retrospective of Ball's work, organized by the Creative Arts League, was held at the Crocker Art Museum from March to April of 1987.
Arrangement
The collection was assembled by Lois and David Warren after Ball's death and their original arrangement has been retained.The papers are arranged into two series:
Series 1: Papers and Printed Material, 1936-2002, undated (box 1; 0.3 linear ft.)
Series 2: Photographs, 1945-1987, undated (box 1; 0.7 linear ft.)
Provenance
Donated 2001 by Susan J. Willoughby, a close family friend and Trustee of the Kathryn Uhl Ball Trust, as part of the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America. Most of Ball's papers were discarded after his death. The papers donated were assembled by Lois and David Warren. Several 2002 news clippings were added to the collection in 2002 and a letter from Kathryn Ball to Lois and David Warren, ca. 1985, was added in 2012.
Processing Information
The collection was processed by Frank Thompson and Stephanie Ashley in 2002 with funding provided by the Nanette L. Laitman Documentation Project for Craft and Decorative Arts in America.

Restrictions on Access

Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center. Contact Reference Services for more information.

How to Cite This Collection

Fred Uhl Ball papers, 1936-2002. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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