Looking for fine art in Birmingham? We’ve highlighted 5 ways to start your search

Magic City Art Connection MOSS MAGIC Looking for fine art in Birmingham? We've highlighted 5 ways to start your search
Two MOSS MAGIC attendees are all smiles as they carry home an important find from the event. Photo via Magic City Art Connection

I recently moved into a new apartment and have an obnoxiously blank wall staring at me while I work every day. Never being a fan of mass-produced “Target” art, I reached out to several fine art experts in Birmingham to see where I could find the perfect piece.

But first, let’s talk about fine art

ThomasProject 25 Looking for fine art in Birmingham? We've highlighted 5 ways to start your search
The Thomas Project contains metalwork creations, which would normally fall into the category of
“applied arts.” However, I would definitely consider this sculpture more along the lines of fine art. Photo via Bham Now

There’s really no hard and fast definition for fine art. Basically, you can break art into two categories—fine and applied. Of course, it’s not that simple.

Fine art has colloquially come to mean a work created for aesthetics and decorative use. Applied pertains to art that has a “function” such as furniture, metalworks or most pottery.

I asked Melissa Yes, co-director of VINEGAR, who holds a Bachelor’s and Masters in Fine Art from UAB and Ohio State, how she would distinguish what’s fine art and what isn’t. She confirmed while the term has good intentions, it can also have negative implications and exclude certain types of work.

The term has evolved over the years, first putting emphasis on whether or not you were classically trained to now encompassing a broader meaning. Art is interpretive and rarely follows rules or guidelines. Why should its definitions be any different?

So, the following information is a good place to get started on discovering Birmingham’s artist hub. From there, you can decide what kind of works speak to you.

Follow the breadcrumb trail

I also loved what Melissa said about following a “breadcrumb trail” to fine art in Birmingham. Art is everywhere in the city, and once you pick up your first scent, it’ll lead you to an entire community.

1. Festivals and Events

At the head of the breadcrumb trail are Birmingham’s numerous art events and festivals. You can discover fine art from across the country—and even beyond—in every type of medium.

Many festivals switched to a virtual format in 2020, or modified to fit social distancing regulations. But it didn’t take away from the talent and we enjoyed discovering new creators during 2020 events like Magic City Art Connection and Moss Rock Festival.

Keep your eye out for these annual upcoming events:

2. Private Dealers

Art events and festivals might open the door to private dealers in Birmingham. I reached out to Alex Kunzman, the PR and Marketing Director for Magic City Art Connection for more information.

While his team doesn’t currently work with many private art dealers, their consulting company Fine Art Services has found artwork for private and corporate collections over the years.

They still work with clients on art acquisitions and projects on occasion, but most of their time is taken up by the wonderful festivals we enjoy each year. The events are one way to come in contact with private dealers—visiting local galleries is another.

3. Local galleries and organizations you can look to for fine art

Probably the easiest way to tune in to fine art in Birmingham and beyond is by visiting local galleries and organizations. You can browse or work directly with the dealers to find your perfect piece.

Below is only a sliver of the pie of where you can reach out, but each spot will lead to even more opportunities. Before you head out, make sure to touch base via social media or contact information to confirm studio hours and exhibition dates.

The Fuel and Lumber Company
Stephen Smith Fine Art
  • What: As the largest commercial gallery in the state of Alabama, Stephen Smith Fine Art promotes interesting, fun and thought-provoking art.
  • More information: Website | Instagram | Facebook
  • Contact: 205.305.1451

P.S. Don’t miss VINEGAR’s upcoming exhibition Brandi Shah: Sawubona/Sala Kahle taking place February 19–March 27.

“In Sawubona/Sala Kahle, Birmingham-based writer and digital storyteller, Brandi Shah, explores the instinctive conversations that occur between
language and visual stimuli.”

Ground Floor Contemporary

4. Social Media

Melissa pointed out another fantastic way to connect with fine artists in Birmingham—social media! Since the city’s art community is so tightly connected, it won’t take long to discover a wide variety of artists. Here are a few of my personal favorite accounts.

5. School Shows

Finally, not the end of the trail but a stop along the way, let’s not forget about up-and-coming artists. If you want to get in on the ground floor for discovering rising creators in Birmingham, attend one of our local universities’ art shows.

They have top-notch art programs that allow emerging artists to showcase their talent. Take a look at this current exhibition at UAB.

What other ways can you find fine art in Birmingham? Share them with us on social and let us know what we missed @BhamNow on Facebook and Instagram, or @Now_Bham on Twitter.

Irene Richardson
Irene Richardson
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