7 amazing artists you’ll love right here in Birmingham

John Lytle Wilson
Give it up for the awesome bots of John Lytle Wilson. (John Lytle Wilson)

We often dote on Birmingham’s food and tech scene, but our city shines in the arts, too. From whimsical animals to quirky robots, we rounded up seven local artists whose work we know you’ll be obsessed with. 

1. Chip Ghigna

Art by Chip Ghigna. (Photo submitted)

If you’re drawn to oil and acrylic, you’ll want to check out the paintings of local artist, Chip Ghigna. From abstract landscapes and cities to icons and gangsters, Ghigna’s work offers a brilliant range. 

My favorite work by Ghigna are his Trees of Ascension–each piece more colorfully eye-catching than the last. 

Love murals? Ghigna is a muralist, too. You can find his most recent murals at Avondale Apothecary and Mojo Pub. 

His most recent work can be viewed at The Margaret. 

Check out Ghigna’s art via his website or in person at Art Alley in Homewood.

Follow Chip Ghigna: Website | Facebook | Instagram

2. Rayna Gordon-Hellman

Rayna GH art
Beautiful art by the talented Rayna Gorden-Hellman. (@rgh_arts / Instagram)

Alabama native, Rayna Gordon-Hellman is involved in some exciting art projects in East Lake this summer and fall. One project is a collaboration with Ruffner Mountain and Blank Space Bham for a Family Art and Nature Day on Saturday, July 29.

The project, called Red Dirt Residency, will bring local families together to make art to inspire a future mural for the old Ruffner Relic building.

Learn more about the event here and sign up—it’s free to attend.

Follow Ryan Gordon-Hellman: Facebook | Instagram

3. Bethanne Hill

Birmingham artists
Local artist, Bethanne Hill. (Bethanne Hill)

If you love folk art, you’ll be inspired by the whimsical work of artist Bethanne Hill.

Raised in Birmingham, her paintings are rich in color, detail and animals.

“[I’m] so grateful to stay busy with a mix of my own imagery and commissioned works, as well.” 

Bethanne Hill, artist

Currently, Hill is working toward a group show called Animalia 2.0 opening on September 1 at Blue Spiral 1 Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina.

She will also have work at Jeanine Taylor Folk Art in Sanford Florida as part of a Southern Gothic show opening September 30.

Follow Bethanne Hill: Website | Facebook | Instagram

4. Morgan Jones Johnston

(L) Megan Jones Johnston; (Center) You Can Always Have Flowers on the Table; (R) Lily Rose (Morgan Jones Johnston)

From drawing and painting to illustrating children’s books, there’s no limit to the many talents of Bham artist Morgan Jones Johnston. Did we mention she also co-owns local clothing shop Club Duquette?

According to Johnston’s website, her current bodies of work “are an exploration of the role of the artist as the mirror, how we see ourselves, and how we want to be remembered in legacy.”

What do patrons of Johnston have to say about her work?

“Morgan’s art is a celebration of individuality, expression and her belief that there is an artist in each of us. Morgan sees. She listens. She finds the hidden pieces and gingerly places them in your palm or on your wall. With a smile. I will be a patron for life.”

Andrea, Wynn, art collector

Follow Morgan Jones Johnston: Website | Instagram

5. Amy Pleasant

Birmingham artists
Wall to Wall by Amy Pleasant. (Amy Pleasant)

With national and international attention, contemporary artist Amy Pleasant is another Bham artist who continues to become more prominent in the art world. Much of her work explores the body and language through a repetitive and calligraphic drawing process. You can see it in her upcoming installation Wall to Wall opening Friday, August 4, in conjunction with Art on the Rocks at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

During the exhibit, Pleasant will create a site-specific installation on the walls of the BMA’s lobby populated with images inspired by objects from the museum’s global, permanent collection. 

The coolest part? Guests attending the BMA’s Art on the Rocks event on August 4 are invited to help complete the installation by painting alongside Pleasant.

Follow Amy Pleasant: Website | Facebook | Instagram

6. Chiharu Roach

(Chiharu Roach)

Born in Nagoya, Japan, Chiharu Roach has been part of the Birmingham art scene since 2011. She’s best known for her beautiful and details “Tangled Hair” portraits featuring females with animals and insects interwoven in their hair.

Around Birmingham, you can spot Roach’s commissioned work at places like Ronald McDonald House and the Alabama Power Company.

What’s next for Roach?

“I am planning to do Artwalk and the Bluff Park Art Show this fall. Also, I am going to show my art at some group exhibitions at Jacksonville University and Lowe Mill.”

Chiharu Roach, artist

Follow Chiharu Roach: Facebook | Instagram

7. John Lytle Wilson

John Lytle Wilson
Check out the work of John Lytle Wilson. (John Lytle Wilson)

Ever wondered who’s behind the lovable, quirky robot murals around Bham? The answer is John Lytle Wilson, a Birmingham-based artist known for his colorful paintings of animals and robots inspired by 80s-era cartoons and movies. 

While you can see Wilson’s murals on a number of noteworthy buildings around The Magic City like the Birmingham Museum of Art and UAB’s Specialty Care Clinic, you can also find smaller versions of his charming characters via his website.

We spoke to Wilson to find out what he’s working on now.

“[I’m] currently working on pieces for Birmingham ArtWalk and a November show at the Kennedy-Douglass Center for the Arts in Florence.”

John Lytle Wilson, artist

Follow John Lytle Wilson: Website | Facebook | Instagram

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Patience Itson
Patience Itson
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