JOHN LYTLE WILSON, A BOHEMIAN ART MAN
photo essay by Tasha McCrory
I had the pleasure of popping into the studio with my friend John Lytle Wilson, an artist with an international exhibition record. Strewn about the floor and wall are in-process pieces from past shows and shows to come. His style, like his personality, is unpretentious and easygoing. He is best known for his paintings of Monkeys & Robots, and for his “Corrected Paintings,” which are previously created paintings by other artists that may have somehow been created without monkeys or robots. John will politely correct them by integrating his sci-fi creatures into the existing paintings.
As we talk, John is working on what is to be a Cults poster for an upcoming show at Bottletree. He is painting an orange monkey standing atop a red elephant with dynamic bands of streaming light emanating from the monkey’s body while three robots stand sentinel. The robots are either “followers of the monkey, or maybe they’re manipulating,” says the artist; he prefers for it to be ambiguous. I remark on the Hindu coloring and he goes on to explain he is interested in religious art and that he likes to have elements of that in his paintings. “So it’s more about religious art, than religion itself,” that he’s attracted to.
The Birmingham art scene is small, yet fierce and hungry. It has seen a palpable lull in excitement since the closing of the Bare Hands Gallery in the winter, but John and a handful of other local artists and small galleries are successfully continuing to push it.
John has taken over as executive director at Art Folk Gallery, a gallery that specializes in regional contemporary emerging art as well as folk art and anything they consider, “under represented and broad mission.” He is currently reviving the Birmingham standard of first-Friday of the month art openings at the Art Folk Gallery. The first Friday in March, will be a solo show “Silent Majority,” with Paul Cordes Wilm, 5:30-10pm. To see some of John’s completed work check him out at www.johnlytlewilson.com, Naked Art Gallery, Magic City Art Connection & Art Walk.