Southern Artist Spotlight Series: Ruth Ava Lyons

I want to share my piece from The Southern C today.  You must sign up HERE if you are not already connected to this growing powerhouse of a Southern social media network. I will be back with all my NYC travels and details ASAP. 

Ruth Ava Lyons

Charlotte, North Carolina

Divine Rain


Seeds of Change

What is your training? 

As a child, I studied at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

BFA/Kent State.

MFA/Cranbrook Academy of Art(known as the Yale of art schools in the U.S)

Fulbright Fellowship in Bolivia

What inspires you and your art?

Moments in nature fuel a lot of my concepts, but I get a lot of mileage doing hoopdance with tricks I practice daily….and hanging out and watching my amazing flow/circus performer friends, scuba, dirtbiking, opera, you name it, experiential helps me grow  

 What is your favorite installation of your work or piece? 

Love the install shot at Hidell Brooks Gallery last month.

Its always good for people to see different stages of an artists career, so I have to include my older work that gained me a reputation over twentyfive yrs ago for being one of the first artists in the south to do art on billboards….

my mural commission for Charlotte Convention Center,

I always liked these Welcome hands that are in the lobby of the Hearst Corporation.

Honored to be in this conservatory of one of the top glass collectors, and

last but not least…  a performance installation Camino del Oro  in front of abandoned bldg in the hood!

How has the south influenced your work?

The tradition of storytelling in the south has informed my work in a visual narrative approach..My imagery has always concentrated on using metaphors for states of mind/emotion, and our relationship to nature.For the past 7 years the imagery reflects my interest in the environment and each painting is about some aspect of the growing environmental crisis.

What is your favorite restaurant in Charlotte?

We have eaten at Ben Thanh/Vietnamese for many years…they are the original owners of Lang Van.It looks like a dump, but u can’t judge a book by its cover.The owner keeps an interesting aquarium at the entrance too!

What is your favorite cocktail?

As a Gemini, I always have 2  faves which are generally diametrically opposed.

Bellini cocktail(sweet)


doubledirty Stoli martini(I love Martini’s so much, I refuse to drink out of any other glass, so I take a martini glass with me in my purse if it fits.

How do you balance personal life and work?

I don’t. I am manic.

I owned a gallery for 23 years and juggled kids, studio time, and more and pioneered the NODA art district(our labor of love) with heavy neighborhood activism and being micro real estate developers.I have tried to slow down, and that actually happened when my neck was broken and I had to learn how to walk again.The reality of the fact that I narrowly missed being a quadraplegic gave me new perspective, so I live every day to the fullest, despite the frenzy and disjointing aspect of an artist lifestyle.

Dream trip? 

I have seen amazing photos of a photographer walking inside of glaciers, so perhaps a trip to Antartica.


I will be an artist in residence at a Scientific research station on the great barrier reef in sept….so I guess I am having an upcoming dream trip.

Dream commission?

Something fantasy and otherworldly…like laser light paintings in the sky….I get asked to do commissions all the time, but I do not do them unless they are  public art projects where artistic license is a given.I like to produce in my studio with no end user in mind…there is a certain purity in that which gives unrestricted freedom for the art to be whatever it wants to be.


Favorite Hostess Gift?

Last weeks hostess received a beautiful marblelized bowling ball from thrift store.

I keep a cabinet of curiosities that I can dive into for any occasion.

I also like to bring party tools for others. as a guest at a private event at the lake, I distributed 25 12 “bubble wands….yes, juvenile, but fun

Who is your style icon? 

 I LOVE understated chic.I usually do not pay attention to models unless they are wearing Alexander McQueen, however…I like what model/contributing editor at british vogue Alexa Chung


does with outfits….and Kate Lanphear also has the unpretentious looks that catch my eye. Hair and Hats, the award goes to Erakah Badu.

Your favorite up and coming artist?

Amy Gross does really cool small ecosystems made out of thread, wire, beads, wax, and every material becomes some organic element that looks like something that can only grow in an imaginary can fit her works in the palm of your hand..precious.


As an Art Consultant, I also recently began to represent a talented young artist Tracy Silva Barbosa, who uses mixed media to depict dreamy landscapes.


What is your most treasured possession?

A torchiere lamp from my grandmother that sits next to my gutted spinet piano desk that sports all kinds of crazy memorabilia…including my childhood Barbie dolls.


a cameo ring that I watched my grandmother take off every time she did the dishes.Its the most beautiful cameo face I have seen anywhere and my mother gave it to my husband to surprize me with at our wedding when he put it on my finger instead of the ring we had chosen together.

and a few more of my favorite paintings…via



Wildfire (California Poppies) 


I hope you have enjoyed getting to know this unique woman with many diverse talents.

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