Some people are lucky to have been born with creative genes. How creativity manifests itself can take many tracks, often depending on a person’s environment. In the case of ultra-talented Fairhope resident Elisabeth Hays, it was the free reign she was given as a child to do whatever she wanted to do in her art room, the finished attic of their home. 

Elisabeth’s artistic talent is well regarded throughout the South. The Fairhope’s 2024 Arts & Crafts Festival, scheduled for March 15 through 17, selected Elisabeth to be this year’s featured artist. This juried fine arts and crafts show has been held for over 70 years and is central to Fairhope’s reputation as a heralded art community. 

“I was thrilled and honored to be selected,” she tells me. “When Marissa Thetford, this year’s Chairperson, told me last summer that the theme is Fairhope in Bloom, I immediately thought of the tulip beds throughout the town in Spring.” Elisabeth’s featured painting will be on the poster, T-shirts, and reproduction fine art prints available for purchase at the official Arts & Crafts booth in the middle of town. 

Her complete collection of Fairhope in Bloom, tulips-inspired paintings will be on display at Lyons Share in downtown Fairhope beginning on the First Friday Art Walk on March 1. The original photo of this year’s art selection was taken by Fairhope’s Stephen Savage, a regular contributor to Scenic 98 Coastal. I recently sat down with Elisabeth to learn about her career in interior design and painting.

“As a kid, I painted the walls, had glitter all over the place, and it looked like a paint bomb had exploded in the room where I discovered my artistic side. My mom always encouraged me to explore my creativity. I attended every art camp I could and gained a lot of confidence from my teachers throughout school. I continued to develop my craft during high school as well as in college.”

Elisabeth was born in Alexander City, Alabama. Her father passed away when she was only 18 months old, and her mother moved to Fairhope soon thereafter. She graduated from Fairhope High School in 2005 and studied Fine Arts at Auburn. 

Halfway through college, she began working with Tricia Niemeyer, who, at the time, was an interior designer in Fairhope and owned a fabric shop, called Tricia’s. (Tricia now owns and operates the event venue, Little Point Clear Suites and Space on Scenic 98.) 

“She mentored me and taught me so much about design and business.” Elisabeth bought the store from Tricia in 2010 and changed the name to LuLu & Me. She operated the store for 8 years focusing on custom home interiors and new construction interior design. “Custom draperies, furniture, bedding, lighting, finishes, and such,” she says.

In 2018, she and her husband William Hays, who is a partner with luxury custom home builder Robert Brown of Pitman Brown Building Co, had their second child. She decided to sell her store in Downtown Fairhope to raise her young children. “I was a stay-at-home mom for a bit, but I couldn’t sit still for long and started channeling energy into my art. The same year she sold the store, she curated the first Little Art Mart held at Little Point Clear. 

“Trica provided the space and we had about a dozen “Makers and Merchants.” It was a curated creative market - a collection of paintings, ceramics,  jewelry, monogrammed linens, etc., and was the first opportunity for me to showcase my art.”  It was a huge success with over 500 people shopping over the 3-day weekend. She continued hosting the Little Art Mart every year in Spring and the holiday season for the next few years. 

Today, Elisabeth’s art is featured in galleries throughout the South including  Lyons Share Gallery in downtown Fairhope, Ashland Gallery in Mobile, Palette Home in Richmond, VA, and Shain Gallery in Charlotte, NC. She is also represented by the online gallery Well + Wonder Artist Collective

Elisabeth now has an office at 200 Fairhope Avenue with a showroom space called The Front Room, where she hosts pop-up shops and small gatherings. On April 18, Elisabeth will host her lifelong friend, Allie Haynes Nielsen from Andalusia, Alabama, Allie started Vine+Branch a few years ago.

“When I saw her work on Instagram, I reached out to her about coming down for a show. I thought butterflies and flowers would be a great duo for a pop-up! Vine+Branch vessels (think high-design preserved florals and arrangements) are really pieces of art and have a very refined design quality to them. They aren’t your grandmother’s dried hydrangeas… they’re just really beautiful!”

Elisabeth has developed quite a reputation for her butterfly paintings. “I’ve always enjoyed working in mixed media. It has a sculptural element which draws me to experiment  with it.” She uses different papers, layers of paint, graphite, pastels, and wire to create her butterflies. 

“I started making butterflies about four years ago and they’ve sort of become my signature subject. Their natural beauty and the transformative nature that they represent have always intrigued me. I don’t know that I’ll ever tire of them and the endless possibilities of pattern & palettes.”

I asked Elisabeth about the art community in Fairhope. “I feel lucky to have grown up in such a thriving art community. As a new “professional” artist just a few years ago, having Lyon’s Share showcase my work was very encouraging and taught me so much about the ins and outs of being a gallery artist.” 

“My children, Sam and Mary Crider attend Fairhope West, so their schedules are a little more predictable these days. I’ve started taking on a few interior design clients again.” She tells me she has enjoyed getting back to her interior design work. “I love it!” 

Before being selected as the Arts & Crafts featured artist, her desire to paint would come and go. “I’d paint three to four days in a row and then put the brushes down for a bit and focus on design projects. I do like to stay busy, so the Arts and Crafts event has inspired me. I’m in a good place. I’m growing as an artist and getting my feet back into interior design.”

I asked Elisabeth about the growth of the Scenic 98 Coastal area. “It’s exploded! I remember when Fairhope got a Wendy’s. As high schoolers, we thought that was the best thing ever! I very much appreciate how we’ve preserved the downtown and sense of community along with our wonderful schools. I am so grateful that the town’s growth has provided an opportunity for the expansion of community treasures such as FEEF’s Pelicans Nest and Thomas Hospital Foundation.”

Elisabeth has worked closely with the Thomas Hospital Foundation and their annual Grand Summer Ball for the past few years. with Co-Chairs Anna Bruckman and Courtney Malouf, she was the featured artist in 2022, where her butterflies inspired the ball’s theme and decor. She served as co-chair of the gala in 2023 with Codi Dearing. 

Together, Codi and Elisabeth helped the foundation have one of the highest-grossing years in donations. These funds will be used to expand the hospital’s cardiac care facilities, one of the leading heart care units in the region, with technology and equipment.

“Fairhope has been the perfect small town to live in. I grew up on Mobile Bay and am now raising my kids on the bay. Our days and weekends are filled with crab traps, cast nets, boat rides & sunsets. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!”

Check out Elisabeth’s work at and follow her on Instagram @eghaysart.

Thank you, Elisabeth. It’s been a pleasure.  You are an amazing talent. We are glad you are here!

Feb 7, 2024
Artsy Side Of Life

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