Liz Lidgett’s art gallery celebrates five years in Des Moines

When Liz Lidgett decided to open a gallery, she wasn’t sure if she could justify the space. She already worked as an art advisor, helping places like Bubba in downtown Des Moines source pieces like the bow tie artwork and dapper hats that give the restaurant a bump in personality.

Lidgett estimated that she needed to sell four pieces of artwork a month to afford the space.

Flash forward five years, and Liz Lidgett Gallery + Design in the East Village in Des Moines sells more than 100 pieces a month.

“We ship 80% to 90% of what we sell,” Lidgett said in her bright gallery surrounded by wrapped panels from fiber artist Anna Beurskens from San Francisco, pop art beetles by Kevin Brent Morris painted in bright colors out of Overland Park, Kansas, and vibrant flowers from Des Moines-based artist Jenna Brownlee.Silver garden snakes created by Paige Barnes-Dorsey of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, dangle from the wall or a table while ceramic wall art from Eliana Bernard of Austin, Texas, showcases muted palettes in rounded shapes, almost like a delicate windchime.

“The business just really changed from what I originally thought it was going to be,” she said. She means that in the best ways possible.

On Friday, Lidgett celebrates her fifth anniversary with an open house at the gallery. She expects 25 of the artists she represents to be in person at the event from 5 to 8 p.m. that is open to the public. Each of the 67 artists — with at least half of them women — represented at the gallery contributed a piece for a group exhibit that opens at the show.

Aside from a day of showing artists Des Moines, including a trip to the Des Moines Art Center, she has workshops planned with the artists.

“Being an artist can be really solitary. So we’re gonna be doing some learning from each other and some education pieces that artists don’t often get once they’ve graduated from their MFA,” she said.

On top of that, she has clients coming in from South Dakota, Missouri, Virginia, Connecticut. “We’re just going to celebrate the way that this city has supported us.”

How Liz Lidgett grew her gallery business

Lidgett has never been afraid to delve into something new. She created a podcast, “Ten Minute Masterpieces,” that explores the origins of famous pieces of art. She sold NFT art of whimsical resin pops created by California-based artist Betsy Enzensberger. She’s working with artists to digitize their works to display on television screens in homes, a new canvas, so to speak, and at a lower, more affordable price point.

She’s helped get more than 100 murals painted across the city, from artists such as Des Moines-based James Navarro, who has four murals at the Iowa State Fairgrounds and two at Oak Park, the new American restaurant on Ingersoll Avenue, as well as Brownlee, who painted works in the District at Prairie Trail in Ankeny and the Parker Apartments on Seventh Street in downtown Des Moines. She even worked to get the Ben Schuh “Better Together, Better Forever” mural on the side of the Renaissance Des Moines Savery Hotel painted.

You can find hints of Lidgett’s personality with the neon sign inside the courtyard at the Surety Hotel in downtown Des Moines or the selfie artwork in the bathrooms at her East Village neighbor Clyde’s Fine Diner. She created the china wall and more at Either/Or, the new American restaurant on the border of Des Moines and West Des Moines.

She flexes her creative design eye through her full-service art advising firm for personal and corporate collections, and she helped place artwork found inside Racoon Valley Bank in Grimes, Bankers Trust in Des Moines, and the Des Moines Metro Opera in Indianola.

More: Pieces from the John and Mary Pappajohn art collection go up for auction for millions

How e-commerce helped the Liz Lidgett’s gallery blossom

It wasn’t easy, but Lidgett has the grace, vibrant personality, and enthusiasm to make it seem easy.

The Des Moines Roosevelt graduate who earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri in journalism and a master’s degree in public art from the University of Southern California had to contend with the pandemic, which shut down her gallery less than a year after it opened in 2019. “We worked really hard on the e-commerce side. That really grew the business to a national level,” she said.

Now most of her clients — from all 50 states as well as Canada, Australia, Argentina, Switzerland, and the Netherlands ― probably haven’t seen the art they buy in person. About 80% of the artwork from the gallery is sold online, she said. Pieces range from $200 to $15,000 with prices clearly listed.

She reaches customers through social media that showcases the gallery, the artists, and Lidgett, who takes center stage as the expert guide. That effort really went into overdrive during the pandemic.

Lidgett’s personal Instagram page now has 105,000 followers. Her gallery has another 31,000. She uses social media as her medium to reach potential clients, showcasing the art in the gallery against the backdrop of her effervescent personality and bright music. It works.

Online, she shares tips on how to hang art, how she looks at art, and even the artists’ inspirations behind their work in interviews.

More: This new East Village building is the first of its kind in the United States

How Liz Lidgett hunted down the artist who made her a big name in art

One goal she had was to land a big artist to lend to the credibility of the gallery. As she approached artists, many initially said no because her gallery is in Des Moines. “Call us when you’ve proven yourself,” Lidgett said artists who typically sent their work to New York and Los Angeles to sell told her.

She put together her hit list of artists to approach. Hunt Slonem, the Brooklyn, New York, artist whose bunnies and butterflies painted in oils have a special place in the gallery, was the first she nabbed.

“As entrepreneurs, we get told no so often. But if you keep going, and you get that, ‘Yes,’ then so many doors can open,” she said. “I’ll just love him forever because we had that connection and he gave me that yes, and everything just bloomed from there.”

Last September, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce named Lidgett’s gallery one of America’s 70 top small businesses, an honor she earned from an applicant pool of about 15,000.

Last Friday, she graduated from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, an intense 12-week program meant to help entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunities.

Now she celebrates a fast five years that brings more attention to Des Moines as a place for art and culture. Just recently, a piece by Atlanta-based artist Shannon Coppage entitled “Rosemary No. 3” that hangs in Anne Hathaway’s kitchen in the new Amazon Prime movie “The Idea of You” was available in Lidgett’s gallery. It already sold.

“I would argue with anybody that we’ve got the best clients in the world,” Lidgett said a week before her anniversary event. “Maybe you’re new to the art world, but you feel welcomed, and that’s our whole goal. I just feel so thankful that this place has become a hub for really interesting, warm people that want to have some beautiful things on their walls.”

Where to find Liz Lidgett Gallery + Design

Location: 111 E. Grand Ave., Suite 110, Des Moines

Contact: 515-288-8990 or

Susan Stapleton is the entertainment editor and dining reporter at The Des Moines Register. Follow her on FacebookX, or Instagram, or drop her a line at

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *