By Heather Jones Skaggs
Photos by Blair Ramsey
Packing up an entire art gallery and moving to a new location is hectic. Still, Liz Lane Bryan says she found more than a silver lining in her gallery’s story and a new home in the historic community of Bluff Park in Hoover.
After storm damage to her beloved gallery of five years in Homewood, Liz and her collective of artists had to find a new space somewhat quickly. A location closer to her family’s home in Ross Bridge was ideal. Liz discovered a vacancy in Bluff Park Village for her new studio home, which opened in July.
The carefully curated space is full of pieces the artist would love to hang in her home. Liz compares her new gallery to opening the pages of a crisp book and being introduced to a new adventure, going into a place where art is created and sold as you experience the story.
“I don’t want the art in my gallery to feel off limits to anyone. I love for people coming in to be interactive and ask questions. I want kids to come in and be curious with their creativity,” she says.
The love of art runs in the Lane family. Liz grew up in her mom’s galleries, The Renaissance Gallery in downtown Northport and the Liz Charles Gallery in downtown Tuscaloosa. According to Liz, constant exposure to a group of professional artists was the best education and fundamental in developing her own voice in art.
You’ll often find Liz front and center, working on a new creation that will adorn the gallery walls. “I’m so extroverted! So painting around people, having an open and interactive studio space adds to the experience,” she explains.
The soft hues of grays, pinks, greens and yellows bring life to the abstract creations that seem to move across the studio’s walls. “Sometimes I don’t know what a painting will look like before it’s done, because the moment I’m working in influences everything. I’m pulling in the emotions of the moment. There is a story, but it is not linear. There is no defined beginning or end, but perhaps that’s the most honest approach to understanding life,” Liz shares.
Along with Liz, the gallery hosts a group of contemporary female artists with a collection that includes paintings, ceramics and jewelry, including Liz’s mom, Lorrie Lane, a painter. “Much of our art is abstract, but if you ask, I have a narrative behind each piece,” Liz says. “I always ask our artists what inspired their work, so I try to be like a librarian in that regard.”
Represented in the gallery, you will also find the works of Joan Curtis of Vestavia Hills, Kellie Newsome from Columbus, Georgia, Anne Corhern of Mountain Brook, Jennifer Chaney of Birmingham and Karen Davis from Nashville, Tennessee.
Liz says that “these women are wonderful. Some have been painting their entire lives, which is truly a passion. I always ask myself, ‘Why do I care?’ When choosing art, these painters make me and our customers care. It isn’t just art to fill a wall; it’s the art that makes a wall.”
With a full gallery, Liz says she hopes customers find that unique piece for their homes. “I always advise people first and foremost to buy art that they love. Art can make you feel things you don’t know and teach you about yourself. So find a piece that moves you.”
Another recommendation Liz gives is to try art on approval first, especially with large pieces. That means bringing the selection home and ensuring it works for you and your family in your space before purchasing it. “Sometimes, you know, and that’s amazing, but often, it’s good to try it out first. We offer a lot of smaller pieces that are super easy to place, but for our larger works, it can help to try it for a few days first.”
For the aspiring artists, Liz says she likes to encourage people who want to start to ‘just start.’ “Make art; it’s the only way to learn. If you can’t figure out where to start, think back to your childhood, where you were less likely to think about how things should be and were more likely to imagine. Get your head in that space. Open yourself up to play. That looks completely different for everyone, but there you have it; that’s where you invent and create things that are unique to you.”
Liz hopes her business will attract other small businesses to the area and add more cultural awareness to the city.
“Several people and families in the Hoover area are now proud owners of paintings from our group of artists after attending our open house,” Liz shares. “I love wandering around areas full of local businesses. I especially want girls to know that they can run and manage their own business and all kids to know they can make a good living as artists. Lead by example, and I hope this is an example of what can happen when you listen to your instincts and play, dream and build community.”