Behind her gallery rooms decorated with paintings, Liz Lane paints in her studio alongside Estelle, her two-month old daughter. She gives a warm welcome from the back of the gallery as she works with soft blues and grays on a new canvas. In fact, it’s the same environment that defined her own childhood. She never loaded her schedule with art classes. Instead, she simply learned to sketch and paint while admiring her mother’s work and seeing her galleries open in Tuscaloosa.
“Being in a gallery was definitely part of my childhood,” Liz says. Her mother, Lorrie Lane, opened Liz Charles Gallery and Renaissance Art Gallery while Liz was growing up and is now a resident Kentuck Art Center studio artist. “She was always making art, so I was always around it.” Now, in her own gallery, Liz showcases her work, her mother’s work, and the work of other local artists. Looking around the studio, she has a favorite piece here and there but genuinely enjoys all the pieces around her that share a liveliness in shape and color.
For the past year (as of March 2018), Liz Lane Gallery has brought a collection of Southern, primarily female artists’ work to Homewood’s 29th Avenue. Light from the street pours into the gallery, and both the pastel and the rich colors from the art stream off the walls. “When people walk in here, I want them to have a good feeling,” Liz says. By using guache and acrylic washes, she achieves a soft yet colorful glow to her work, one emulating the goodness Liz seeks.
She fills her paintings with hazy colors that bleed down the canvas, contrasting Lorrie’s use of oil paint and a palette knife in her own art. “When people see our work, people usually know that we’re somehow related,” Liz recalls, seeing similarities in the monochromatic colors and happy tones between her work and her mom’s.
Although Liz saw her mother’s artistic career in front of her, that path was not her original goal. “I did not want to do anything with art for a long time,” Liz says, explaining that art was just part of her childhood. She attended the University of Alabama to study film and then fashion design, and then moved to New York City to pursue fashion. However, she found New York was not the place for her, and shortly thereafter moved to Birmingham, began working at Four Seasons Gallery in Homewood, and fell in love with art again. Still only 28, after a quick change in plans, Liz now both owns, runs, and paints for her own gallery. “Art chose me. I didn’t choose art, and I couldn’t stop,” Liz explains.
Once she returned to Alabama and began selling her own work on occasion, she noticed there was room for more art in Homewood. “I knew the community here, and I thought this was a great area to have a gallery…The art that I have chosen makes me very happy when I look at it,” she says. “I wanted art that would be beautiful and make someone’s home feel like a home. Every piece here invites you into it.”
The pinks, blues and greens that greet those who walk into the first room of the gallery turn into brighter, bolder colors as you walk back further, each painting capturing the beauty of an abstract image. While many works in the gallery depict flowers, landscapes or animals, Liz describes the overall style as loosening those images, creating more movement in the colors.
“People really strive for beauty in the South, and it’s reflected in the art,” Liz says of the local work in her gallery. When she lived in New York, she realized there is a darkness that she does not notice in most Southern art. “There is definitely a quality to Southern art you don’t get other places. It’s a little bit happier.”
Such cheerfulness and brightness are what Liz strives to showcase, knowing that the gallery will supply works to go in people’s homes and become part of their lives. “Sometimes we have clients who’ve come in, and they’ve just gone through a major life change, like a new baby, marriage, divorce or something impactful in their minds, and home is where you want your heart to be,” Liz says.
With all original art in the gallery, she hopes customers find just the right piece for their spaces. “Anytime we can help with original art is meaningful for me, and I usually pass that on to the artist,” Liz says. One-of-a-kind and commissioned pieces add a fresh and modern flavor to someone’s daily life, and Liz often goes into homes to measure the space and pick the best piece to fit someone’s style, personality and decor. “A lot of times when people redo their house, they’re trying to redo their life. It’s great to be a part of that. Even with a new baby, you’re not redoing your life, but you’re adding to your life.” Liz values how a piece of art add this newness to a home, whether someone chooses art for a nursery or to change the way a kitchen or bedroom used to look.
Beyond just pouring into her clients and viewers of the gallery, Liz supports the community by giving people an opportunity to support local artists and by inviting everyone for monthly art shows and other gatherings. It’s all a part of the bold hospitality both the art and space give to anyone walks in. “I really wanted to curate a space that felt welcoming to walk into,” Liz says.
Meet the Artists
Sarah Mason captures the colors and feelings of nature through watercolor and epoxy resin on canvas, allowing the paint to create movement by sitting on the canvas.
Eddie Powell, local to Birmingham, creates texture and bright color to depict natural scenes with acrylic paint on wood.
Lacey Russell originally studied graphic design, but she currently paints with energetic line in both watercolor and acrylic paint.
Joan Curtis applies brilliant colors with a palette knife to apply streaks of brightness to her work. She also splits her time between a nursing career and art.
Katy Caughran, Liz Lane Gallery’s newest artist, uses her work to explore emotion through floral subjects and pasture scenes.
Kellie Newsome focuses on animals and florals as her subjects, and she works with smaller canvases, some of which could fit in your palm.
Sisters Jill Lindsey and Valerie Holley of Sister Art craft unique and beautiful pottery that is also functional for cooking.
Elizabeth Hubbard, born with 95 percent hearing loss, makes art based on the beauty that she sees around her and teaches art classes.
Steve Davis, a resident Kentuck artist, works as a blacksmith, creating modern, abstract, and functional pieces.
Janie Mayer makes “gypsy-inspired” jewelry from linen, leather, gems and pearls for her Inspirations by Janie line.