Masterpieces for all

From Architectural Digest and Martha Stewart to Ten Minute Masterpieces, Liz Lidgett is delivering artful advice beyond the canvas.

Liz Lidgett standing on a counter
In September 2023, Liz Lidgett’s gallery was named one of America’s top 70 small businesses by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, selected from a record-breaking 15,000-plus applicants. Photo by Adam Albright

Published on Show Me Mizzou Jan. 10, 2024
Story by Kelsey Allen, BA, BJ ’10

Liz Lidgett, BJ ’07, believes art is for everyone. As a little girl growing up in Iowa carrying a sketch pad everywhere she went, Lidgett took art classes at the Des Moines Art Center, where she spent time with Edward Hopper’s Automat and Francis Bacon’s Portrait of Pope Innocent. In her art history classes at Mizzou, she was shocked to open the textbook and see those same pieces. “I’d been hanging out around masterpieces without knowing it,” she says. “I feel lucky that I always had this access to artwork.”

After earning a master’s in curatorial practice and the public sphere from the University of Southern California, Lidgett returned to her hometown to start her business. “In LA to make a difference, you have to be a multimillionaire,” she says. “In Des Moines, you have to have a good idea and people rally around you to make it happen.”

She spent several years working as an art adviser, regularly making purchases from various galleries, before she decided she could do it better. In 2019, she opened Liz Lidgett Gallery and Design with a commitment to representing at least 50% women and minority artists and offering artworks starting at an accessible price point of $150, making art more attainable for a wider audience.

“A lot of times, when people think about an art gallery, they think of going to New York and some snobby person barely acknowledges them and there are no prices on the wall,” Lidgett says. “That’s the exact opposite of how we want to make people feel. The art world is for everyone. I will die on that hill.”

Although Lidgett’s gallery is welcoming, she ships 80% of the work she sells. The pandemic pushed Lidgett to rethink her business model and expand her social media presence. Now, she has nearly 100,000 followers on Instagram, where she not only showcases art that’s available for purchase but also art and design tips. 

She also hosts a podcast, Ten Minute Masterpieces, where she shares stories behind famous works of art, and is regularly featured in Better Homes & Gardens, Martha Stewart and Architectural Digest. “I use the skills that I received in journalism school on a daily basis through communication and how to present myself and when I’m talking to people in the press,” says Lidgett, whose husband, Nick Renkoski, BJ ’07, also graduated from Mizzou. In September 2023, her gallery was named one of America’s top 70 small businesses by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, selected from a record-breaking 15,000-plus applicants.

Lidgett’s most oft-shared tip? “Buy what you love,” she says. “I want to give people permission to like what they like.”

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