Liz Houghton’s new art gallery and events space invites guests to make it their own for an evening.
By Matt Skoufalos | August 3, 2022
Years ago, Liz Houghton hosted her debut art show at 916 White Horse Pike, the original home of Oaklyn’s Studio Luloo.
Selling some of her works at that event was “inspiring,” Houghton said, and encouraged her to continue making art.
On August 4, Houghton will reopen the same storefront in which her professional arts career was launched, this time, as its manager.
“I met really cool people here, some of them whom I look up to,” she said.
“That’s what inspired me to take it when it became available. I want to do that for other people.”
Houghton has dubbed the space The Lair Gallery in homage to her love of dragons—both her Chinese zodiac symbol and her high-school mascot. And she’s hopeful that the inspiration and creativity that fueled the launch of her own artistic career still dwells within its walls.
“I have a very intimate relationship with this room,” Houghton said. “It’s amazing to me that I had my very first art show here, and years later I have a whole art gallery. I never would have thought in a million years that I was going to do that.”
As an artist, Houghton is mostly self-taught. She studied commercial art at the Gloucester County Institute of Technology in her youth, but her own perspective has been shaped by her experiences working on commissioned pieces for clients.
Some of Houghton’s most publicly visible work has been produced in window designs for Revolution Coffee Roasters in Collingswood, where she regularly updates a chalk mural with impressively detailed figure drawings.
“Revolution has given me a platform to express myself artistically at any chance they possibly could,” Houghton said.
“That’s what kept my creative juices going through the pandemic.”
The Lair Gallery was conceived as “a ready-made room for you to do whatever you do,” Houghton said.
Its neutral colored walls are offset by hardwood flooring.
Lightly furnished, the split-level room can accommodate a few dozen guests, and also features an onsite bathroom and refrigerator.
Although she’d it like to focus on the visual and fine arts, Houghton anticipates that The Lair can support “any kind of small meet-up,” from business consultations, to parties, acoustic performances, or baby and wedding showers.
“It’s a place that you come and make your own, but I’ve made it nice for that to happen,” she said. “I think my experience with the coffee shop has given me experience accommodating people, and creating a space that’s comfortable and usable.”
The opening exhibit features the works of painter Louie Devito, a longtime friend of Houghton who is debuting a collection of abstract oil paintings for the opening. The exhibit is curated by Houghton’s Revolution Coffee coworker, Aidan Hadley, who also serves as the in-house curator at The Lair.
“To already know an established artist who’s sold pieces like that, it’s like a springboard,” Houghton said.
“This is a collection that he has that he’s never shown.”
Devito’s work is the centerpiece of The Lair grand opening, which will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. August 4, with light refreshments provided by Norma’s Mediterranean Cuisine of Cherry Hill.
For Houghton, it’s an opportunity to kick off the next stage of her growth as an artist, and she feels it deeply, as a calling.
“I’m ready for a new direction, and this kind of fell into my lap,” she said. “I’ve been operating on inspiration this whole time, and my life has come together in such a way that I have enough connections to help me figure it out.”