Story by Lisa Anderson, Photos by Joshua Jacobs
Lisa Midgett spent her youth in Miami, Florida at a time when it was safe for children to run free outside, and “home by dark” was the neighborhood curfew. “The question I ask myself most often is, ‘How did I get here?’ I don’t mean here in Ocala. I mean here in this gallery, here in this phase of my life, here with these amazing people in my life.”
Lisa is the owner of NOMA gallery and a partner with NOMA Records. She’s been a successful retail manager and the youngest employee to earn the title Director of Loss Prevention at Burdines in the early Nineties. She’s owned a gym, a coffee shop, and a hair salon. She even managed Red Fish Farms in Reddick, but Lisa is so much more than her résumé. She is a fierce friend, a loving wife and mom, a strong ally of small business owners, especially women-owned businesses, and a champion for the Ocala community arts scene. She has the flare of a socialite and the brain of an auditor, but she’ll tell you her favorite thing to do is lie in bed with a good book, while snuggling her dogs.
Pink Cocktails: A Dairy Delight
Born in 1969, Lisa was an only child. “[My parents] tried for six years to have me, but I wouldn’t come. So, they were filing adoption papers to become adoptive parents, and my mom got pregnant. I was loved. I was the center of their world, but at the same time, they didn’t want a spoiled child. I was taught at an early age to share. I battled a lot with my cousin. She was nine months older than me, and we were raised like sisters.”
She grew up in a modest home with a small bedroom that might as well have been Carnegie Hall to Lisa. “I was an entertainer from a very young age.” The five-year-old Lisa would spend her days rehearsing songs and, in the evenings, she would require her parents to attend a show. She even handed out playbills. “It was like dinner theatre,” she giggles. “I would make [my parents] cocktails out of milk. I remember them being pink. So, maybe, I had some pink Nesquik. I don’t know.
“My poor father, who was a cable splicer, would come home [from work], filthy, dirty, and in his big work boots. It’s Miami beach, he’s in a manhole all day, but he would dutifully come and have his milk cocktail. He’d watch my show, which consisted of Disney songs that I sang along with on my record player. That was life in [my] house!”
A Love Story
At 11-years-old, Lisa met David Midgett. “I hated his guts,” she admits, but the families’ friendship had ties back to the 1950s, which meant Lisa was stuck with him. By the age of 16, the couple began a courtship.
They graduated from high school, in 1987, and began attending college. David moved to Gainesville to attend the University of Florida, while Lisa stayed in Miami. She focused on her career and eventually dropped out of college. The decision was not well-received by Lisa’s parents or by David, but she was advancing quickly in retail management.
However, when David proposed in 1989, Lisa chose to leave her career and move to Gainesville. They were married two years later. “My husband is my best friend. In him, I found a lover, a companion, a mentor, a partner, and a life full of adventure.”
When David graduated from law school, he applied for a job thought to be in Gainesville. It turned out to be in Ocala. Lisa was upset. “Full truth, I didn’t want to come, and for six months he commuted.” Around 1995, she finally agreed to move to the Ocala area. The couple knew it was important for David to be a part of the community as a young lawyer.
It was difficult for Lisa at first. She couldn’t find a position that paid her anywhere near what she was making, and she finally settled for a part-time receptionist job at Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church. Admittedly, this was a blow to her ego. She had spent seven years building a career she thought she wanted, but in the end, it was a blessing in disguise. “Taking that job was one of the best things I’ve done for myself in my whole life. That change I thought was a life-ending change really brought love and beauty into my life.”
In 2002, David and Lisa adopted their two children, ages five and eight, and Lisa chose to become a full-time mom. “I joke that most of my thirties are a total blur because I was raising children. I think, for a lot of women, we look back and think, ‘Wait! Where did that 10 years go?’”
The time may also have been fuzzy because her mom passed away only six months after the adoptions. Lisa was devastated. “I couldn’t stop crying for two years. I finally found Marion Therapeutic Riding Association, and I went through the therapeutic riding program with them and got better.”
It was through that program she found a love for horses, but her mom’s death also triggered another journey for Lisa. She had been over 300 pounds at the time, and she realized how important it was to be healthy. She worked hard and lost 140 pounds and kept it off for 10 years.
Lisa knows much of the reason she struggled with losing weight was due to her fear of gyms. This was the main motivation for opening a gym with her personal trainer. Their gym catered to small classes, and Lisa taught classes focusing on obesity and seniors. “It was a really fun five years!”
To Retire or Not To Retire
“David and I tried to retire at about 44/45. It didn’t stick,” she laughs. So, in August 2020, they created a pop-up art gallery called ArtCastle. They did not take any commissions or fees until they re-opened in February 2021 as a for-profit gallery called NOMA Gallery. “The support and embrace we’ve gotten from the community [have] been almost overwhelming.”
Lisa and David are committed to the arts, and they utilize The David & Lisa Midgett (DLM) Foundation to help create a stronger arts community in Ocala. The NOMA Gallery quotes them as follows, “Art provides us unique perspectives, inspires personal creativity, and allows us to experience universal emotions in new ways. Real art ties us to our senses and humanity like nothing else.
There is so much beauty in the world, and the artist who taps into unconscious wisdom, or communicates timeless feeling, or expresses new thoughts, will always deserve our support and admiration. Community support of the arts fosters creativity, goodness, and beauty. It brings us together, builds bridges, and reinforces our values.”
One of Lisa’s greatest wishes is to see her “favorite person,” now three years old, grow up to be a happy and successful person, and perhaps help Lisa run the DLM Foundation one day.