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Doug Garza has been a Magnolia resident for nearly 25 years and has always been active in the art community. In April, he had the opportunity to fulfill one of his lifelong dreams: having his own space to create and teach art. 

The Paper Mache World of Doug Garza was born at 3139 W. Government Way in the north end of Magnolia, where a magic shop was previously located. “I’m still figuring out the space,” Garza explained. “My plan is to do classes…. I used to have get-togethers with my friends…. We used to just create, and I’d like to get that going again.” 

A lesson in patience

Creating art in one form or another has always been a part of Garza’s life. “I have been doing something [artistically] forever… I have worked with wood,” he explained as he referenced mobiles he made on the ceiling. “I’ve worked with fabric called Cloud Kids; they were actually manufactured by a kite company,” he said. 

Most recently, Garza has taken to working with papier mache. 

“I came home with this idea to try it again,” he explained. “I grew up with papier mache, but it was really messy…that’s the first thing I get from everybody.” 

To avoid the mess and simplify the process, Garza began using colored tissue paper and paintbrushes to apply the papier mache. “You can see how clean the process is…. It’s kind of blown people away with how easy it is now, how clean it is. It’s nothing like how I remember,” he said. 

Overall, however, Garza has learned that the key to papier mache is not in the type of materials used but rather in patience. “That’s the first thing I tell people, anyone who comes in, especially if they’re young: You have to wait; you have to let them dry. Otherwise, you’ll have a wet ball of paper.”

Community exposure

A three-time participant and placer in the Magnolia Summerfest Art Show, Garza has become a staple in Magnolia’s art community. To support his artistic endeavors, he has worked at the Ace Hardware store in Magnolia for more than seven years. “They are really supportive,” Garza said of the store and its employees. “Usually, they let me display whenever there is room in the windows.” 

Throughout the year, a small display of Garza’s creative and off-the-wall creations can usually be seen in the hardware store and at Serendipity Café and Lounge on West McGraw Street. 

“Every place I have worked, the owners have been real supportive…. When I first started doing this, I was at the Pike Place Market and I was making gelato for a friend,” Garza recalled. “He let me display. He had a great window, and I got a lot of exposure there, had a lot of collectors interested.”

Along with creating original artworks, teaching art, Garza explained, has been one of the focal points of his efforts. 

“I have taught for all ages,” he said, “I’ve done preschool — it’s just gearing [the lesson] for time and age.” 

Many adults have also found Garza’s papier mache classes to be uniquely challenging and creative. Tim Clark, an associate of Garza’s at the hardware store, has become a student of his. “I used to go to his shop, and we would all sit down and make things,” he said, “and now I am confident enough that I could make them on my own.” 

Uniquely, almost all of the materials used by Garza are recycled. “I use everything,” he said, “anything you can recycle. I use a lot of Styrofoam, Christmas ornaments, cardboard…, and people bring me things.” 

Garza “teaches you to look at things in a different way,” Clark said, “looking at things that we recycle and would throw away and say, ‘Oh, that looks like a fish,’ so we save a lot of things around here now.” 

Looking ahead, Garza hopes to transition into spending more time creating and teaching art and utilizing his new store as a community and creative space. He is in his store Mondays and Tuesdays and is available by appointment. For more information, call (206) 282-8590

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