A group of carolers sing ‘Jingle Bells’ to visitors at the Magnolia Art Experience Art Walk at the Magnolia United Church of Christ.
A group of carolers sing ‘Jingle Bells’ to visitors at the Magnolia Art Experience Art Walk at the Magnolia United Church of Christ.

A group of Magnolia residents spent Saturday night walking up and down McGraw Street to view and sometimes buy local art.

The Magnolia Art Experience (MAX) and Magnolia Chamber of Commerce Art Walk is every three months and involves many local artists, crafters and small businesses.

“MAX was formed on the idea that inside everyone is a creative person that needs to be expressed,” said MAX spokesperson Camberly Gilmartin.

MAX is a 3-year-old nonprofit that focuses on helping anyone who creates in Magnolia flourish. For MAX members, art is more than oil paintings and ceramics; it includes unique items and crafts that are not always considered art.

During Saturday’s art walk, MAX focused on quilts from the Magnolia Quilters club and displayed blankets, wall hangings, purses and more quilted items at the Magnolia United Church of Christ. The church was the first stop on the art walk. Visitors were able to come to the church for appetizers and caroling while perusing the quilted pieces.

“Many quilters don’t consider what they do an art,” Gilmartin said. “Some are staunchly against calling it an art. But, recently one of the quilters sold a piece for $750 at an art walk. I think that boosted their confidence and made them realize they are artists in their own way.”

Fabric artist Ruth Beckett is one of the founding members of the Magnolia Quilters.

“There was an ad about 10 years ago in the newspaper for a quilting class for beginners,” Beckett said. “And I had been quilting for about 40 years, so I didn’t want a class but I went to meet others. Because when you have a class, the students have so much fun they create a group, and that’s what happened. We have grown ever since.”

The quilting group meets at the Magnolia United Church of Christ regularly to create beautiful quilts for sale and for personal use. There are about 12 members who participate in the Magnolia Quilters.
Beckett said the tactile and geometric side of quilting is what drew her to the art.

“It started out that women were not accepted as artists, so they started quilting,” Beckett said. “And then, in the late 1980s, when people started paying for quilts, quilters became more respected.”

Many of the Magnolia Quilters members are also members of MAX.

Past Magnolia resident Scott Ward, who was the community liaison for the Magnolia United Church of Christ, founded MAX.

“He and his partner had a shop here,” Beckett said. “He’s an artist … so he started the Narthex Gallery and then he started MAX as a nonprofit. There are so many artists in Magnolia, the idea was how many artists can you get together without going over the bridge.”

MAX began offering classes, shows and opportunities to Magnolia residents interested in expanding their artistic talents.

“It’s supporting art for everybody, because everybody should be able to do something,” Beckett said.

MAX has been hosting the Art Walk for two years. After visiting the starting gallery at the church, visitors are given a map of the shopping center on McGraw Street, highlighting the participating stores and vendors in the walk. Eleven shops participated and featured local painters, printers, woodworkers, sculptors, jewelry makers and mixed-media artists on Nov. 24.

The next MAX Art Walk will be held on Jan. 26. The art walk is regularly held on the third Saturday of the month. For more information on MAX’s Art Walks, visit magnoliaartexperience.org.