The art community is growing in the Tomball and Magnolia areas as more studios and public art spaces have opened, local artists said. Artists have begun looking for community locally in addition to the opportunities available in Houston, said Jessie Stevens, the owner of The Grounds 1488 in Magnolia.

“I’ve had a lot of people who come up here and are really just looking for other artists and a community place to spend time together,” Stevens said.

The Bella Bottega, a fine arts studio, and Woodland Lane Ceramics, a ceramics studio, opened in Magnolia this year. Additionally, Tomball commissioned a downtown mural that wrapped up this summer.

Eric Sundin, assistant director of DaVinci Artists Gallery in downtown Tomball, said he believes more people are beginning to value local art. DaVinci’s Artists Gallery showcases the work of 15-16 local artists each month.

“We get people in [the gallery] that haven’t collected art before but see the value in finding local artists and being able to support those artists,” Sundin said.

COVID-19 effects

The art community was negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, said Beth Weaver, the show chair for the Tomball Art League. Weaver said the art league had to cancel its meetings and art shows, and its membership was cut about in half during the pandemic. Weaver said organizations such as the Tomball Art League, which was organized in 1983, are important to promote art in the community and to provide a space for artists.

“The artists have to support each other, or we won’t make it,” Weaver said.

However, some artists, such as Stevens, were able to use the pandemic to continue creating art in new ways. She said she started The Grounds 1488—a nonprofit supporting arts with a collection of murals on old buildings behind The Studio 1488—in 2020.

Stevens said there were about 15 consistent artists working on the murals during the pandemic with up to 30 artists working at a time.

“It was just super cool to see the community come together,” Stevens said. “Maybe two of the people who were out there painting murals really considered themselves artists, and that was just so exciting to see people not afraid to try something that’s big and scary like a mural.”

Cultivating community

Kimber Hardick, co-owner of The Bella Bottega, said the area is lacking affordable fine arts studios, which is why she and her husband started their art studio on Honea Egypt Road.

“We’re hoping that we can be a blueprint for other property owners for how to create something that’s affordable and works for the art community,” Hardick said.

Hardick said she and her husband have seen the availability of art grow since moving to Magnolia two years ago. She said she hopes the community continues to grow so artists can stay local.

“We really have to become another art hub destination as opposed to always having to go to Houston or wait for the big shows,” Hardick said.

In Tomball, the city commissioned a mural on the side of its information center at 215 W. Main St., which was completed this summer and had finishing touches added in November, said Mike Baxter, director of marketing and tourism. Baxter said the idea behind investing in a mural was to incentivize other businesses in downtown to commission similar artwork. He said the mural has become an attraction.

“It’s really cool to see how many people come in and pose for pictures in front of this thing,” Baxter said.