•   


    Countdown to the 2020 Diversity Summit:

     

  • MBJ-Web-Banner.jpg
  • #MyMGM: Local Art Sold Here

    • Share:
    A downtown shop is shining the spotlight on Montgomery’s vibrant artist and maker community.

    Southern Art & Makers Collective features and sells an array of work from local artists and other creators of handmade goods. The current location on Madison Avenue is the evolution of an idea that goes back to 2013, when Heather Parrish and Joe Birdwell opened a temporary location during the holiday shopping season. “We started out as a holiday popup in December 2013,” Parrish said. “We ran that every year until we became a brick and mortar in December 2017.”
     
    A former art teacher, Parrish said she knew many people who had a side hustle. Art wasn’t their primary means of income, but they loved creating. The popup shop and now the brick-and-mortar location have given them a place to have their work seen. “They want to make the stuff – not worry about marketing it or selling it,” Parrish said.
     
    The original shop name, Product of Montgomery, was changed to the current name in 2019 when Birdwell decided to let go of his ownership role. Today, Parrish, a painter and mixed media artist, shares ownership with Melody White, a candlemaker and jewelry maker, and Aleah Goode, a painter and jewelry artist. Vendors rent space within the shop for their displays and are responsible for their own setup. The number of vendors tends to be fluid but typically ranges between 60 to 70 each month. The artists and craftspeople are generally local to the River Region or have a connection to Alabama.

    “Art has a way – even functional art – of connecting the community,” Parrish said. “This is a good representation of people who live here making what they make, doing what they do.” The art, she said, is part of who they are. “What are they
    thinking? How are they responding to the world around them?”
     
    She added that when she’s drinking a beverage from a handmade mug, she feels good about her purchase. She also likes the practical aspect of helping someone pay their bills. “Being able to support local people – that means a lot to me,” she said.
     
    The shop displays works created by painters, potters, woodworkers, authors, jewelry designers, as well as fiber and paper artists. “We do ask that it be handmade in some kind of way, that you have personally had some hand in creating this thing. We don’t sell art that I don’t know who has made it,” Parrish said.
     
    The artists also have classroom space where they can host talks and workshops. “We wanted to create a place where artists felt like they had a support system,” Parrish said. “We really want to develop and foster community.”
     
    Janice Prescott, one of the shop’s first vendors, is a potter who displays a number of functional pieces, including serving bowls, vases, place settings and mugs, as well as more unique or abstract pieces. Though she grew up in Alabama and has been back in Montgomery for a while, Prescott lived in New York City for 30 years and worked as an editor. While there, she took classes in pottery. “It’s a passion for me. I do it because I love it,” she said.
     
    She enjoys having this location to display her pottery. “As an artist, you need a place where you can show your wares,” she said. It also gives artists a way to develop a clientele. “Montgomery really needed a place like that.” In addition, it meets the needs of shoppers looking for unique items. “There’s something special about things that are handmade,” she said.

    Carl Calderone, a watercolorist, has been a vendor for about a year. His watercolor paintings feature a variety of subjects, including seascapes, hunting motifs, pets, hunting dogs, pointers, boats, pelicans and jazz musicians. “It’s a pretty good range of things,” Calderone said. He also displays hand-painted cigar boxes and book marks. In the latter case, he explained that if he messes up a painting, instead of wasting the water color paper, he’ll tear it into strips, paint it as a bookmark and add Bible verse or inspirational message on the back.
     
    Calderone is appreciative of the atmosphere at the collective. He noted that the space is very welcoming and not pretentious or stuffy. “The folks at Southern Art and Makers are really great people,” he said. Having worked as part of the construction industry his whole life, being an artist is not his full-time profession. “It’s really a ministry,” he said. “All the money generated from any of the paintings I do goes to charity.”
     
    GO SEE YOURSELF
    Southern Art and Makers Collective, located at 1228 Madison Avenue, is open Wednesday through Saturday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Currently, Wednesday openings are by appointment only. Visit southernartmakers.com to see some of the inventory online, and follow on Instagram at @southernartmakers.
    Leave a Comment
    * Required field