The pandemic has canceled, postponed, and crushed so many things—from events to businesses to relationships. But one thing it simply can’t destroy is art.
In fact, in some ways, art has flourished as artists find new ways to connect that don’t involve live audiences. Ballerinas pirouetting in their apartments, musicians turning their closets into sound studios, actors taking their talents to TikTok, and painters creating beauty out of despair wherever they can.
Then there are the organizers, promoters, and curators who transport us virtually to the artists, assuring that we don’t miss even a drop of the magic being crafted. Magen Pastor, 34, is one of those pied pipers.
Originally from Tomball, Pastor claims H-Town as her own. “Houston is my home state, and where I started my first all-femxle art gallery pop-up,” she says. The word ‘femxle’ and ‘womxn’ appear frequently in Pastor’s writing, as they avoid the suffix “man” and help “recognize womanhood in a more gender-inclusive way.”
Growing up, Pastor wanted to be a fashion designer. So she attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles for product development, and worked for Project Runway winner Chloe Dao in Houston after she graduated.
But instead of fashion, it was the art world that ended up capturing Pastor’s heart.
“I grew up around chickens and clay,” Pastor says, noting that her mother is an artist and ceramicist. “When I was a kid, she would tell me there are no mistakes in art—a theme I took with me throughout my life. [After] growing up around femxl artists, I realized I could use my marketing background to really elevate their work. So I took a year to really figure out how I could be of service to them. Then I got an opportunity to host a pop-up during one of the craziest times in the world—the pandemic.”
Pastor’s first pop-up art gallery in Rice Village, which she named Inside Her Studio, was dedicated to showcasing the work of female-identifying individuals. The late-2020 endeavor was so successful that she decided to take the concept on the road. Her latest pop-up is in Denver, where she now lives with her fiancée, artist Laura Goodson.
Goodson was raised in Southwest Texas, not far from the Mexico border. “I started painting to capture the heart of my partner, and I continue to paint to liberate my soul. My work is a modern representation of Americana/Western figures of the past, and occasionally their unforgiving landscapes,” she explains.
Bold hat-wearing cowboys, bandits, and outlaws dominate her monochromatic work, with its single brush strokes and hard shadowing to emphasize physical pain and grit. Goodson’s artwork is now available on Pastor’s Inside Her Studio website.
Pastor proposed to Goodson last year (before the pandemic lockdown) at an art show. “We had this group piece that was in a show. It was based off of our love story, so I thought it was the perfect time to surprise Laura and ask her to marry me! She was so stunned—we had been so busy with art shows and holiday travel that she had no idea,” Pastor recalls.
Helping womxn create self-sustaining careers with digital galleries for online sales is the primary focus of Pastor’s work. “I help businesses create and support their community by producing in-person pop-ups and curated art walks. You can define my niche as ‘a business marketing consultant for femxle artists and brands looking to create community.’”
Pastor is also the mother of twin girls and serves as the brand manager for Vivian Pastor Art and Laura Goodson Art. And she owns and manages an Airbnb rental property in Uvalde County, Texas, called Hat Hill Hideaway.
With pandemic restrictions still in flux, Pastor believes that art continues to be more critical than ever. “In a world that has become so fast, art creates a space where you can pause for a few minutes a day to just take in a big, deep breath and stare. Art really makes a home feel warm—and in a time where everyone is working from home, that’s become so crucial.”
If Pastor had one wish when it comes to art, it would be for people to stop buying art from craft stores. “Either pick up a brush or buy from a local artist in your community! You can find local art in all different price ranges. I’ll always have a digital gallery, so you can go to insideherstudio.com to find a femxle artist to support.”
For more info, visit insideherstudio.com.
This article appears in the September 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.