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Magic City Makers Collective wrapping up first project in Billings

Mural and free library in front of ZooMontana
Christina Logan working on the mural
Posted at 5:59 PM, Jun 16, 2023

BILLINGS — A new group in Billings is working to beautify the town through art. On Friday, it added some finishing touches to its first project in the Magic City.

Magic City Makers Collective is a new way for artists in town to come together and make art. It was created in 2022 but recently began its first project.

“I’ve had this idea probably for a year now. I would say I kind of facilitated it last year about August, so it was kind of like the end of the summer. So we’re trying to kick off this summer, and this was our first project with ‘Reclaim Billings with Art’. We’re going to try to hit the library next after this," said Christina Larson, the president and founder of the collective, on Friday. “I’m not from here, so this is kind of like me putting in my little installment if you will, my little place."

Christina Larson
Christina Larson

The group's current project, 'Reclaim Billings with Art', aims to engage the community through new art installations. The first step in the project is a mural and free library outside of ZooMontana, located at 2100 Shiloh Road.

"We came (to the zoo) on Mother’s Day. I reached out to them, and I was like, ‘Hey, I want to put in a little mini library.’ And they’re like, ‘Hey, we’re looking for someone to do a mural too.’ And I’m like, ‘Let’s do it.’ So this completely worked out perfectly for us," Larson said. "We’re hoping this gives us the attention going forward for the next few years donation-wise and that type of thing. We want to continue in the community involvement and getting others to donate and help, so we can keep expanding and keep accepting more and doing more."

Larson said the community has supported the group this week through donations.

“The minute I started reaching out to everyone, they were like, ‘Oh, this is an awesome idea, how can we help?’ So yeah, we’re definitely more than appreciative for everyone that put in and helped us up,” Larson said. “We got all of our paint donated by Sherwin Williams. We’re going to be doing a little mini library up here at the front also, and we got all the stuff donated from Lowe’s for that. We got our lunch donated today from Rocket Wraps. It was awesome to kind of reach into the community."

Working on the mural
Working on the mural

According to Larson, the collective is looking for more artists to join.

“We’re all encompassing right now. We’re not like a clique like the other places we’ve kind of all seen. I’m accepting everyone right now. We have a wide range of creators and makers," Larson said. “It’s been awesome to see everybody creatively come together. We’re not just doing this, we’re doing Makers Markets too out at 406 Events Lawn. We’re trying to facilitate makers and creatives in the community to come together and help."

Larson isn't alone in this project. Another local artist, Ruby Hahn, said she is excited to be spearheading the mural at the zoo.

“I love color. So I wanted something to be like in your face, eye-catching,” Hahn said. “I’m just very happy to be a part of this."

Hahn grew up in Billings and got her degree at Montana State University-Billings in 2017. Now, she’s creating art in her hometown with the Magic City Makers Collective.

“It’s really cool to be able to beautify something that I used to walk by and it used to be just like cement," Hahn said. "I drafted this idea on like a mock-up canvas, like to scale. I was kind of wondering what I was going to do, just because I’m like, that’s kind of intimidating. It’s 68 feet long and five feet high, so I was like, why don’t I just do like what I do every day, in just like little sections of different little wildlife that’s found inside the zoo. So that’s what I did."

Ruby Hahn
Ruby Hahn

The mural features different animals found inside of the zoo, and zoo-goers were invited to pick up a paintbrush and help out.

"Even today there were like random kids that were coming up to paint," Hahn said. "Which is really cool because down the road they’ll come to the zoo and be like, ‘Yeah, I painted that.’"

The zoo-goers jumped on the opportunity to participate.

Zoo-goers helping out
Zoo-goers helping out

"I love seeing the mural and the kids are getting to participate. It’s wonderful,” said Lu Glock, whose children helped paint. “It’s beautiful. It’s just, it makes you smile."

Evoking emotion from the community—something Christina Larson was hoping would come from the installations.

To learn more about Magic City Makers Collective, click here.