In our annual attempt to divert your dollars away from e-tail giants and put them in the pockets of local artists, artisans and makers, we compiled a list of 15 homegrown gift ideas that range from books to baubles, prints to planters, and collages to "crying" flowerpots.
Arte del Pueblo: The Outdoor Public Art of San Antonio
An impressive collaboration between accomplished photographer Frederick R. Preston and decorated poet and author Carmen Tafolla, Arte del Pueblo takes a broad look at the Alamo City's ever-evolving public art landscape. Released in October by Schiffer Publishing, the coffee table book celebrates the vibrant work of local organizations — San Anto Cultural Arts (SACA), Public Art San Antonio, Birds of a Feather and the San Antonio Street Art Initiative (SASAI) among them. All while exploring pervasive themes such as our waterways, Mexican American cultural identity, and ranching and military history. In addition to engaging photographs and insightful passages illustrating anything from SACA's End Barrio Warfare mural to Margarita Cabrera's immersive Árbol de Vida sculpture and even Bob "Daddy-O" Wade's supersize cowboy boots, Arte del Pueblo includes artist spotlights and suggested routes for self-guided tours. $39.99, The Twig Book Shop, 306 Pearl Parkway, (210) 826-6411, thetwig.com.
Clown Heart Studios totes
San Antonio creatives Edgar Castañeda and Kassidy Lugo channel their shared love for clowns into the aptly named Clown Heart Studios — a homegrown outfit specializing in screen-printed T-shirts and totes. Regulars at Brick Sunday Market, the DIY duo prints their clowny merch old-school style — at home. "We're trying to come up with a new design every week or so," Lugo said. Terrified of clowns? Have no fear: they're contemplating expanding their repertoire with yet another polarizing character: the mime. "Yeah, mimes are cool," Lugo said without a hint of irony. $10, Brick Sunday Market (noon-5 p.m. Sundays), Brick at Blue Star, 108 Blue Star, (210) 262, 8653, instagram.com/clownheartstudios.
Green Thumb Gal planters
Denise Zapata scours thrift stores for vintage ceramic vessels to upcycle into quirky planters for her pop-up retail concept Green Thumb Gal. During a recent visit to her table at Brick Sunday Market, her wares included succulents and houseplants potted in a camel teapot, a cowboy boot mug and a monkey cookie jar. Zapata prices her pieces depending on the size and age of the containers and selects plants she finds to be hearty. "I like to use low-maintenance plants," she said. "I don't want anyone to need to go buy a humidifier." $20-$75, Brick Sunday Market (noon-5 p.m. Sundays), Brick at Blue Star, 108 Blue Star, (210) 262, 8653, instagram.com/green_thumbgal.
Katie Pell: All She Had to Say
Although best celebrated for her free-spirited take on contemporary art — which is represented in the collections of the McNay Art Museum, Ruby City and the San Antonio Museum of Art — late San Antonio artist Katie Pell (1965-2019) had a distinct and irreverent way with words. Compiled by Slab Cinema co-founder Angela Martinez and published by San Antonio-based studio French & Michigan, this slim but impactful volume includes a poignant introduction by esteemed local poet Jenny Browne, a portrait of the artist by photographer Ramin Samandari and quotes pulled from interviews, conversations, lectures and her own text-based work. A keeper extracted from her Current interview with Gary Sweeney: "Be self-reliant, bold, risky, conniving, ambitious, and most of all, curious." Sales of the book — which is sold via French & Michigan, Artpace and Slab Cinema Arthouse — benefit Pell's daughter Bygoe Zubiate. $20, Slab Cinema Arthouse, 134 Blue Star, (210) 212-9373, slabcinemaarthouse.com.
LaChicharra beetle-wing earrings
When Corpus Christi native Connie Zamorano went away to college in North Carolina, the sound of cicadas singing brought her a surprising sense of solace. "It was the only familiar thing," she said during our recent visit at Brick Sunday Market. That experience played a key role in LaChicharra — an accessories line that's inspired by cicadas but welcomes other insects into the fold. Among Zamorano's creations are enamel firefly pins that glow in the dark, Luna moth stickers and delicate earrings she crafts from iridescent beetle wings and upcycled findings. $20, Brick Sunday Market (noon-5 p.m. Sundays), Brick at Blue Star, 108 Blue Star, (210) 262, 8653, etsy.com/shop/lachicharra.
Little Shop of Hollies hand-painted T-shirts
With a thoughtful eye on the environmental impact of textile production, Abilene-based artist Hollie Brown transforms pre-existing materials into wearable works of art she sells under the umbrella of Little Shop of Hollies. Stocked locally by the smartly curated shop at Artpace, the upcycled T-shirts she adorns with hand-painted patterns and designs can be boxy, oversized, even cropped — making them particularly relevant in a fashion landscape increasingly inspired by the 1990s. $85-$100, Artpace, 445 N. Main Ave., (210) 212-4900, artpace.org.
Michael Guerra Foerster 'crying' flower pots
San Antonio-based ceramic artist Michael Guerra Foerster takes a decidedly untraditional approach to selling his work. During his 2022 Artpace exhibition "Every Time We Say Goodbye," he gave his work away to anyone who pulled an arcade-style ticket from the mouth of one of his cartoonish creations. While his latest ceramic offering — a flowerpot that "cries when watered" — is available for purchase at Curator Coffee, Foerster will also be giving some away during his forthcoming exhibition at Brick at Blue Star on Dec. 2. $50, Curator Coffee, 2923 Thousand Oaks Drive, Suite 4, (210) 538-5155, curatorcoffee.com.
Michelle Trahan Carson collages
Born in South Louisiana and based in San Antonio, Michelle Trahan Carson is a self-described "history junkie" who creates imaginative collages and encaustic paintings based on vintage ephemera. A prominent fixture in design maven D'Ette Cole's Austin Highway emporium GOOD goods, Carson's whimsical work encompasses collages that range from greeting-card size to frame-worthy wall art — and a fair amount of it marries nostalgic food items with fashionable beauties plucked from the Atomic Age. $35-$275, GOOD goods, 1055 Austin Highway, (210) 606-7334, goodgoodstx.com.
Miraflores: San Antonio's Mexican Garden of Memory
A labor of love six years in the making, writer Anne Elise Urrutia's Trinity University Press book Miraflores employs archival photographs, maps, diagrams and a research-driven narrative to offer a virtual tour of the sprawling garden her great-grandfather Aureliano Urrutia began creating in 1921. Once dotted with impressive fountains, talavera benches, monumental sculptures and trabajo-rústico fixtures, Miraflores sadly decayed through changes in ownership over decades. Although the enigmatic landmark has been owned by the City of San Antonio since 2006 and cited as having "great potential as a restoration candidate," Urrutia painstakingly recreated it in book form in case it never gets authentically restored. $32.99, The Twig Bookshop, 306 Pearl Parkway, Suite 106, (210) 826-6411, thetwig.com.
Not for You Gallery prints and paintings
Echoing the irreverent, DIY roots of the Blue Star Arts Complex itself, Not for You Gallery proudly showcases lowbrow, alternative and street-inspired works that are — fittingly — not for everyone. Regardless of the work on display in the gallery, there's always an impulse-buy display of smartly priced prints and paintings by the likes of proprietors Ursula Zavala and Edward Perez along with likeminded co-conspirators such as Connie Chapa, Mauro De La Tierra, Fernando Lopez, Justin French and Abel Aguirre. $10-$100, Not for You Gallery, The Upstairs Studios at Blue Star, 1420 S. Alamo St., Studio 215, notforyougallery.com.
San Antonio landmark ornaments
With the 2017 opening of their Olmos Park flagship Feliz Modern, Mario and Ginger Diaz broke into the San Antonio retail market with flying colors. Since then, the married duo has expanded into two locations at the Pearl: the candy-colored Feliz Modern Pop and its grown-up sister Rancho Diaz, which offers a curated assortment of housewares, Mexican imports, gifts and vintage finds. Always ready to celebrate and decorate, the duo went all in this year by designing a suite of eight papel picado-inspired holiday ornaments modeled after the San Antonio Missions, the River Walk, the Pearl and the Tower of the Americas. $17.95 each, Feliz Modern, 110 W. Olmos Drive, (210) 622-8364, felizmodern.com.
Sarah T. Roberts earrings
Apt for a forward-thinking institution holding ancient relics, the San Antonio Museum of Art tasked local artist and educator Sarah T. Roberts with creating sterling silver earrings based on a piece from its Nelson A. Rockefeller Mexican Folk Art Collection. Directly inspired by a 1940s-era ceramic jar depicting a wide-eyed vaquero on horseback, Roberts' contemporary adaptation is available in a circular design as well as a smaller post. $45-$60, San Antonio Museum of Art Gift Shop, 200 W. Jones Ave., (210) 978-8100, samuseum.org.
'Traitor, Survivor, Icon: The Legacy of La Malinche' exhibition catalog
Organized by the Denver Art Museum and on view at the San Antonio Museum of Art through January 8, "Traitor, Survivor, Icon" offers an expansive examination of La Malinche — an enslaved indigenous girl who served as a translator for Hernán Cortés during the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire and eventually became the mother of his first-born son. The exhibition's stranger-than-fiction storyline is reflected in works that span decades and artistic movements — from Jesús Helguera's 1941 oil painting that appeared on countless calendars to San Antonio-born César Martínez's 1988 rendition that draws parallels between La Malinche and the operatic seductress Carmen. $50, San Antonio Museum of Art Gift Shop, 200 W. Jones Ave., (210) 978-8100, samuseum.org.
'True Believers: Benny Andrews & Deborah Roberts' exhibition catalog
Building on their shared subject matter and distinct takes on collage, the McNay paired artists Benny Andrews (1930-2006) and Austin-based Deborah Roberts for "True Believers" — a dual exhibition on view through February 5. While Andrews focused on overlooked characters in tactile paintings that often incorporated fabric layers, Roberts is an admitted Andrews fan who builds mixed-media stories rooted in childhood and Black life in the United States. $30, McNay Art Museum Gift Shop, 6000 N. New Braunfels Ave., (210) 824-5368, mcnayart.org.
Vacilando Studios quilts
Founded by self-taught crafter Laura Preston, Vacilando Studios is a Texas Hill Country-based operation that's been applauded by the likes of Oprah Daily, New York Magazine and Architectural Digest. Launched as a mobile quilting studio, Vacilando has since expanded into a nationwide network of seamstresses who fuse old-school traditions and design-forward practices while creating covetable pillows, totes, wall hangings and jackets. $60-$1,195, vacilandostudios.com.