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Creative Gifting: What to Get the Art Lover in Your Life 

click to enlarge Los Dinos T-shirt - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Los Dinos T-shirt

When shopping for the artists and art lovers in your life, don’t fall into the trap of searching for something precious that needs to be hung on the wall or displayed on a pedestal. With an abundance of artist-made offerings available from holiday markets and local retailers (see this week’s cover story), creative options abound — and many fall within the realm of the affordable. A short, snappy wish list that can easily be rounded out with ideas found elsewhere in this issue, the items below reflect current desires for gifts that are useful, wearable, whimsical — and offer a needed dose of comic relief.

Artpace Membership Since it’s always free to visit, purchasing an Artpace membership might not make a lot of sense … until you hear about all the perks offered by Artpace Alliance members. Directly benefiting Artpace’s contemporary exhibitions, artist residencies and educational programs, basic memberships ($35-$50) grant cardholders access to special events like the beloved KRTU Rooftop Jazz Series. Spread across 20-plus venues around town, bonuses take shape in discounts ranging from 10 percent off purchases at Bakery Lorraine, sloan/hall, MBS Spa, Run Wild Sports and 5 Points Local to even bigger deals at El Mirador (20 percent off an entire meal), The Esquire Tavern (20 percent off cocktails with entree purchase) and Feast (one free drink from the “Court Cocktails” menu with entree purchase). $35-$50, Artpace, 445 N. Main Ave., (210) 212-4900,

BarbacoApparel Los Dinos T-shirt With representation at the San Antonio Museum of Art gift shop, Leighelena, Roo & Me and Whole Earth Provisions stores across Texas, not to mention an online marketplace billed as “San Antonio’s officially unofficial stop for T-shirts, art prints, and so much more,” homegrown outfit BarbacoApparel is poised for big-time success. Possibly best known for novelty tees emblazoned with such winning breakfast taco combinations as “Bean & Cheese” and “Chorizo & Egg,” designer Nydia Huizar and her creative crew also have a talent for tributes, evidenced by designs toasting the likes of local news anchor Randy Beamer, iconic painter Frida Kahlo and flamboyant astrologer Walter Mercado. Destined to become a local favorite this holiday season, their new Selena design — available as a print ($15), T-shirt ($24) or sticker ($2) — makes an amusing reference to the band the Queen of Tejano fronted, Los Dinos. $24,

Scrappiez Patchworks No two creations are alike in the offbeat world of Michele Morrill, a self-taught fiber artist and “all-around crafty diva” who’s admittedly obsessed with patchwork. Boasting 20-plus years of experience between “various creative pursuits,” Morrill won us over with her Scrappiez Patchworks — bizarre little beasties and rag dolls covered in mismatched fabrics and adorned with ribbons, buttons and yarn. Although reminiscent of Uglydolls, castoffs from the Tim Burton universe or perhaps Raggedy Ann gone wrong, Morrill’s one-of-a-kind critters are entirely original in their design and execution — and each comes with a name (like Petronilla, Rowena, Bernadette or Boogey Man) to match its peculiar personality. $15-$25, Choice Goods Gallery, 108 Blue Star (entrance in alley behind Brick), (210) 858-2361,

Tatum Originals Messenger Bags Whether you’re drawn to his work or not, there’s no denying that Southtown fixture Robert Tatum has established a signature aesthetic that’s reflected in his murals, commercial signs. prints and T-shirts. Simultaneously cartoonish and irreverent, the California-born artist’s unique take on animals — often endowed with human characteristics — is exemplified by the likes of a Felix the Cat-esque feline with a mermaid tail, a bird plucking an eyeball out of its own head, and a puppy prepped to take a bong hit. A fairly new addition to the mix of offerings at his Choice Goods Gallery, Tatum’s sturdy, animal-adorned messenger bags ($40) strike a winning balance in that they’re equally suited for anyone from a cool grandma to a rebellious tween. $40, Choice Goods Gallery, 108 Blue Star (entrance in alley behind Brick), (210) 858-2361,

click to enlarge COURTESY
  • Courtesy

“Telling Tales”
Easily among the year’s most memorable exhibitions, the McNay’s “Telling Tales: Contemporary Narrative Photography” comprises 50-plus images by 17 revered photographers, including such contemporary masters as Nan Goldin, Gregory Crewdson, Philip-Lorca diCorcia and Jeff Wall. Organized by the McNay’s own René Paul Barilleaux, the assembled photographs address everything from class differences and marginalized communities to social justice and the onset of the AIDS epidemic. Once the survey comes down in January, its fascinating, mysterious and troubling threads endure in this 88-page catalog featuring an introduction by Barilleaux and essays by historians Gregory J. Harris and Lucy Soutter. $25, McNay Art Museum, 6000 N. New Braunfels Ave., (210) 824-5368,

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January 26, 2022

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