We know there’s no easy way to completely divorce yourself from shopping online or even visiting a dreaded big-box store from time to time. But nothing feels quite as nice as keeping your holiday spending close to home — so we’re here to sing its praises. Thanks to a steady stream of weekly and monthly gatherings like Brick’s Sunday Market (noon-5pm Sundays), 5 Points Market (6-10pm second Fridays) and SoFlo Market (10am-4pm second Saturdays), not to mention the growing wealth of area farmers' markets, buying directly from San Antonio artists, artisans, makers, growers, crafters and collectors has never been simpler. From seasonal favorites like the Esperanza’s Peace Market and the Southwest School of Art’s Articopia to newcomers such as High Five Shop and Chica Verde, the markets and retailers highlighted in this feature represent some (not all) of our favorite ways to support the creative folks helping define and celebrate San Antonio’s truly original spirit.
Zonarte: El Mercado de Aztlan
Founded in 1977, the community-based organization Centro Cultural Aztlan is dedicated to preserving, developing and promoting Chicano/Latino art and culture. Known for sprawling celebrations of the Virgen de Guadalupe, Día de los Muertos and lowrider culture, the Deco District mainstay lights up the holiday season with Zonarte: El Mercado de Aztlan. Uniting more than 40 artists and artisans from across the state, the weekend gathering promises handmade gifts, original prints, paintings, sculptures, jewelry, textiles and one-of-kind-treasures “for those family members and friends that are hard to shop for.”
Free, 6-9pm Fri, Nov. 18, 10am-6pm Sat, Nov. 19 & Sun, Nov. 20, Centro Cultural Aztlan, 1800 Fredericksburg Road, Suite 103, (210) 432-1896, centroaztlan.org.
Mission Marquee Holiday Market
Hosted by the City of San Antonio World Heritage Office, Mission Marquee Plaza’s first-ever holiday market promises a full day of family-oriented fun that kicks off with yoga and zumba sessions (9am) and wraps with an outdoor double feature (6-9pm) pairing the 2013 animated feature Free Birds (following two time-traveling turkeys bent on preventing Thanksgiving from ever happening) and the 2003 Christmas comedy Elf (starring Will Ferrell as an orphan who’s raised as an elf on the North Pole). Besides browsing for original gifts from area vendors such as Gonzales Handmade, Smokin’ Beards and Poodle in Pink, attendees can learn the ins and outs of making tamales and wreaths, shop for local produce, take in a cooking demo led by Mercados de O’liva and enjoy live music by Armando Martinez.
The Esperanza Peace and Justice Center is once again presenting the truly splendid Mercado de Paz, now in its 27th year. A local mainstay for fans of all manner of arts and crafts, the Mercado de Paz is a whole lot more than just a weekend pop-up arts fair. As stated on the nonprofit’s website, the Mercado de Paz combines the arts with considerations of “economic sustainability, international exchange and social consciousness.” What else would you expect from the consistently active team at Esperanza?
The indoor/outdoor event is family-friendly and, starting on Black Friday, provides a conscionable, community-centered alternative to the biggest corporate shopping days of the year. This year’s Mercado will feature more than 100 international and local artists/artisans, live music provided by local performers, and tons of food choices, including vegetarian and vegan options. In summary, the annual tradition is an ideal go-to, whether you’re looking to bolster your art collection, score some points for the proletariat in the grand battle against our capitalist overlords, snag some one-of-a-kind gifts, catch some live music, occupy the kiddos for the day, or simply hang out and avoid the rest of your family.
Free, 10am-6pm Fri, Nov. 25, 10am-6pm Sat, Nov. 26, noon-6pm Sun, Nov. 27, Esperanza Peace and Justice Center, 922 San Pedro Ave., (210) 228-0201, esperanzacenter.org.
The Southwest School of Art’s Articopia holiday bazaar returns for another year, filling the campus’ Coates Chapel with unique and handmade objects ideal for all your gifting needs. Vendors run the gamut from letterpress prints to modern apparel and home decor. For the environmentally conscious, Casey Galloway’s Hand Eye Textiles take shape in scratch-made shawls that use fibers she colors using natural dyes then hand-weaves into finished garments— the holy grail for crunchy fashionistas. Boyd’s Farm’s bath and body products are organic, vegan, and scented with essential oils, providing a gentle clean without harsh chemicals. If you’re looking for gifts with a sense of humor, BarbacoApparel’s cheeky screen-printed tees will allow you to immortalize your bestie’s taco order so that you never forget it again, and Tattoo & Love Letters’ punny greeting cards will delight your goofy pen pal. The more re ned among us will enjoy Loyalty & Blood’s geometric jewelry designs and Guten Co.’s minimalist ceramics. This year also introduces the Feral Cat Collective, featuring items made by the school’s BFA students. Southwest School of Art Members will have access to an exclusive preview from 5-6pm on Friday for an hour of V.I.P. shopping, after which the rest of us can get our shop on.
Free, 6-9pm Fri, Dec. 2, 10am-5pm Sat, Dec. 3, Southwest School of Art, Coates Chapel, 300 Augusta St., (210) 224-1848, swschool.org.