Monday, July 27, 2009

Which Way is Southtown? Southtown is featured in this month's Texas Highways magazine.

Which Way is Southtown?

Just beyond San Antonio's attractions waits vibrant community where artists and visitors mingle amiably

By Shermakaye Bass

San Antonio entices travelers from around the world with splashy attractions like the River Walk and SeaWorld, as well as such popular sites as the Alamo and the historic mission trail. But what many visitors—even native Texans—don’t realize is that San Antonio shelters a thriving bohemian district just beyond downtown. Three overlapping neighborhoods (King William, Lavaca and Blue Star), known collectively as Southtown, harbor a welcoming vibe that dovetails centuries of history with modern art-house culture.
Bounded loosely by South Flores and South Presa on the west and east, Durango and Lone Star to the north and south, Southtown is rich with galleries, coffeehouses, hipster dive bars, artists’ compounds, vintage clothing stores, crafts ateliers, family-run taco joints, and chic new bistros (Oloroso, a hottie of the moment). All draw loyal customers, as do longtime favorites Rosario’s, El Mirador, and the stately Guenther House. The result: a vibrant “arts underground” that invites exploration.
Southtown is sophisticated, welcoming, and sprawling: A day-long walking tour isn’t enough to see it all. So, unless you have the legs of Lance Armstrong, it’s wise to employ a combination of transport modes: perhaps a pedicab for King William, the 150-year-old National Historic District founded by German émigrés; your own vehicle for St. Mary’s and South Alamo; and a tram or taxi from downtown to enjoy South Flores.
In the King William Historic District, pick up a walking-tour map from the San Antonio Conservation Society headquarters at 107 King William Street. Southtown encompasses King William, a diverse residential collection of Victorian architecture, and the South Alamo Street/South St. Mary’s Street Historic District, dotted with more modest, late-19th- and early-20th-Century houses. The development of this area parallels San Antonio’s 19th-Century growth, and these days, many structures are beautifully restored and carefully maintained, with styles ranging from Italianate, Neoclassical, and red-tiled-roof Spanish Revival to classic Victorian and Central Texas limestone. Some houses, such as the Ogé House, built in 1857 by Texas Ranger/cattle rancher Louis Ogé, double as bed and breakfasts.
If you’re not up for walking the whole way, hail one of the human-powered pedicabs that circulate in this area.
After visiting The Guenther House restaurant/museum, we forged a diagonal path across South Alamo to the Blue Star Arts Complex. In addition to the namesake gallery, Blue Star Contemporary Art Center (local, national, and international exhibits—always thought-provoking), the renovated warehouses house artist studios, a microbrewery, galleries, lofts, a bike shop, print shops, sundry arty retailers and non-profits, along with JumpStart Performance Co., a groundbreaking theater company that has produced more than 500 performances for 300,000 visitors since it was founded in 1985.
As Hank Lee, owner of the San Angel Folk Art Gallery, says, “The whole Southtown area is the quintessential old, small-town San Antonio. Out-of-towners who stay on the River Walk can get a whole other sense of San Antonio down here. The trolley is only 50 cents, and there’s a stop right at Blue Star.” Lee adds that the area’s bohemian feel is amplified “by locally owned establishments, like Jive Vintage, MadHatters, and La Tuna. You won’t find chain stores or franchise operations down here.”
San Antonio’s Southtown area extends roughly from South Flores to South Presa (west to east), and from Durango to Lone Star (north to south). Find King William District walking tour information at the San Antonio Conservation Society, 107 King William, 210/224-6163. For more on San Antonio, contact the San Antonio Convention and Visitors Bureau at 800/447-3372, or stop by the Visitor Information Center at 317 Alamo Plaza, across from the Alamo. Following is contact information for sites mentioned in the story.
DiningOloroso, 1024 S. Alamo, 210/223-3600.El Mirador, 722 S. St. Mary’s St., 210/225-9444.Rosario’s Mexican Restaurant, 910 S. Alamo, 210/223-1806.Bar America, 723 S. Alamo, 210/223-1285.Blue Star Brewing Company, 1414 S. Alamo, Ste. 105, 210/212-5506.The Guenther House, 205 E. Guenther St., 210/227-1061.La Tuna Grill, 100 Probandt, 210/212-5727.MadHatter’s Tea House and Cafe, 320 Beauregard, 210/212-4832.
LodgingThe Ogé House, 209 Washington, 210/223-2353.
Galleries/ShopsBlue Star Contemporary Art Center, 116 Blue Star, 210/227-6960.Casa Margarita, 730 S. Alamo, 210/222-8444.Fl!ght, 1906 S. Flores, 210/872-2587.Gallista Gallery & Art Studio, 1913 S. Flores, 210/212-8606.Inter-Artisan, 1036 S. Alamo, 210/807-3582.The Jewelry Box, 734 S. Alamo, 210/270-0333.The Jive Refried, 919 S. Alamo, 210/257-5132.Joan Grona Gallery, 112 Blue Star, 210/225-6334.Jump-Start Performance Co., 108 Blue Star, 210/227-5867.LoneStar Studios, 107 Lone Star Blvd.1906 Gallery and Benavides Picture Framing, 1906 S. Flores, 210/227-5718.San Angel Folk Art, 110 Blue Star, 210/226-6688.Unit B, 402 Cedar, 312/375-1871.Vintage House, 628 S. St. Mary’s, #102, 210/299-4774.
See the full article in the August 2009 issue.

Southtown Designers featured in Conexión

By Melissa Rentería - Conexión
San Antonio isn’t home to world-famous designer runways or star-studded fashion shows, but it is home to a group of dedicated and talented artists using fabric and clothing as their canvas.
It being Contemporary Art Month, and with plans underway to launch a fashion week here later this year, Conexión takes a look at some local Latino designers making fashion statements in San Antonio.

Agosto Cuellar
Who he is: The owner of the Southtown vintage shop Jive Refried is a self-taught fashion designer who specializes in deconstructing retro clothes to create an updated and unique look through his namesake label.
His inspiration: Cuellar credits his grandmother, an accomplished seamstress, with sparking his fashion interest when she enlisted his help to cut fabric. His collection of patchwork skirts is a reflection of her style.
Designer cred: He’s auditioned three times for a spot on the reality show “Project Runway,” coming close to being a finalist on the show two seasons ago (he made it to the top 50), and his shop was featured in Elle magazine in May 2005.
Fashion statement: “I’m old school,” he says. “I take old clothing and give it a new soundtrack.”

Henry de la Paz
Who he is: The Brownsville native is a hair stylist and a self-taught fashion designer who calls his creations “urban couture.”
His inspiration: De la Paz started fashion designing when he couldn’t find clothes he liked to wear to dance clubs. He was hooked on fashion after his original designs received compliments from fellow club-goers.
Designer cred: He created two dresses for Colombian rocker Shakira when she visited San Antonio during a 2006 concert stop.Fashion statement: “I do clothes to get my fashion repression out. That’s my art,” he says.

Oswaldo Delgado
Who he is: The Mexican-born designer is a graduate of the University of the Incarnate Word’s fashion design program where he created dress designs for student shows, including the school’s annual Cutting Edge Fiesta Fashion Show.
His inspiration: Delgado credits his mother’s style — and her constant encouragement — with influencing his interest in fashion design.
Designer cred: He was the first-ever recipient of the Most Innovative Collection award at UIW’s Cutting Edge show. He won the honor in 2007.
Fashion statement: Delgado likes using everyday items, including aluminum and latex-coated paper, in his designs.

Angelina Mata
Who she is: The former hairstylist is the creative force behind the city’s annual Art of Fashion show at Blue Star. She sells items from her Reinvintage line of accessories and her namesake ready-to-wear line of higher-end day suits and evening wear at her Southtown studio Euphorium.
Her inspiration: Mata, who learned to sew by making clothes for her Barbie dolls, comes from a family rich in creative people, including artists, hair stylists and musicians.
Designer cred: Mata, who’s a mostly self-taught designer, has studied design and pattern making at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
Fashion statement: Mata calls sewing and designing her therapy.
Rodrigo VirgenWho he is: The Mexican-born designer who has made San Antonio his home since 1985 is known for his hand-painted silks, which he often uses to create one-of-a-kind wedding and evening gowns. He’s also designed a menswear collection of denim pants and shirts.
His inspiration: Virgen started designing clothes at age 10 when he started sketching dresses for paper dolls. At 21, he made his first dress when a friend asked him to sew a dress for her.
Designer cred: He’s studied pattern and dressmaking at St. Philip’s College and has taken art classes at San Antonio College. Fashion statement: “I have designs in my head, and I look and look for them,” he says. “But the only way I can usually find them is if I do them myself.”

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Desks for rent

Thursday's Business section featured C4 Workspace, one of our newest neighbors, and a new Chamber member.
Go by and say "hi", and see this interesteing space.


C4 Workspace is a new co-working site in the King William area. It caters to consultants, freelancers, home-based business owners and others in search of a conference room, desk, electricity and a place to network.

By L. A. Lorek - Express-News
Nomadic workers have a new place to meet, plug in a laptop and make a cell phone call in San Antonio.
C4 Workspace, a co-working site, opened this month at 108 King William. It caters to consultants, freelancers, home-based business owners and others in search of a conference room, desk, electricity and a place to network with others.
“We're trying to create a big office environment for single workers,”.......
for complete storygo to:

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Haute Pink Bazaar! June 23!

Alamo City Etsy Street Team comes to SOUTHTOWN!

June 23 is National Pink Day, and the Alamo City Etsy Team is celebrating in style! We will be hosting our first Trunk Show and Silent Auction to benefit local Breast Cancer charities. The Bazaar will kick off at 7pm and run late. Come out and enjoy a dazzling array of locally made goods, music, wine and hors d'voures.
FREE and Open to the public!

Come on by and see at B.Link and support an awesome cause!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

First time without food at tonight's First Friday

Web Posted: 06/05/2009 6:37 CDT

By Valentino Lucio - Express-News
For people heading out to First Friday this evening something may seem different. The enticing aromas of turkey legs, roasted corn and fajitas will be absent, maybe causing several stomachs to grumble.Tonight, the event will reflect the vision some residents imagined — a First Friday without food vendors. The move has made people associated with the First Friday task force content since they thought the vendors made the area undesirable during the event.Now, their wish has been granted. A visit from Metro Health at a task force meeting last month produced a vote from the committee to have the health department strictly enforce its rules.The department acted, not because of the vote, rather because the event lacked a general sponsor making it a health hazard since there is not an oversight committee to provide items such as toilet facilities.But finding a sponsor may come sooner than later. The South Town Chamber of Commerce has been assembled to help rejuvenate the area as well as possibly taking over as sponsor for the event. Tonight, the Lavaca Neighborhood Association and the chamber will have the grand opening of their joint office from 7 to 10 p.m. at 716 S. Alamo St.

Find this article at:

Friday, June 5, 2009

First Friday Opening at El Sol Studios

El Sol Studios Presents:

Hector Garza

Travel through time when you view Hector's beautiful paintings inspired by iconic literary authors, and historical figures. A mix of visual elements make up these ethereal painted story collages and paintings.
Soft opening reception
First Thursday June 4th
6-9 pm refreshments
First Friday Opening reception
Friday June5th
Music by Liberal
more info please visit

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

First Friday opening at Inter Artisan

"A Collection of Mexican Cultural Paintings"
By Juan Barajas

Juan Barajas is a blessed painter with the magic of color, and the happiness
of Mexican folklore. Juan takes his passion for customs through his works of
art, giving form and color to emotions by filling each memory. A Mexico
native, this self taught artist has participated in numerous international
shows and exhibits. Juan's creative labor and many art medias have reached
many parts of the world, and acknowleged by many viewers. Inter Artisan is
proud to show the fine pieces of art made by Juan Barajas of Laredo, Texas.

When: June 5, 2009
Where: Inter Artisan, 1036 S. Alamo St., San Antonio, TX. 78210
Time: 3:00 p.m. till 10:00 p.m.
Other Info.: Juan Barajas will be present during this First Friday event,
please feel free to stop by for a "cultural experience through Mexico".

Etsy gives S.A. artisans a global reach

El Sol Studios makes it to the business section of the Express-News! For those who didn't get last Saturday's Express-News, here's the story:

By L.A. Lorek - Express-News

In the recession, the do-it-yourself movement has taken off.

For proof, look no further than, which helps handicraft entrepreneurs turn their projects into cash.

An alternative to mass-produced merchandise, the online marketplace for handmade goods promotes sustainability, self-reliance, creativity, arts and crafts, and fun, spokesman Adam Brown said.

But to the owners of El Sol Studios in San Antonio, generates sales in a global economy and provides networking with other like-minded artists.

El Sol Studios owners, Ruth Guajardo and husband Larry Aguilar, sell $15 clocks, $2 magnets, $18 charm bracelets, $10 earrings, $7 ornaments and bags of milagros, or pewter charms, from Mexico for $10. Overall, El Sol has made more than 300 sales to buyers as far away as France, England and Australia on

“It’s such an artist community,’’ Guajardo said. “You can find anything on there.”

Two months ago, they helped launch the Alamo City Etsy Group, which meets every month to help others open shops on the site. Increasingly, people want an outlet to sell their handicrafts to make money in this economy and the interest in has skyrocketed, Guajardo said.

In its “buy local” section, lists more than 100 San Antonio sellers offering up all kinds of handmade items, including dresses, toys, jewelry and ceramics and pottery.

“It’s the ultimate consignment place,’’ said Brandy Garcia, owner of B.Link, who runs an store with jewelry and other items. She’s sold 16 pieces this year to buyers as far away as Poland. also helps give exposure to her new shop in the King William district.

“People want things handmade,’’ Garcia said. “They want to buy local."

for the complete story go to:
for Alamo City Etsy go to:

Brandy Garcia stands behind her jewelry creations in her Southtown boutique,

By Leigh Baldwin
from San Antonio Current 5/6/2009

Fiesta meant a particularly successful week for a new Southtown boutique, B.Link, open on South St. Mary’s across from El Mirador since December. The Fiesta focus on neighborhood events like Beethoven Gartenfest and King William Fair meant strong sales and new customers for Brandy Garcia, B.Link’s owner. A new customer myself, I checked in on the creative entrepreneur to see how it all began.
This is Garcia’s first retail venture, but she has been working with her hands as a crafter for the past decade. After high school, she says, “I saw a guy making hemp jewelry on the Santa Monica pier, and I thought, ‘I want to do that.’”
Working at Nomadic Notions in Austin for three years allowed Garcia to learn jewelry-making techniques and appreciate a creative environment.
“In college I was an engineering major,” she says, “but rather than studying, I was usually making a necklace, or trying to make a new book bag.” She gravitated toward art history and architecture classes, but Garcia’s math skills were not forgotten. “I like symmetry. Even when I am trying for something random, I’ll make a pattern.”
B.Link features jewelry lines by Garcia and friend Rosie Guerra. Garcia describes her style as minimalist, and the simple lines of her pieces speak for themselves. Garcia works primarily in sterling silver and 14k gold, semi-precious stones, and pearls. Even so, the bracelets and necklaces especially are bold and colorful, reflecting the inspiration she finds in nightclubs and at parties. “I always look at what people are wearing!” she laughs.
In addition to jewelry, the shop is devoted to locally made, quality handcrafted items ranging from clothing and accessories to home décor and fine art. She sources local artists through friends and family, paying attention to neighbors at Blue Star and other galleries. B.Link carries everything from decadent organza and silk saris by Sharon Williams to photography by Marciela Mendez, a cinematography student just accepted to film school in Los Angeles.
“Since everything is handmade locally, everything is essentially linked together, to one another,” Garcia explains. Add her first initial to “link” and a new brand was born.
Perhaps not close geographically, another major artist featured in the shop is Garcia’s sister, a graphic designer in San Francisco who suggested the shop’s name and designed the shop’s logo, exquisite item tags, handmade books, and some photos and letterpress work. Family is a big influence for Garcia — her father picked out the shop’s location.
Garcia’s other passion is environmental awareness. The vintage bike she uses to run errands is parked in the front window, and the furniture and fixtures in the shop are recycled, vintage, or made in an environmentally responsible manner.
“By carrying locally made items, I’m not aiding in the extra use of petroleum gas for shipping and at the same time, supporting my local economy,” she says.
Garcia used low Voltalie Organic Compound paint and natural homemade cleaning products in the boutique, and even the silver she uses in her jewelry is recycled. It’s made from something called precious-metal clay — silver shards, reclaimed from everything from cars to computers, embedded in clay. When fired, the clay dissolves and leaves solid silver behind.
Garcia also knits and designs clothing and handbags, something she’s hoping to do more of in the future. She prefers to recycle fabric from old garments, transforming it into something completely new. Not surprisingly, her style is inspired by the early ’60s mod movement: A-lines, big, bold graphics, and neutral colors. She names Betsy Johnson and Heatherette as her favorite modern designers. Garcia also maintains an etsy shop and is a member of the fledgling Alamo etsy Street Team.
So, I’m sure you’re wondering: Is it pronounced blink? or B-link? “I like them both,” Garcia laughs. How accommodating!
Clothes-minded’s picks
Mother of pearl and leather bracelet by Brandy Garcia: $14
La Boca del Infierno letterpress: $30
Blue print pashmina: $29
Where to get it
707 S. St. Mary’s

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

First Friday bans food and drink vendors

Web Posted: 05/20/2009 12:00 CDT
By Valentino Lucio - Express-News
People expecting to snack on roasted corn or turkey legs at the next First Friday are in for a surprise: No vendors will be allowed to sell the fare.
The First Friday Task Force, an organization created in February to control crime and other problems at the event, demanded that Metropolitan Health District stop issuing permits for food and drink vendors at the event.
Task force members agreed that they wanted to do away with anything that would make the monthly event resemble a carnival.
Stephen Barscewski, Metro Health's sanitation services manager, said revisions to the city's code governing food preparation last May allow his agency to grant the task force's request.
Barscewski said his agency gave the vendors a sufficient grace period before notifying them that they no longer could do business at First Friday.
He said that among the biggest violations being committed is that vendors weren't providing restrooms as required under the code.
Barscewski said vendors had failed to get written permission from area businesses to operate and that First Friday continues to lack a general sponsor.
Leo Jaramillo, a longtime First Friday food vendor, called the task force's decision biased, adding that it was aimed at protecting the interest of the committee members, some of whom live and own businesses in the area.
“I felt left out,” he said. “The decision they made affects a lot of people. It hurts me because I depend on that money.”
Brad Shaw, president of the King William Neighborhood Association and a steering committee member, said the latest decision is in keeping with the task force's goal of retaining the event's original intent: promoting art.
He didn't believe the decision was biased, saying the committee had two seats for vendors and that vendors never stepped up to help clean the area after First Friday events or helped pay for infrastructure.
Shaw said the Southtown area has organized its own chamber of commerce, hoping that one day it would take ownership of the event and serve as its sponsor.
He said the Southtown Chamber of Commerce would then be the entity to maintain the integrity of First Friday.
“It's going to be a pretty nice thing,” Shaw said. “We're taking the right steps to get away from the carnival atmosphere.”


Hello and welcome to our new Southtown Chamber of Commerce blog. The purpose of this blog is to grow, develop and foster business and/or otherwise relationships between neighbors, colleagues, businesses in the area as well as our customers.

Everyone in our community is welcome to participate and share news, stories, sales, photos, events,... you get the idea.

Customers can follow our blog to find out about special events, news, and specials in Southtown.

More to follow.....