Gypsy Market Vendor

The Moveable Market

by Celia Hayes

My daughter and I are moving a little deeper into the world of the gypsy entrepreneur market these days. I mean, I have been dabbling around the edges for good few years as an independent author, once I realized that there was more to be made – and a lot less ego-death involved – by taking a table at a craft fair, like the New Braunfels Christmas Market, or in Miss Ruby’s Author Corral at Goliad’s Christmas on the Square. But this – like strictly book events, like the West Texas Book and Music Festival in Abilene – involved only a table and a chair. I usually had to bring along some tablecloths, some informational flyers, postcards and my business card, and maybe something eye-catching to adorn the table.

Going hard-core and getting a whole booth at something like the Boerne Market Days meant going much, much farther. My daughter has started a little business making various origami ornaments, flowers and jewelry, and this year we decided to partner together. It helps to have two people doing this kind of event, by the way – you can spell each other, make jaunts to other venders, go to the bathroom – and setting up and breaking down the booth or table is much, much easier. Many vendors, like us, have a day job, or several day jobs. They create on their own time, and bring it to the local market circuit on the weekends.

If we keep it up, we will have to purchase our own folding tables, and pop-up canopy – the nice kind, with the zip-up panel walls which can be attached for shelter, shade and some degree of security. This time, we rented from the management of the Boerne Market Days – but the people who regularly have a spot at the various markets own their own, which will make some more things to stuff into the Montero. A couple of good-sized banners to advertise our two little enterprises are also in our future. I don’t think we’ll go as far as a friend did, when she was selling at faraway craft shows. She and her husband went in their travel trailer; where they slept and cooked their own meals rather than lay out for motel rooms and restaurant meals. The name of the game is to break rather more than even; if the costs of participating in a market; table fee, gas, lodgings, food and your stock – all come up to more than you’ll make from sales, then you are doing it wrong.

We already have a lot of other necessary impedimenta – like a collection of sturdy covered plastic tubs in various sizes to store and transport our stock in, which can be fitted into the back of the Montero in a kind of three-dimensional game of Tetris. We saw quite a few venders with varied collections of tubs. We already have some necessary display hardware; metal and wooden stands for propping up books to display them, a rack for showing off pairs of earrings, some baskets and a magnetic board to show off the origami in. Many of the gypsy venders also have tall mesh stands, panels or folding screens to hang items on, or to attach narrow shelves for a wall display.

We already had a cash box, and receipt books – but for this time out we obtained a handy little gadget which only became available in the last year or so; a card reader which attaches to my daughter’s cell phone so that we could process credit card payments. This is enormously helpful to us and many other gypsy entrepreneurs, who previously could only handle check or cash payments. It’s the new old game again – small businesses run from a home or a farm, and selling at temporary markets.

Boerne Sculpture Garden

Boerne’s Sculpture Garden

by Celia Hayes

So we had noted some … well, some outdoor works of art, arranged in a landscaped space on River Road next to the Ewe and Eye yarns and handicrafts establishment, and last week we stopped for a few minutes to check it out up close. It’s the Texas Treasures Fine Art Sculpture Garden– they have a post on the Boerne Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page. While Texas Treasures Fine Art Gallery does have an indoor and roofed over fine art gallery on Main Street, it looks as if some of the larger and more weighty pieces of sculpture have been put on display out in the open air … which is about the only place that one can visualize some of them, notably a huge west Texas landscape called … well, Landscape.

So many yards of metal squares, set together … and yep, that’s just what it looks like from the air; mostly flat, a little rolling, with depressions that collect rainwater in season, moving up into a range of peaks on the far horizon, neatly crossed by a regular grid of roads and fences. It’s a modern piece, which I usually don’t care for at all, but it is strangely appealing, and outdoors is just the place for it. Presumably the whole place is under camera surveillance, 24-7, and since shoplifting any of the pieces would involve a heavy-duty winch, welding gear, a reinforced vehicle and a couple of hours work – they’re probably pretty secure.

I also liked the enormous panted metal cacti – with red flower buds the size of D-cell batteries, and yellow blossoms like enormous bright bridal bouquets. That particular artist, Joe Barrington, apparently loves to sculpt outsized pieces and to use interesting and useful metal junk as the raw material. One of his famous pieces is a full-sized pickup truck, with a gargantuan metal catfish filling the back and draped over the cab. That one is not here in the sculpture garden – but an enormous brooding metal raven on a tall perch is back in one corner, and I could imagine it solemnly croaking, “Nevermore, y’all!” I like that kind of playful sculpture, like the raven, and the blooming cactus. My dad, who adored messing around with a blow torch and assorted bits of scrap metal would have loved it too, and likely would have had a go himself at astonishing the neighbors with a gigantic metal fish in the back of a rusty pickup. Whatever amuses people to look at, and keep it out of the landfill is certainly a commendable and refreshing attitude for a modern artist. I’ve just seen to darned much of the incomprehensible and ugly sort – both the privately purchased kind, and the kind that is left to adorn public squares in the last half of the 20th century. Look, I didn’t mind the concrete, metal and glass Bauhaus cubes so much … but why did they have to leave a fountain in the plaza in front of it with an enormous concrete t*rd in it?

So, no – Mrs. Hayes’ little girl Celia is not, or ever has been a fan of the usual run of modern art, nor of strictly kitsch like Thomas Kinkade, either. But the bits and bobs in the Texas Treasures sculpture garden is fun and funny, and some of it is old-style (19th century style) meaningful, without clubbing yourself over the head, or having to have a masters’ degree in 20th century art and cultural appreciation to really like and/or understand. Check it out, next time you’re in Boerne. And by the way – the Riverside Market – in the Shell Station on the corner of River Road and Main Street? They have just finished redoing the inside of the seating area, and added a covered outside deck for your dining pleasure. The BBQ chicken and the brisket are the food of the gods, people, the food of the gods.

Call Team Randy Watson of Mission Realty at 210-319-4960 for Boerne Homes for Sale

Making the Art Scene in San Antonio

The Art Scene

by Celia Hayes

So, contra the belief that the wild and crazy art scene is all in Austin, and there is nothing much in San Antonio save the military bases, medical centers and the Alamo … there is an art scene, and I have pictorial proof, now that my daughter is becoming interested in it. And more than just interested – it’s a matter of professional involvement.

To backtrack a little; my daughter and Edith, her best friend from high school (St. Francis Academy, Class of 1998) having despaired of ever finding full-time, well-paid and remunerative employment doing something rewarding – or at least, something they do not hate – have decided to go into business together. Edith is an artist in pastels, and quite gifted. My daughter is madly creative with origami, the art of folding paper into astonishing and ornamental shapes – including tiny crane and tulip earrings – and all sorts of other charming ephemera. As I told Edith, when she was worrying about being seen as a sell-out by trying to make a living from her painting, there is a word for someone with a gift who just plays around with it and never tries to get back expenses. That word is ‘hobbyist.’ And someone who creates art, shares it with the world at a fair market value – whatever that value might be – the word for that person is ‘professional.’ I wouldn’t want to see her go as far into monetizing and mass-producing her paintings like Thomas Kinkade The Painter of Light ™ did – but the guy did manage to make a very good living from it, and I wouldn’t mind seeing my daughter and Edith meeting a market demand.

So, I have urged them both to try and start making a living doing what they love to do; starting small, of course – working the website (Pastel Junque) and various local art shows and events. Edith does have a following already; she was much more deeply involved in the local art scene … but I think her involvement was more like wading knee-deep in it. Now their joint venture is making a concerted effort to plunge into the deep end; to make more appearances at craft shows and art events with an eye to being where the customers are. They had their first roll-out a couple of Saturdays ago at Renewable Republic on St. Mary’s Street, downtown. Besides being a provider of solar panels, insulation and general green services to homeowners, they also have a garden and party venue out in back … along with a yurt. It was boiling hot, and threatening thunderstorms later on, and they didn’t actually sell all that much in the way of trinkets, prints and paintings – but it’s just the first step.

They hope to be included in the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center’s Hecho A Mano/Made by Hand this fall, and to have a vendor table at couple of local Christmas markets in November and December. In the mean time, they’ll be at various First Friday events in Southtown, and Second Friday at Tobin Hill … and who knows? They just might be as popular as Thomas Kinkade.

IH35 Road Trip Part 1

IH-35 Road Trip Part 1

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by Celia Hayes

Having a book event last Saturday in Belton – a very pleasant and prosperous town overtaken and reduced to mere suburb status by the mighty municipalities of Fort Worth on one side and Dallas on the other. Not having more than a day available to spend on this excursion, and depending on the takings from sales of books at it for any extraneous adventures, we did not take any scenic and exciting backcountry routes to and from. Instead, we took the simple and uncomplicated road – IH-35, at a consistent 60 to 70 MPH, except for twenty minutes on the return journey, stuck in Austin traffic at a slow crawl. How they can manage a total stand-still on a Saturday evening is beyond me; it must be some kind of special Austin gift.

But that simple, straight-forward jaunt took us right by a number of curious attractions conveniently located right off the highway, beginning with a stop at Buc-ees in New Braunfels. At an early hour on a Saturday, the joint does not precisely jump – but as a stop for gas, sandwiches, coffee and a visit to the princely and beautifully clean bathrooms – the place has no equal in Texas or the world. Believe me; I have experienced some of the vilest public bathrooms in Europe and Japan. In Europe, they built cathedrals – in North America, the finest bathrooms since Rome. At Buc-ees, the food is pricy, but excellent, and how many other choices do you have at 5 in the morning off the interstate, anyway?

The next curiosity going north would be just south of San Marcos at the San Marcos Retail Outlets. We used to spend a lot of money there; and it seems that a lot of other shoppers have done so too, — for they have expanded hugely. The outlet mall around Centerpoint/exit 200 is practically a tourist attraction in itself, although I don’t think the Venetian gondolas get all that much use.

Austin – oh, what can one say about Austin: It used to be a series of scattered farms and blockhouses, among the hills and woods by the upper Colorado River, until Mirabeau Lamar killed a buffalo near Congress and 8th street, and decided that henceforward, Austin would be the capital city of an independent Texas. And so it did – these days Austin is distinguished by a vibrant music and intellectual scene, astonishingly clogged traffic on the IH-35 even on weekends, a view of the capital building from the highway, and an incredibly large assortment of hotels along the stretch of IH-35 between Austin and Georgetown. Every hotel chain in America must have three or four outlets along that single stretch.

So does another commercial establishment; a single Ikea store. There it is, on the outskirts of Round Rock, a monument to spare modern Scandinavian design and flat-pack furniture, marooned in the middle of a country where elevated taste often runs to chairs contrived out of cattle horns and upholstered in cowhide with the fur on.

On northwards – to Waco, home to Dr Pepper, Baylor University and … most impressively to a lover of Texas history; the home of the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum, which is right off the I-35. It is so close that I would have squeezed in a brief and flying visit … if we had not been going past at 6:45 in the mornings, a tight schedule and a serious need to be in Belton by 9:30 at the very latest.

(But there were so many interesting places glimpsed as we flew past, so many bill-boards for places … another time, when time is not so pressing upon us. The rest of this journey is continued next week…)

The Cibolo Creek Flows Through Boerne

A River Flows Through It

Click photos to enlarge


As the Riverwalk of San Antonio is such an ornament to the city and such a popular tourist attraction (only second after the Alamo) that one of the nicknames for our fair town is ‘The River City’ you’d think that any municipal organization possessing the necessary attribute – a permanent body of water deeper than a puddle in, or flowing through downtown – would have been been seen as a gift and an opportunity to do something like it. Maybe not cheek by cheek eateries and boutiques – but at least a pleasant string park, paralleling the river bank can this be created, for the benefit of the residents, the enriching of those retail establishments lucky to overlook it, and the sheer aesthetic pleasure of visitors to such a blessed community.

And so has the community of Boerne done, for a number of blocks paralleling River Road, on either side of Main Street. There is a generous paved trail, some added landscaping and stone work, paralleling the northern bank of Cibolo Creek as it runs through town. It seems that back in the day, Cibolo Creek was just as prone to overflow its banks and flood out parts of Boerne – just as the San Antonio River did, although on a much grander scale. We had noticed the new construction being done on the park, once we discovered Route 46/River Road; the back way between San Antonio and Boerne. So, last weekend we took advantage of slightly cooler temperatures to make a return trip to Boerne, as my daughter had her eye on certain items at the Squirrel’s Nest Resale Shop. The Squirrel’s Nest benefits Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation – an organization that everyone in this part of Texas ought to know about and support, since they are the go-to people when you find an injured, distressed and otherwise out-of-place wild animal or bird.

We had lunch at the Bear Moon Café – which was quite good; everything is made in-house and the servings are generous. Then we walked around a bit, and checked out some of the shops. This was not so much for what was in them, a lot of which was terribly high-end and pricy, but rather to look at the buildings themselves, many of which are historic old houses and business premises, and enormously charming in that respect. They were built for Texas, in the days before air conditioning, and some of them even before electrification: small rooms which opened into other rooms, or a central hall, with high ceilings, and tall windows. Usually there was a wide, shaded porch across the front, and if two-storied, those rooms on the upper floor also opened onto a verandah..

The Riverside Park already seems to be popular; we saw one family eating a picnic lunch, and a number of others settled in with fishing gear, sending their hooks into the lazy green water. The ducks and geese had all sought out shady places, on the opposite bank, though. The only other water critters we saw were turtles; and we didn’t realize at first that they were turtles. I thought their heads sticking up above the surface were just lengths of broken branch, until the heads vanished below the water, and there was a soup-bowl sized turtle, just dimly seen, diving down into deeper water.

All in all, a lovely afternoon in the Hill Country. That was my Saturday – and yours?

The San Antonio Art Scene

Art Scene

by Julia Hayden

So a couple of weeks ago, my daughter dragged me – only protesting faintly – away from my home comforts and the computer, and my customary Friday evening comforts to go to an art gallery. Yes indeedy – I have a connection to the San Antonio art scene, through the person of my daughter’s high school classmate, Edith Ann Tankink. Blondie and Edith have kept in touch since graduation from St. Francis Academy. This was back when St. Francis an all-girls’s Catholic college-prep high school located conveniently close to Kelly AFB, run by the School Sisters of St. Francis. This provided my daughter with an excellent, old-fashioned education, encouraged Edith to polish her artistic skills (which are considerable, if I say so myself) but left both of them with a life-long aversion to box-pleated plaid skirts.

The Spring Fling at Armonic Arts was Edith’s first-ever gallery showing, so of course we simply had to go, my daughter insisted.

We had missed just about every other first in Edith’s life, including wedding and births of children, so there we were, driving through a funky little neighborhood off of Sunset in Alamo Heights, looking for something that looked like a gallery, in a neighborhood of tiny half-century old cottages, and dusty yards of half-dead grass. And there it was – couldn’t miss for all the cars parked in front and along the side-walkless streets, in front of a charming old house with a long back-yard, and a flower-bed planted with teacups and saucers mounted on long rods. No, a little off the beaten art-gallery track – but a splendidly personal, funky little gallery, spread out in the rooms of a sort-of-private home. Edith’s paintings were in what I guess would have been the front bedroom, and the rest of the show was grouped in other rooms: even the hallways were pressed into service for their wall-space: one was adorned with rows and rows of framed and hand-painted Tarot cards, and the other with paintings by the most-established artist at the Spring Fling, Charles Ingram.

There was a table moved into the back corner of the living room – er- the main gallery space, covered with refreshments: wine and beer and soft drinks, with cheese and crackers and most delicious home-made hummus and dips, and even with that inducement, I wouldn’t have thought I would have stayed for very long, after admiring Edith’s paintings . . . but that I struck up a conversation with Charles Ingram, who turned out to be a passionate local history enthusiast. He had his twenty-something aged son with him at the showing, for pretty much the same reasons that I drag my daughter to my book things – for assistance at least as much as moral support – so Blondie and young Mr. Ingram had a wry and companionable chuckle over that.

We wound up having a very nice talk, ranging through some aspects of local history, the Civil War in Texas, and the roots of Texas rebellion against governance for Mexico. I had a good time, although on reflection, this probably kept other art-lovers from getting in a word edgeways.

Oh, well – there is always First Friday. And Edith has another showing coming up, soon.


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