Since the opening of Kalavera Culture Shop in May, locals have found more reasons to spend time at the business nestled in the Roderick Artspace Lofts.
“It’s an amazing shop,” said artist Juan Ornelas during the Last Thursdays art crawl. “They’ve really brought in a lot of products that are definitely harder to find unless you’re buying online. I really think it’s going to help the pros and newbies create the work they want to without constraints. Prices are great.”
The store is owned by husband and wife Jesus “Cimi” Alvarado and Kata Decker.
Alvarado is known for his art projects and murals, some of which are located in Segundo Barrio, where he grew up. You can also find his work in Mexico City, Little Rock, Arkansas and Buenos Aires, Argentina. His work has garnered the attention of publications like The New York Times and Vice.
“I really have a great respect for Cimi – for everything he does,” Ornelas said. “He is such an amazing and talented artist. His murals are a blessing for the city.”
Alvarado said he and his wife opened the shop because they wanted to give back to the community. They also want to help local artists sell their work.
“We collaborate and work together with other local businesses in order to help create the art scene in El Paso,” Alvarado said. “We wanted to start Kalavera to fill in a void for artists – especially Downtown.”
Along with its mission to help cultivate El Paso’s art scene, there are several reasons Kalavera Culture Shop might intrigue shoppers:
1. You’ll find unique gifts.
Aside from spray paint and similar art supplies, Kalavera sells locally made paintings, screen printed clothing for both men and women, handmade jewelry, purses, plush dolls, pillows and body products.
“We really wanted to gain a sense of community with all types of people,” Decker said. “There is so much possibility with collaborating with folks who are doing good things. We can all benefit together.”
Picture purses in the shape of burritos and tacos from mom-and-daughter business Snozzberries, a plush of the Franklin Mountains and its iconic star from Lula Squid and homemade essential oil-based fragrances from Inanna’s Delight. There are also T-shirts and CDs from local bands like Frontera Bugalu. It’s not everywhere that you’ll find such products, but Kalavera’s got you covered when it comes to getting your loved one a one-of-a-kind gift.
2. Kalavera encourages consumer-conscious shopping.
As many consumers aim to shop with the environment and people’s welfare in mind, shops like Kalavera take note of such mindsets.
Sugar, the brand of spray paint Kalavera offers, replaces petroleum-based solvents with sugar. Sugar contains less toxins than other spray paints, Decker explained.
Decker and Alvarado are also well connected with artists from their sister city, selling the artists’ work without taking a percentage of the profit from them. This is especially important for artists who are unable to cross over to El Paso, Alvarado said.
“We are really happy to sell products by Juarez artists because there is fewer opportunities for them,” Decker added.
The Juarez-made products include much of the handmade jewelry (picture earrings made out of melon seeds and intricate, spiral shaped metal pieces) and T-shirts from Resizte, an art collective that uses iconic Mexican figures like Tin-Tan to create strong sociopolitical messages.
You’ll also find Segundo Barrio Futbol Club souvenirs, where 100 percent of the proceeds go towards the locally cherished soccer team.
3. There are art shows every month.
Joining a handful of local shops and galleries, Kalavera also showcases different artists every month.
Their most recent Last Thursdays art exhibit paid homage to the artists of Segundo Barrio, showcasing paintings and wood pieces. The exhibit was catered by Sacred Heart, a well-known church in the historic neighborhood.
Whether you’re looking for creative inspiration, a place to mingle or unique keepsakes, Kalavera Culture Shop doesn’t fall short in contributing to the city’s growing art scene.