2020 changed our Art Adventures, but didn't eliminate them! The limitations simply motivated us to be more creative in how we experience and define creative travel and exploration. This "silver lining" in an unarguably dark year lead us to some wonderful discoveries in small town Texas travel!
Instead of publishing a gift guide this year, we wanted to highlight some of our favorite small, creative local businesses we were fortunate to find on our adventures.
Each business has eCommerce and/or shipping capabilities on its site, social channels or via email so you can gift to someone else or order for yourself from where you are! All are independently owned spots that we visited in-person or at local markets in 2020.
Art Gallery 211. Athens, TX
This local art cooperative just off of Athens' downtown square offers paintings, sculpture, stained glass and other art by more than 40 local and regional artists.
Becker Art Studio. Lufkin, TX.
Becker Art Studios in downtown Lufkin is one of our favorite and most frequent stops for its colorful, affordable handmade pottery. It also offers paintings, sculpture, and a selection of jewelry and handcrafts. See their work and connect with them on Instagram and Facebook.
The Bosslight. Nacogdoches, Texas.
An independent book store in downtown Nacogdoches, The Bosslight also sells t-shirts and work by local East Texas artists. Their Facebook page showcases special offers, events and merchandise, and its new Patreon offers a fun way to support local, and exclusive insider perks! The Bosslight calls itself a "magical place for book and art lovers," which sounds like us and many others we know! Probably why we like it so much.
Elzner Farms, Jacksonville, Texas.
The family farm produces small batch, raw and unfiltered East Texas local honey and honey products like lip balm, lotion bars and beeswax wraps. And, if you're hit with some sweet inspiration, they also sell beekeeping supplies and large-scale starter sets.
Laura's Cheesecakes, Mount Pleasant, TX.
Laura's Cheesecakes was a delicious patio snack stop on one of our favorite 2020 holiday Art Adventures! The flavors were unique and sweet without being too heavy, and the location had a great sidewalk view of the Titus County courthouse and downtown Mount Pleasant people-watching. Since we enjoyed them so much and the shipping process was easy, we gifted our families with cheesecakes for Christmas!
We discovered The Top Knot at the ETX Market in downtown Lufkin, and there are permanent locations across Texas in addition to regular market appearances. We loved the large selection of one-of-a-kind Kantha quilts and other unique handmade and home decor items, which were wonderfully warm and bright finds in a year that was mostly the opposite.
2020 made us be more intentional and creative in how we travel, "art adventure" and explore local businesses. While it wasn't expected, we believe that this shift has made us better visitors, enhanced our adventures, and enables us to more intentionally share our finds and help small businesses. If a business on this list seems like it could be a favorite new favorite find too, we encourage you to support it from wherever you are!