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Artists Melding with Patrons

The count down has begun: only three weeks remain to plunder the treasures at localpatron, which sets up shop only once a year! This year, the cheerful Valencia street storefront will remain open until January 21. Whether you are an artist, a collector or appreciator of artsy and creative things, localpatron has lots to fawn over.

Technically, localpatron is comprised of two aspects: the annual shop and the self-service web site. Together, these components embody founder Sybil Tate's vision of providing an outlet and means for local artists to not only sell their works, but to reach out and form relationships with the community.

"Serendipity tripped me into the hands of localpatron," artist Peter Max Lawrence said. "As an artist coming from a far off land called Kansas and plopping myself down in San Francisco, localpatron has for the past three years not only helped me financially, it has also connected me with several new life-long friends, and in my case specifically… a French wife -- who I adore."

As the result of his sales at the shop, what started as an experiment became a tremendous success and cemented his work in a new direction. "I started using individual pieces of Bristol board instead of a sketchbook to ink out my random thoughts and creatures," Lawrence said. "One year we decided to just throw them out there and see what would happen. They instantly became an in-demand item that I spend the majority of my year chasing." Currently localpatron carries ink drawing and prints by Lawrence priced from $15 to $430, and oil on wood paintings from $150 to $300.

Tate started localpatron five years ago. This year the annual store is in its third iteration, previous years having been on Union Street and Hayes Valley. The web site is primarily a place for patrons to search and find local artists and is also an easy way for artists to get online exposure if they don't have their own web site. Profile pages include everything from satisfied customers' testimonials to a sort of "personal statement" by the artist on the nature and motivations for his or her works. Most practically, it includes the essential information one needs for commissioning a work: turnaround time, price range, payment (percentage required upfront) and the number of meetings required to get the piece done.

Currently this wonderful resource is free for artists to use. During the year, Tate also facilitates rentals and staging of local artists' work for a variety of venues including real estate companies who need art work for open houses.

From its inception localpatron has grown to a roster of 63 artists today. Many might not have come into contact with localpatron if it were not for the store. "People walk by and see it, especially in the Mission," Tate said. "They walk in and ask, 'How do I get my stuff out there?' With localpatron, Tate and business partner Becky Uline actively encourage direct communication between customers and artists.

During my visit, a musician who was performing for the evening at the Elbo Room down the street was just walking by and stopped in his tracks when he saw a painting of a squid done by local artist, illustrator and toy designer Joshua Ellingson. This led to a conversation with Tate in which business cards were exchanged and he talked about getting album art done.

In addition to paintings Ellingson also has T-shirts and a hand painted 8-inch Toy2R Qee monkey ($400). Kid Robot also carries Toy2r Qee figurines but localpatron's is one-of-a-kind and in that right already a collector's item.

Ben Collison and Poopy Lickles serve up some delicious shirts and hoodies: Collison does a black number that reads "no guns" on the front and has an elephant screened on the back of an American Apparel hoodie. For $60 it's not too much more but infinitely cooler than the plain version. One of Poopy Lickles' T-shirt designs features two cute birds sitting on a branch. One says to the other "The pursuit of truth provides life with meaning," to which the other replies "I banged your ex."

Pink Elf makes lovely wool coats with detachable silk scarves and fun polka-dot lining in greens and camels ($299). MzzTrzz's sparkle wraps interwoven with gold thread are a festive option for New Year's ($56), while Jeanine Lovett's silk screened shirts are affordable and awesome ($19-35). Lovett is going out of business and some of her apparel is marked down though the quality and aesthetic aspect is in no way lacking. Silk dresses by Erin Mahoney are perfect for that tango class you've planned to take this year.

Almost astounding is the expansive selection of baby clothing available at local patron. Shannon and Chris Svensrud's Kids Wear This is the standout label but Li'L Elf and Penelope Starr's shirts for baby are no less adorable. Svensrud's Pixel collection is a big hit at localpatron. Her Pixel Paks consist of one beanie, a shirt, and coordinating pull-on pants in bright solids and colorful patterns. If you want a throwback to 60s and 70s psychedelia, some paks come in neon colors with a screened VW bug-esque vehicle. The Pixel Records Pak -- Rock-A-Bye Baby consists of the same components packaged in a vinyl record-shaped bag. Both are $39. Li'L Elf T-shirts for baby are $24.50 and feature star and moon embroidery accompanied by the message "Mommy's Little Wonder". DevilBaby pieces -- "clothing for children with questionable intentions" is a little more racey. Pick from a onesie ($28), shirt ($20) or pants ($22).

Accessories lovers also get eye candy of all sorts here. Spare Change Designs combine edginess and pop sensibilities in the form of clutches and handbags ($50-100). Monster fur bags in pinks and blacks with chain straps by Candace run in the $30-40 range and are loads of fun. For the chillier winter months, Stacey Nordwall's line bluehotwhite offers hand knit scarves and hats that are sure to keep you warm and stylish ($25 and up).

Bellaflora's pretty necklaces and earrings are made of dried, pressed flowers. Jen Rowan is the mastermind of Beebalalou, which offers fun "plastic kitsch divine" jewelry -- necklaces and earrings with cowboy boot, pistol and skull charms ($6 and up). Absolutely Audrey's "Clip on Glamour for your Shoes" start at $19.99 and can add some vintage flavor to those plain pumps, while Super Sugar Ray Ray's hand-embroidered silk ascots and ties ($80) are tastefully elegant and distinctive. Handmade and adorned journals and pencil cases as well as homewares -- pillows, porcelain and ceramic dishes -- are readily available and there are so many options to choose from for wall-worthy art.

For those who enjoy purchasing or gifting unique and aesthetically pleasing items while reaching out to local artists, localpatron is an easy choice. Jennifer Lynne of Porcelynn lingerie is another example of how important organizations like localpatron are to up-and-coming local designers. "Localpatron was the first store I ever sold anything in," Lynne said. "Sybil and Becky are doing a fantastic job helping the community to become local artist patrons. Because of they set up shop each year in different neighborhoods, it has helped me learn the market in each neighborhood and know what pieces to do the best."