A Westside San Antonio “tamale house” will become an art studio

After being an “on and off” artist for the past few decades, Cristina Sosa Noriega devoted herself fully to her craft when she quit her job in education about a year ago. Now Noriega is hard at work opening a new artist studio in the heart of the Westside.

“I finally committed,” Noriega says with a laugh. “It’s been a really transformative year.”

A San Antonio native who focuses on portraits and murals, Noriega says opportunities over the past year, including a piece dedicated to Uvalde victim Ameri Joe Garza, have allowed her to meet a variety of artists in need of a studio. Lucky for her, Noriega has come across a prime Westside property where she plans to make it all happen.

This spring, Noriega will unveil Palacio de Palomas, a collective art studio and gallery.

“It literally looks like a palace. It looks like a Barbie dream house. It stands out a lot for the neighborhood,” she says, noting that it looks similar to many homes in Mexico. “It’s also because there were a hundred pigeons living in the attic.”

The view from the chandelier at Pigeon Palace.

Cristina Sosa Noriega

Transforming the Tamale House

Noriega bought the 2,800-square-foot property (at 603 S. San Joaquin Ave. San Antonio, TX 78237) in December 2022, but is making rapid progress restoring the space, which she says hasn’t been used in about a year.

Noriega says the property was the former home of the family behind the San Antonio chain Delicious Tamales. During the buying process, she says she was able to meet many of the family members who attended Kennedy High like her husband.

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