Courtesy photo

San Antonians in the mood to give had a worthy place to direct their energy on December 13: the Frost Bank and CultureMap donation drop-off, benefiting the San Antonio Food Bank.

During the two-hour event, bag after bag of packaged food items — that SAFB will use to help serve 58,000 food-insecure individuals a week — were handed over at the Frost Bank on West Grayson Street. A large amount of pet items were also collected, and those who donated received a few surprises in return.

Each person who donated more than five items received a $10 Frost It Forward card to continue spreading optimism. And local influencer San Antonio Stephanie even stopped by, passing along her Frost It Forward card to someone in need.

This generous gesture from Frost Bank echoed the Optimism Starts With You mural by Los Otros, which was located directly across from the drop-off point in the Pearl District.

Those who attended the donation drive-through also got a head start on entering the social media contest by snapping a selfie by the mural and using #OptForOptimism to enter.

If you'd like a shot at winning the ultimate staycation package — a one-night stay with valet at Hotel Valencia on the Riverwalk and two drinks in Dorrego's Bar (a $532 value), plus four tickets to the Briscoe Western Art Museum and a $200 gift card to use at Pearl — there's still time. Get your post up before December 31, when we'll pick one lucky winner.

The items received from the event — all 1,006 pounds of them — are more important than ever to the San Antonio Food Bank, which not only fights hunger but also serves to educate and provide assistance in many other ways.

Since its founding in 1980 as Texas' first food bank, SAFB has worked to give more than 7.7 million free meals annually. It partners with more than 500 nonprofit agencies throughout 16 counties in Southwest Texas, rescuing 63 million pounds of food (or the equivalent of a semi-trailer full of food every hour).

Texas is ranked second in the nation for food insecurity, with 1 in 6 living in food-insecure homes. These populations are impacted significantly by fluctuations in the economy and changes in work hours, like those that have happened during the pandemic. Donations like the ones received here make a huge impact for people looking to break the poverty cycle.

If you missed the event but would still like to contribute to the San Antonio Food Bank's important mission, please make a donation this holiday season.

Giving became a family affair.

Courtesy photo
Giving became a family affair.
Photo courtesy of San Antonio Food Bank

Help feed San Antonio's hungry at Frost Bank's donation drop-off event

The Season of Giving

Looking for a way to give back this holiday season? Then mark your calendar for Sunday, December 13, when CultureMap and Frost Bank are hosting a donation drop-off from 12-2 pm benefitting the San Antonio Food Bank.

Donations will be accepted at 125 W. Grayson St., where the Optimism Starts With You mural is located. Help SAFB fight hunger and feed hope by bringing these food items to donate:

  • Peanut butter
  • Cereal
  • Tuna and canned lunch meats
  • Beans
  • Rice
  • Mac 'n' cheese
  • Chili and canned stews/soups
  • Baby food
  • Pet food
  • Pop-top food items

When you bring five or more donation items, you'll receive a $10 Frost It Forward card (while supplies last) as yet another opportunity to spread generosity and the power of optimism.

Everyone who donates will also get the chance to win the ultimate staycation package: a one-night stay with valet at Hotel Valencia on the Riverwalk and two drinks in Dorrego's Bar (a $532 value), plus four tickets to the Briscoe Western Art Museum and a $200 gift card to use at Pearl.

To enter, snap a picture at the mural, which was done by local artists Los Otros, and share it on social media using #OptForOptimism. We'll choose a grand prize winner on December 31.

Founded in 1980, the San Antonio Food Bank serves one of the largest service areas in Southwest Texas. Its focus is for clients to have food for today but to also have the resources to be self-sufficient in the future.

Help make sure your neighbors don't go hungry.

Photo courtesy of San Antonio Food Bank
Help make sure your neighbors don't go hungry.
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Favorite San Antonio fundraiser transforms entire city into brightly colored canvas

Colorful Creations

In non-COVID times, Artpace's Chalk It Up fundraiser turns downtown San Antonio into a vibrantly colored wonderland of temporary murals, surrounded by a big party that celebrates art, charity, and community.

This year, with everyone's health and safety in mind, Chalk It Up: Community is happening, well, wherever it can.

Right now, school and community teams from all over the city are creating murals at a location of their choice, submitting photos and statements to be reviewed for Chalk It Up Day on October 10.

That's when co-chairs Katie Pace Halleran and Cristina Peña Walls — along with honorary chair Councilman Roberto Treviño — will choose 17 finalists from across every school district within the San Antonio city limits. The finalists and a winner will be announced at noon on October 10, with each receiving gift cards courtesy of H-E-B.

In addition, 20 featured artists are turning sidewalks and pavements at 10 San Antonio Pubic Library branches into brightly colored works of art, all capturing the 2020 theme of community. Drive-through viewing is available at most libraries, but appropriate social distancing guides will be in place if you're visiting on foot/

You can also get in on the fun from the safety and comfort of your own home or neighborhood, with #ChalkItUpAtHome prompts on social media to guide your creations. Artistes are encouraged to share their masterpieces on social media by tagging @artpace, #ChalkItUpAtHome, #ArtpaceAtHome, and #MakeArtHappen.

You can learn more about this year's Chalk It Up here, as well as read about the featured artists, get more info on #ChalkItUpAtHome, and map out where to view the library murals.

Texas-based initiative helps San Antonio hospitality workers Get Shift Done

Filling the Gap

When a Texas-based nonprofit saw that San Antonio could benefit from its initiative during the COVID-19 crisis, it jumped right in. Get Shift Done for San Antonio pays out-of-work hospitality employees to provide assistance to in-need charity organizations that have seen a rise in demand since the pandemic began.

Started by Anurag Jain and Patrick Brandt, the nonprofit serves Bexar and surrounding counties by matching displaced hourly workers in the food-service industry with shifts at local food nonprofits. Workers get paid $13 an hour to do what they did pre-pandemic — cook, serve, and deliver food.

The model provides relief in three ways: help for nonprofits, paychecks for the newly unemployed, and food for the hungry.

Get Shift Done recently came to the area thanks to a partnership between United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County. The USAA Foundation funded the initiative, in addition to money it has received from the COVID-19 Community Response Fund.

Get Shift Done implements Shiftsmart technology to find workers for open nonprofit shifts in and around the city. Handling the lion's share of the HR processes, the Shiftsmart platform streamlines operations with onboarding, scheduling, and much more.

“San Antonio is known for its outstanding tourism and award-winning restaurant community that has been hit hard economically as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. We are extremely grateful to partner with United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County to be a part of a solution to provide hunger relief to so many by activating the strong base of restaurant workers who call San Antonio home,” said Shiftsmart president Patrick Brandt.

The list of charitable organizations working with Get Shift Done is quickly growing. Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of San Antonio, Inc.; Haven for Hope; St. Vincent de Paul Society; the San Antonio Food Bank; and Greater Randolph Area Services Program, Inc. (GRASP) are all currently using the matching services.

The initiative is also available in cities across the state and country, including North Texas; Houston; El Paso; Rio Grande Valley; New Orleans; Central Arkansas; and the Washington, D.C. area.

Photo courtesy of BCM

Tito's Vodka pours $1 million into Texas research institution for COVID-19 vaccine

Research on the Rocks

A famous Austin-based vodka distiller is sending funds to a Houston research group that's working on a vaccine to fight the coronavirus.

Tito's Handmade Vodka — through its philanthropic arm Love, Tito's — has pledged to give Baylor College of Medicine a $1 million grant to accelerate research on a vaccine for the virus.

Two BCM researchers are taking the work they began in 2011 to develop a SARS vaccine with the intent to make adjustments to target SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Dr. Peter Hotez is the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor, and Dr. Maria Elena Bottazzi is the associate dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine. The duo serve as co-directors of the Texas Children's Hospital for Vaccine Development as well.

"Our coronavirus vaccine is designed in Texas and tested in Texas with the utmost priority to ensure it is safe and effective," Bottazzi says in a news release. "To now see that it will be supported by Texas-based Tito's is a testament that our state will be recognized as being at the forefront of this pandemic, making a difference and reaching all populations locally and globally."

Hotez and Bottazzi focus on developing vaccines for new or neglected tropical diseases that affect those living in poverty around the world. Along with their partnership with PATH, a global nonprofit organization that will help speed up the vaccine's regulatory phase, the doctors' work from 2011 on SARS is promising and will hopefully help safely and quickly develop a COVID vaccine.

"It's an honor to work with Tito's on this life-saving initiative, which we hope will ultimately lead to a vaccine for America," Hotez says in the release. "Our vision is that it would also advance as a low-cost global health vaccine, now that COVID-19 is racing through Latin American nations, such as Ecuador and Brazil, in addition to South Asia."

Love, Tito's, which is also based in Austin, has contributed to a few other organizations amid the COVID-19 crisis, including: Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE), USBG National Charity Foundation's COVID-19 Relief Campaign, World Central Kitchen, and Southern Smoke Foundation's Emergency Relief Fund.

"Everything we do at Tito's is rooted in giving back to the communities we serve, and this pandemic is no exception," says Sarah Everett, director of global impact and research at Tito's Handmade Vodka.

"We applaud the worldwide effort to fund and support vaccines that look promising, because we can never know in advance which ones will be effective. We're proud to support Dr. Hotez, Dr. Bottazzi and their team's work to improve humanity's odds of success against COVID-19 and future coronavirus mutations."

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This story originally appeared on our sister site, InnovationMap.com.

Courtesy photo

San Antonio artists talk inspiration behind their bright new Pearl district mural

Opt for Optimism

If you happen to be near the Pearl, seek out the new "Optimism Starts With You" mural that has gone up on the West Clay block wall at 125 W. Grayson St. The giant public artwork has brought a bright burst of color to the area.

"I feel optimism means to live your life as best you can and try to lead by example," says Nik Soupè of Los Otros, the duo that painted the mural.

"It helps you get through those hard times and helps you overcome those obstacles that come in day-to-day life," adds Shek Vega, the other half of Los Otros. "Some are bigger than others and it's important to focus on the positive, be optimistic, and jump those hurdles that you come across."

It's the latest project in Frost Bank's Opt for Optimism campaign, in partnership with CultureMap. The colorful new artwork is based around the idea that optimism may start with one person, but it can easily ripple out through small acts and thoughtful moments, therefore changing the people and communities around you.

The mural's silhouette is meant to encourage passersby to stand in its place for photo opps.

Vega and Soupé hope that the mural will remind everyone that now is the ideal time to be grateful for what we have, and to spread that attitude to others: "It's a great time to reassess, regroup, and appreciate what you have, because this too shall pass."

And if you're looking for some fresh air, stop by and snap a pic with the uplifting mural at 125 W. Grayson St. Be sure to tag @culturemapsa and #optforoptimism when you do.

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New Hellraiser is stylishly gut-wrenching, but lacks substance overall

Movie review

Horror franchises, even more than ones featuring superheroes, action stars, or animated characters, have proved themselves to be eternal. No matter how many times a villain or monster is bested by the hero of the film, filmmakers find a way to bring them back to try to wring more scares out of their presence.

The original Hellraiser came out in 1987 and was followed by nine sequels, including one as recent as 2018. But everything old is new again, and so now we get the reboot. An opening sequence reintroduces the series’ central device, a puzzle box that stabs unwitting users, thereby summoning horrific figures known as Cenobites to inflict torturous pain on those who’ve been stabbed.

Cut to a few years later and a group of young people are ensnared by the puzzle box’s allure, including the central figure Riley (Odessa A’zion), an addict who lives with her brother Matt (Brandon Flynn) and roommate Nora (Aoife Hinds). Riley’s boyfriend Trevor (Drew Starkey) convinces her to help him steal things from a warehouse, inadvertently bringing the puzzle into their lives. When Riley tries solve the puzzle, all hell is unleashed on the group.

Directed by David Bruckner and written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski, the film is a stylish yet mostly empty demonstration of gruesomeness. The Cenobites – who go by names like The Priest (aka Pinhead), The Chatterer, and The Weeper – are freaky-looking creatures with all manner of flayed flesh and painful piercings. Their mere presence and supernatural ability to grab victims by chains and hooks is scary, but an actual reason for why they keep procuring more targets is lacking.

The story is hit-and-miss, with the main group alternating between heroic, stupid, or heroically stupid decision-making. Riley seems to be a person who’s unreliable at best, yet person after person tries to intervene on her behalf, a loyalty that is left unexplored in the film. While the way Riley and the others eventually fight back against the Cenobites makes sense, the scenes featuring those fights are uninspiring.

The most interesting aspect of the film is the one that is explored the least. A mysterious man named Voight (Goran Visnjic) is introduced in the opening sequence, reappearing in the film’s final act. He has a particular connection to the puzzle box and Cenobites that makes him half villain/half victim, one which could have been fleshed out a bit more to make him less one-dimensional.

A’zion, who kind of looks like Alia Shawkat, makes for an unusual protagonist. She’s not that expressive, so the audience really has to dig deep to empathize with her character. The other members of the group are also generic, never bringing anything that makes you want to care about them more. The actors playing the Cenobites are good, although the makeup does half the job for them.

This reboot of Hellraiser is the classic example of style over substance. Much effort was made into making the film look as good as possible, but the story fails on multiple levels, making all of those visuals in service of very little.

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Hellraiser debuts exclusively on Hulu on October 7.

11 must-see artists at ACL Fest 2022 — from Texas and beyond

Music Notes

It’s game time for two weekends of good times by way of Austin City Limits Music Festival. Since you certainly already have a must-see list comprised of the bigger artists on the lineup, here’s some choice acts — from Austin and beyond.

Must-see acts from Austin

Spoon
No one really needs to be told to see one of Austin's best bands of all-time. However, just in case you were thinking about skipping them, be sure to note that their 2022 release, Lucifer on the Sofa, plays great in a live setting. You can see them both weekends of the fest on Saturday at 4pm on the Honda stage.

Adrian Quesada’s Boleros Psicodélicos
Adrian Quesada (of Black Pumas) recently put out a solo album, Boleros Psicodélicos, and you’ll be able to check out all of its Latin America-inspired psych ballads during weekend one of ACL. Catch his set on Saturday, October 8, at 2:15 pm on the Honda stage.

Darkbird
Vet rockers Darkbird were supposed to play ACL in 2021, but a weather delay nixed their set. Expect the band, which is fronted by the always-spirted Kelly Barnes, to take full advantage of the do-over. Their only appearance at the fest will be Sunday, October 9 at 1:15 pm on the BMI stage.

Eric Tessmer
After a couple decades of dutiful shredding around Austin, guitar great Eric Tessmer has finally found his way onto an ACL lineup. His sure-to-be explosive turn at the fest is a weekend one only experience – see it on Sunday, October 9, at 5 pm on the BMI stage.

Good Looks
Indie rock act Good Looks are responsible for Bummer Year, one of the better albums to come out of Austin in 2022, so of course you should have them on your ACL radar. Catch this weekend two-only band on Saturday, October 15, at 1pm on the Tito’s stage.

Urban Heat
Get your new wave/post punk fix via Urban Heat during weekend two of ACL. The buzzy act, who recently put out an EP titled Wellness, will perform on Sunday, October 16 at 3 pm on the BMI stage.

Other must-see acts

Muna
LA’s own Muna, who are signed to Phoebe Bridgers' Saddest Factory imprint, head into ACL on a wave of acclaim for their 2022 self-titled album. The pop act has just a weekend one set on Sunday, October 9, at 3 pm on the Barton Springs stage.

Dehd
Dehd’s Blue Skies is loaded with some of the catchiest indie rock tracks you’ll find on any album in 2022, and that’s reason enough to catch them at ACL. The Chicagoans play both weekends – look for them each Sunday at 1:15 pm on the T-Mobile stage.

Magdalena Bay
Synthpop act Magdalena Bay recently dropped a deluxe edition of their hit 2021 album, Mercurial World, and now they’ll put it on display at ACL. Catch the LA-based act both weekends of the fest on Sunday at 4 pm on the Tito’s stage.

Wet Leg
Wet Leg had quite a bit of buzz heading into this year’s SXSW and the fervor surrounding the British indie rockers has only increased with the release of their self-titled debut album, which includes the infectious single “Chaise Longue.” The band is a weekend two-only play, and their set is Friday, October 14 at 2:30 pm on the Honda stage.

Faye Webster
The dreamy, gentle sounds of singer/songwriter Faye Webster will be a treat in the middle of the afternoon at Zilker Park. Be sure to catch the Atlanta-based artist during her weekend two-only appearance on Sunday, October 16 at 3 pm on the Barton Springs stage. By the way, don’t be surprised if Webster and her bandmates engage in some sweet yo-yo action.

Here are the top 5 things to do in San Antonio this weekend

Weekend Event Planner

Spooky sights and outdoor nights await in the days to come. Feel the thrill at the return of Fright Fest at Six Flags Fiesta Texas or celebrate all things fluttery at the Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival. Check out the top five things to do in San Antonio this weekend. For a full listing of events, go to our calendar.

Thursday, October 6

Gruene Music & Wine Festival
Get outside of town and enjoy a culmination of music, food, drinks, and more at Gruene Hall. Gruene Music & Wine Festival attendees can enjoy four separate events over the course of four days, each uniquely tailored to Texas-inspired interests. Highlights include a curated tasting of Texas wine and beer and a private performance with Pat Green. Visit the festival website for a full schedule of events and to get ticketing information. Programming is scheduled through October 9.

Friday, October 7

Six Flags Fiesta Texas presents Fright Fest
Fright Fest is back at Six Flags Fiesta Texas with spooky, family-friendly daytime activities and chilling attractions when the sun goes down. Freaky festivities include haunted houses, scare zones, live shows, and seasonal updates to some of the park’s most popular rides. Fright Fest is open through October 31.

Bonnie Raitt in concert
Blues-singing songstress Bonnie Raitt comes to San Antonio’s Majestic Theatre for one night only. The “Love Letter” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me” star is returning to the tour circuit in support of her new album, Just Like That... Raitt will be joined by special guest Marc Cohn. Get ticketing information here.

Saturday, October 8

Texas Butterfly Ranch presents 7th Annual Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival
Celebrate one of nature’s most graceful and captivating creations at Brackenridge Park Pavilion. This year’s Monarch Butterfly and Pollinator Festival is a month-long series of events including monarch tagging demos, waggle dancing, the forever journey altar, educational booths, and the traditional People for Pollinators Procession. Admission to the festival is free and open to the public. For a full schedule of events, go the festival website.

Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias: Back On Tour
Actor and comedian Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias brings fresh material and guaranteed laughs to the AT&T Center. Iglesias is one of the most-watched comedians on YouTube and has had roles in films like Magic Mike, Magic Mike XXL, and A Haunted House 2. Visit the ticketing website for show information and to reserve your seats.