Rendon Retrato: Artist Robert Tatum

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Robert Tatum. Photo by Al Rendon.

Robert Tatum. Photo by Al Rendon.

Robert Tatum: Artist, creative director, Southtowner, genial iconoclast. Photo by Al Rendon.

“I see a lot of progressiveness happening lightning quick now. When I came from Los Angeles as a visitor in 1992, I saw all these magic spaces you could rent for $300 or $400 a month. But I would laugh because there was little or nothing going on. I could get together some event with a friend or two and everybody thought it was so cool and innovative – I was just copying what I had seen in LA.

San Antonio has gotten a lot more popular with Austin and California types discovering what a jewel this town is. Eclectic little restaurants and coffee places and shops growing up along Broadway and throughout Southtown. We’re being seen by a lot more cutting edge people by being open to contemporary signage and logos and creative design. With that, unfortunately, comes more expensive retail spaces and taxes are going up.

There is a charm and real-ness to San Antonio I hope we don’t lose in the process. San Antonio is a non-materialistic town; people aren’t looking at your shoes or what kind of car you drive. When I leave San Antonio, it’s that real-ness that brings me back, every time. I left LA, and I left Austin because I got so tired of the trendy-ness. We’re growing fast, we’re drawing an eclectic market that will support artists. However, there will be a compromise. I don’t want to see it get too uptight.”

–Robert Tatum



Al Rendon is San Antonio’s photographer, born and raised here and known for iconic photographs of the city and its culture. Al is an active Southtown gallery owner as well as an art and commercial photographer. Check out more of his work at


6 thoughts on “Rendon Retrato: Artist Robert Tatum

  1. Great photo and interview! Always have been a fan of Tatum’s – I was going to purchase one of his toy guitars at Tienda Guadalupe, but it was a little out of my price range, so I saved up for one and then (unfortunately) the shop shut down. To this day I regret it.

  2. Our culture will get diluted with the the addition of extra Californians and Austinites. Let’s keep our trendiness in check!

  3. HI:
    Well, just think how interesting San Antonio was in the 70s when everything was real cheap and everywhere was a mystery. Now all these neighborhoods have become historic and upscale. Which needed to happen but the uniqueness is being lost. Of course that was when we didn’t have so much art.
    And as I have said before.: “Art, like the Alamo, has to draw the line somewhere.”
    Gene Elder
    HAPPY Foundation

  4. About 9 years ago I moved out of King William (home for 35 years) and out to Bandera County. I love the peace, quiet and the little pool of kind souls I find in and around my everydays. And, because I have begun to feel a bit isolated — and tired of my periodic hour to hour and a half commutes for work or recreation in the city –we began looking for a little cabin in the city. I admit to being amazed and encouraged to find that neighborhoods that were only a decade ago sad and neglected, are spruced up (not necessarily gentrified) and, some of them, even out of reach of my modest budget. In general, I find this hopeful. The inner city — almost everywhere inside 410– is no longer a place being fled from, it is, as last, a map being reclaimed and renewed and reinvented. Not just for artists, but for families, for older folks (gee, like me) and for lots of young people. No, not really cheap, but certainly compared to NYC, LA and even Atlanta prices, affordable.

  5. I have been photographing Tatum’s mural around Southtown since ’94. I love that his art has a don’t take life so serious appeal. He is a talented artist that has made owning his art affordable through prints and tee shirts. I can drive around San Antonio and see his style in Alamo Eats Logo, The Luxury, or Mellow Mushroom on 1604 / Stone Oak. I must admit I as much as I consider Tatum a Southtown icon I am thrilled that the northside is waking up to his art.

  6. As a former Southownite, I had the chance of meeting Tatum soon after his arrival to San Antonio.
    People like him enrich our town and make it interesting. It is our gain he has made San Antonio home, and it is significant that he has been able to to remain a proffessional/productive/commercial artist while remaining true to his core values and sense of humor.

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