Local historian and photographer release books on San Antonio

Historian Edna Campos Gravenhorst and Photographer Al Rendon showed off their latest literary works Dec. 2 at the Latino Collection inside the Central Library. (Photo, Amanda Lozano)

Edna Campos Gravenhorst and Al Rendon, a local historian and photographer, respectively, released new books all about San Antonio, much to the delight of history buffs in the city. During a platica and book signing on Dec. 2, the two discussed the work behind their latest creative endeavors.

Edna Campos Gravenhorst: Storyteller of the Working Class

South Texas Native Campos Gravenhorst says she is a storyteller for “working-class Americans,” and a San Antonio Certified Tourism Ambassador. A major advocate in the community, she tirelessly researches Mexican-American subjects willing to share their stories and histories that would otherwise be lost to time. Extraordinarily driven and with a penchant for really listening, Edna has an infectious personality that makes you want to open up and tell her all your family stories.

Campos Gravenhorst’s latest book, “Images of America: San Antonio’s Historic Market Square” expansively covers the history of the iconic San Anto landmark.  For over a century, Market Square evolved and changed, yet remains a gathering place for locals and travelers to purchase wares, eat, catch up on the latest news and celebrate.

Her book covers the life of the vendors and visitors of days past, from the hay and wagons of the 1800’s, to urban renewal in the 60’s, to the Market Square and the local celebrities that frequent the area currently.

At the platica, Gravenhorst Campos spoke of the hardships she faced to get the book published. Much of San Antonio history was never placed in Texas history. According to Gravenhorst Campos, photographs were a luxury in the 1900’s and working class people –such as vendors at Market Square—would not prioritize anything over taking care of their families. Because of that, there was no pictorial evidence from institutions Gravenhorst Campos could use.

Instead she went door-to-door, speaking to vendors that have hallowed Market Square’s brick façade for generations, and received photos and testimonies from first-hand sources.

“For decades, our parents as Mexican-Americans were not included in history. That didn’t happen very much. There is very little documented history of Mexican-Americans in Texas history,” Campos Gravenhorst said. “It is so important that we preserve that history and preserve this market.”

The efforts of Campos Gravenhorst show through in book, from the carefully curated, detailing and description of every photograph, that truly captures the spirit of Market Square and those that have made it a part of their lives. “San Antonio’s Historic Market Square” excellently portrays the life and struggles of the “Working-Class” American, and is an excellent testimony and tribute to the people of the Alamo City.

The book can be purchased at local bookstores, or online at Amazon.com.

Campos Gravenhorst is hosting her final book signings of the year Dec. 8 at Literary Happy Hour at Sententia Vera Cultural Hub in Dripping Springs, Texas and Dec. 9 at the Blessing of the Animals at Market Square from 2 p.m.-4 p.m.

Al Rendon: Eidetic Photographer

San Antonio native Rendon isn’t a formal historian, but for many years, has documented the changes of the city behind his watchful, precise lens. His latest endeavor was at Travis Park, and the controversial removing of the Christmas tree from the Alamo. Not a man of many words, photography is his way of speaking. Rendon uses vivid colors, uncanny accuracy, provocative angles, and spectacular detail to the smallest factor, which enraptures and sustains attention. His straight approach to subjects makes Rendon’s work stand out more than average photos. His work has been displayed in numerous museums throughout the country.

In his latest book “San Antonio: A Photographic Portrait,” Rendon collaborates with Author Gary Whit-ford, and showcases photos that represent what San Antonio means to him. Rendon’s book can be purchased at his studio: Rendon Photography and Fine Art, located at 733 S. Alamo St. Call 210-225-2287, for more information.

Since discovering his passion for photography at the age of 12, Rendon has shot everything San Antonio has to offer, from the Missions, Downtown lights, charreadas, Conjunto Festival, Dia de los Muertos, fireworks, Fiesta, and everything in between. He documents all things Latino, and understands the culture to a T.

“Being Hispanic and being from San Antonio I’ve always been drawn to all the culture we have here because it’s such a strong culture,” Rendon said. “It revolves around everything from the Missions, to the Riverwalk to Market Square.”