I tend to gush about independent shops in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn, and La Sirena (which means "the mermaid") is certainly a note-worthy gem in that category. This past Xmas, I spent some time amid the shop's colorful, ceiling-high clutter looking for little gifts for family and friends. I ended up purchasing a Day of the Dead matchbook, hand-made ornament, miniature angel figure, skull-woman magnet, and a luchador figure... because honestly, what is Xmas without a little rubber Mexican wrestler?
The shop sells Mexican folk art that really runs the gamut: from tiny trinkets to printed shirts to funky jewelry to artful collector's items. I love all of the Catholic iconography and pendants, especially when combined with images of skulls and flowers, and portrayed with glitter in absurdly bright colors. The owner, Dina Leor, is also sweet and helpful (she even gave me a free calendar). But the best part about the store (other than its killer kitsch factor) is that many of the crafts are handmade from Mexican artisans, which reflects "the beauty and richness of the country of Mexico and the people who live there." As it says on their website:
The store is filled with arts and crafts from all over Mexico, from museum quality pieces to traditional marketplace merchandise and in all price ranges. Much of the work is crafted by families whose traditions have been handed down from generation to generation. Families whose lives, in and of themselves, are living art. The pieces are bought directly from the artists, whenever possible. This is very important because it ensures that the artist fully profits and the traditions live on.
It really doesn't get much more authentic than that. Next time you need a quick gift or find yourself in the mood for browsing, stop by this little space. I guarantee you'll see some things you've never seen before, and you'll probably acquire a sudden need for a tiny Mexican wrestler of your very own.