Business / Economy

Local Artisan Opens Artsy Chica Boutique in SJB

Lifelong San Juan Bautista resident, Monica Shearer, opened her business on Sunday, Aug. 14. The retail store features Shearer's upcyled, handcrafted artwork

Salvaged from a church in Mexico, the top to a former candle altar is now illuminated with a painting: A Native-American woman with long black hair and wearing a red shawl standing below a milky-white full moon, surrounded by a light-turquoise background. 

The artist whose hands crafted the piece is Monica Shearer, who on Sunday, Aug. 14 took her business, Artsy Chica Boutique, from the digital world and the occasional art show to a quaint, permanent location in San Juan Bautista.

In an interview with BenitoLink, Shearer, a lifelong San Juan resident, explained that what motivated her to open a retail store was a desire to generate local interest in her work.

Taking century-old picture frames, pieces of cloth, and discarded metal, Shearer, who describes herself as a “Mexican junk gyspy,” upcycles, producing paintings, plush cacti pillows, purses, hats, jewelry, and wall decor. She also refurbishes furniture.

The source of Shearer's inspiration: “colors, Mexican-American culture, and the desert scenery," she said.

Since 2010, Shearer has sold more than 700 of her handcrafted pieces.

Among her most favorite motifs is “El Dia de Los Muertos" or The Day of the Dead. Celebrated throughout Mexico on Nov. 1, the holiday blends indigenous religious beliefs with Roman Catholicism.

A constant stream of customers filed into Artsy Chica Boutique on its first day, which coincided with San Juan’s 52nd Annual Antiques and Collectibles Fair.

“Fabulous,” is how Shearer described her business’s pre-grand opening, as it was advertised on the Artsy Chica Boutique Facebook page. She is still deciding on the date for its grand opening.

On Sunday afternoon, John Mello of Watsonville walked into Artsy Chica Boutique and congratulated Shearer on her new endeavor. He then reached over the counter and gave her a celebratory embrace.

For more than a decade, Mello, a retired museum curator, has collected Shearer’s work, specifically her paintings featuring images synonymous with El Dia de Los Muertos, such as “calaveras” or skulls and “La Catrina,” a female skeleton character dressed in Victorian-era clothing.

Mello explained to BenitoLink that he and another admirer of Shearer’s work are currently in a competition of sorts. Each time he buys a piece, his female rival buys one, too. Mellow owns 16 pieces, while his fellow competitor owns 17.

Searching the shelves to even out the score or perhaps to overtake the lead, Mello said, “I know fine art when I see it.”


Artsy Chica Boutique is located 407 3rd St. (behind Golden Wheel Antiques) in San Juan Bautista. It is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, call Monica Shearer at (831) 265-9027

Visit Artsy Chica Boutique on

Follow Arty Chica Boutique on Facebook or on Instagram @Artsy.Chica.


Frank Pérez

I’m a lifelong resident of San Benito County. I reside in Hollister with my wife, Brenda. For over two decades, I've been a faculty member at San Benito High School, where I teach world history, Mexican-American history, and Ethnic Studies. I've been reporting for BenitoLink since 2015. My passion is delving deeper into the nuances of the local, historical record, while including lesser-known stories of our past. My hope is that county residents will have a greater appreciation for the diversity and complexity of San Benito County, realizing that its uniqueness depends upon our responsibility as its stewards.