“I’m called Corina now,” she laughs as the owner of Corina’s Tea Room & Gallery. Who, then, is Corina? “My husband’s late grandmother, who this house belonged to,” Canales explains. From the start, the home’s quaint charm with white picket fences and luscious yard has been a perfect match for this art-based business.
In such a peaceful atmosphere, it’s hard to imagine Canales’ idea was born from a place of stress. After sixteen years working in a dental office, she yearned to be more available to her children. “I wanted to be there once they arrived from school,” Canales recalls. The leap of faith to end a steady career wasn’t easy—but not one she regrets. “When you’re working, you have money, but not much time,” she points out. “But when you’re home, there’s time to be creative.”
From this transition blossomed a newfound passion for the arts.
“I had no experience, and didn’t even know how to cook,” Canales confesses.
Today, she not only oversees their art studio, but also has improved her family’s eating habits. “It’s nice when the kids prefer that I make something at home instead of eating out,” she mentions.
Their success over the last decade, according to Canales, is due to the friends she’s made along the way. “I’ve had the privilege of meeting amazing people that are so talented,” she said. “And I’m willing to share what they do.” From these partnerships, their walls have become filled with visitors’ creations, many of them on religious themes due to Corina’s Tea Room’s proximity to Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
To Canales, this sense of community is what allows creativity to grow into something bigger. “When you meet another artist with the same passion, it just explodes from there,” she highlights, adding that one her favorite places to sharpen her skills is Mexico.
“Here, art is just something to hang on the wall, but there, art is their life.”
With this mindset, Canales encourages Corina’s Tea Room’s guests to share their knowledge. “When one person teaches another, that can take the little bit someone has and make it amazing,” she observes. As a learner herself, Canales experiences the joy of watching her creations being appreciated by fresh eyes. “I’ve only been painting for three years, but already sold my paintings to people in New York and Wisconsin,” she rejoices. “To have something I’ve done in my spare time being admired is very rewarding.”
The future for Corina’s Tea Room is as bright as the sun. The Tea Room recently added a covered patio. “That will allow us to host events for more people, with a stage for music or poetry” Canales celebrates. Besides making more friends, the lifelong Edinburg resident is also happy to contribute to her town’s growth. While doing her part to promote the arts in her community, Canales enjoys the results. “We’re proud of the new gazebo, and the Casa de Cultura project,” she said. “This is our city, and we’re excited to make it beautiful.”