Picture this on a beautiful fall afternoon: Live art and in-motion clothing design on the sidewalk. A mural in progress. Wine, cheese, and make-your-own cupcakes to whet your appetite. A DJ spinning beats as beautiful women clamor over swapped (and now shared) clothing. A curly-haired, bearded reporter amidst the madness.
Nothing about my presence at the OB Centric “Women Only” Clothing Swap made sense; in every respect, I was the outlier. There was rule “# 5 – No Boys Aloud”. There was the fact that the clothing being exchanged at this collaborative was in sizes that don’t really fit me and styles that don’t flatter my physique. If I didn’t know the person putting the event together, have a girlfriend attending, and write for the OB Rag, I probably would have gotten shooed out of the store as quickly as I had sauntered in. This was an event put on by, about, and for women, and I’m glad I had the privilege to experience it.
Luckily, the OB Rag is a well respected source of local commentary on art and culture, so I was allowed to break the rules. Besides, how could I turn down the opportunity to be surrounded by a bevy of beautiful women as they collaborated on one of the most interactive and fashionable events held in OB in recent memory?
The closure of Rock, Paper, Scissor left a huge void in the local art scene, and OB Centric has done an excellent job filling that hole. The gallery and gift shop in its current form has existed for about three months, dating back to a much ballyhooed event put on by Danielle Eder and Saffran Packaging owners Lynette and Mike that announced OB Centric as the new art collective in OB. Sharing space with Saffran Packaging, OB Centric has gone from a gift shop to an eclectic art collective in mere months. According to Ms. Eder, who is OB Centric’s creative director and curator, it was when Mike and Lynette hired her that the opportunity to create this locally oriented, creative environment really took off.
“We have about 60 vendors at OB Centric, and at least half of them are former vendors at Rock, Paper, Scissor”, Ms. Eder said. “All of our artists and vendors are from the OB/Point Loma area, and its only natural that we would plan community events like this to put it all on display. Being that I used to work at RPS, I knew that upon its closing there was a lack of space for local artists to display and sell their wares. Lynette has given me the freedom to develop this space into an interactive art and fashion environment, and the clothing swap is one way that I thought we could include the community in that idea.”
The event itself came about after months of banter about the fact that closet space is at a premium in population-dense Ocean Beach. Danielle and her close-knit group of friends started talk of downsizing their unused wardrobe, but had little idea how to do so without simply donating or selling the clothes – as is practiced at the many secondhand or thrift stores around San Diego. Thus, the idea of a clothing exchange came to fruition. As evidenced by what took place at OB Centric, it seems like this community has been itching for an opportunity to collaboratively create and design fashion in a uniquely OB style. One can only assume that the clothing swap scratched that itch – and then some.
Outside on the sidewalk, three local artists were creating, selling, and displaying their personal works. Not only were Kristine Grafke, Paris Davis, and Danny Salazar able to work with attendees in accentuating recently acquired clothes, but they were also able to promote their individual vision in an environment allergic to barriers and limitations. Grafke, of Trashy Klassy, presented swappers with the opportunity to custom design their newfound clothes in her “chopped” vision.
“I love the ability to create fashion on somebody while they’re wearing it”, said Grafke.
Trashy Klassy, which you can find at the OB Farmer’s Market and at her website, is a representation of Grafke’s way of looking at fashion – and life – through an intricately layered lens.
Mr. Davis, of Paris Davis Designs, also has his work available at the local farmer’s markets and at live art shows around San Diego. Paris’ ability to stencil clothing by hand was fully taken advantage of by a number of the attendees. I thought it was especially interesting to watch Paris as he stencilled articles of clothing for people that they had yet to wear; it was certainly creativity in motion.
Mr. Salazar, whose abstract art can be found at OB Centric, was hard at work muraling the front window wall of Saffron/OB Centric while giving swappers the opportunity to use a bleach pen to add a little “flair” to newfound clothing. These three artists were setting the tone for people as they entered the store, even though it was after swapping that most people interacted with them.
Inside, free wine, cheese, and beer gave attendees a chance to take a gander at the ground rules and settle themselves down before heading to the clothing swap area. Also available was a make-your-own-cupcake station put together by local entrepreneur Tiffany Senin. Senin created her business, Cupcake Concepts, earlier this year. With both the cupcakes delicious and the business model far from self-serving, (part of the proceeds go to charity) Tiffany has found a willing – and hungry – niche market.
The real action was on the back patio. After attendees brought their clothing to be counted and weighed they were then directed to the back to start swapping. As DJ Mission spun beats, ladies gathered to try and find their next hot piece. A black drape set up in the back room served as a dressing room, and thusly swappers were provided an opportunity for feedback. The most common overheard statement, at least within earshot of this reporter, seemed to be “Oh my god, that looks so much better on you than it did on me!” I guess that statement implies the objective of the event was accomplished multiple times over.
As I made my way out, I found it hard to leave the collaborative environnment – even though I was technically not allowed to enter in the first place. I felt compelled to ask Danielle about future events in the same vein, possibly including men. While there are no plans for another clothing swap as of yet, there was some acknowledgment that similar events were upcoming.
“I wasn’t sure how it would flow with the wine and cheese, the sidewalk artists, and the dressing room being inside, so I just thought I would limit it to women – but that doesn’t mean we won’t have a co-ed version in the future”, Ms. Eder said. “The next event I hold here will most likely be a book swap, which is another thing I have been planning for a long time now. Hopefully we can make that happen sometime in November.”
In the meantime, Obceans should rest easy knowing that our cultural scene is in good hands. With people like Ms. Eder and the owners of Saffran Packaging feeding our creative energy and holding community events like this, its obvious that OB’s artistic side – and feminist spirit – is alive and well.
OB Centric is located within Saffran Packaging and Supply, at 4876 Santa Monica Avenue. Stop by, say hello, and check out some of OB’s up and coming artists!