Friday, July 15, 2011

Paradise Fragment: The Birth of Hibbleton

Tony and I are walking past the retail space underneath our apartment. It used to be a photography studio that also sold scooters and was never open.

“We should do something with that space.”

“Like what?”

“I dunno. Maybe like an art studio.”

“I could do publishing.”

“Yeah. We could do anything really.”

“I wonder how much it costs.”

“I’ll call Dennis.”

I call Dennis, our landlord, who owns the space and our apartment.

“It costs $1500 a month.”

“That’s pretty steep. I don’t think we could afford that.”

“What if we got some other people involved. Maybe Landon, Chuck, Ben, RJ.”

“Let’s see.”

Over the next couple days, we talk to about ten different people. Landon is skeptical, RJ is pumped, Chuck and Ben are interested.

I’m eating pizza with my parents at their house in Brea.

“Tony and I had the idea to open an art studio underneath our apartment.”

My parents give me quizzical looks.

“Hmmm. That sounds interesting. Opening a business is hard.”

Over the next week or so, the idea of the gallery starts to materialize. We get enough people who are interested, so we can afford it. We go back and forth on the name. Someone suggests “Hibbleton,” which is the name of Tony’s bike club. I send a mass text. Hibbleton it is.

Meetings. Details. Getting a business license. Getting a DBA. Setting up an LLC. Getting insurance, a phone line, security. These are things I never thought I would be doing. Like standing in line at the County Clerk’s office in Santa Ana. I don’t have a business degree. I don’t know shit about this. But Landon does. Landon is a good resource. He is warming to the idea.

We have meetings, e-mails, phone calls. It occurs to me that we are like a powerhouse of abilities, like The Avengers, or the Thundercats. Landon knows business. I can write. Tony and Ben know art and design. Chuck knows film. RJ is a schmoozer and he knows the internet. We can do this.

I spend a few weeks visiting other art galleries in LA and Santa Ana. I meet gallery owners, ask them questions, talk about the gallery we are opening. Nothing like we are doing exists in Fullerton. It is May of 2008.

We are all here together. Landon painting the walls. RJ cleaning the floor. Chuck and Mark building a moveable wall. Tony sanding wood. Ben setting up the internet. I am recording this with my handycam.

And then the day comes when the artists bring their work. The show is called “To the Fifth Dimension!” The art is of a style Ben calls “lowbrow.” It is comic book influenced, funny, strange. When I took painting classes, I learned about the masters. I don’t know anything about “lowbrow” or “pop surrealist” art. But I like it.

We spend the night hanging the show, and it looks amazing. It looks like an art gallery. Surrounded by bars and restaurants, we are a little cultural anomaly right in the middle of downtown.

And then the opening reception. It is packed. It confirms what we expected. Artists and creative people live here—they just had no place to gather. Our little gallery reception brings them all out. And people actually buy stuff. They buy art. I have lots of little conversations with artists and people from the community, people I know from living down here a few years. My parents are here. They tell me they are impressed.
It feels like the beginning of something.

After the opening, we head next door to Mulberry where our friends Mark and Casey are spinning records. It is more packed in Mulberry St. on a Friday night than it ever is. Packed with young people—people in their 20s and 30s.

The music Mark and Casey are playing is unlike anything you might hear in the surrounding bars, who mostly play top 40 hits. They are playing soul, garage, and punk music. This too feels like the beginning of something.

I wander from conversation to conversation in a haze of euphoria. We did this. If nothing lasts, we can say we did this.

1 comment:

  1. I remember visiting the open mic nights in 2008 when I was a Sophomore at CSUF. It's amazing how much it has grown since then. Good job. :)