EVENT COVERAGE & INTERVIEW: “Treasured Again” The Transformation of TATABA Vintage

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Photo by Billy Bennight

Gilena Simons’s TATABA Vintage has set the stage for moving the store from its current location as a conventional retail store to be transformed to a highly curated gallery space in a new location at the beginning of next year. The kick-off party last weekend of “Treasured Again” set the stage for that transformation. TATABA Vintage will remain open to the public to experience “Treasured Again” till the end of April when the store will be closed before anticipating the re-opening of TATABA Vintage next year, also on Main Street. For those who are unfamiliar with the meaning of TATABA it is an acronym for “Tuesdays And Thursdays And By Appointment”. Anyone desiring to peruse “Treasured Again” these curated creations composed of hand-made art, vintage fashion, jewelry and home décor and collectibles of many sorts at its current location on Main Street in Santa Monica till the store closing.

Gilena has an MBA from Pepperdine University and she is a self-published author. Her memoir called “A Life Imagined” was published in 2008 and a collection of blogs called “Can Gilena wear it All?” in 2010. She has been on the Photography Committee at MOCA since 2005 and is a passionate collector of contemporary art. I had an opportunity to have a brief chat at TATABA that illuminated what TATABA is and what TATABA will become in the busy store front last Sunday.

Cartwheel Art: How Do you acquire these things: is it something you see and grab or is it accidental?

Gilena Simons: Actually, everything was very deliberate. I bought all the components on eBay. So it was a matter of me becoming interested in either stamps, matchbooks, lace or ephemera and buying up lots: broken bead lot, I use the word lot a lot. The houses were none of my construction. They were always previously played with dollhouses that ere treasured and then nobody wants them anymore. They were all on eBay. It becomes something where a collection is very meaningful to the individual, once they’re gone, someone else comes along and wants to monetize it. So they put it on eBay and I have it. Then it becomes a responsibility to that something into value – something treasured again.

Cartwheel Art: So do you mix and match from these purchases? Yes, and that’s exciting!

Gilena Simons: are you telling a story: Always! I’m always telling a story, Sometimes I don’t know what that story is until I’m done. There are these items and my work plays with chance – as is in ”What are the chances?” I might get a china dog from Germany, some Peruvian little dolls and a miniature rug from Wisconsin. Then all of a sudden they are in a vignette, where all these little things have their own stories. Why were they made, how were they played with? They all kind of merge in a kind of harmony.

Cartwheel Art: Are any of these thing specifically collectors items? There’s the whole collectors, because there’s a market that’s totally focused on of vintage and antiques.

Gilena Simons: I collect collections. You know, we all have a budget, so I was always collecting lots. It’s no matter to me if they’re collectable or not. Somebody collected them. Somebody thought they were valuable. So I don’t pay extra for collectability.

Cartwheel Art: I understand. I’m not a collector but I understand the mind set of the collector.

Gilena Simons: It’s a little bit sad. Sometime the more of something you have the less valuable it is. Somebody is trying to get rid of it. You can imagine your uncle had this huge matchbook collection. Do you take it apart and this is worth this and this is worth this or do you sell it all at one time to get rid of it.

Cartwheel Art: It’s a value issue really. It comes down to expedition more valuable verses…

Gilena Simons: Expedition, right? Time is our most valuable currency. Sometime people spend all this incredible time and resources this wonderful collection that doesn’t mean anything to anyone else.

Cartwheel Art: Conceptually, when did the store start and what was the objective when you started and are you still adhering to that objective?

Gilena Simons: The objective of when I started was to make lemonade out of lemons. I got a divorce. It started with my closet – my belongings. I was always a collector. I started with that. The last year I acquired an inventory form a woman who used to rent to film and television with vintage clothing – 1920’s to 1990’s, men, women and children. I bought it all! I bought the whole collection. It came across on a semi-truck. It’s all parked in a garage and I’ve gone through it. It’s beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

Beyond this location when I reopen. It’s going to be with an eye towards art openings. Featuring under represented local artist. Then the artist has the opportunity to curate the vintage. So in other words. If it’s a British artist I have amazing London Fog coats. So it becomes this dance, this marriage. You know, I’m fascinated with curator as artist. You know I can’t draw. I’m curator, okay. I’m curate many things – that’s what I do. I really, really good at giving parties. I’m great at giving parties! I’m not as good at setting open for 8 hours a day. I think the art gallery model is really going to better for me. TATABA stands for “Tuesdays And Thursdays And By Appointment”.

Cartwheel Art: The new store is it a bigger space?

Gilena Simons: It’s going to be cleaner and more focused and more curated.

Cartwheel Art: Will be this fall, next year?

Gilena Simons: Nah, next year. I’m excited to go on hiatus and learn from everything over the last 2 years. Then pop back up!

The current location of TATABA Vintage is located at 2823 Main Street in Santa Monica and by appointment at 818-631-9821.

Galena Simons of TATABA Vintage

Matt Kennedy of Gallery 30 South and Peekaboo Gallery.

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