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Business As Unusual: RedHanded and hillbillyhip Grand Opening Celebrations
March 24, 2011 -
RedHanded Grand Re-Opening Festival March 26, 27
By Sage Knight
PHOTO BY JAYNI SHUMAN
Anastasia Fite poses in front of RedHanded, her revitalized “arts center in a thimble” and treasure chest boutique is located right across the street from the library, for those planning to attend the Grand Re-opening festivities on March 26 and 27.
RedHanded is an arts center in a thimble. But diminuitive Anastasia Fites little shop, sitting across the street from the library construction site, has big ambitions.
On March 26 and 27, 2011, RedHandeds grand re-opening will celebrate its rebirth as an arts center with live music on three stages.
Basically Im throwing a festival, says Fite.
Its hard to imagine that so much inspiration, energy, and action can fit into one store and one person, especially since both are quite tiny. There is a sense that if you just add water, the store, like a seed or a sponge, will sprout into an entire arts rainforest. It could happen. Topanga is no ordinary town and Fite is no ordinary woman.
RedHanded first opened in December of 2009 as a retail store where the business struggled. With the festival, Fite is reviving her arts center dream.
On festival day, one stage will sport a parabolic dish that was found in the creek with its platform made of palettes donated by Ernie Demontreux at Topanga Lumber, which Fite turned into gold by spray painting through lace.
The second stage in front of the store has no room for an audience, but thats no problem says Fite: Im gonna throw blankets on the ground across the street for the audience to sit on. Then every car that passes by is part of the show.
The third stage? Fite could fit a football team in a fortune cookie and everyone would feel welcome. The yellow room is a space smaller than a Canyon kitchen, but can comfortably fit 15 people plus an acoustic performer.
Whatever you make has value, and heres a place for it, says Fite. This is Topangas showcase for everybody on their way to Topanga Gallery.
RedHanded product lines include art from many local craftspeople. Fites own line of Topanga products, her designs, include the Topanga Island Pirate Map; the Metro Line, 27-valley-to-beach pictures of Saint Topanga; Topanga Creek Synchronized Swimming; and the truly native No shoes, No teeth, No service. Multiple colors, styles, and sizes include men, women and baby onesies made with natural dyes. Best part: you can learn to silk screen it yourself.
Fites treasure chest boutique is a true democracy, displaying art from more than 40 local artisans and is run more like an educational non-profit than a retail store where visitors can spend the day learning something. Whether Im crocheting, silk screening or film editing, Ill teach you how to do it, too.
Im a school. All I need is to be able to pay the rent. Its a great place for moms to visit while the kids are checking out books at the library.
Look for two antique gumball machines outside. One for kids where for 25¢ they can get clues for one of her many ongoing treasure hunts. The other, Fortune Cookie Confessionals, is an art process for customers to write a secret, a quip or a one-liner, which she calls her waywords, and then transform it into a wearable piece of art.
Coming soon are wearable treasure hunts to special places in the Canyon (among them ancient burial sites) with coordinates hand-painted on clothing.
Another place is set aside for toys made by kids for kids. Fites favorite items include all things shippy, perhaps for mariners from the Topanga Creek Yacht Club.
I care deeply about this Canyon and my community and want to give back in the ways I would have loved access to as a Topanga kid says Fite. I want to inspire other young people to get involved in their community in positive, creative and collaborative ways.
RedHanded is located at 155 Topanga Canyon Blvd. Open Tuesday - Sunday, 12-6 p.m.. Call (310) 455-3400 or visit www.redhandedtopanga.com.
From Topanga to New York, Paris, London, Rome, Topanga
Fite was born in Topanga in 1979. The actual location was St. Johns Hospital in Santa Monica, but what are a few degrees in coordinates? She is definitely Topanga homegrown, quick to state that her mom took her home and gave her Topanga milk immediately.
She lived here until she was sixteen, then spent eleven years between New York, Paris, London and Rome, gaining an education at Cornell University and La Sorbonne, programming and curating film series, founding galleries and screening rooms, running independent and retrospective theatres and more.
Four years ago, she broke her back, an injury that brought me home, she says. She came back and decided to do for my hometown what Id done all over the world.
In the East Village of New York in 2003, she created Movieoke, like karaoke, only with film. For this bit of ingenuity, Fite earned her place on the cover of the Arts section of the New York Times, was featured on CNN, MSNBC, and in many more International publications. However, she is home now. Adding emphasis to her Canyon loyalty, she pulls down her lower lip to reveal the tattoo inside: 90290.
A true inclusionist, Fite is dedicated to community spirit. When not at RedHanded, shes at the Topanga Community Club, where shes served as manager and rental agent for the past two years. She took the job because I grew up playing there, and she volunteers many more hours than she clocks, creating and hosting fundraising events, making promo films for Topanga Days, and archiving TCCs history including a 20-minute documentary, In the Beginning, that she co-produced with Tom Mitchell, which was presented at TCCs 60th anniversary. Fite also created the Planet Topanga program, logo, name and website for TCC, as a way to accommodate those who want to host cultural programs and events while also raising funds for The Community Club.
For the last two years she programmed and produced the culminating night of the Topanga Film Festival, Best of Topanga, where she has also premiered three of her short films on Topanga, which will become part of her larger, ongoing feature-length documentary film on Topanga Canyon.
Fite has boundless energy and is on a mission to validate people who like to make things. Her goal is dynamic, childlike, and contagious.
No adult ever told me its okay. Its not only okay, its fulfilling and can be a lifestyle you show me yours, Ill show you mine, or we can do it together.
hillbillyhip Fools Celebration April 2
By Stephanie Dubov
PHOTO BY FLAVIA POTENZA
Gidget Zapata, owner of hillbillyhip, and her dog, Cowboy, adorn a bicycle donated to HIP (Helping Inspire People) Thrift, a thrift store that will donate proceeds to charities when it becomes a non-profit. The Grand Opening carnival on April 2 is a celebration and fundraiser for HIP Thrift, to say nothing of a good time.
Come one, come all to an old-timey carnival in the heart of Topanga festive attire a must!
When Saturday, April 2 rolls around, its time to don your old tie-dye T-shirts and dresses, your handmade sandals and Fairchild moccasins and, in the name of a good cause and a great idea, be transported back to 1969, while you help celebrate the official grand opening of hillbillyhip and HIP Thrift at A Fools Celebration in the Old Center plaza.
The old-style carnival begins at 2 p.m., goes to whenever and promises live entertainment, games, raffles and maybe even a birthday celebration or two. It is also a fundraiser for HIP (Helping Inspire People) Thrift, the charity part of hillbillyhip.
Gidget and Cecil Zapata have always believed in giving back to the community through their great love for art and music. They also feel that the children of that community have to be included in the process.
When they had a thrift store on the big island of Hawaii, Gidget started a program to give ukuleles to kids who wanted to learn how to play. She never had to use any of her own money because as soon as people heard about what she was doing, donations of instruments began pouring in. Not one child who applied to the program went away empty handed. Now shes come up with a way to do something like that for kids in Topanga and adults as well.
When HIP Thrift becomes a non-profit, they will start a foundation to fund supplies for both children and adults in the areas o