Words by Mary E. Mayer
Photos by Last Vestige and Mary Mayer
Tucked deep in the back row of a neatly lined up storage unit in Huntington Beach lies a wonderland of vintage treasures. Last Vestige is a collection of stunning, eclectic and one-of-a-kind vintage finds. Karen Joyce – curator, designer, owner and vintage visionary – has thoughtfully sourced, handpicked and collected unique, imaginative items from all over the country. From small scale figurines to oversized architectural pieces, Last Vestige is stocked with truly wonderful finds.
Karen describes herself as a creative person that struggled to find an outlet for that expression for many years. She definitely did not find that outlet in visual art, sewing, cooking or music. However, later in her life she had a serendipitous reunion with her birth mother. Karen recalls walking into her lovely home set by a river in Wyoming and experiencing an overwhelming sense of awe when she saw how creatively and colorfully her home was decorated. Her birth mother expertly mixed textures, tones, and a variety of styles and genres. “Her aesthetic blew me away,” Karen noted. Soon after they reunited “she reeled me in” remembers Karen, and her formal education in the world of antiques and vintage began. With the renewed companionship and mentoring of her mother, Karen began going to flea markets and estate sales to expand her horizons. She started purchasing items slowly, and before long her personal aesthetic emerged. She was drawn to bigger pieces, which meant she needed more space to store her collection – thus, her Huntington Beach warehouse came to be. Eventually, the two of them realized what retailers were getting for their wares, they agreed it was time to start selling some of their fabulous finds. In true full-circle fashion, Karen found herself back at flea markets, but this time as a seller.
According to Karen “My favorite thing is finding a piece with history. You can tell by the evidence of craftsmanship and wear that there is a fabulous story behind it.” This keen sense of inquiry combined with an artistic sense of style allow her to find some pretty amazing pieces. She combines her contemporary styling, skilled photographic eye, and eclectic inventory to create eye-catching images that she posts on a variety of platforms. Instagram is her main tool. It drives her followers, and fellow designers to her warehouse, pop-up events, and flea markets turning curious creatives into loyal customers. The diverse methods of selling online and in-person have given Karen a broad range of clientele. From EBay to Etsy to creative live events, Karen has navigated the entrepreneurial seas of selling vintage wares like few others have. Plus, her birth mother is still deeply involved in the business and even attends shows and buying trips with Karen, to look for that special, amazing find together.
The flexibility of running a small business has been a perfect fit for raising a family and two children. It has allowed Karen time to build a strong base of customers as well as attend sporting events and school functions with her now teenage kids. As the kids have grown, so has Last Vestige, which Karen calls “more than full time work.” Between buying, cleaning, hauling, photographing and marketing her inventory online and in person, Last Vestige has become a robust, big league player in the vintage marketplace of Southern California – keeping Karen busy and smiling through it all.
In her down time, you will find Karen and her husband kayaking or enjoying the beach, and spending time with their family. She is happy to report the love of vintage vibes has been passed along to another generation – her daughter. She has developed an interest in vintage clothing and quite a flair for fashion.
Let The King reign supreme! Mike Swenson of The Kings Club Barbershop has created a perfect mix of welcoming nostalgia, mixed with superb talent to bring Dana Point a barber shop experience fit for royalty – and the locals know it! The banter of the barbers and the hum of the clippers provide the quiet background track as customers of all ages drop in for a full cut, shave or just a trim. In the small but beautifully designed space, light pours in from the front windows to illuminate the eclectic, kooky, and amazing collection of vintage photos, and memorabilia. A record player and taxidermy towel holders add an even cooler touch. It is comfortable and welcoming – reminiscent of the barber shop I went to with my father as a child, but with a hip contemporary flair.
Mike Swenson has been cutting hair for just around 20 years. His early days of cutting were down south in Solano Beach where he worked with an established pro to glean the nuances of shop life and cutting techniques. After settling in San Clemente with his family he was ready to venture out on his own, and 14 years ago The Kings Club Barber shop became a reality. Mike has been at the helm as the shop has weathered several remodels, the addition of new chairs, a fire, and a global pandemic. All of these add to the layers and stories that make The Kings Club Barber Shop the dynamic business it is today.
These talented, charismatic barbers provide an exceptional product and service in an age where people often look for bargains or shortcuts. They all pride themselves on being the best, offering each client a personalized professional cut just to their liking. In fact, it’s the steady stream of regulars that keep The Kings Club alive – plus all those friends-of-friends, brothers-of-friends, sons, and occasionally even daughters filling their chairs each week.
Rounding out the stellar team of barbers are Matt, Scott, and Tanner, the friendliest, most talented and compassionate cutters in town. This fantastic foursome makes The Kings Club Barbershop a hometown favorite of service, passion, and just plain old good vibes. So, take a pro-tip from the tiny surf groms to City Council members alike – if you need a fresh cut, a trim, or a shave… The Kings Club Barbershop is the place to go.
Mary E. Mayer
WORDS BY Haydn Kramer
He combines: The Calvary Church of Costa Mesa California, The Grateful Dead’s first album cover, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Jimi Hendrix, and Murphy “The Surfer”. A man who could attract wolf whistles from women as he dismounted his Harley outside Surfer Magazine in the early 60’s. A drug addict , an artist, a surfer, a Christian---and, with Rick Griffin---that’s only the half of it.
By the time he lost his edge, on a Harley in August 1991 and became one with that highway; he had changed graphic art design, invented (virtually) the enigmatic ‘rock concert poster’, gave Robert Crumb of Zap comics, a run for his perverted money, and forever put Surfer magazine at the pinnacle of avant guarde psychedelic (surfing) cartoon design.
The chronicles of Griffin’s life are myriad and mythological---- from Steve Barilotti:
“Various descriptions include, but aren’t limited to gas huffing Lakewood pachuco, guileless pretty boy Grimmie, Haight Ashbury charismatic, goofball Christian Dad, beatnik art student, underground comic pioneer, clue-less womanizer, middle-aged punk rocker, psychedelic poster art legend, ill-tempered prima donna, luckless good guy, hog-riding-crack-smoking-rock-star-wannabe.”
Or, from Doug Harvey’s curator comments during a Griffin show at the Laguna Art Museum, “A capital “A” artist.” [is what he deserves…]
The debate over high or low brow “art” can be left to others, but the community of cartoonist, poster artists, and comic book illustrators---state plainly in reverent tones; “one of the greatest of all time, a legend…. he changed the game, for everyone…”
It is then such serendipity, that post early trials and tribulations, psychedelic meandering, and a sincere Christian conversion---- that in 1972 (besides surfing Hollister Ranch in Pacific Vibrations), we find Rick Griffin and John Severson both back in Dana Point (a publisher’s home office, an artist studio), preparing to produce the greatest surfing comic ever produced: “Tales from The Tube” No. 1.
If you were a surf stoked human being living in California in 1972, and your pristine February issue of Surfer had arrived on your doorstep or, perhaps, salvaged from a sand strewn back seat of a salty Volkswagen camper van---you leafed through the words for pictures (as you always did) and oddly, inserted in the middle staple fold, you found a comic book. And… not just any comic book.
No, this was a missile of psychedelic surf fantasy depicting waves in a color saturated super realistic graphic epistles of pornographic surf imagery---never (ever) rivaled again. Gorgeous, slick, chocked full of subversive hidden meaning, in plain view. Rated a “9” out of 10 by “Underground Comix Collection”.com (without an author citation), goes on to say, “…the overall vibe of the book, which feels like a cartoon love letter to surfing and the surf culture….”
Indeed. And then this:
“The closing story is Griffin’s “Surfing Movies,” a four-pager that shows enthusiastic people packing an auditorium for the latest surfing film (which had its heyday in the ‘70’s), which features the best 15 minutes from a variety of surf documentaries, The super-surfer star of the film rides some gnarly waves, but when he gets washed up on shore, he finds himself outside the very auditorium where his film is being shown.”
The perfect world within a world, an extension surfing’s elasticity, on a screen, in a comic book, from inside Griffin’s mind. Rick had nailed it. How surfing felt. What surfers saw. Why the Tube is the pinnacle of surfer’s fantasies. Most importantly, surfers knew it was legit, authentic, that the dude who drew this: surfs. No question.
Accolades from the comic book community are reverent about his creativity and artistic skill; Rick is God. As with so many elements of Griffin’s life, nothing is as the surface appears. His association with Robert Crumb (Zap) Comics, Bill Graham of the Fillmore San Francisco, and Ken Kesey of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and the late 60’s “Acid Tests”, were all fluid, and appears transitory, but affecting.
Creative, dad, surfer, and ocean enthusiast, Gabe Sullivan, has a true passion for not only catching waves, but capturing them through a lens so it lasts forever. Sullivan, a Laguna Beach local, is thrilled to be part of this year’s Redo Vintage and Maker’s Market where he will be showcasing his photography. It all began at the age of 10, with a 35mm camera given to him by his Step-Dad and a love for taking photos of his pet cats. Today, his biggest and certainly most treasured subject matter is his son, Elijah.
When asked what he needed to stay inspired, Sullivan’s face lit up with pure stoke. “I really enjoy being in the water. My son and I both love to surf, he’s been surfing down at Doheny since he was about 4. So, I've really been enjoying taking photos of him in the water, on the board, just evolving and growing as a surfer. I feel like that's my favorite piece to my work. Watching him find his own style and love for the ocean, it keeps me inspired each day” Sullivan shared. “He's been getting into photography now too, so we've been going out together with water housing and shooting photos. It’s really cool to be able to share the same passions as your son”.
Sullivan studied photojournalism in college. Soon after, he jumped head first into the world of surf creatives and straight down the coast to sunny Orange County. “I got an internship at Surfer Magazine and ended up working there for a while”. It was during this time he met and worked alongside REDO’s founder and creative mastermind, Randy Hild. “Randy is awesome, not just because of what he can do creatively, he’s just a fun guy. Everyone wants to be around him. Everyone wants to learn from him”.
Mirroring his adventurous lifestyle, Sullivan rides the waves of his creative interests. “Before, my work was heavily art directed, so it's been fun to experiment with some more abstract moody stuff lately. Elijah and I have really been into capturing the textures and colors on the surface of the ocean. It’s fun to explore that with him”. Sullivan’s journey as an artist has allowed him to taste test a variety of mediums. His experience with videography, creative directing, photography, design, and branding keeps him on his toes, tackling projects from all different realms.
This year at REDO, will be sharing a collection of ocean inspired photography, printed on a textured Cotton Rag paper. Sullivan shared, “I’m really excited to be a part of REDO this year. I’m looking forward to connecting with the community”.
Dad, surfer, friend, and true creative at heart; Sullivan is one of a kind. Between the love for his son and the peace he finds in the water, inspiration is everywhere he is. “I tend to have more energy in the morning, but when I'm in the flow of a project I tend to work through the night until it's done. Once I'm on a roll, I prefer to keep going.” Sullivan continues, “I typically shoot with a Canon DSLR 35mm and a Canon A1. Recently I got a new camera from a friend that’s been fun to play with. It’s a Pentacon Six TL, a single lens, medium format. Just a beautiful camera. When I first got it, half the roll had been used by the previous owner, so I don't even know what is or what could be on it. I’m very excited to find out”.
Sullivan’s home sits along the historic Laguna Beach hillside, overlooking the Southern California coast, with his old VW van parked in the driveway. His curiosity and hunger for life is illuminating, contagious, all the while keeping it calm and cool. I was lucky enough to watch Gabe snap the last exposures from this Pentacon mystery roll. His patience and gentleness with the camera, framing the perfect shot, is one of a true artist. Even if I never find out what was on that first half of the roll, I can say I met someone who’s passion and eagerness to create every day, reminded me to do the same. I would consider that to be the luckiest gift of all.
You can find Gabe Sullivan on instagram at @curiousgabe and at the REDO Vintage & Maker’s Market on August 22nd.
Dana Point Restaurant: