Merced County Times Newspaper
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Times Photos By Yanira Ledezma

Creative Dreams Come True For Local Underground Artists

 

Eli and Shiomi Torres are the dynamic duo, and husband-and-wife team, operating a Downtown Merced business that’s half barber shop, half clothing and screen-printing business.

Yes, there’s plenty of product contrast and customer diversity at Grizzly Barber and Strangers Stop-N-Shop.

And then, every two months, there’s the art.

For more than a year, Eli Torres has been opening collective art shows with popular themes inside the “Strangers” side of 616 W. Main Street.

Doors are open and welcome to anyone in the community who wants to submit artwork and socialize at cool, nocturnal receptions to celebrate the finished pieces. The Disney Art Show is the latest exhibition and the ninth overall.

“Creating for the sole purpose of unleashing one’s creativity” is the driving force behind Eli Torres’ effort.

“There’s creative people here, and we know a lot of creative people,” Torres explains. “There’s also this underground art scene of people who aren’t trying to get into the MAC, and people who aren’t full-time artists, but want to create.”

The business owner emphasizes that art is anything but serious — and should be appreciated in any form, and at any skill level.

A total of 30 pieces were displayed for the Disney Art Show reception. Portraits of the always classic Mickey Mouse adorned the walls, while others chose favorite characters from various Disney movies such as Pinocchio, Dumbo, Maleficent and Aladdin.

As part of his clothing business, Torres also had exclusive screen-prints from graphics he designed available during the reception.

Artwork submitted by all ages is accepted in all classic and modern mediums. The exhibitions are themed to create purpose and motivation for the artists. Torres encourages artists to use the theme as a driving force of inspiration when constructing their pieces for the shows.

Aside for the art show, the free reception allows community members an opportunity to come out and socialize with others who share similar interests. There’s often a live music band, or a DJ spinning great tunes, providing the atmosphere for a chill afternoon at no cost.

“We’re all ‘strangers’ to each other,” Torres says about his store title, and mission statement. “With Instagram nowadays, you think you know someone, but you really don’t know them. Give them a similar interest and you just gave them an opportunity to get a glimpse into who they really are.”

He says the art shows are meant to be social and eliminate the standoff stigma that comes with social media.

“Physical socialization is just as important as digital socialization, and while we live in a time where everyone is often glued to their phones, there is nothing wrong with having a little bit of both.”For more information on Grizzly Barber and Strangers Stop-N-Shop, call 658-5188, or 658-6319.

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