Artist Dustin Grabiner was at an estate sale a couple of years ago in Hermosa Beach when he stumbled across pieces of a family's history that might have been headed for the trash can.
“I found love letters that a soldier wrote his wife in World War II with the envelopes, with the stamps, beautiful cursive on Marine letter head,” recalled Grabiner.
Grabiner bought the letters from 1945 for $1 and they are now the centerpiece of ShockBoxx Gallery's latest show, “Love Hurts,” which runs from Feb. 15 to 29, in Hermosa Beach.
“It was his work that inspired us to reach out to the local artists (and beyond) for work for this group show,” said ShockBoxx co-founder Mike Collins.
In addition to the 16 letters displayed in shadow boxes, the treasure hunting Grabiner uses re-purposed objects, including cupid dolls, that are part of his work at ShockBoxx.
“My idea was to have cupid dying on love letters and then he's bleeding... glittery blood,” Grabiner said.
Grabiner has worked as a production designer in the film and commercial industry for about 15 years. In recent years, he's built and design events with his company Hermosa Kustoms, as well as worked in what he calls experiential marketing. He also builds sensory gyms as therapy for disabled children.
His art is another outlet for him.
“I was always roaming the prop houses in Hollywood, and I would see all these items that I have never seen before, these little chunks of history and I just loved it. "Then I got into going to estate sales and I would collect old office supplies, old tools,” said Grabiner.
The artist said sometimes he just needs to make something to express himself, not for a client and not for money.
Grabiner's immersive experience takes place at ShockBoxx, beginning Saturday, Feb. 15, for the opening of “Love Hurts,” from 6 to 9 p.m.
ShockBoxx is located at 636 Cypress Ave.
For more information, visit shockboxxproject.com.