Oct. 6 2015 03:25 PM

University Heights “alternative art boutique” will feature taxidermy, local creations

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Katie Howard and Simone Grossman
Photo by Seth Combs

"Yeah, they're kind of fucked up," Simone Grossman says.

"My dad asked me, 'What if you have blood thrown on your window?'" adds business partner Katie Howard.

Grossman and Howard admit they're hoping to stay under the radar of organizations like PETA when they open what Howard calls their "alternative art boutique" in University Heights in November. Lovingly dubbed the Little Dame Shop, the ladies plan to showcase local and national artists, as well as more standard boutique items like limited edition books and artisan jewelry. But Howard and Grossman are excited about the shop's line of odd taxidermy animals that Grossman says are becoming more and more of a "trending art form."

"These are art pieces," she adds. Grossman says her teenage battle with leukemia is a main reason she's attracted to art that people might equate with death. "I just thought it was healthy to talk about it. As much as taxidermy isn't about cancer, it is about death. It's in your face. You can't hide from it."

Even if patrons aren't into the taxidermy creations from companies like Le Heart Design and Precious Creature, Little Dame Shop (2942 Adams Ave.) will also carry a varied assemblage of items such as contemporary jewelry from local designer Georgina Treviño and artsy mugs and flowerpots from Tijuana street artist Panca. They also want to do monthly art shows beginning with a pop-up event on Nov. 27 featuring L.A.-based artist Jacob Vanden Berge and jewelry from Mariel Ivy.

"We want to invite artists from outside the city because I think a lot of people see San Diego as a sleepy art town," says Howard, who also fronts the local band Citrus. "But we also want a base of local artists that we'll always work with."

Mostly, Grossman and Howard love the idea of people walking into their modest, hall-like shop and being confronted with aesthetically gorgeous jewelry on one side and dead animal creations on the other. Despite the initial shock, Grossman thinks people will appreciate the duality.

"Hopefully," she says, "there'll be a pop-up book about Cinderella right next to a mounted mouse head."

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