Oct. 3 2012 12:00 AM

Pick from a local schoolteacher's strange collection

urbanremains
Some of the kooky cool goods available at Urban Remains.
Isaac Martinez
At some point in our lives, most of us collect objects we are attracted to for whatever reason. When I was a kid I had notebooks filled with Lisa Frank stickers that shimmered with images of killer whales jumping over rainbow ocean waves. As an adult, I still find myself collecting stuff, like antique cards and paper and animal figurines. For a while, I had a penchant for paintings depicting weird-looking women. We all have our thing.

For Isaac Martinez, collecting has veered into the strange, dark and what some might call twisted. The Encinitas second grade schoolteacher has spent the last three years picking up odd artifacts for his personal collection, like antique medical instruments and cosmonaut helmets from the Cold War. After getting married to a lady who also has an affinity for odd antiques, they decided to let some of their collection go. They started Urban Remains, a shop they run by appointment only out of their home in Downtown San Diego. They're letting go of more than 100 pieces of weirdly cool stuff, some of it hundreds of years old. How does Martinez know it's so old? He has a crack team of second graders investigating his pieces, that's how. ---

"I bring stuff into my classroom," he says. "Some stuff I have is very odd or rare, so I bring it in and have them investigate it. We try to find out what it was used for, or what it was made for, or who it was made for. They research on the internet. If we find a marking, we search that. They're actually pretty good at it, and it becomes a history lesson."

Among the collectibles for sale are furniture pieces, antique armor-including a French Army suit from the 19th century-old barber chairs and sideshow carnival art.

"My stuff is definitely not for everybody," Martinez admits. "A lot of people are freaked out by the things I have. I guess some of the items I collect can be considered dark, but a lot are historical."

Letting go of all his prized possessions is not easy for Martinez. However, he's happy knowing they will go to a good home.

"There's some stuff that I'm like, 'Man, I don't think I'm gonna see that again,'" he laments. "One of the things was a Civil War wooden prosthetic leg. It's really well-made. It moved in certain ways and had hand-forged iron on the side. I wonder where that is. But I tell myself, 'That's OK; someone will enjoy it.' "

To add some of Martinez's cool collection to your own, call him at 619-977-3287 to make an appointment. But first, check out the Urban Remains website to scope out some of the interesting merch.

Calendar

  • Known as the ‘Official Scripps National Spelling Bee Watch Party for Adults,’ guests can cheer on kids in the Scripps National Spelling Bee on ESPN before competing in a spelling bee themselves
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • A mass action against the closing of the UCSD University Art Gallery. Participants will meet at the Silent Tree (located near the Library Walk) and march together toward the Gallery
  • Local science illustrator Melissa Walter presents new abstract works that are literal interpretations of astronomical theories
  • So Say We All invites listeners to hear stories about real life, the internet, the ways those places intersect or the way they don't intersect at all, told by seven locals
  • The author, comic book writer, and son of Stephen King will sign his new apocalyptic thriller, The Fireman
See all events on Thursday, May 26