WORK WON’T KILL YOU
JULY 15 – SEPTEMBER 5, 2016
San Diego, CA
WWKY Workforce: Miah Spring Carabajal, Davide Carpano, Cassius Crawford, Dwight Hobart, Gin Nguyen, Margarita Lucy Novelo, Grace Elizabeth Oliver, and Elvis Tello
Work Wont Kill You focused on the University Street retail corridor of the North Park neighborhood as a place in which to demonstrate the value of work through the fabrication, sale, purchase and consumption of marketable objects. Using the very medium of commercial exchange, money itself, as raw material for a finished product, workers sewed actual dollar bills into shopping bags. These “money” bags were made to be sold as artwork. The WWKY workers invested proceeds from these sales back into the economy by shopping in local retail establishments and buying goods or services that are significantly characteristic of the retail corridor. The workers subsequently documented, catalogued and archived objects purchased in these transactions as museum quality artifacts thereby correlating the circular flow of economic value with the aesthetic elevation of everyday objects.
Shopping bag artworks were for sale and are available by emailing:
Click on images to read about individual artifacts
The General Store sells dickies and levis work clothes, alongside accessories such as watches and glasses. The employee told us that they sell uniforms for chefs, nurses, and waiters. The clothing they sell really symbolizes the workforce in North Park - ranging from professionals to laborers. We got the chef hat because it symbolizes the restaurant which is a central feature of North Park’s economy.
The Beemer Club sells and repairs classic cars. The building was kind of empty when we went by. We got a rag from them, which they use to shine car parts before putting them on the cars. The walls were thin, and sterile, but this was more than made up for by the beauty of the cars.
This armor-all would be the final touch after you wash your car at Touchless Auto. This car wash professes to offer a cheaper wash option than other local car washes in which workers wash your car for you. However, one worker has done the math and suggests that you have to be real fast to keep the cost down, as you are charged by the minute. This place also gets very crowded on the weekend. The cleaning products offered here are bit pricey because it is so convenient.
Colimas is a local mexican restaurant that offers affordable traditional mexican-american dishes. Colima is a state on the Mexican coast and this restaurant offers many fish dishes from this region. The paper tray is symbolic of how mexican restaurants offer their side dishes of tortilla chips, salsas, and chiles en escabeche, for example. Yum.
The postal place was a mixture of ups and and usps - they sell mailing accessories and offer to receive large packages for customers. They offer any service that one might find at a post office and more. This store predates the closure of the North Park USPS branch.
The attendant was very concerned about the exploitation of the laundromat’s coin machine. Tide soap was the first product to use “dayglow” colors to catch the consumer’s eye. It is a global brand, and is used all over the world. Laundromats offer a gathering place for neighbors to meet, and for people to perhaps meet their future partners.
Remember the days when things were made to last? When you would buy a vacuum and actually take it to get repaired when it broke? Although nowadays most people are more apt to ditch their broken vacuum, some local residents utilize Ebey’s vacuum repair services. Ebey’s also sells products to help lift those hard to keep stains from your carpet. An untold number of deposits must have been saved thanks to Ebey!
This fork does not represent a way in which one should eat pizza. Because, really, who eats pizza with a fork?! Urbn’s pizza should be eaten with two hands. It is a pizza restaurant in the mold of a tavern. Urbn is a place where one can grab a few beers in the evening alongside a pizza.
The slurpee is a delicious ice-cold beverage that is sure to cause controversy against those who love the drink against those who don’t. 7-Eleven called their beverage a slurpee in honor of the sound that the beverage makes when drunk through a straw.
This shop sells candles, oils, and other herbal items of a mystical nature. They also sell items associated with other forms of Santeria. Generally, they specialize in folk medicine and magical amulets. They are common in Latin American countries, and as an extension in Latino communities in the US, of which North Park used to be one.
Burning sage in a room is a powerful way to expel bad spirits. The owner offers to satisfy all of your reggae needs - he also said that sage is a powerful duppy conqueror (ghosts). Sage is a versatile plant that appears in many cultures, and, aside from having culinary uses, is also used medicinally.
This restaurant is in a little house, but they direct you around back to a huge patio/garden. There are always huge lines outside of Carnitas’. The food is tasty and features bacon infused ketchup. The fact that they have order numbers up to #82 is testament to how many people they serve. Look up and take note of the metal pig on the roof, and the other art that adorns the building.
Delivery - what thing, besides the drive through, is more symbolic of postwar American prosperity than the unbridled, unlimited, 24/7 access to a hot pizza? Pizza Hut does a valiant job of covering the demand for non-artisan, no-nonsense pizza to North Parkers hungry enough for a pizza, but too lazy to cook.
The owner from the Secrets Wigs store is an expert wig styler. This place does custom wigs for drag queen, performers, and cosplayers. The owner gave us a considerable discount to help our workers truly represent her store and she let us borrow the mannequin.
North Park is an exceptionally pet friendly neighborhood, with most restaurants offering a patio where you and your bestie can dine together. Except for that they don’t get to eat. All the dogs in North Park had a moment of silence when OPP opened up, in order to pay respect to the ‘food dogs’. Original Paw Pleasers specializes in ice cream and cafe for dogs - also making a wide assortment of other yummy snacks for your pet. So, next year, for your pet’s birthday get them some cake!
The employees here were very friendly, and gave us a drawing from the collection of one of their tattoo artists. Tattoos are very popular among young people in North Park - and are sure to generate intergenerational debate. The artist is convinced that neither of her children have tattoos. A grandfather once told his grandson: “You will regret that one day my son!” To which his grandson replied: “yolo”.
Judging by the size of the crowd, this gym seems to be very popular. The owner, who was very young, is always very welcoming. Title offers boxing classes and personal training for competition. Boxing gyms such as this one offer communities alternative ways to stay in shape
North Park is full of medical practices of varying types. Barring major medical emergencies many residents can have all of their medical needs met within their own neighborhood! Dr. Chinn is one of the few optometrists in the area and judging by his exceptional yelp reviews, it seems that he is keeping many residents’ eyes healthy.
Sushi is an enormously popular dish in San Diego and many other cosmopolitan cities. The nineties ushered in a proliferation of these restaurants whose styles range from upscale traditional to trendy fast-casual fusion. Saiko offers more traditional dining with a separate bar that boasts myriad styles of Japan’s signature rice wine.
A locally owned, family business, North Park Rug & Carpet sells a wide variety of items meant to embellish the blandest of floors. Carpet is a very popular material, often used in apartments - such as those found in North Park.
Love & aesthetics is another boutique, similar to many other North Park businesses. It specializes in novelty items, and some locally produced things. This condom is a typical item that one might find at this store, and at many other places in North Park.
MetroPCS is a major cellular provider, with multiple locations in North Park. They specialize in cheap plans, often pay-as-you-go, and usually have deals that involve free phones if a customer signs a contract. MetroPCS offers services that are accessible to a wide variety of the neighborhood’s residents.
This jewelry store specializes in gold, watches, and fine gems such as emeralds and rubies, and also offers repair and watchband replacement services. The owner hand-fashions rings in store to customer specification, incorporating principles of Feng Shui - relating the person’s zodiac and other personal attributes to the design.
A kitsch, and eccentric restaurant, Lucha Libre is a luchador themed taco shop that specialized in salsas. All salsas are made in house - and the restaurant is just as interesting as the food! Many people come here as much for the food as for the novelty of the location. They sell goods with their own branding inside of vintage gumball and sticker machines.
Regardless of the fact that cigarettes were, long ago, shown to be very unhealthy there are many smoke shops in the area, showing that even seemingly health conscious North Parkers are up for a cigarette with their craft beer. An electronic cigarette was acquired from this shop to represent a growing trend plaguing college campuses and the suburbs: a move toward electronic cigarettes, and vape machines.
Yoga-art Froyo is a very well advertised frozen yogurt joint, right on the main corner of North Park. It is a popular date spot for local youth in North Park, and is also open fairly late in order to catch the bar crowd. The restaurant is very comfortable, with plenty of seating.
A family-owned deli that also sells basic groceries, sundries, cigarettes, and cold drinks. One of our workers stopped by the store after a long day of work, and bought this refreshing beverage. What better way to represent a store whose principle aim is to provide basic needs for area workers, tired after laboring all day!
University Avenue’s other optometrist, the folks at NP Optometry are fully dedicated to everything having to do with eyes and healthy vision. They sell glasses, contacts, and the tools needed to keep your lenses clean, and germ free.
The most wonderful person on the block works here: Bradley. He is a talented artists/tattooer, and often volunteers his time to helping kids learn art at Art Produce. The tattoo parlor recently moved from the edge of the neighborhood to this central location - which will certainly help its business.
North Park Hardware is the area’s local hardware store. It feels like it has been around forever, and the sheer amount of products which line its walls attest to its status as “the best hardware store ever”. You can get anything from dog leashes, bike bells, to tools. And, of course, the very nuts and bolts which hold America together.
As one of many North Park Vinyl stores, they also sell accessories such as CD cases. Much of their selection is second hand. This shop is sure to have something for every musical taste that one might find in North Park.
Perhaps the little league team supported by AB Sports across the street can come here to get the participation trophies at the end of their season. RC Awards sells affordable trophies, which serve to motivate San Diego’s young aspiring Olympians.
This store actually sells more than just futons, selling most any furniture that one would need to adorn their home, and accessories to embellish dining room tables and other large pieces. Keeping with North Park’s slightly new age vibe, Creative Futons also sells crystals for all your chakra needs.
The guy at 7-eleven laughed at us for wanting to purchase an empty cup. Upon explaining the project he agreed to sell the item, on the condition of confidentiality. 7-eleven has four North Park locations, and is threatening the ability of local corner stores to compete. It has over 56,000 stores in 18 countries, and is headquartered in the artist’s home state of Texas. Wow.
Credit Unions are banks that are generally confined to a small region, such as a county or city. Credit Unions, such as SDCCD, greatly benefit communities through their ability to support local arts, and schools through the connections generated by local ownership. SDCCD is no different, when asked what we could buy from them they suggested that we donate funds to their program aimed at getting kids to school.
This gum represents how Starbucks has branched out to items other than coffee, such as accessories and products tangentially related to coffee (the gum purports to freshen that coffee breath, useful if you need to go on a date after your afternoon coffee). The constant lines found in Starbucks give customers ample time to browse the various knick-knacks that they sell (such as cds, mugs, keychains, etc.). Also, as a side note, Starbucks doesn’t let locals leave flyers in their stores.
Walgreens, which began in 1901 as a pharmaceutical company is now the 2nd largest chain in the US, now offering health and wellness products with other multipurpose products for daily use. Our society has shifted into a grab-and-go society where travel is frequent and the needs for small accessible toiletries are a necessity, especially ones that can go through airport security. North Park, as noted in the review of CVS, is not immune to these trends, despite its love for all things local.
76 gasoline supplies many area residents with high quality fuel, enabling them to get to work each day. 76 also sells many other convenience items, as well as ‘hope’ in the form of lottery tickets. We planned to split the cash if we won. We checked our numbers later and lost. Our odds of winning were larger than being struck by lightning.
This USA Gasoline offers some of the lowest priced gasoline in the North Park area. Despite the fact that North Parkers tend to dine and drink within their own community, many of them have to work in places that require them to drive. This gas station, conveniently located at the freeway entrance/exit allows residents to fill up, and freshen up, their cars before heading to work!
The UPS store in North Park has served an increasingly important role for the community since the closure of the North Park branch of the US Postal Service. Although UPS provides a necessary service, it is interesting to consider the adverse impacts that the closure of the post office, and the subsequent move toward privatized post offices, has had on the elderly and the poor. In order to buy a stamp residents must now either travel outside of their community, or spend 2x as much for a stamp at
AT&T is retailer of phones, as well as TV and internet services. All of the residents of North Park use either Cox or AT&T as their internet and television provider, as these companies have a monopoly on local services. The employees at this location were very accommodating, selling us this inactivated SIM card for 1$.
An old school bank that has been around for a while, it is the fifth largest commercial bank and is based in Minneapolis, MN (which has little to do with North Park). Across the street from the credit union, its location begs the question: why does north park have 3 major commercial banks, but only one county credit union?
CVS Pharmacy is located at the edge of North Park’s vast residential area. The store serves many community needs by providing not only a pharmacy, but also a convenience store, and a place to get a fan when it gets hot.
Tostadas is a superb Mexican restaurant whose primary focus centers around seafood tostadas. They share a building with Art Produce, and often provide food for their gallery opening and other events. The food is incredible and the staff and owners are very welcoming. The wine glass incorporates their logo, which is seen all around their store.
This bathroom sign is not only a symbol of where one can use the restroom, it is also a symbol of Art Produce’s ethos. Art Produce provides a vital space for the community in which people from all walks of life can engage meaningfully with art as a part of their day-to-day lives. This sign reminds us of 2016 bathroom debate in North Carolina where an ordinance was passed by the city of Charlotte allowing all citizens to use whatever bathroom they want based on their gender identity was overruled
One of the many banks to serve North Park, Bank of America has a spotty history when it comes to ethical banking. Infamous for their support of the coal industry in North Carolina where they are headquartered, many area shopkeepers probably obtain rolls of coins at this branch.
Olympic Cafe is a Greek diner that has been a North Park staple for over 25 years. They serve moderately priced Greek dishes, but with an authentic midwestern diner feel. Truly a microcosm of American culture as a whole!
A locally crafted, detoxifying shampoo. This upscale hair salon has a staff that is very professional. Focus on styling hair, rather than just cutting it. Hair Salons tend to attract specific types of clientele, as one’s choice of hairdresser is directly tied to their social background. This salon serves the upper-class portions of North Park’s population.
A film which features pictures of flowers, designed to heal the soul. This store is unique, and provides a place for the many New Age residents to meet their spiritual needs.
This towel was obtained from North Park Fitness, a small gym located in the center of North Park. North Parkers are a fit bunch, and having this gym in such a great location has the potential to draw in those who want to be able to walk to their workout.
Mimi & Red is a slightly upscale boutique selling women’s clothing, accessories, and jewelry. This store is a bit pricier than some of the other shops that sell second hand goods. Mimi & Red represents the movement of more affluent residents into North Park.
A vintage drill, acquired from a thrift store. This item speaks to the working class ethos that characterized the old North Park. This thrift shop features some lovely furniture as well.
A Hawaiian inspired boutique specializing in clothing and gifts. This store, although taking from Hawaiian themes, captures some of the California spirit by selling board shorts, sunglasses, and other necessary beachwear.
This baseball cap was made to be worn by the North Park little league team. This store is one of the oldest stores on University and has been in existence since 1941. The store sells goods that meet the needs of many different activities, from soccer to baseball.
An inexpensive bottle of wine from a restaurant that has been in North Park for many years.
This soap is made from locally made beer. Not for consumption. This store purchases their inventory from local SD vendors many of whom hand make the items sold. This piece was made by a local vender who used the a popular IPA beer brand from Stone Brewing Company. The essence of the hops helps sooth irritated skin and with the additional oils and herbs with soften your skin and fights acne. Do not worry, alcohol will not enter your pores, nor will it inebriate the user.
While wish we could display a dessert we opted for something colorful yet nonperishable. They are known for their tarts and their cakes in a jar. Heaven Sent used to occupy a very large building on the corner of 30th and University. Although they have moved to a smaller location their desserts are as tasty as ever!
Centrally located, Bottlecraft has been serving the needs of North Park’s beer lovers since 2013. This Bottlecraft location specializes in craft beer, but also sells wine, cheese, and has beer on tap. If one looks close they may see a bit of North Park’s soul within each beer bottle.
Street Side Thai is another of the many ethnic restaurants one can dine at before going out to the bars. This dish helps you dip your bites of food into that delicious soy sauce!
Another bank in North Park that has super tight security. They have a guard at the door and you get scanned as you go through the entrance.
Encontro” translates from Italian to mean “an encounter”, generally used in the context of meeting up with people informally. This tavern-style restaurant seeks to inspire people to get together over food, it is quite fitting as it occupies the building which is considered to be the exact center of North Park. While the food is great, it’s too bad there are no public plazas around the area in which one can encounter others.
Another bank in North Park that has super tight security. They have a guard at the door and you get scanned as you go through the entrance.
One of the many local coffee roasters, Holsem is one of the newest additions to the local coffee scene, and is able to cater to the many North Park residents who love to drink a fresh cup of locally roasted coffee. All of their coffee is Fair Trade certified, in a bid to meet the needs of the more socially conscious consumers.
Smooth touch hair relaxer is a product primarily marketed toward African American women. The Beauty Supply Warehouse is a local institution - a place where one can buy wigs, makeup, hair dye, and countless other beauty products. Women, men, (and those more in the middle) can find a product for themselves here.
While the reusable to-go cup is hardly a controversial item, the logo which embellishes this particular cup is certain to stir up emotion. While North Park is seen by most to be a very hip community, specializing in craft beer and artisanal coffee, there are many chain establishments present. This demonstrates that although a neighborhood may outwardly present a certain facade, that many residents are happy to consume more standardized products.
Located in the historic North Park Observatory building, originally built in 1929 this theatre was recently renovated and now serves as a popular venue. One can grab a bite to eat, or a beer in a mason jar at the West Coast Tavern before heading next door to see a show!
An elegant toothpick holder. Geographie is a charming boutique specializing in clothing and homegoods. Items are locally sourced when possible, and represent the work of local artisans.
This book of matches comes from a highly visible restaurant. In some ways this restaurant is a North Park institution - being one of the first things one notices before passing under the sign. The restaurant’s exterior decoration immediately draws the attention of any passersby whether they are driving or walking.
A very well curated store established in 2009 by husband and wife Zoe Crenshaw and Lee Reynolds. When we went in there the 8 year-old granddaughter was sewing a handbag. The grandmother was teaching the granddaughter how to sew. The mother was behind the counter. They primarily sell vinyls, and gently used designer clothing and accessories. Hunt & Gather, along with many other area shops, represents a growing trend toward stores that espouse a bourgeois-bohemian flavor.
The Maneki-Neko (or money cat) is a Japanese charm for businesses. It is believed to bring money, luck, and prosperity and is usually placed at the shop entrance to beckon customers. If the left paw is raised then the cat will attract money, whereas the right paw raised protects money already obtained. Many other Asian countries have adopted the money cat.
Glenn’s Market sells a variety of products including incense. It is a very central market in North Park and very popular on Friday and Saturday nights, serving bar goers.
This chicken bucket was obtained from one of the few fast food restaurants on University Ave. While restaurants in which locals can grab a (very) quick bite to eat are vital to a community, KFC has openly violated the zoning desires set in place by community organizations. Buildings are required to come up to the curb (so as to prevent large parking lots), and there has been a long battle against these drive-thru establishments in the North Park area.
This little hair salon is in a building which appears to be a re-zoned home. This salon is a few steps away from the densest part of University Ave. It seems quiet and relaxing, and generally seems to be a pleasant place to get a haircut. Bobby pins became popular in the 1920s to hold the new bobbed hairstyles. They seem to be having a resurgence in order to hold the new hip and trendy styles that are appearing on University Avenue in different shapes and colors.
Many North Parkers enjoy the gardening opportunities afforded by Southern California’s perfect weather. Some go a step further, choosing to raise chickens, goats, or bees. Yes, bees! These furry creatures, who are actually pretty nice when not bothered, are in rapid decline across the world, threatening untold acres of farmland whose crops depend on bees for pollination! If we don’t work to restore bee populations we’ll have much more to worry about then a minor sting!
Being a few miles inland from the beach, North Park is most often 10 degrees warmer than the coastal neighborhoods. At times the only sure remedy from the increased heat or relief from one’s recent work-out in order to stay fit and look great in the newly purchased swimsuit – is a refreshing juice or smoothie. Thank goodness for the abundance of juice shops, such as Lucky Dutch, who provide residents with a healthy way to cool off!
A packet of rolling papers nicely complements the lighter obtained next door. This store is another convenience store that provides products that don’t warrant a trip to the grocery store such as chips or a 6-pack of beer.
This lighter doubles as a flashlight. As an item it combines elements of practicality while simultaneously being impractically large. 420 Smoke Shop is a wonderful store, which celebrates California culture in a manner that borders the pastiche.
Being a community that embraces health, and traditional medicine it makes sense for places such as this to be present. Acupuncture is a powerful way to relieve the pain, and anxiety associated with post-industrial capitalism. With North Park in transition and feeling its growing pains, this establishment offers many options to help calm and get back into the California vib.
Express Market is considered a corner store, a precursor of the current convenient store. The corner stores were independently owned and are slowly being replaced with chained stores. Because North Park is in transition, a few older independently owned stores are still thriving and servicing the growing population of North Park. After all, this community runs on beer and snacks.
San Diego has several successful water stores. This may seem odd to some, but actually makes sense when one considers that San Diego’s water quality is one of the worst among big cities. This water store sells several different types of water, each filtered through different methods. Perfect for the consumer fearful of contaminations, illness and possibly death.
Pleasures and Treasures is a long time fixture of the neighborhood. Originally operating out of a quaint residential unit, the renowned leather store expanded to its current and much larger store front that displays an impressive selection of erotic toys, harnesses, boudoir attire, and titillating gifts. This set of pasties are a token to what one might find either in a bachelorette gift set or an enthusiast’s toy box.
Caliber collision is a quality body shop. A very convenient store to have here in North Park, as many cars get dinged up when parallel parking. This road map explains how caliber will “restore the rhythm of your life”.
Native Poppy shares its building with Communal Coffee. The artist got a very nice garden apron here. They sell more than just flowers, they are also artists, and designed their own business cards. The owner was very friendly, and is very talented at floral arrangements. People who shop here are more interested in the place where they bought their flowers, rather than in the flowers themselves. Their display would be right at home on Pinterest.
Sharing the building with Native Poppy, the layout is confusing at first. They sold us a plastic up for 1$. Communal Coffee is the newest coffee shop in North Park, and it seems to already be very popular. The space is very well designed, and looks very comfortable. They even have floating chairs (although we’re not sure if you can sit on them). It is very hip, see Pigment label.
The latest addition to North Park’s grocery scene. Smart and Final replaced the Haggen’s which replaced Albertson’s. It was a great day when they opened up, as the Vons on 30th could not meet North Park’s demand for groceries on its own. It is very affordable, sells things in bulk. A smaller, non-membership based, version of Costco or Sam’s Club.
A busy auto repair establishment that services all types of cars. The owner’s expertise was definitely in car repair, not in organizing his office. He gave the workers their artifact from the dumpster which was filled with old parts of cars that he had worked on. This is definitely a more trustworthy choice for North Park residents instead of the franchise auto repair shops.
This unique key shop is owned by a small old key maker. He has a shelf of vintage keys and he sells key accessories, as well as providing key copying services. It seems to have been in this location for quite a while, providing a necessary service to the local community. As he said to us, “Making keys at Home Depot is like fixing your car at Wendy’s.”
Many of these establishments are frequented by local residents, rather than the night time crowd who comes to more central areas of North Park. Very friendly staff, offering mainly an eclectic variety of sandwiches. The menu merges classics like pulled pork with with a foodie twist, such as topping sandwiches with smoked gouda rather than american cheddar.
Mexican candy is nostalgic for Mexican Americans in San Diego, bringing back childhood memories. Probably made from real sugar, not hfcs - thus probably less unhealthy. The two candies chosen are the most popular in Mexico. Seemed very authentic, the workers were very kind and patient with us, taking the time to talk to us despite the presence of other customers.