Obscure: A Positive Street Art production celebrating homegrown fashion and creativity

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InkubatorColorsThis article was written by Amara Phelps and Nathaniel Pepe, who are both writers for InkLink’s Inkubator, and placemakers in New Hampshire. They have been working with Yasamin Safarzadeh LLC and have led the charge on countless community beautification projects including the Waypoint Youth Enrichment Mural and the Manchester Multicultural Festival. They are also integral in helping to run the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce Gallery space which is featuring the work of Jane Kaufmann until mid-March.


Obscure Runway Show

Neon lights soaked into the pores of strikingly tall models like gamma beams from a 1950s pulp novel, carrying looks down the runway to the beat of pounding house music. While this may sound like a vignette from some hidden underbelly of New York Fashion Week, you might be surprised to discover such vogue emerging within the New Hampshire art scene. Last weekend’s Obscure fashion show, hosted by Nashua’s community art-centric nonprofit Positive Street Art, brought a taste of the high-fashion world to our own backyard through its own perspective. 

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“Obscure: lesser known or heard to define” read the painted backdrop dressing the runway; our thesis for the night, if you will. An ensemble cast of designers were on display for the evening, assembled from local creatives and passionate young minds seeking to break into the world of fashion. The intention for the night was one that’s a consistent throughline in most of Positive Street Art’s programming: providing a fun event and space for community, support, and celebrating artists with a spark that deserves to be shared as apart of our local culture.

Tie-er of ties and featured designer Christian Ramirez, who is both a passionate artist and member of the PSA Operations team, explained the marriage between his creative and technical process in designing his collection of bowties alongside fellow artist Phelany. Painting on a loose canvas material, they then cut the creation into sections and from those bound the small strips into the completed piece. The bowties bridge the gap between two realms of the art world typically thought of as separate, with traditional visual art and painting merging effortlessly with the fascinating and underappreciated world of fiber art and design. Their colorful, unique, conversation-starting ties stand out amongst a sea of unoffensively toned department store haberdashery; precisely the artist’s intent.  

Phelany, or as he is known in more casual settings, Manny Ramirez, had a very distinct reflection on the importance of continuing innovation and support for creatives and underground designers.

“Over-commercialization has led to the death of utility in art and fashion.” For what is the purpose of personal style and taste in modern society if not as an expression of your unique self to the world?

“If you bought every trend and Gucci and what have you, you’re gonna have seven closets full of what will eventually be trash. It has utility. If you use it for its purpose, it is purposeful.” While basic utility is inherent in the idea of wearing clothes; the true purpose of design itself and the curation of a collection of clothes or art pieces lies in the expression of oneself, both as the designer and consumer. The interaction more personal, the feelings more true; not mass-produced at a hundred thousand SKU rate, but crafted with intent and true emotion, and chosen just the same.  


The Below Photo Gallery was Created by Amara Phelps


Other highlights of the night included two breathtaking silhouettes crafted entirely from balloons, an elegant hand-painted wedding dress from PSA’s Executive Director Cecilia Ulibarri, and a collection full of interesting textiles utilized in subversive ways by bright young designer Cyrus Forcier, which was also the featured body of work. So many realms of style were represented, from streetwear and casual-focused lines from Se4sonal and the textile-debut of local photographer Esmeldy Angeles to a formal wear provided by local business Viera Luxe. The audience itself did not disappoint in delivering looks fit for NYFW, with all dressed to the nines in their most daring and inspiring closet crafts. Olga was one such audience member, wearing a memorable red-and-white outfit and looking like a true VIP at the event, reserved seating placard and all. She took a moment to consider what she thought about the event and fashion in general. “People have to express themselves in different ways.”

Cecilia summarized exactly what that ephemeral feeling in the air is at PSA’s many events, in even higher magnitude now as the runway broke away like Lego bricks and the space effortlessly transformed into Nashua’s hottest afterparty.

“​​The beauty of Positive Street Art is its intention to collaborate with artists of different modalities,” she said. The nonprofit’s unique approach and purposeful ambition to highlight emerging and diverse artists, ideas, and concepts provided the Granite State with truly special and unique events that cannot be easily replicated. The sleek, modular setup of their large space on Bridge Street allows PSA to host all kinds of events; from art socials and paint nights to dance classes, vision-board workshops, gallery exhibitions, and so much more.

While Obscure was their first foray into the world of fashion, it hopefully will not be their last, and certainly not the last Nashua will see of them with a 2024 calendar chock-full of groundbreaking exhibitions including a multi-year international indigenous show called Echoes and Shifts co-curated by Margaret Jacobs and Yasamin Safarzadeh, mural projects, and events to come.

A gem of a resource in our community, Positive Street Art continues to impress with their commitment to enriching the lives of granite staters by incorporating art with intention into all walks of life. 

The Below Photo Gallery was Created by Richella Simard.

 

Peep the work and art of these incredible designers on their socials at:

@justce @phelany23 @realmofmediapossibilities @2_cents_creates @riceverhard @ali_banks_isak @a1var3z @iamambermorgan @d_jeffjp @esmeldy_angeles @vieira.luxe @cyforsight @iwavofficial


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About this Author

Yasamin Safarzadeh

Program DirectorKimball Jenkins

Yasamin Safarzadeh is a native Angelino and transplant to Mancehster, NH. She is an artist, advocate and bulldozer. She is relentless in her pursuit of programming meant to secure a prosperous and diverse future for our state.