July 6 2011 04:26 PM

This week, Enrique experiences an art show at Hostelling International

Hostel 2
Bobbi Koller's art isn't just pretty--it'll keep you warm too.
Photo by Enrique Limon.

Even before the eponymous movie came out, the word “hostel” brought a smile to my face.

Convenient, cheap and filled with travelers who, after a few Heinekens, tend to go both ways, hostels are perfect spots to catch some Zs, get an insider’s P.O.V. while visiting a new city and shower with new friends.

The only downside? Most, if not all, hostels don’t allow locals the privilege to crash in their digs.

So, when I heard one such establishment was hosting its first-ever public art show last Sunday, I braved the only-in-the-Gaslamp display of patriotic fashion—some of which would make even Larry the Cable Guy exclaim, “Dude, that’s really in bad taste”—and headed over to Hostelling international (521 Market St.) faster than you can say “human centipede.”

“This will be the first in what we hope will become a monthly series; the idea is to open our doors and welcome all visitors,” Hostelling International activities coordinator Joseph Acuña told me.

“It’s funny, but most San Diegans don’t even know we exist,” the 23year-old continued as I tried to keep the clacking noise coming from the counterfeit Heiny’s stashed in my man-purse to a bare minimum.

Dubbed Hostel Takeover: A Celebration of Art, Culture and Travel, the free show featured pieces by Jona Téllez-Girón; a performance by his band, Falling Trees; and string art by Bobbi Koller, who first started exploring the medium as a child.

“I always dreamed of having a lush, forest-like garden when I was a kid,” she said. “So I took matter into my own hands and created trees made out of string in my room.”

The artist also dabbles in wood-burning, glass-jar eco-enclosures and 4-by-6-inch “impressionist” portraits of her friends, which she likes to do sans her prescription glasses.

Naturally, the crowd was a breed of its own. Think hippies eating Grape Nuts by the bowlful, German dudes vigorously flossing their teeth as they took in the sights and what appeared to be a Tibetan monk in full regalia, whom I kept referring to as “Señor” just to piss him off.

“Well, isn’t this something!” an elderly woman who spoke in a Huell Howser twang said as she made her way into the communal TV room / makeshift art gallery.

Dressed in red, white and blue (with blue hair to match), the chatty senior was taken aback by the poppy display and bobbed her little head to Téllez-Girón and fiancée Sarah Marie Latoski’s melodic bliss.

“Be a dear,” Lady Huell told me after the set, as I was admiring Koller’s yarn-art-covered walls. “Let me know when you take all this down. It’ll make a great scarf.”