Riverview’s Cabinet of Curiosities: Quixotic Arts

by | Jun 15, 2022

Stepping into Quixotic Arts, you’ll find a menagerie of treasures – ranging from the colorful and eclectic to the mysterious and macabre. 

The entryway features displays of funky socks, crocheted plushies, and secondhand children’s books. As you meander towards the back, the store’s collection progressively gets more bizarre and a tinge darker: there are plenty of oddity jars, animal skulls, and vintage medical instruments for sale. A thrifted embalming table holds boxes of original artwork, while a nearby table boasts an impressive hand-carved knife collection. Behind the register, amidst a display of windmill paraphernalia, sits a friendly face – owner Dana Cobb.

Dana takes pride in her shop and realizes it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Nevertheless, she strives to make it a welcoming place and is enthusiastic about sharing her inventory with customers. “I don’t stock anything over-the-top creepy; I want people to feel comfortable and always tell them – this is a safe space.” Dana thoughtfully curates her collection to reflect this commitment; her stock always includes items that speak to pride, neurodiversity, and inclusivity. While she prefers to source items from local artists, producers, and pickers, she carries items made everywhere from Kentucky to Canada. “There is truly something for everyone.” 

The shop started in 2016, though Dana’s penchant for all things “weird” began earlier. A long-time resident of Hampton Roads, Dana would attend horror movie conventions and found she was more interested in the artwork than meeting the celebrities. It wasn’t long until she considered herself a part of the local oddity/curiosity community and opened up an artwork business with a friend in Knoxville, TN, that she managed remotely. The shop eventually shut down, but Dana sought to indulge her creative spirit more locally. Considering the countless artists she had met along the journey, she yearned to give their work an official home. Quixotic Arts was born after purchasing the historic building in Riverview in 2016.

Derived from the 17th-century novel Don Quixote, the term Quixotic refers to anything wildly impractical, unrealistic, or visionary. Dana was always intrigued by the tale of Don Quixote and adopted the story’s iconic windmills as the motif for her shop. Just as Don himself went against the grain of realism, Dana embraces the unique, the whimsical, and the downright absurd. Anything that catches her eye lands a place in the shop, making for a constantly evolving and out-of-the-box inventory. She does have strict parameters, however, of things that won’t make the cut: you won’t find any canine/feline remains, wet specimens, taxidermy, or items of the metaphysical sort (such as crystals and stones used for spiritual purposes). 

When planning your visit to Quixotic Arts, be sure to check your calendar. Outside of managing her shop, Dana works as a computer programmer and credits her supportive team at work for encouraging her to pursue her passion. While the shop is open Thursday-Sunday, Dana’s commitment to her customers reflects her willingness to accommodate availability and need. In addition to hand-delivering items locally, she will happily stick around to chat with customers, opening their eyes to the weird, wonderful, and wacky treasures in her shop.   

While a pickle-scented air freshener or a meditating bigfoot may not be on your to-buy list, Dana encourages shoppers to check out the store without anything in mind. “Most people find that one thing that really catches their eye and go straight to it.”

For a sneak peek of their current collection, follow Quixotic Arts on social media:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/quixoticartsva/

Facebook: https://www.instagram.com/quixoticartsva/ 


Rachel Reiss

Talbot Park, NFK

Rachel Reiss moved to Norfolk in 2021, and, true to her native Floridian roots, has been enjoying life near the beach. Since her day job as an HR Program Manager has gone remote, it offers her the flexibility to explore the area’s rich history, culture, and diverse food scene in her spare time. She is also a passionate pianist, aspiring yogi, and self-proclaimed health nut who loves to cook. Rachel lives near Talbot Park with her husband, Phil - a CHKD resident - and their Maltese, Minnie.

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