The Venice Art Walk & Auctions is always a great event for a worthy cause and, to make it even more special, supporters are now offered a chance to see the Google campus.

“Venice Family Clinic’s Venice Art Walk & Auctions, like the art world itself, is ever-changing and continues to grow,” says Venice Family Clinic Chief Executive Officer Liz Forer. “This year, we have added Google as a partner – officially ushering us into the digital space. Hosting the Venice Art Walk & Auctions at Google Los Angeles will afford participants a rare opportunity to visit the legendary ‘Binoculars Building,’ designed by architect Frank Gehry.”

“A curated collection of sculpture, painting, photography and more will give a fresh voice to our 34-year-old event,” Forer continued. “Venice icons such as Chuck Arnoldi, Larry Bell, Billy Al Bengston, Laddie John Dill, Joe Goode, Ed Moses and Ed Ruscha will be featured alongside talent like Francesca Gabbiani, Jeff Bridges, Shepard Fairey, Patrick Fraser and Analia Saban. The accompanying Art & Architecture tours and exclusive Angel events provide once-in-a-lifetime access to artists and architects and make this a must-see annual outing.”

The Venice Family Clinic, the largest free clinic in the country, provides quality health care to people in need – low-income men, women, children, teens and seniors who lack private health insurance. Last year, with the support of 2,000 volunteers, including 500 physicians, the clinic served 25,000 low-income and uninsured children and adults through 107,000 patient visits.

Spanned over the Art Walk weekend May 19-20 are several activities to choose from. Popular with local residents and visitors from out of the area alike is the Venice Artist Studio tour on Sunday, May 20, from noon to 4 p.m.

The kind of assistance provided by the Venice Family Clinic has a special meaning for Venice artist Jennifer Wolf, whose studio will be open that day. As a child, she grew up in the Ricon in Ventura County – an area she describes as a long four-mile stretch of beach rock fronts peppered with multi-million dollar homes and a large community of homeless people.

Her family was in the latter group. After her jazz player father died at an early age, her mother, a jazz musician, was the sole bread winner.

“My mom only knew how to play the piano,” says Wolf. “It didn’t generate a lot of money for a family of four.” She knows how important it is for those who can’t afford the cost to have access to a clinic for health care.

While living in a tent, car or trailer in her youth, Wolf occupied herself doing pastel and pencil drawings. Several art teachers at Ventura High School recognized her talent and gave her opportunities for other types of drawing. A chalk festival got her interested in street art, which she continued to do with large ephemeral ground paintings after a move to Santa Barbara.

Wolf graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art history from UCLA, although she never thought she could be an artist.

“I came from a poor background,” she says. “By being an artist I was choosing what my parents had done.” She planned to get her master’s degree in archeology before she went on a dig to a fourth century Roman cemetery in Tunisia and discovered that “it wasn’t as glamorous and ‘Indiana Jones’” as she thought it would be.

After two professional mural projects – one for Heal the Bay in the Thousand Oaks mall and the second for a private residence – Wolf moved to Venice in 1997, where she met her husband, designer Neil Stratton, who had a studio on Abbot Kinney Boulevard.

He was buying a house and needed someone to take over his space. “At that time, rent on Abbot Kinney was something I could afford,” she says. The studio became a project for Wolf that eventually was called “The Sandbox” and was a showplace for her work and that of local artists.

Part of her mission was to make a project space that would take into account the community by combining context and environment and provide events for non-profits as well as shows that were for profit. In 1999, Wolf was part of the Art Walk for the first time. She said running an art gallery while pursuing a painting career was challenging, and she decided in 2003 to give up the gallery and build a studio tucked away in the back yard of her house.

Since then, Wolf graduated from Otis College of Art and Design with a master’s in fine arts and started to do more sculptural pieces that are inspired by her painting.

“Going back to graduate school opened up my visual communication,” she says. A multi-disciplinary artist, she likes to go project by project which has included videos, installations and text paintings to name a few. A new show coming up at the William Turner Gallery in Santa Monica will present work called “flow paintings” using waves of pigment in a fluid and gestural style. “Now I feel I have this huge tool box to make whatever I want,” she says.

In September, a show at Arena One Gallery in Santa Monica will feature archetypes that are cultural icons of America. The art will demonstrate how culture is recreating ideas informed by the original, or the perception of objects known as simulacra.

“I’m interested in how to approach this topic in a way that is partly craft, partly concept and innovative,” Wolf says. Her contribution will incorporate a soft sculpture diamond installation by folding silver Mylar. “They look like they weigh more but they are as light as a feather – almost like an origami diamond,” she says.

Information, theveniceartwalk.org and jenwolf.com.

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