Art in the Spirit of Collaboration
Art Walk, ARTBLOCK and Art Crawl go back-to-back instead of head-to-head
By Kathy Leonardo
In Venice, art is abundant. Over a span of just eight days, three special events highlight a thriving creative scene: Venice ARTBLOCK (Sunday, May 15), Venice Art Crawl (Thursday, May 19) and the Venice Art Walk & Auctions (Sunday, May 22).
Despite economic pressures on individual artists as once bohemian (and low-rent) Venice has morphed into a white-hot real estate market and the tech-industry headquarters of Los Angeles, local arts organizations are flourishing.
About four years ago, when Google began sponsoring the famed Venice Art Walk & Auctions fundraiser for the Venice Family Clinic (VFC), conflict ensued in the arts community when some artists felt left out. But the same hurt feelings that sparked the creation of the Venice ARTBLOCK a year later united longtime Venice artists under a cause. Now ARTBLOCK is a thriving arts organization in its own right, recently receiving funding from the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.
ARTBLOCK is also no longer a scheduling conflict with the Venice Art Walk, so many artists are participating in both events. ARTBLOCK holds free open studio tours twice a year, and Sunday’s event features nearly 30 venues spotlighting the work of almost 80 local artists.
From the start, the event has been inclusive of live music and poetry readings. Actor-playwright Dominic Hoffman, poet Peter Harris, and playwright Juliette Carrillo have participated in readings and workshops.
Artist Alberto Bevacqua and his son Ara Bevacqua are founding members of ARTBLOCK. This past year the artists were forced to move out of their longtime Venice studio at 334 Sunset Ave. (another casualty of gentrification), but as luck would have it fellow artist Jon Grauman at Venice Metal Worx invited both artists to share his studio space at 1003 Abbot Kinney Blvd. With the help of interior designer Dorie Devari, the three artists have reinvented the space.
“We hung steel walls, put in lighting, and are carving out a gallery/lounge space at the front of the shop. The foot traffic is great, and we really want to make a comfortable space for people to see more artwork of the neighborhood and socialize,” the elder Bevacqua said.
Happy to have a new studio, Bevacqua (who had originally taken issue with what he saw as changes brought on by Google) moved to repair that relationship.
“We had a few meetings with the VFC and everything’s good. We’re all in it together. They are very supportive, and we organized the events together. The Art Walk is a fundraiser for the clinic, and ARTBLOCK supports the clinic’s efforts,” he said.
In addition to the studio tours, ARTBLOCK is active year-round, encouraging Venice artists to participate in cultural and educational efforts in Venice while creating partnerships with other Venice-based businesses and cultural organizations.
The Venice Art Crawl, meanwhile, is a free quarterly event sponsored by the Venice Chamber of Commerce that includes artists from every corner of Venice.
Photographer Sunny Bak has been president of the Venice Art Crawl for the past two years and has been involved with the event since it began in 2010.
“The Venice Art Crawl is a volunteer-run organization, so it is not always easy but it is always fun,” said Bak.
Past events have featured art parties at empty properties (donated by landlords) for the night as well as the Burning Man-related #VeniceAfterBurn event that turned a good section of Rose Avenue into an arts community block party.
The elder statesman of Venice art events, the Venice Art Walk & Auctions is now in its 37th year of raising funds to support the Venice Family Clinic.
“Venice Art Walk has evolved since the day it started and continues to grow. Despite the exciting changes, it remains the same event at its core: started by local artists, upheld by the community and enhanced by the contributions of local supporters,” said Venice Family Clinic communications manager Rachel Lichtman. “Venice Family Clinic relies on our extraordinary artists, hosts, volunteers and so many other partners to not only pull off this event, but make sure that it grows year after year. The more it grows, the more people are able to receive quality health care.”
There are two parts to this event: an open studio tour with an admission ticket at $50 per person, and a silent auction and celebration at Google after the tour that is free and open to the public.
Lichtman said it is important for all of Venice’s arts organizations to work with one another.
“Venice Family Clinic has always known that we are only as strong as our community. We believe that Venice Art Walk, Venice Art Crawl and Venice ARTBLOCK elevate the voices of Venice artists and attract people from across Los Angeles to the unique culture that is so essential to our neighborhood.”
Venice ARTBLOCK happens from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 15. Pick up a map at 1003 Art Gallery and Lounge (1003 Abbott Kinney Blvd.), Weir-Quiton Studios (360 Sunset Ave.) or Letelier Studio (Indiana Court and 6th Avenue), or anywhere along the route displaying
a yellow flag. The event is free. veniceartblock.com
Venice Art Crawl happens from 6 to 10 p.m. on May 19 at various venues along Lincoln Boulevard from Rose Avenue to Washington Boulevard, including Venice Arts (1702 Lincoln Blvd.) and the Venice Love Shack (2121 Lincoln Blvd.). The event is free. veniceartcrawl.com
Venice Art Walk & Auctions holds studio tours from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (check in at Google, 40 Main St.; tickets are $50) and the free community celebration is from noon to 6 p.m. On May 22 at Google, with live entertainment and music to accompany the art. veniceartwalk.org