The Venice People’s Centennial Celebration has planned a summer of alternative ways of celebrating Venice’s 100th anniversary.

The group’s next endeavor is Divas of Venice, a performance series that seeks to showcase Venice women distinguished in their particular art forms.

The series starts with an opening reception at 7 p.m. Friday, August 5th, at SPARC (Social and Public Art Resource Center), 685 Venice Blvd., Venice. Admission is free.

The reception will feature presentations by muralist/visual artist/professor/activist Judith Baca and filmmaker/director Donna Deitch. Both women are founding members of SPARC. There will be a “Venus of Venice” awards ceremony at the opening.

The next night, “poetry diva” Linda Albertano will read and perform with original members of Nearly Fatal Women — Laurel Ann Bogen and Suzanne Lummis — at 7 p.m. Saturday, August 6th, at Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd., Venice.

Divas of Venice events continue with an evening of art and music with Bridget Graham and her musical group Adaawe, which centers on high energy African drumming and poetic lyrics.

Writer/artist/photographer Maureen Cotter, who was one of the first collective members of the Free Venice Beachhead will join journalist Carol Fondiller for a reading of original work at 7 p.m. Saturday, August 20th, at Beyond Baroque.

Crooner Suzy Williams (Stormin’ Norman and Suzy, The Boners) will perform the works of Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith accompanied by pianist Brad Kay at 7 p.m. Friday, August 26th, in the parking lot at SPARC.

The Divas of Venice series closing performance is at 7 p.m. Saturday, August 27th, at SPARC. The event will feature one of the founding members of CodePink, “political diva” Jodie Evans.

Evans and guests will appear in pink slips at a “progressive wear fashion show” directed by Dana Balicki. The pink slips symbolize giving the “pink slip” to President Bush and the Iraq occupation.

The show will feature a performance piece, “How to Maintain Our Democracy’s Optimal Health,” written by Sherry Healy, directed by LA CodePink cofounder Susan Rath and presented by the “election hygienists” of CodePink, according to Divas of Venice organizer Suzanne Thompson.

Divas of Venice will include an art installation at SPARC that opens Friday, August 5th, and remains in display through Tuesday, August 30th, and includes works by Judith Baca, Dana Balicki, Mimi Bogale, Maureen Cotter, Cyndi Kahn, Amy Kaps, Deborah Krall, Laura Silagi and Emily Winters.

Divas of Venice was produced by Suzanne Thompson and presented by the Venice Arts Council and SPARC. Divas of Venice is the second of three monthlong celebrations of the Venice People’s Centennial Celebration.

July kicked off the celebration with an art exhibit Venice Artists About Venice, produced by Emily Winters, which included a benefit screening of Feeding the Sparrows by Feeding the Horses, Moritz Borman’s rare documentary exploring the political struggles of 1970s Venice.

The last of the Venice People’s Centennial festivities will occur in September. The Posters of Peace Press, an exhibit consisting of political posters created and printed by Venice activists and artists from 1967 to 1987, produced by the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, Peace Press alumni and Eric Ahlberg.

The exhibit will open Saturday, September 10th, and remain in display through Friday, September 30th, at SPARC.

Divas of Venice is sponsored in part by a grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Liberty Hill Foundation/Robert and Heidi Greenwald Fund, Susan Adelman, Claudio Llanos, Edward Ferrer, Don Geagan, Linda Lucks, Michael McGuffin and Linda Shusett.

Information, (310) 822-9560 ext. 10.

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