Del Rey Art Walk spotlights creativity thriving in an often overlooked neighborhood

By Michael Aushenker

A painting of the San Gabriel Mission by Del Rey artist Patrice Springer

A painting of the San Gabriel Mission by Del Rey artist Patrice Springer

Patrice Springer paints nature. Emma Enchique and Erma Benetez create ceramics. Angelica Butler makes jewelry and macramé. Gabby Salas draws and fashions Native American crafts. Former Universal Studios in-house artist Sonia Sanders, 90, paints portraits.

What unites these artists is that each is a resident of Del Rey and among 22 artists in that quiet West Los Angeles neighborhood who are opening their studios on Sunday for the fifth annual Del Rey Art Walk.

The Del Rey Art Walk is based at the Beatrice/Mesmer Community Garden but incorporates 11 additional sites. A map of artists’ studios guides visitors to a diverse cross-section of paintings, drawings, jewelry, photography and pottery along a four-mile route. At two addresses — 12123 Braddock Drive and 11815 Beatrice St. — Danny Meyer leads the Del Rey Community Jazz Band.

For ceramicist Benetez, a physician by profession, “it’s a happy pursuit” to have helped organize and participate in the art walk since its inception in late 2010.

“About five years ago in the summer there were quite a few of us who lived in the area,” Benetez recalled. “We have the garden at the corner of Mesmer and Beatrice. It was just a bare lot with trash. The city said ‘OK, you can have it if you maintain it.’ Someone said, ‘Why don’t we bring plants? Why don’t we bring art?’”

From that genesis sprang an annual event. While the first Del Rey Art Walk was held on Dec. 4, 2010, replete with festive poinsettias to mark  the Yuletide, the event quickly jumped to spring in 2011 and has remained a June happening ever since.

“I sent out about 500 fliers and we ended up with a really nice art walk that first year,” said ceramicist Charlotte DeMeo, the art walk’s main organizer. “When I had so many responses, I thought this is great that we have that many artists in our community who want to show.”

DeMeo’s involvement came organically.

“When I retired, I took a watercolor class. I loved it. So I thought, I bet there are other people in the neighborhood who had art that they wanted to show,” she said.

While the art walk does have its challenges — “Del Rey is a community that no one really knows much about,” DeMeo said — it has continued to grow and evolve.

This year’s compact route is designed to encourage travel by bicycle.

The artists represent the diversity of Del Rey in terms of both background and age.

“What’s wonderful about this is that everybody is so different. Art is really subjective but there’s not one person doing the same thing,” DeMeo said. “Even if two people are doing pottery or acrylics, it’s not the same. Each one has their own individual style. [It’s a testament to] how different everybody sees things.”

One destination features Bridgette Charlotte and Sabrina Bolster, the youngest on the Del Rey roster, whose garage studio engages children in interactive arts.

Over on Aneta Street, Springer, another of the art walk’s founding artists, introduces her latest painted landscapes. On Bray Street, Debbie and Allen Logaretta lead Native American beading with children, and on Coolidge Avenue Timothy Treadwell displays his photography.

Artwork by Playa del Rey Elementary School students is showcased to encourage donations toward the school’s art program.

“We’re trying to support arts education. We’re not trying to support ourselves,” Benetez said.

Participants say they appreciate the Del Rey Art Walk on several levels.

“I’ve had a chance to get to know my neighbors, and they’ve had a chance to get to know each other. We’ve also had a chance to become inspired by the variety of people who have lived in the neighborhood,” Benetez said.

The Del Rey Art Walk takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Start from the Beatrice/Mesmer Community Garden at Beatrice Avenue and Mesmer Street. Call (310) 994-8665 or visit delreyart.blogspot.com.

michael(at)argonautnews.com

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