Proposed Venice West Café monument status also due to Sponto Gallery

To the Editor:

The Venice West Café’s proposed historical landmark designation should also be due to Sponto Gallery.

Thanks for the article on Venice West Café (Argonaut January 14th issue). Reading about the historic landmark status was exciting, but I would like to draw attention to additional reasons for the 7 Dudley Ave. location meriting the historic landmark designation.

The seeds planted by John Haag and the Beats at Venice West, blossomed for eight years; by 1967 the cafe was gone. With its illustrious Beat poets and artists, Venice West transformed an old Venice building into the eternal sacred ground of the West Coast counterculture.

The early 1980s brought the community Sponto Gallery to the same 7 Dudley location; a bohemian cultural hotbed of free-spirited local artists, musicians, poets, and rare underground films. The continued steady shift of the mundane mindset to playful and thought provoking counterculture for over two decades was orchestrated by master perpetrator Mark Kornfeld, known as Sponto, along with cohorts such as Gerry Fialka.

Fialka founded the Sponto Gallery’s underground cultural manifestations 7 Dudley Cinema, PxlThis film festival, and his famous artist interview series. These underground cultural delights were all held free at Sponto Gallery for years. Sponto Gallery flourished until founder Kornfeld’s sudden death on December 28th, 2008.

I am glad that the 7 Dudley location has been prevented from becoming just another expensive Westside restaurant by its well-deserved historic landmark recommendation. Along with Venice West, however, the more recent culturally significant Sponto Gallery should also share recognition, for its “free to all, all are invited” artistic and counterculture happenings for over two decades in the same exact space. The location’s qualifications for historic landmark designation should be due to the contributions of Sponto Gallery, as well.

Lisa Ezell, Venice

Remembering Ken Genser

To the Editor:

There is no individual that I can think of who exemplified such dedication, hard work, knowledge and flexibility as our great City of Santa Monica’s longest serving public official, Ken Genser.

I have known Ken and his wonderful sister Harriet for nearly 30 years. Ken was an activist, an appointed commissioner, a many-times-elected City Council member and a truly amazing person who always persevered even through ongoing medical challenges.

We strongly disagreed on very few issues, but then again I sometimes even disagree with myself.

I’ll miss his sense of humor also. Ken always kidded me in a good natured manner about my always wearing shorts. I’m sure Ken wouldn’t mind that I’ll be attending his 1:30 p.m. public memorial on Sunday, January 24th at Barnum Hall wearing my best shorts.

I can only imagine that Ken’s memorial will be tear and laughter filled, and a special day of remembrance and dignity for a truly dignified human being.

Jerry Rubin, Santa Monica

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