Envision a mural on the now blank wall of the arched entryway of the Venice Library lobby. That was the seed planted by Lenore Ritkes, president of the Friends of Venice Library.
“Venice is an art community and our library is a little deficient in a permanent piece of art other than what was put in at the very beginning, which is lovely,” she says. “To have an entrance that’s colorful and artful, I thought was a nice thing to do.”
The idea was Lenore’s, and Friends of Venice Library board member and mural project manager Dolores Rivera carried the ball in obtaining a $10,000 grant from the City of Los Angeles Department of Public Works Neighborhood Matching Grant Program — now called the Office of Community Beautification.
“Then we had to get approval from the main library because it’s being done in one of their facilities and from Cultural Affairs because it’s an art piece in the City of Los Angeles,” Lenore says.
Donations are now needed from the community to match the $10,000 grant. Any amount will be welcome and may be sent to FoVL Mural Fund, PO Box 2813, Venice 90294.
Mollie Favour is the artist.
“We were fortunate to find Mollie,” says Lenore. “Besides all her credentials, she turned out to be a wonderful person to work with.
“She knows how to get through the bureaucracy. She’s patient enough to know that the process doesn’t always happen in a timely manner. She does budget and all those marvelous things.”
For an artist whose main emphasis is art with nature, Mollie certainly has lived in appropriate places.
Growing up in Arizona, she was surrounded by the nature of the desert and, before moving to California, it was the nature of the mountains in Colorado that she captured in her art.
Relatively new to Venice — she has been here only seven years — her work now has more to do with botanical things, finding intimate views of flora.
“I like things in bloom, not as much for the flower as for the regenerative sources,” Mollie says.
What better way to get known in a community than to get involved in it. Mollie has opened her studio each May for the last five years for the Venice Art Walk.
She has worked with three area schools, including Mark Twain Middle School on Walgrove Avenue, on their murals. This project was done in conjunction with Venice Housing Community Corporation. She also teaches ceramics at the Venice Community Adult School.
Currently, it’s the ocean that has her attention for the Venice Library Mural that will greet visitors as they come through the archway entrance of the main lobby.
It will incorporate the four elements that sustain life ñ earth, air, water and fire. The air (sky) and fire (sun) will be on top with the ocean (water) and ocean floor (earth) on the sides.
The design is not literal; rather it’s abstract or symbolic.
Helping Mollie was a group of children from the library reading program who drew their ideas for the mural. She hopes to have their drawings on display in the future.
The overall design is intended to integrate with the postmodern architecture of the building, using oval, round and square shapes.
This type of art involves being part mathematician and part chemist.
“I’m neither,” says Mollie, “but I manage to pull it off.”
A painting is broken up into tiles. Then the trick is to figure out the shrinking of the clay and the grout lines.
“It has to fit together,” she says.
The colors are basically yellow (sun) and blue (ocean). Mollie has jars and jars of glazes. Many tests are done to get the right shade. It’s not arbitrary.
“It’s technical,” she says.
You may see Mollie walking on the beach. She does that a lot.
“It’s incredible to live in a big city and have an ocean,” she says.
Besides the ocean and walking on the beach, she likes Venice because she is able to walk to other places.
“It’s a real pedestrian place,” she says. “I drive 10,000 miles less here than I did in Colorado.”
An unveiling of the mural is planned for April.
“It will be a celebration of another piece of local Venice artwork going into the most visible building in Venice,” says Lenore.