Google hosts a pop-up gallery and community festival in support of Venice Family Clinic

By Christina Campodonico

Left: Conceptual artist John Baldessari donated his screenprint “Hero,” part of a series in which dotted-out faces let bodies do the talking
Right: Figurative painter Judy Nimtz offered “Ribbon Dance,” an oil-on-canvas work that depicts motion as narrative
Left: Conceptual artist John Baldessari donated his screenprint “Hero,” part of a series in which dotted-out faces let bodies do the talking
Right: Figurative painter Judy Nimtz offered “Ribbon Dance,” an oil-on-canvas work that depicts motion as narrative
Images courtesy of the Art Walk and Auctions

Barbara Kruger’s 2011 untitled text piece — the banner image for Sunday’s 38th annual Venice Family Clinic’s Art Walk & Auctions — confronts the viewer with a direct and pointed question: “How Can I Be a Better Person?”

For local artists new and old, one answer to that question is simple: donating their artwork and opening their studios to raise funds for the Venice Family Clinic, which provides health care to low-income, uninsured and homeless people in 12 locations throughout the Westside and Inglewood.

The heart of the VFC Art Walk & Auctions fundraiser is a pop-up gallery with works by leading contemporary artists on display (and for sale) inside the Frank Gehry-designed Binoculars Building that houses Google’s Venice HQ. There are also ticketed tours of nearby art studios ($50) and a free community street festival with live music, artisan booths, an Imagination Station for kids and gourmet food along Hampton Drive  at Main Street.

Figurative painter Judy Nimtz got involved with the Venice Family Clinic’s Art Walk & Auctions soon after moving to Venice eight years ago. It didn’t take her long to realize the important role the clinic plays on the Westside.

“As an artist, at any moment I might need the help of the VFC. And I felt like it was a really good cause,” Nimtz says of choosing to get involved. She’s donating a painting titled “Ribbon Dance” to the Art Walk’s silent auction — the online preview for which closes at 3 p.m. Friday, May 19.

Longtime Venice artist Laddie John Dill, a world-renowned Light and Space art innovator, has been involved with the VFC’s Art Walk since its inception.

“I remember Frank Gehry called me to get involved,” said Dill by phone from Italy. “It was really successful, and then it was gigantic.”

This year, Dill is donating an abstract aluminum triptych wall sculpture from his “Light Trap” series to the silent auction.

“I call these pieces ‘Light Traps,’ says Dill. “They have the ability to pick up whatever ambient light that’s in the room, almost like a lens. … And as you move across the three of them, they start to pick up light, so they have a kinetic feeling.”

Dill says that this work is part of his continued experimentation with light as a medium.

“I sort of think like a painter, but work like a sculptor,” he explains.

Just as Dill has remained devoted to light as a vehicle for his artistic inquiry, he’s remained loyal to the Venice Family Clinic. He’s donating not only artwork to the event’s silent auction, but also a percentage from his sales made during the Art Walk.

“I do it because I’m a citizen of Venice,” says Dill. “I find the clinic to be an extremely important place. … It’s a really important thing for the community in Venice. It’s really a lifeline for these people.”

Dill knows this firsthand.

“One day, I just noticed some kind of infection on my leg,” recalls Dill, who lived near the clinic at the time and went there to get it checked out.

“This was after I’d been donating [art] for 12 years. They put something on it and it went away,” recounts Dill. “I’m   a success story.”

The Venice Family Clinic’s Art Walk and Auctions happens from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 21, at Google’s Venice headquarters, 340 Main St., Venice. Entry is free and open to the public. Ticketed art studio tours ($50) happen from noon to 4 p.m. Visit theveniceartwalk.org for more info.