Author: betsygoldman

Temple of Man celebrates 50 years

Members of the Temple of Man, a repository for poets, gathered in front of its original location at 1439 Cabrillo Ave. in Venice Sunday, Oct. 31 to celebrate the temple’s 50th anniversary. The temple was founded in the 1960s during the time of the Beat poets in Venice by Bob “Baza” Alexander and his wife, Anita. Bob was a proponent of the spiritual and mystical, and the Temple of Man was formed as an alternative to organized religion. As part of the anniversary commemoration, Beyond Baroque is featuring a Temple of Man program of poetry, music, video, drama, film and a sampling of their art collection through Nov. 30. The following is from a 2005 Argonaut interview with poets Frank Rios and Philomene Long: In 2005, participants of the Venice “Vintage” Architectural Tour had an opportunity to view this 1910 Craftsman and were treated to a special appearance by original Venice Beat poets Rios and Long. When Rios was first asked to be part of the tour, he declined, saying it would be too emotional and the memories of all the people who were no longer here would be hard on him. He finally agreed and the tourgoers were enthralled. Members of the temple who have passed on will always be remembered. A “graveyard” with gold and silver plaques was in the front of the house and is now in...

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‘Venice Beach in the Sixties — A Celebration of Creativity’ at the Other Venice Film Festival

The Other Venice Film Festival is celebrating its seventh year as a community-supported event dedicated to screening films, presenting musicians and showcasing art that embodies the spirit, energy and diversity of Venice Beach. According to filmmaker/photographer Leland Auslender, who documented the lifestyle of Venice Beach in the 1960s, Venice was the heart of mushrooming beat and hippie cultures, and home to many free-spirited and flamboyant inhabitants. Having earned an engineering degree from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and a master’s degree from Stanford Business School, Auslender, who had lived with his family in Beverly Hills, moved to Venice in 1960 after his divorce. “It was then known as Venice, ‘slum by the sea,’” he remembers. “It was also hippiedom. Those were some of the happiest days of my life.” The downstairs floor of a house on Park Avenue, which had a rent of $85 a month, became home. At night when Auslender returned to Venice from his job in the film department at Hughes Aircraft, he would go to the beach, film seagulls and waves, and whenever he saw eccentrics that “attracted” his lens, he would shoot them, too. Parties with artists, musicians and writers were commonplace, he said, and drew the unique characters of Venice who partook in casual behaviors, with unconventional dress and language, consumption of drugs and, sometimes, self-imposed poverty. Auslender’s prize-winning film, “Venice Beach...

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Westminster Avenue Elementary School — proud of its role in the community

There is a noticeable difference at Westminster Avenue Elementary School in Venice. “The teachers are the same. The programs are the same,” says Westminster parent and outgoing booster club president Coby Dahlstrom. “The change is in perception, parent involvement and community awareness.” The booster club, the Westminster Endowment Group also known as West End, is a non-profit that raises funds for areas of need including computer labs, after-school events, instructional support, field trips and gardens that have helped beautify the campus grounds. Started in 2004, the West End merged with the school’s PTA (Parent Teacher Association) in 2009 to combine forces. “The two groups ended up splitting our parent population,” says Dahlstrom. “Instead of motivating more people to join and, thereby handling both organizations, the same number of people had to do both.” While the computer and math magnet school offers technology skill enhancement and hands-on project-based learning in the school’s curriculum and the arts program offers instruction in dance, theater, music and visual arts, it is the West End gardens that provide an even newer approach to learning. Project Manager Nora Dvosin, a California certified master gardener, and LSLA/Garden Project Co-Manager Nancy Giffin approached the West End with their idea of a garden at the school. “It is the mission of a master gardener to teach future generations of children to be proper stewards of the earth,” says...

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Transformation at Broadway Elementary School

Susan Wang has worked in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for 22 years and has a strong background in special education. She was assistant principal for six years at two schools before coming to Broadway Elementary School in Venice three years ago. “I thought this would be a good opportunity to work with a Title I school,” she says. “I’m interested in working with children who might need a little extra support and expertise and I want to devote myself to that work.” Thanks to Wang, positive changes are happening on the campus. “It takes time and patience when you want to improve a school,” she says. “Step by step we want to see little results along the way and, after a period of time, it will add up to big results.” Based on statistics, the biggest problem to overcome at Broadway Elementary is declining enrollment. “As the neighborhood changes, and it’s continuing to change, many families can no longer afford to live here,” says Wang. “The newer families are not as familiar with the school.” There is a concentrated effort to increase enrollment through test scores, and Wang realizes that is the bottom line for parents. “We are working to make our instructional program data-based,” she says. “There are a lot of old habits in educators to put energy in planning beautiful lessons without looking at...

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Recycling with Jennifer Siegal: one person’s trash is another person’s treasure

By necessity, Jennifer Siegal was ahead of her time while studying as an architecture graduate student at SCI-ARC (Southern California Institute of Architecture) in 1994. She and her partner, Todd Erlandson, had to make a full-scale construction project. “We were students and had no money, and to keep the budget really low we looked for salvaged materials like old shipping crates, old glass window panes and recast door handles.” Their 8-by-8-foot building was so successful that Evan Kleinman, host of Good Food on KCRW and owner of Angeli Caffe on Melrose Avenue, purchased it to turn it into an outdoor part of her restaurant that she had at the school at the time. The building also caught the eye of an administrator at Woodbury University in Burbank where Jennifer became an inaugural Julius Shulman Institute fellow. She still teaches, now at USC, a course sharing her innovative approaches to architecture. She first took students to Tecate, Mexico to look at examples of “color” architecture, an ad hoc approach that involves using found objects and elements but putting them together in an aesthetically pleasing manner. “The recycling component was present in all of my work at that time for economic reasons and also I was intrigued by the concept of rethinking materiality,” she says. When Jennifer was living at the Brewery, a 300 loft live-work artist community in downtown Los...

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