This year’s Venice Art Walk to benefit the Venice Family Clinic will be held Saturday and Sunday, May 20th and 21st.

Saturday offers self-driving art tours and an art auction preview reception.

Sunday is the Art Walk. This is when studios and homes of selected Venice artists are open to the public.

Wow! What talent in our own backyard! This is our chance to see the creative spaces behind those nondescript high walls and fences and discover the treasures we have in Venice.

We can do our part by supporting the Venice Family Clinic’s wonderful endeavors and have fun and an educational experience at the same time.

I can’t think of a better way to learn about Venice’s artistic heritage.

Details are in the What’s On section, page 17, and information is available at (310) 392-9255 and the clinic’s Web site,

MICHELE BRADLEY — Among studios on the tour are Michele Bradley’s. Michele is a perfect example of how you can, in midlife, change careers and, with a lot of hard work, become successful.

Michele and her husband, Dick Hay, first came to Southern California from Houston 20 years ago. Dick’s six-month job here became permanent and they never left.

At the time, Michele worked with fabrics in the clothing industry. She always had a propensity for color and pattern.

“I took a class in textile design at UCLA 20 years ago at the age of 40,” says Michele. “It struck something in me and I loved it.”

She continued with the classes until she had a portfolio and a professor helped her find a job working in the field.

“I felt very lucky that someone was paying me to paint,” she says.

That was only the beginning. Michele decided to continue her education and went to graduate school in the evenings.

She graduated with a master’s degree in fine arts from California State University Los Angeles.

“I felt that drawing is important, so I continued taking classes locally,” she says. “I wanted to be a strong technical artist.”

Michele considers herself a figurative or representational artist.

“I don’t want it real-looking,” she says. “It’s almost like life is surreal.

“Structure and color are really important. The structure has to have a strong feeling and the color is emotionally saying what I want to say.

“The color aspect is most about the joyousness of life. It’s such an emotional connection. You can do a painting in different colors and it changes the whole idea.”

Drawings and studies are important to Michele.

“It’s the artist’s way of thinking,” she says. She likes looking at other artists’ sketchbooks.

“That’s more fun almost than looking at their finished work,” she adds. “It’s a spontaneous thought process — it’s their mind at work.”

She has numerous sketchbooks and many watercolor studies.

“I like watercolor because it is a spontaneous medium,” she says. “It’s the most fun. You can cover oil and acrylic. Watercolor is more risky — you never know what’s going to happen.”

Michele paints in all mediums.

“Some subject matter seems to tell you how it wants to be painted. Sometimes I feel like it’s less about my imprint on painting.”

Michele is mom to two dogs and three cats, animals are an important part of her life. She is currently working on a dog series.

Although she has her own models, she searches out others.

“I like to look at the interrelationship between the dogs — how they play and how they relate to each other,” she says.

A painting of her calico cat, Passion, watches over the studio.

“I’m really lucky that I’m an artist,” says Michele. “I found it late in life. I feel so lucky that I have something that feeds my soul.”

She appreciates the fact that she is able to do it and acknowledges her husband.

“I do paint every day,” she says. “It’s a discipline with me. Dick has helped me do that. He always says that artists need a patron.”

AARON KRAMER — Do we always know what we are really looking at?

In Aaron Kramer’s case, I would say probably not.

To enter his studio, which is also on the Venice Art Walk, is to see wonderful organic forms constructed with a tactile quality.

At the core of his ingenuity are reclaimed materials, or trash, used for another purpose to reveal their beauty.

Urban objects, as Aaron calls them, are made from street sweeper bristles, recycled coffee stirrers and tin can lids that find new life in spheres, gourds, baskets, lights and other large shapes.

Wood balls are covered with old stamps, old buttons, beads and even bread bag ties and shredded money from Treasury Department misprints.

“Art furniture” pieces, too, are certainly unique.

For instance, there is a display case made with sewer pipe, wooden pattern molds, shoe lasts, jewelry cleaning trays, a halogen light and an antique clock, and a table made from banisters, moldings and an old door.

As a child Aaron scoured the garbage for scraps to make furniture.

Originally trained as a graphic designer, he segued into “making” for a living via a bicycle trip around the United States that took him back to his creative soul.

“Discovering innovative uses for the familiar and the bizarre while recycling makes me giddy,” he says. “Inherent forces in an object are interpreted and combined with other voices to create a single entity.”

The influence of nature is profound in his shapes and volumes.

“Looking at a forest in the height of seasonal change we feel awe-struck,” says Aaron. “Then moving in to inspect just a single leaf of color we are inspired by the systems at work.

“Emulation of nature is another way to honor the mysteries of life.”

There is humor in Aaron’s art.

“The juxtaposition of any object with, for instance, an antique shoe last, creates an anthropomorphic twist to a piece of art,” he says. “There are out-of-context surprises, one-liners.

“All of these combine to make up the funny and unexpected parts of the whole. As the old saying goes, a camel is an animal designed by committee.”

For those of you, like myself, who have never heard of this saying, I decided to do a little research.

Sir Alec Issigonis, a car engineer who designed the popular Mini, once famously said, “A camel is a horse designed by committee.”

What he meant was that its appearance suggests that its creators couldn’t decide on a consistent formula.

In Aaron’s art, refuse, anything thrown away or rejected as worthless or useless, is manipulated and reborn in a wholly unexpected re-use.

“My one-of-a-kind sculptural pieces combine industrial surplus with everyday objects to formulate a sense of irony in the way that we view the world around us,” says Aaron. “I have a passion for collecting those things that resonate deeply within me and ‘making’ is a way to continue obsessively collecting.”

For those of you not able to go on the Art Walk, check out Aaron’s Web site at