Venice Boulevard transforms into a 3.5-mile arts festival from the 405 to the beach
By Christina Campodonico
The Venice Art Crawl began almost 10 years ago as a way for local artists to connect with each other and their neighborhood through pop-up art galleries and activations on a single night. Similarly, the Mar Vista Art Walk began nearly four years ago as a one-off grassroots collaboration to highlight the emerging arts scene and vibrant small businesses in the neighborhood’s commercial core. Over the years, both have become quarterly events integral to the Westside’s cultural calendar.
On Saturday, these art crawls combine forces for The Get Around — a mega music and arts festival stretching along Venice Boulevard from the 405 at Sawtelle Boulevard all the way to Venice Beach. The collaboration not only activates 3.5 miles of sidewalk from 2 to 10 p.m. with live music, art installations, food trucks and more, but also officially marks the geographic “footprint” and launch of the newly founded Venice-Mar Vista Arts District (VMAD for short), which registered for nonprofit status earlier this year.
With Venice Boulevard as its main artery, VMAD encompasses longtime Venice cultural institutions such as Beyond Baroque, Pacific Resident Theatre and SPARC (which is hosting an artisan marketplace on Saturday) as well as newer creative businesses such as Venice Boulevard’s Full-Circle Pottery and Lincoln Boulevard lifestyle boutique Amiga Wild.
The leaders behind VMAD and The Get Around — founder of the Mar Vista Art Walk’s Green Communications Initiative Lenore French and Venice Art Crawl President Sunny Bak — see this first joint event as an opportunity to display the vibrancy of the Westside art community and help preserve its unique connection to California culture and history.
“Ask the man on the street anywhere in the world — Lagos, Nigeria; Beijing, China; Paris, France — ‘What is California culture?’ They’re not going to say downtown Los Angeles. They’re not going to say San Francisco. They’re going to say skateboarding, surfing and Venice Beach,” says French. “With the encroachment of gentrification elements [on the Westside]… we were concerned about the displacement of artists and art, and that particular aspect of California — and, let’s face it — American popular culture. … Basically, [the Venice-Mar Vista Arts District] allows us to champion and support our [artistic] culture and our history in West L.A.”
“Venice is a historic art community and it needs to be acknowledged for future generations,” adds Bak. “I think it’s wonderful that we’re neighbors and we’re all loving art.”
Some of VMAD’s long-term goals for preserving its namesake communities’ joint cultural legacies include creating a museum within its borders, an archive at a local library and maybe even lobbying for affordable housing for artists. For now, the coalition is focused on making The Get Around run smoothly.
Organizers of Saturday’s festival encourage participants to ditch their cars at a public parking spot in Venice at the west end or at Venice and Sawtelle boulevards on the east end to hop on The Get Around’s designated LADOT LANow Shuttle, which will stop at 18 spots along the festival route in both directions. Walking, biking or scooting to and through the event is also encouraged.
There are dozens of indoor and outdoor activities planned, many of them surprises yet to be announced. Here are some of the highlights we suggest hitting up along your way, flowing east-to-west:
Sawtelle Boulevard Arts Hub
The park-and-ride adventure begins with a shuttle pickup at Sawtelle and Venice. Nearby, Fanatic Salon Theater (3815 Sawtelle Blvd.) is hosting live comedy, and there’s talk of a T-Shirt Lab staging a free T-Shirt giveaway planned nearby.
Edrok One’s Mar Vista Block Party
Mar Vista artist Edrok One is hosting 100 artists and vendors between Inglewood and Grand View boulevards. Four artists face off with paintbrushes in hand for an “Artifesto Getdown” from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the corner of Grand View and Venice. Audience cheers decide
Earthstar Music Stage at Centinela
Emerging electropop singer, multi-instrumentalist and recent John Lennon Songwriting Contest winner Jasmine Crowe, featured on the cover of this week’s issue, headlines a full day of live music with an 8 p.m. show at the corner of Venice and Centinela.
Wasatch Avenue Mobility Mart
One block west of Centinela, check out three-wheeled scooters, experimental bikes and skateboard demos by the nonprofit Boarding 4 Breast Cancer at a Mobility Mart, which runs for two blocks along Wasatch Avenue south of Venice Boulevard. Venice-based skate, surf and punk rock chronicler Juice Magazine is creating a pop-up display featuring the skate photography of Juice staffer Dan Levy as well as multimedia artists Maile Cowell and Skyler Anselmo.
King Eddy Saloon’s Beer Garden
In a nod to an old Bukowski haunt, the parking lot of Alana’s Coffee Roasters (12511 Venice Blvd.) turns into a beer garden with live art by Mar Vista muralist DJ Neff and LABrakeless’ 10th anniversary Super Rad Custom Bike Show.
Wasatch Live Music Stage
Young musicians from School of Rock share the stage with local rock and blues bands throughout the festival.
Boogaloo Burning Man Art Party
Festival circuit favorite the Boogaloo Art Car is pulling into the C. Nichols Project Gallery (12613 Venice Blvd.) for a Burning Man-style art party with the Dirty Beetles DJ Collective. The modified short bus won’t be fully outfitted as a rhino-beetle like it was for the Venice Art Crawl Afterburn, but it’s still the kind of place where everyone’s welcome to hang out and be their quirky selves.
Chicks in the Mix
All-female deejay crew Chicks in the Mix is spinning from 2 to 10 p.m. near Beethoven Street, with giant props including a seven-foot unicorn statue and arts-and-crafts vendors along for the ride.
Café y Cultura
The Mar Vista Art Walk’s Community Gallery at Buckwild Gallery (12804 Venice Blvd.) hosts Café y Cultura, a mix of award-winning Latinx craft and food vendors coupled with The Get Around’s official art show.
Food Truck Lot at Venice High
Man cannot live on art alone. Refuel your body at Venice High School (13000 Venice Blvd.), where dozens of food trucks are setting up shop for the evening.
Lincoln Boulevard Art & Music Hub
Local live music promoters Westside Revival, fighting the good fight to maintain a vibrant live music scene
west of the 405, are programming an outdoor music stage at the corner of Venice and Lincoln boulevards. The
bill includes Mannequin Skywalker, Looner, Vikingo, Westerner, Gabrielle Graves and Mr. Vampire.
Head a block north to stop by Venice Beachland’s Burning Man Party (2121 Lincoln Blvd.) for karaoke, tarot card readings, face painting, fitness games and vegan food. Across the street, pop into Amiga Wild (2124 Lincoln Blvd.) to learn more about L.A. Paint Night and listen to local bands jam throughout the day and night.
Warhol + The Bubble Lounge
Catch a world premiere preview of “Andy Warhol’s Tomato,” a new play about the godfather of pop art’s youth, at Pacific Resident Theatre (703 Venice Blvd.), where there will also be a display of vintage photographs of Warhol shot by Venice Art Crawl President Sunny Bak. Chill out behind PRT at the Venice Ale House’s Bubble Lounge Beer Garden, with DJs curated by Venice music promoter Winston House, art installations and a “Burning Man bar” (21-plus).
Mercado at SPARC
Dine al fresco in Beyond Baroque’s community garden (681 Venice Blvd.) with Safe Place for Youth, which hosts a Mediterranean fundraising dinner ($20) from 5 to 8 p.m. (RSVP at eventbrite.com), or browse fresh produce and flower bouquets from 2 to 6 p.m. at SPY’s farm stand.
Visit the Social and Public Art Resource Center (685 Venice Blvd.) from 2 to 10 p.m. to explore an outdoor artisans’ market, or Mercado, for unique crafts and goods. Christina Schlesinger’s provocative and sexually charged “Tomboys” exhibit is concurrently also on display in SPARC’s Durón Gallery (recommended for mature eyes only).
A few blocks away, the Venice – Abbot Kinney Memorial Branch Library (501 Venice Blvd.) hosts demos of handmade ceramics and Japanese flower arranging.
Venice Beach Art Hub
Check out the whimsical modern art of Paul Michael Glaser (aka Starsky from “Starsky & Hutch”) at the Paradise Project (2201 Ocean Front Walk).
Venice Community Housing Corp. hosts an interactive art party, featuring a participatory mural, a craft table and music by Venice songbird Suzy Williams, at the planned location of the Reese-Davidson Community affordable and supportive housing development (200 N. Venice Blvd).
Stop into L.A. Louver (45 N. Venice Blvd.) for Terry Allen’s “The Exact Moment It Happens in the West,” an exhibit of nearly 100 drawings, sculptural objects, video installations and audio from his various albums and radio plays, dating from the ’60s to today.