Have you ever heard the expression “Whatís in a name?” Judy Stabile lives up to hers!
“Stabile” is a term coined for Alexander Calderís huge sculptures that have fixed units and remain stable, unlike mobiles, art works with moving parts.
Judy moved to Venice in 1973 when abandoned storefronts on Abbot Kinney Boulevard (then called West Washington Boulevard) were plentiful and she has worked and lived in the same space since then. Youíd never know she was there if you were just walking down the street.
In the í70s, artists came to Venice because rents were cheap and the light was good. Judy remembers how the artists would move in and improve their building to make a livable space.
“There was nothing here,” she says. “I had only a hotplate and a mattress.”
The front windows remain frosted after all this time.
“We didnít necessarily want people knowing where we lived,” she says. “It wasnít a gallery. The artists lived in the studio and painted. You wanted your privacy so you could paint.”
A graduate of Chouinard Art Institute, Judy remembers fellow Venice artists Chuck Arnoldi, Laddie Dill and Guy Dill as classmates, and she still maintains a friendship with them.
This is where she was introduced to the “light and space movement” and started working on glass, which continues to be the backbone of her art. An early influence also was good friend and artist Larry Bell who also worked in glass.
Stability plays a part in Judyís life as an artist. Her shapes — cone, cylinder, oval — relate to nature. Itís in this geometric interplay that references a state of balance, which is inherent in nature and her work.
Judy is a master of shadow — creating a three-dimensional
image on a two-dimensional plane. In her cylinder paintings, everything works around red and then one color leads to another.
“Each color dictates where the painting is going next,” she says.
In addition to using a wide palette of acrylic and spray paint to produce distinctive and deeply hued colors, she does a series using gold-, silver- and copper-leaf because they are natural elements and luminous.
Part of the Venice Art Walk since the early 1980s, Judy calls the Art Walk a symbiotic relationship between the artists and the Venice Family Clinic, for which it is a fundraising event.
“Itís a great way to make a contribution to the community,” she says. “In the í70s and í80s, this area was about artists and people would come on the Art Walk because it was the only way to have access to artistsí studios.
“So the Venice Family Clinic realized that this whole area of Venice had all these artists hidden away in all these spaces — Jim Ganzer, Peter Alexander, Eric Orr, Chuck Arnoldi, Laddie Dill, Guy Dill, everybody was here — in those days it really was an art walk.
“Then things changed. Now itís more of an art walk in the sense that youíre going to see art collections in peopleís homes in the area — the architecture of the area in addition to seeing artistsí studios.”
One of Judyís favorite memories from the í80s was Robertís Restaurant on Ocean Front Walk. It was run by Hal Fredericks, now of Halís Bar and Grill on Abbot Kinney Boulevard.
“It was fabulous,” she says. “There was nothing like it in the city. All the artists went to Robertís.”
There are other memories — not so good.
“You canít do an article about Venice in the í70s and í80s without talking about the violence,” she says. “Iíd be in bed and there would be shotgun holes in the windows. I had a dead body on my front door step one night when I came home at 11 p.m.
“I had to step over his body to get inside. He lay there until three oíclock because it took that long for the coroner to get here because there were so many killings in the area.”
The parking problems that we know today were not always an issue. Judy says she paid thousands of dollars in tickets on Abbot Kinney before making room for her car in the alley.
“In the í70s, you didnít have to worry about finding a space on the street,” she says. “But nowÖ.”
Close to her home, the streetscape of Abbot Kinney has changed so much in the last few years.
“Iím living proof” of the change she says. “Every day I open my door and thereís something new going on.
“At one point there was a building going up to the left and one to the right and a building in the back. Iíve been surrounded by this.”
Although Judy has found a sense of stability in her life, she is aware that change is inevitable. There is a note over her desk that quotes Charles Darwin — “Itís not the strongest of the species that survive, but the most responsive to change.”
VENICE ART WALK — The Venice Family Clinic is the largest free clinic in the United States. Although it provides care to many uninsured, low-income and homeless patients, the need continues to outweigh the resources available. Every third person in Los Angeles has no healthcare coverage and it looks like the situation will not improve anytime soon.
Sunday, May 20th, is the Art Walk. This is when studios and homes of selected Venice artists are open to the public. This is our chance to see the creative spaces behind those nondescript high walls and fences.
Discover the treasures we have in Venice. There will also be special exhibits, a childrenís center, a food fair, a shopping place, music and more.
We can do our part by supporting the Venice Family Clinicís wonderful endeavors and have fun and an educational experience at the same time.
Information on the Art Walk, (310) 392-9255 or www.venicefamilyclinic.org/.