The Mar Vista Art and Music Walk recently returned to live events in September and will be back on Saturday, October 23 from 4 to 10 p.m. at Venice’s ArtBarLa. Photos by Sarah Velazquez

Mar Vista Art and Music Walk spotlights artists in disability community

By Bridgette M. Redman

The Mar Vista Art and Music Walk made its triumphant return to live events in September and will be back on the streets on Saturday, October 23 from 4 to 10 p.m. at Venice’s ArtBarLa.
The live event will be paired with a virtual event that runs through October 31. Both events carry the theme of “Parity” and will feature art work and music from people who belong to the disabilities community. The event is free and a limited number of tickets are available at eventbrite.com/e/187256728917.

Walk builds on successful celebrations

Founded in December 2015, the Mar Vista Art and Music Walk is a planned quarterly event to celebrate each season. At the first event — with just the two co-founders organizing it—between 500 and 1,000 people attended and the event grew from there. A joint effort of the environmental nonprofit Green Communications Initiative and local artists, creators and small business owners, it was held the first Saturday in March, June, September and the Saturday after Thanksgiving in November.

Their largest event was done jointly with the Venice arts community where they had between 5,000 and 7,500 people attend. They’ve had as many as three outdoor stages along their walk and many small setups for buskers. They’d also have two to three indoor concert venues during each event.

Their last one was in March 2020, a week before the state shutdown because of COVID-19. Like others, they found ways to go virtual, with around 3,000 people showing up online to the first joint one they did with Venice in Summer 2020. Then, according to Lenore French, co-founder of Mar Vista Art and Music Walk, they started doing smaller live-streamed events in January 2021 and also offered a virtual online exhibition on their website.

“We were able to raise the funds to offer these small microgrants three to four times a month and curated live streams on our Instagram,” French said. “It was a way of keeping the artist community involved and keeping them paid. The main advantage of an art walk from an artist point of view is that it provides a marketplace for them to sell their prints and the many kinds of merchandise they can develop as an artist to showcase their talent and creativity.”

Art and Music Walk restarts with single-site events

Now they are holding monthly small, one-site events leading up to Summer 2022 when they are planning to once again hold a large arts and music festival stretched out over the streets. The events, which started in September, are COVID-compliant with controlled crowds and volunteers taking temperatures and checking vaccine cards at the entrance.
“We’re going to continue to do these single location, mini-events that will have some of the signature highlights of our pre-pandemic art walks,” French said. “There will be music, performing arts and a roster of comedians.”

Organization focuses on parity for each events’ themes

There have been some changes in focus since the pandemic. French said the art walks were organized around a theme and those themes have now changed in focus. She cited the racial reckoning that the country has had since the extrajudicial murder of George Floyd.

“Like many organizations, we became very much aware of the role art can play in creating discussions around subjects that might otherwise be difficult,” French said. “Art is something you feel on a heart level. It bypasses the fight or flight instinct that happens in your brain. The beauty of art is that it is meant to be felt in the heart. You can have difficult conversations by looking at something beautiful.”

French said they have been reassessing where they are post George Floyd’s murder and their reckoning involved creating a platform to give everyone a voice in an equitable fashion. They are creating a platform for those who have been traditionally under-represented as artists so that they can have parity. It is why the October event is focusing on highlighting the work of artists from the disabled community.

“What we are doing is that we are partnering with the Disability Community Resource Center to reach out to their constituents and clients who are artists,” French said. “We have made a special effort to reach out to artists and artist vendors who consider themselves part of the disability community.”

Party will stretch into the night

The plan is to have art, music, comedians and food trucks at the event. ArtBarLA will also offer a limited food menu. French said the comedy show will feature artists discussing everything from mental illness to using wheelchairs. She cited the advantages to having it at a bar, even though after 7 p.m. guests will have to be 21 or older.
“Our typically millennial, zillennial, Gen Z audience can enjoy themselves into the late hours,” French said. “There will be an afterparty after we ostensibly leave at 10 p.m. The festivities will continue.”

What: Mar Vista Art and Music Walk
When: 4 to 10 p.m., Saturday, October 23
Where: ArtBarLA, 12071
Venice Blvd., Los Angeles marvistaartwalk.org

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