Since opening in 1970, the Venice Family Clinic has become the largest free clinic in the country. Today, comprehensive primary health care and supportive services at seven locations in Los Angeles County are provided to over 24,400 low-income, uninsured and homeless individuals.
More than ever, clinic officials say it is necessary to treat additional patients and they are always looking for ways to expand services, reach more people in need and stretch resources even further.
The Venice Art Walk & Auctions is the clinic’s largest annual fundraiser, attracting more than 4,000 art lovers each year. The event is a celebration of art, architecture, music and fine cuisine. The net proceeds go towards providing medical visits for individuals with no other access to health care.
The public can support the clinic by participating in the tour of more than 50 artists’ studios and bidding on more than 400 original works of art, including paintings, sculpture, graphics, photography, cartoons and furniture provided by Los Angeles area and Venice Art Walk artists. Celebrations of art, architecture, music and fine cuisine are planned throughout the event, scheduled Saturday and Sunday, May 22nd and 23rd.
A new artist on the Venice Art Walk May 23rd is Jay Mark Johnson, who grew up in an artistic household in which there was no television.
“We were encouraged to make things,” he says.
In the early 1980s while living on the Lower East Side of New York City, Jay was as interested in what was going on in the local neighborhood as what was going on in the art galleries.
“The Puerto Rican and Dominican families were effectively chased out by the artists who were coming in to gentrify, and this was something that got my attention,” he says.
For a long period of time, Jay applied his time and efforts into addressing societal challenges in a more direct activist manner. While still an artist in New York, he started a television collective airing the “enemy’s” propaganda in a weekly half hour segment.
“I felt and still feel that it is important to listen to everyone’s perspective and to take them into account,” he says.
He began making video production materials in Nicaragua and in El Salvador. Eventually, he moved to Mexico where he formed a video production company and also produced music and street theater.
After conflicts in Central America began to wind down, Jay headed for Hollywood where in the early 1990s, he worked turning simple computer animations into more complex visual effects. At that time, he moved to Venice for the mix of relaxed ocean atmosphere and pedestrian lifestyle. Since then, he has gone back and forth between Europe to do his art work.
This year is Jay’s debut on the Venice Art Walk. He says his art is unusual, as he makes timeline photographs that challenge the norms of perception. The resulting image is similar to a seismograph or an electrocardiogram, which are timelines themselves, where the left side of the image happens before the right side.
The camera, called a slit scan camera, has a vertical slit that very slowly records images from left to right, tracking the passage of an event as it unfolds in time.
“Its inner workings are not at all akin to a regular camera,” he says. “I take a camera that’s made to shoot panoramic space and modify it so it will shoot panoramic time.”
Have you ever wondered what a wave looks like over time as it comes in to shore? Or a dancer in mid-air before landing on the ground? Or a Ferris wheel as it spins by? This is what Jay investigates.
He is producing a book, “Venice Spacewalk,” in collaboration with the Venice Family Clinic that will be available on the art walk. The book documents his explorations into this genre of work and includes a number of finished pieces he has made in and around Venice.
“I shoot all over the world but, as this is my home, I use Venice as my principal laboratory,” he says.
One of the reasons Jay says he creates art is because, as a political activist, he often felt that people with good intentions and good ideas were frustrated by their own limitations. He feels that people should be conscious of the limits that they operate within, the limits imposed by human nature. He says this is especially true if one wishes to develop a dialogue with the world at large and if one wishes to think and talk about art and science. His work provokes an awareness of the everyday constraints on perception by “directly challenging how we observe and perceive.”
“My photos look like normal photographs but they also don’t look like normal photographs, and they remind us that what we see is a specific view of reality,” he says. “What interests me is reflecting on the limits of how we view the world, giving us a better understanding of what those limits are so we can better operate within them.”
As Jay proceeds, he is less and less inclined to be directly involved in the organizing of overtly political projects. “Often times, the specific concerns of political projects are focused on relative social positioning, i.e. who is more powerful, who is less. I am more interested in contributing to a greater overall understanding,” he says.
Throughout Jay’s career, in art spanning the disciplines of drawing and painting, printmaking, filmmaking, performance, architecture, and photography, he has tried to make visible the intersection of human nature and society. His works are in the permanent—collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Smithsonian Institution in—Washington, D.C., the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as the Collection—Frederick R. Weisman in Los Angeles, the Langen Foundation in Hombroich, Germany and the Alison and Peter W. Klein Museum Kunstwerk Collection in Eberdingen, Germany.
For more information,
www.jaymarkjohnson.com/, or www.veniceartwalk.info/.