Saturday’s ‘Reimagine’ online arts festival brings the Westside’s creative scene to a computer near you

By Meera Sastry

The artwork of Sofia Venegas and Ruth Chase adds a touch of whimsy to the “Reimagine” festival

This Saturday, June 6, the Venice-Mar Vista Arts Coalition (VMAC) will unite several Westside arts organizations to put on “Reimagine,” a virtual arts and music festival. The celebration will take place from 2 to 10 p.m. on multiple online platforms (including Zoom) and feature musicians, DJs, visual artists, and poetry along with interactive workshops.

The online event will serve as the summer 2020 installations of the Mar Vista Art Walk and Venice Art Crawl, which have vibrantly celebrated the local art scenes with quarterly IRL events, festivals and one-off pop-ups over the last five and 10 years, respectively. Among the member organizations of the Venice-Mar Vista Arts Coalition participating in the “Reimagine” festival are not only the Mar Vista Art Walk and Venice Art Crawl but also Venice Boulevard’s Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) and Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center. The coalition, which put on last year’s mega arts festival The Get Around, includes various Westside arts organizations.

The theme of “Reimagine” was inspired by the current pandemic and prompts artists and participants alike to reflect on how art can enable all of us to restructure our lives through this crisis and beyond.

“What we realized was that, in spite of all of the challenges, it was almost as if the universe was giving us an opportunity, by hitting the pause button, to reimagine the way the future could be,” says organizer Lenore French, President of the environmental nonprofit Green Communications Initiative which helped birth the Mar Vista Art Walk five years ago. “We all felt that, as artists, we would be able to translate to ensure that the things that we love about and have learned from this time would not be lost.”

“In the midst of illness, panic, and isolation, we know that urgent changes are necessary. And in the opening of space to consider new horizons for how we live, we’ve realized urgent changes are possible. In this year’s annual Venice-Mar Vista Arts Coalition festival we’re dreaming those possibilities into being,” writes Quentin Ring, the Executive Director of Beyond Baroque, in the event’s artist statement.

The festival’s charitable partner complements this timely topic: Westside Food Bank, which is currently supporting hunger relief efforts for those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Artists and musicians are three times more likely than the average population to end up unhoused or without food and essentials,” says French. “We want not only to emphasize that the Westside Food Bank needs donations, but we want our artist community to know that these resources are available to them. The purpose of this event is two-fold: both to fund the food supply and to make sure our community of artists and musicians is taken care of.”

After the opening ceremony, the festival will begin with several musical performances, with more to follow throughout the rest of the night. Those set to perform in “Reimagine” include the following: Osmunda, The Strayngers, Single Dean, Randy Emata, Looner, Time Warp Records and Westerner. These musical artists range in style, from singer-songwriter to psychedelic to soul, and include single acts and rock bands alike.

The Venice Art Crawl’s 2020 Legendary Women Artists of Venice awards show, which was folded into the festival and could not happen live because of COVID-19, will serve as one of the centerpieces of the event, honoring artists Ruth Chase, MB Boissonnault, Sandra Zebi, and Robin Murez. These artists create in several mediums, including multiple forms of painting and sculpture, and their work will be shown on the stream at 5:15 pm.

Beyond Baroque’s literary contribution is to be a series of readings, streaming at 6:30 pm, by nationally recognized poets based in Los Angeles such as bridgette bianca, Jose Hernandez Diaz, Joseph Rios, and Sholeh Wolpé.

The awards show will be joined by a host of other visual art offerings, including several virtual art shows and live workshops and artist demonstrations. There will be other avenues for viewers to participate beyond virtual art as well, including an open mic and yoga lesson. The night will end with a set from DJ Todd Spero accompanied by fire dancers and live painters.

Despite the transition to a virtual format, the “Reimagine” festival promises to be an exciting day and night of art appreciation and engagement.

Stream for free on YouTube at bit.ly/mvartcoalitionyoutube, Facebook at facebook.com/marvistaartwalk or via Zoom. Visit bit.ly/reimaginezoom to register for the Zoom event or marvistaartwalk.org to learn more.

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