Beauty And The Beach: The Venice Art Crawl
VENICE, CA -- The Venice Art Crawl, the third Thursday of every month, is a lively tour of art galleries in Venice, California. Located against the sometimes shocking—but always exciting—artistic backdrop of the eclectic boardwalk, a variety of vibrant art work (as seen in Photo 1) is on display.
Venice Beach has everything you could imagine: public walls for graffiti artists, a skateboard park, the Muscle Beach outdoor gym, basketball and tennis courts, bike paths, street vendors, buskers, henna tattoos, the scent of wafting incense, and, of course, sun and sand.
This strange, circus-like atmosphere started more than 100 years ago when Abbot Kinney built Venice of America. It included canals and gondolas, a pier with amusement park rides, a dance hall, musicians, fireworks, publicity stunts, beauty contests, Mardi Gras, and a variety of side show performers—a tradition that continues today.
Art is a staple of the area (as seen in Photo 2), with many artisans promoting their wares in the open-air market of Ocean Front. One painter there, Gary Soszynski, notes, “I’ve been showing on the Venice boardwalk since I got here from New York, mid-town Manhattan, in 1977.” His work is all about perseverance. “Paint every day; that’s what you have to do,” Soszynski advises. “Each painting is a lesson.”
The Venice Art Crawl, which celebrated its one year anniversary in August 2011, wends its way through about two dozen galleries, tucked away in backrooms of restaurants, in a hotel driveway, on the main drag (Windward Avenue), and even on the patio of a private apartment. Styles range from photographic realism to colorfully abstract (as seen in Photo 3) and from mixed media to found objects.
One recent Crawl focused on the green trend. Topics included eco-conscious art, repurposed materials, as well as landscapes and nature scenes. Below is a synopsis of some of the work featured in the eco-Crawl.
The Canal Club Restaurant and Bar
The Canal Club’s show, titled Evergreen, promoted several artists.
* Photographer David Zentz, whose works included “Rainbow at Medicino” and “Grasshopper,” signed ink jets on hahnamuhle.
* Photographer John Chapple showed “Oregon Mist” and other snowscapes and greenscapes.
* Cerraeh “The Dutchess” Laykin, photographer and artist, displayed her “Aphrodesia! Exploring the Sexy Side of Food” series, which consists of “erotic portraits” of organic fruits and vegetables, fresh from farmer’s markets and straight from the tree. Works included “Ouch” and “Prick,” both on archival metallic c-print. “[Metallic paper] gives it an extra richness, depth, quality, and really bright colors—makes the artwork really pop,” says Laykin.
* Marioe (his street art handle) brought his street art indoors using recycled materials as canvas (namely doors and table tops, reclaimed from the trash heap). He cleans up the hard edges with bondo, then applies gesso as the underpainting, and finally applies acrylic spray paint. Several works—“Muriatic,” “Conductor,” and “Symbiotic”—utilized circuit boards. Some were twisted and folded into shape; others had gears affixed to them. Another installation of two vacuums, a toaster, and old-style pink hair dryer, made use of recycled materials.
The C.A.V.E. Gallery
In the backroom of the James’ Beach restaurant, C.A.V.E. presented Go Green.
* Walt Hall’s collection “Fenceposts for a Better Tomorrow,” was inspired by sustainable living.
* The “Danger Dogs from Nepal” included several 1' x 1' synthetic enamel on metal. For these works, A. Michelle Page travels Nepal, armed with pictures of dogs that people have sent her, and gets Nepalese artists to produce signboards featuring the dogs (as seen in Photo 4). The dog owners don’t have to pay anything upfront, but if they like the renditions, they can buy them for about $250 each.
In addition, Sunny Bak Studio showed My Dead Dog, A Irish Wake for Louisiana the Bayou Dog
The Erwin Hotel
The porte-cochere (carriage porch) of the Erwin had comfy couches for lounging, a live DJ, and refreshment center.
* Betzy Enzensberger, who looks to interior design trends as a reference, translated what she’s seen this season into some thread work and abstract acrylic on canvas.
* Venice Arts, an art mentoring and education program in which local youth get to work with professional artists, showed several works from their current youth program “picturing health.”
H+R Townhouse Gallery
Located on Windward Avenue, H + R had a DJ spinning and featured “live printing,” utilizing a circular array of screens for print work.
* Mago (which means “wizard” in Spanish) had several abstract works on display, including “Rough Gold,” a 4' x 4' painting of gold flake and gold iridescent paint on canvas, and “Saturn,” a 24" x 18" work using pen, acrylic, and aerosol on canvas. Other materials used included sumi ink and latex paint.
The Venice Art Crawl officially takes place from 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. every third Thursday of the month. The galleries participating in the event rotate regularly.
Look for large yellow or orange banners with the VAC logo. More detailed information is available online.
The event is bike-friendly, and skateboards also shuttle between venues. Metered street parking is available in limited quantities. There are several paid parking lots in the area, which vary in price, depending on the season and their distance from the beach.
Photos Courtesy Of Kristine Green