If you were in Venice last weekend, you got to see our town at its best. There was the Garden Tour, there was my Mom in town, and there was the Art Block. I love the Art Block. It's real. It's legit. It's the art of Venice, up close and actually personal.
Personal in that it was like a Venice family reunion, bumping into people you knew at every turn, a stark contrast to the upcoming Art Walk ... which is still cool, but now corporate and a whole lot more sterile. Not so at the Art Block - by and for the artists of Venice. Someone's mom might have made a spread of home cooking. You might smell weed smoke as neighbors share a puff in the sunshine. Artists are relaxed in their own environments, easy and open to chat with studio visitors, crack a beer (or wine) and share their work and lives with art enthusiasts who are genuinely interested. That is just the best.
Mom and I and my friend Deb covered a lot of ground. Since the last one, the Art Block has really caught on, and now spreads from the headquarters area at 3rd and Sunset to Lincoln and the Boardwalk. Artists have come together to support and promote each others' works in a true grassroots and awesome event that is not only free monetarily, but artistically and sociologically, in true Venice fashion. I was inspired and proud all day long.
Everything was walkable if you really meant it (and we did), but there were buses and pedicabs if your energy waned at all. Ours did not, and we got around. And STILL didn't manage to see it all!
There was a a cool mobile home gallery (the Gypsy Trails Mobile Gallery) parked in the street, with skateboard art and 3D sandcastle paintings.
I always enjoy the studios centered around the Art Block headquarters (where you get the maps and the most concentration of spaces) on Sunset Avenue. There you get to see the great drawings and wooden works by the Weir-Quitons ...
You are reminded at the end of a hallway to never EVER conform. Right, Venice?
We popped in to see Trek Kelly's 100 Instagram photos in and around Venice, each one so gorgeous that you'd be hard pressed to choose a favorite.
But I bet you could. It was also nice to just shoot the breeze with folks you haven't seen around in a bit, and know that you were seeing each other because of art. Because of Venice.
You wouldn't dream of Art Blocking with out a stop by Attaway's studio ...
It was even better this time because both my Mom and Attaway's artist Mother were there to share it with, in a pre-Mother's Day artistic extravaganza. Extra special.
The weather Gods smiled on the event as well, and bright sunshine and warm ocean breezes kept the spirits high all day.
In among the art and people was a gentle reminder that artists also need to make a living, in addition to making your day. Support your local artists PLEASE!!!
After the fun at the Attaway, Bevacqua, Savage and Risk compound, we strolled over to "The Distillery" at 361 Vernon.
I caught up with my friend Gary Palmer at his studio there, and heard his thoughts on creating a local/international festival for street chalk art. The super cool kind that looks like it's 3D and blows your mind. Stay tuned for that, because it will be stupendous, based on what Palmer showed me.
One treasure of a room opened up into the next, and surprises were in store at every turn. No matter what your artistic taste, there truly was something for everyone.
It's always a treat to peek in on Jim Budman's studio, a fun house of eclecticism and serious art melted together like a really good trip.
In Budman's space, you don't even know where to let your eyes settle and focus, there's so much going on. All of it interesting and fun.
The art fluctuates between silly and serious, with baby doll heads arrayed in a case across from a piece with the former World Trade Center towers reflected in a wine glass just days before they fell.
There was a fun, throwback, interactive time where we got to throw down some old-school spin art, and I just remembered that I forgot to retrieve my own spin from the clothesline where it dried. Dang. Trust me, it was purple and orange freshness.
A real highlight was over on 6th and Indiana Court at the space of Francisco Letelier and friends. Letelier's work is so beautiful and thought-provoking, it gives you that feeling of relief that PHEW, there are some people like this still working in our world. Really.
Visitors enjoyed the leafy courtyard, made friends, and talked about what a great day it was, all over town. It truly was.
I loved it all and soaked it all in, especially the warmth of the people that I ran into that I already love, or the ones that I just met that made me happy they are here too.
There was even Art Block merch available this time around, with a t-shirt designed by Letelier that any art or Venice lover would be stoked to sport.
Here's my Mom, talking art and being darling, just like everyone around her ...
Family, friends, art, sunshine ... as I said before, it was a day for Venice showing off, a day that made it way too easy to explain why we love it here.
The art was not contained within studio walls either. It spilled out into the streets and alleys at every turn ...
I recently saw a bumper sticker on a car parked on my street that said, "I brake to watch artists create." Which is exactly what we did to see what would emerge on this woman's canvas ...
We cruised over to Hampton Drive to see the stunning glass work by John Mooney ...
.... And carried on to Melissa Herrington's bright studio home ...
And then headed over to Jules Muck's spot to see both her finished works ...
... And her art happening right in front of your face as she pulled silk screens on to t-shirts as extra-cool keepsakes of the day.
From there we headed down Abbot Kinney, and though I was already going to stop in to my friend Kwaku Alston's place ... the sign out front made it imperative. Hilarious.
My dear friend and neighbor Harry Gunderson was showing his stunning work at his house, open and filled with friends and new admirers alike. It's cool to have things like this where just walking down the regular street, you spy the yellow Art Block flag and know that more goodness is in store. It's a little like the Amazing Race of art ...
As we left the Gunderson/Cletta pad, we saw the cones for bike parking out front of their house. If you didn't somehow know you were in Venice before, there was no question now.
After dragging Mom around all day, and with two birthday parties still to go, we wrapped up our walkabout of art, with plenty left unseen for the future. The Art Block is pure Venice. PURE. You should stop at nothing to be there - and delighted - by the next one. I'll look forward to bumping into you ... in the name of art ... under the sign of Venice.