Monday, August 21, 2017

Gone Fishing! Time To Reflect ...

There is a lot to reflect on at the moment, both in my own life and on a global scale. In both cases, I don't really have any idea what's going on, which is both liberating and a little scary. I'm headed back home to Minnesota in a couple of hours to get back to the roots, to try and figure out where I'm supposed to be and what I'm supposed to be doing - and have an excellent birthday week with my lifelong friends and family!

On way my down to say peace out for a bit to the ocean while I trade it for the lakes, I saw this cool sign/mirror hanging on a wall, welcoming all to the beach. I took that as a sign that this truly is the time to self-reflect.

On my way back, I came upon a big scene at the Venice Library for the solar eclipse. The whole parking lot was full of Venetians hoping to get a glimpse of this extra-rare celestial experience. Everyone was sharing the special glasses, and freaking out equally, in a really good way. I got a little choked up, that people can still come together to view something special, and way, way bigger than us all, and any of our differences. That's the takeaway for me of the great 2017 Solar Eclipse ... Unity. We are all united under one great sky, and it's our job to do our best to take care of each other while we're here. And that's that.

I saw just a little bite out of the sun here in Venice, but it was enough for me to get the message. Now I'm off for a little Summer break ... hold it down here in the V for me until I get back, and know how very special this life is ... wherever you may be.


Friday, August 18, 2017

The Venice Art Crawl Turns 7!

The Venice Art Crawl turned 7 years old last night with a party at Canal Club to celebrate! The back room was jam packed with artists and the people who love them and their work. The entire mission of the VAC is to keep ART alive in Venice, and these are the folks that are making sure of that.

The VAC was the vision of Danny Samakow, Edizen Stowell, and Mike Newhouse, who came together to ensure that Venice as an art destination would remain so. They, along with tireless board member, Sunny Bak, were honored last night with a well-deserved certificate from the Venice Chamber of Commerce, and a big old 7th birthday chocolate cake.

A raffle was held all night, with winners claiming art by local artists, among other great loot prizes. Danny Samakow was sporting the bright pink VAC shirt from when the event was a monthly deal, and shared with me how happy he was to see how far it's all come.

Fun and familiar faces of Venice enjoyed themselves all night (and do be sure to check out the watermelon margarita across the street at James Beach while it's in season - delish!), and all looked forward to the next installment of the VAC in September for the Venice Afterburn - always a highlight of the year!

Happiest Birthday to the Venice Art Crawl, and endless thanks for all of your hard work to keep the art world in Venice not just alive, but thriving! Much, much love!

Next Venice Art Crawl - September 21st! 


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Venice Fringe At In Heroes We Trust - Every Wednesday!

I love In Heroes We Trust because it's an extra fly legit one of a kind store in Venice with the coolest clothes and art, of course, but also because its owner, Neely Shearer, is not afraid to throw a good shindig right there inside the shop. I've had many a good time and made many a friend just from walking by and joining the party. Last night (and now every Wednesday night!) Shearer turned her shop into a full on comedy club, when she hosted the first Venice Fringe comedy night for her excellent comedian friend, J.C. Coccoli.

Coccoli and I became instant friends  a few months back (at another IHWT jam!), because J.C./C.J. but also because she's awesome. Last night was the first time I heard her standup comedy, and now I like her even more.

I'm not the biggest fan of standup comedy, which makes me not the best audience for it, but I was happy to go and support my friends. I was both surprised and delighted that I actually laughed almost the whole time, and may have even gotten over my comedy glitch. People were cracking me up.

There was a good blend of men and women in the line-up, with Coccoli kicking off the proceedings, and popping the many bottles of complimentary rosé that may have also had something to do with my easy laughter. Good times!

Byron Bowers and James Davis held it down for the men, and I can't remember all that their sets were about (as I forgot my notebook - and did not forget the rosé), but I knew the joint was in stitches.

Brooke Van Poppelen brought it home with more hilarity, and confirmed my new status as an enjoyer of the comedy. Even this little girl was laughing - until it became past her bedtime.

The party spilled out on to the sidewalk - as it usually does - and the laughs kept on coming. What an unexpectedly stumbled upon fantastic evening of fun with funny people! Get there every Wednesday! The rosé is cracked at 7:30, the show is at 8 sharp, and done at 9, so it's a great time that allows you to keep it going, and/or not whine about it being a school night. For just a $10 donation - Fringetastic!

See you Wednesdays at In Heroes We Trust, friends!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Memories Of The Red Balloon

I was on my daily cruise around town this morning, when I saw this new mural on my way to the beach. A red balloon. It instantly reminded me of the children's book and film, The Red Balloon.

I hadn't thought of that book in years, but this mural brought it rushing back. I came back to look it up, and it's still as good as I remembered.

Don't you agree? Much like the red balloon in the book/movie, this morning's red balloon on the mural provided a welcome bright spot in otherwise gloomy damp of the seaside dawn.

Thank you.

Friday, August 11, 2017

A Werner Scharff Tribute Mural By Jonas Never

There is a new-ish mural of Werner Scharff tucked in at the parking ramp across from James Beach, in a wonderful depiction of the late patron of the arts done by muralist Jonas Never. A lot of people might be wondering who Mr. Scharff was to Venice, so here you go.

Scharff was a German immigrant who made his name and fortune with Lanz, his clothing company best known for its well-loved flannel "Granny nightgown". He saw a dilapidated Venice and began investing in real estate here, amassing a land empire that he had beautified along the way. He commissioned several murals to spruce up the joint, effectively launching Rip Cronk's career while creating Venice landmarks for generations to enjoy (The Van Gogh Starry Night one. The one of Cronk rappeling down the side of the Beach House Hotel. The side of the now Surf Side. Iconic all.) If you look closely, several murals around town feature the tag "Werner loves Simone" as a public declaration of his love for his wife. Sweet.

The L.A. Louver is a gallery that Scharff had built, and he owned the James Beach building also (among hundreds of others, including The Cadillac Hotel), so his memorial mural is exactly where it should be. The kindly looking gentlemen is there driving his convertible with the top down, cruising through Venice for always. A reminder and an appreciation for the history of a very special place, and the people who get it.

Tip your hat next time you're sauntering down North Venice.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

West Of Lincoln Project - By Ruth Chase

The West of Lincoln Project, the first solo exhibition by Venice born painter Ruth Chase had its opening reception last Saturday at Venice Arts, and I heard it was as big old party. I unfortunately could not attend, as I was working on a television shoot that wrapped for the day well after the opening was over. I was bummed to miss this extra-Venice event, so I headed over there to check out Chase's art as soon as I could.

The West of Lincoln Project has been a lifelong dream come true for Chase, as the paintings portray the citizens of Venice that grew up here, and their stories are of their entire lives growing up here in this diverse community by the sea.

The paintings and the stories that accompany them are what makes up the tapestry and history of this beach town so beloved by so many. Familiar Venice faces like Solo Scott are painted in all their youthful glory, showing the fun - and the wisdom - that came from living here in Venice all of one's life. My Life Depends On It.

Eddie Hadvina talks about his Second Chance.  

The portrait Place of Strenth of Gloria Olivas Omar is touching, as it shows her as a young girl at the Festival of the Chariots (which I also had to miss last Sunday), and how that was always her favorite event in Venice. Those memories gave her strength when she was dealing with stage four breast cancer (now in remission), and it's all there on the bright canvas.

In The Deeper We Go, The Brighter We Shine, Elaine Love Leslie is shown, and her story tells of how Venice is her greatest spiritual teacher. I get it.

Summer Breeze, Community Love shows "Miss P", the grandmother of Rhonda Lynn Wise, who showed her family the beauty of Venice when she moved here in 1967. Venice means SO much to generations of families, which is why it's so painful to see so many longtime residents being moved out of town by what boils down to financial genocide. Seriously.

Spirit of the Moment depicts David Fowler on a skateboard (a crucial component to any story about Venice), and the caption that sums it up. "Growing up in Venice is a metaphor for life. On a skate, you fall down and you get back up. In life you take your family with you. They are the ride. They fall, and you help them get back up." Exactly. That's Community. That's what's at stake here.

Leonard Duran is shown with a low-rider vibe that represents the V-13 people of Venice, aptly titled, Never Forget Where You Came From, Always Remember Where You're Going. Excellent advice.

Fernando Manzanilla discusses his sobriety in a story that breaks down his portrait, Not Just Me Anymore. There is much growth shown in every single painting, and growth might very well be the connective theme of the show. Growth, nostalgia, and love for a place and its people.

The one that moved me the most was Untitled. This one is for the Oakwood neighborhood, and as Chase wrote in the caption, it's not for her to portray. It's for the community itself to embody. I got a lump in my throat, as we all know how much history is being displaced, and this historically African American stronghold is no different.

The Venice tags by Ric Clayton are very cool, and very recognizable if you've ever cruised around Venice. It's a style -and a lifestyle.

The wonderful show of and for Venice will by on display at Venice Arts through September 1, 2017. It is a must-see for anyone that knows and loves Venice.

Congratulations and thanks to Ruth Chase for showing what so many are feeling. Love, concern, and gratitude for Venice, California.

West of Lincoln Project
Venice Arts
13445 Beach Avenue
Venice (ish)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

People Matter More Than Things

Abbot Kinney Boulevard is all about buying things these days, and it's really kind of sad. The quirky character is virtually gone, and about the only good thing about it anymore (other than the originally cool businesses) is bumping into the people you know and love, though that happens less and less these days.

I was strolling the boulevard today just to see what places were already gone and what had replaced them, and saw a guy with little homemade cardboard signs set up that echoed precisely what I had been thinking. People matter more than things.

Let's all try to remember that, shall we? Globally.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Six - From and For Paddy Wilkins

My good pal Paddy Wilkins releases a new short film today (shot in Venice by Venice people) called Six. The number six is significant, because today also happens to be the day that Paddy goes in for his 6th round (of 6!!!) of chemo to get rid of that bastard cancer.

Paddy is a superhero. Plain and simple. He is also one of the very best gentlemen I know ... and I don't throw that word around lightly. Please watch and appreciate the gentle beauty of Six ...

7. It's always been my favorite number. I like it even more now that I know 7 means the time after this chemo is done, and Paddy can move forward toward excellent health. You can help with that by donating to Paddy's Gofundme page here:

Thanks and love and SEVEN!