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.
Selective memory is especially common when it comes to the rich. Werner Scharff was a slum lord and developer. He owned 80% of Ocean Front Walk - much more than Snap - and drove untold numbers of poor people out of their apartments. See his insightful obituary by Carol Fondiller in the Sept. 2006 issue of the Free Venice Beachhead at www.freevenice.orgReplyDelete
Werner G. Scharff was bestowed the title, "Venice Patriot" by the Argonaut Newspaper. Indeed, the Los Angeles Times credits Werner Scharff of picking up the mantle from Venice Founder Abott Kinney. Werner believed in Venice long after it lost its allure. Indeed, it is Werner's participation that has helped make Venice what it is today. Please see Werner Scharff's obituary in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.ReplyDelete