This past Sunday (May 19th) marked the 34th annual Venice Art Walk & Auctions….and the 2nd time for the silent auction to be held at Google LA. There were new studios, new artists, and of course some longtime favorites. Google added a fresh, updated perspective attracting many younger art collectors.
Each year, the annual art walk brings thousands of community members together to celebrate Venice Family Clinic. Artists open their studios, and over 350 artists donate their work to ensure that neighbors in need have access to health care. Venice Art Walk & Auctions is the largest silent art auction in the area raising over $600,000 annually.
See image: Flyer designed by John Van Hammersveld.
The Venice Art Walk & Auctions was created to help raise funds for the Venice Family Clinic back in 1979. The clinic was founded by Phillip Rossman, MD, and co-founder Mayer B. Davidson, MD, in 1970 to offer residents in need a low cost health option. At the time, the clinic was struggling financially as it lived side by side with crack dealers and gangs. Now the gentrification of Venice, which many see as a direct response to Google has created a safer, more resilient Venice. Last year, Google agreed to sponsor and host the silent auction and reception.
Local Joseph Hanson has attended several art walks in previous years and explained that one of the reasons he wanted to attend once more was to see the inside of Google. “What a great space…to see the artwork in such a cleaner, more cutting-edge environment put a completely different view on the work.”
This was the first year Google would host the Family Fun Day, and kids and dogs were encouraged and allowed to enter the silent auction area as well as the Google Garden. Also since Google hosted the reception last year, a bar serving alcoholic beverages and soft drinks, as well as food was a welcome addition. Something that was not possible at the old venue (Westminster School) and was proposed by the VAW staff. Sales from the alcoholic beverages, etc., helped to raise even more funds. Another local, Jude Edwards pointed out, “Well worth the price since you know it’s going to a great cause.”
Longtime resident Linda Levitz has been coming to the Venice Art Walk since her son was in elementary school – he’s now twenty-nine. A self-proclaimed hippie, Levitz loved the ambiance and relaxed setting of the Westminster School, but she was impressed with the new space. “Google was great…It was packed and I noticed many more young bidders than in previous years,” said Levitz.
The Venice Family clinic has welcomed Google’s sponsorship. Here’s what the VAW team had to say, “We’re stepping into a new era technologically, with the Google team overseeing our registration and silent auction checkout to create a better experience for our guests. We’ve created a new studio tour experience for our long-time supporters. Our Google-hosted silent auction is growing by leaps and bounds, with more than 350 local artists.”
Artist Andy Moses has been donating his work to the silent auction for 10 years. “I donated a painting that I just finished,” said Moses. “It is representative of my recent topographically based work, but I have pushed the paint process in some new directions where there is an incredible illusion of texture, but it’s all an illusion.”
Laney Kapgan, Venice Family Clinic Director of Development, navigated many challenges this year and helped to create a successful event. “We are so grateful and honored to have talented artists support Venice Family Clinic by opening their studios for Venice Art Walk, and we’re always looking for ways to offer new, exciting experiences to our guests.”
This year new artists from haleARTS S P A C E, Michael Hale and Marc Hemeon were invited to donate work for the auction. Kapgan explained, “By highlighting different legendary and up-and-coming artists each year, we can continue to build support for the many talented artists in our community.
Michael Hale, owner of haleARTS S P A C E in Santa Monica attended the event. “It was a wonderful event, cited Hale. “I was so thrilled to be part of it – from all of us at haleARTS pitching local artists that were accepted – to being a participating artist myself.”
Hale took advantage of the slient auction as well. “There were some amazing works – we actually bid on three works and won the auction on one – a gorgeous piece from a local artist. Ce la vie on the other two we were outbid on. That’s the name of the game with auctions,” laughed Hale.
Artist Paul Chilkov opened his home and studio on the walk this year. He talks about his art….”I see my work as interacting with the environment it is in, particularly with the wind sculpture which is constantly responding to ambient conditions, making the invisible, visible as I like to say. Kinetic sculpture is also constantly reshaping itself into ever-changing rearrangements, so the work is never exactly the same from moment to moment.”
See image: Paul Chilkov at his studo
One of Chilkov’s sculptures is featured in the Google Garden. He is a longtime Venetian and he has particpated in the annual art walk for the last twenty five years. “I am a fan of the event with all its ups and downs,” said Chilkov. “The move to Google was a great idea, as the drab halls of Wallgrove Elementary were not exactly the best place to view art and the sculpture garden there could be easily missed. Since my work requires an outdoor space with wind, the Google space is perfect and the flow of traffic through the ‘galleries’ to the outdoor area makes sure that no one will miss the sculpture garden.”
Artist MX Farina also opened up his studio (East of Lincoln) this year and donated work to the silent auction. Farina has been participating in the annual event for over ten years. “It’s a great cause in this day and age where our health care system has its complex challenges,” said Farina. “The Venice Family Clinic Art Walk started over thirty years ago and and really paved the way to buy affordable art work and visit studios while raising much needed funds. With all its rich history in art, I wish Venice could secure a public-run exhibition space and show off all the unique talent this area has produced. There is nowhere in this world like our Venice beach of America!”
See image: MX Farina Aerosol paint on paper 12 by 15 inches
Sheridan Rawlins, Engineering Manager, Google Chrome and Community Affairs Lead, Google LA was very iinvolved in this year’s event. Rawlins talked about his early interactions with Venice, “Eclectic may be cliché, but pretty much sums it up. I used to visit my brother-in-law several times a year before we moved here, and I remember him having his fortune told on the boardwalk in Venice that he would marry his current girlfriend of one month as long as she didn’t meet the parents for four months. Well, he’s happily married with my nephew on the way!”
Google is anything but a typical corporate entity. It has revealed itself to be a viable and supportive part of the community in Venice. When asked what the best thing about working for Google is, Rawlins replied, “…Flexibility in how you make an impact. Everyone is allowed and expected to choose, within reason, where they can best make a difference. This is both a luxury and a challenge that I haven’t found anywhere else.”
Google appears to be in alignment with the “Venice” spirit and unconventional outlook on life, but there will always be different points of view… old school versus new school. There are those that will always long for the old days. “I do miss hanging (my art) in the Westminster school…that was a great venue,” recalled Larry Bell, a longtime participant and one of the star artists that was honored along with John Van Hammersveld in this year’s walk.
Artist Laddie John Dill who has been involved with the Venice Art Walk from the start has had a studio since 1968. He has seen many changes in Venice. “People moved to Venice for the eccentricity,” said Dill, “which doesn’t really exist anymore. In a sense, the boardwalk has gone back to the “carny” feeling, which it originally had.”
Dill put it simply, “Google is here…let’s work with it.”