Walk Thru Venice


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Old Venice used to be a hippie artist's paradise. Today Venice is still a paradise, but only for those working artists who made it.

I came to Venice in the spring of 1973, when, as a Masters degree student, Otis Art Institute wanted us to open our own studio to see what it was like to be a working artist.

A friend of mine at Otis said "let's go down to the art colony in Venice and open a studio there". So Lynn and I drove down in her Jaguar looking for a space. I had never heard that there was an art colony in Venice, which at that time was a messy, dirty little part of Los Angeles. One short block from the beach on the corner of Speedway and Clubhouse I met Nick, a film maker who later made a movie of me and my work as an artist (available on YouTube), who told me about a studio for rent right on that corner for only $125 a month, I took it.

Empty Beach

As the months passed, Venice came alive with the kind of activity I had only seen before in a Federico Felinni movie. Music on the roofs of buildings, snake charmers, belly dancers and people - people everywhere. And I was in the middle of it all. I thought "there is a life going on in Venice" and here I am living in the suburbs and attending art school. I moved into my studio full time.

I had no idea what I was supposed to do, so I began by meeting the local artists. I joined Artists for Economic Action to find out what it meant to be a working artist. There I found a group of older artists who started to teach me what to do. Arnold Schifrin became my mentor. Eventually I formed a group called the Association of Venice Artists, began teaching at Brentwood Art Center and became a CETA (California Educational Training Act) administrator through Artists for Economic Action.

Club House Street

So I lived in Venice, opened a gallery at #1 Clubhouse, and moved up the street to #29 clubhouse, into a little upstairs apartment in an old Victorian house. By now I had received my Masters of Fine Arts degree, had a few shows at Otis and some galleries in Venice, and was beginning to know what it meant to be an artist

By this time I knew that I had to have a proper studio. I looked for almost a year and never could find one. In those days Venice was the "slum by the sea", an artists colony that used to be a hippie place, and now was just a mess. I knew that when artists discovered a place, eventually it would become popular and the prices would rise. So, I had to find my real artist's studio soon.

Boardwalk Musicians

Venice was jam packed with artists so finding a studio space continued to be a problem. One day I was walking on the beach with my friend Blackhawk, a writer who came to Venice from Missouri and had recorded the sights and sounds of Venice through the 1960's. He introduced me to the history of Venice via the tape recorder and camera. This day we came up to the Santa Monica pier and there was a place for rent, which had been inhabited by musicians and pantomimes and had a stage and a recording studio in it. The studio was just an old restaurant / bar with a  pool hall and it was a mess. I did not mind. I had this vision of an artist's studio - a real artist's studio. It was not in Venice but I knew I had to find a place so I took it but was really homesick for Venice.

The space that became my studio was located among various businesses on the Boardwalk right across from the merry-go-round next to and below the pier.

Our Street With Bill  Our Street Pier Construction

Our Street Pizzarria  Our Street Famous Big Dean's

I moved in with Blackhawk and my son David, and we proceeded to clean up the studio. Still and all, I was homesick for Venice, and used to roller-skate down there everyday. By this time I had a boyfriend Anthony, who had started to sell my oil paintings and murals from my studio, just to people who walked in. I was beginning to support myself as an artist, along with some teaching at Otis Art Institute, Brentwood Art Center and the University of Judaism. But, I wanted to be a working artist along with being a teacher. 

I was in love with activity on the Boardwalk, from Santa Monica down to Venice, and the activity that went on there inspired me to start a series of watercolors depicting the way of life here. My watercolors were shown at a popular venue, Small World Books / Sidewalk Cafe, in the heart of the Venice Boardwalk.

The Boardwalk in Venice was all about roller skaters and bicycle riders, kids selling stuff, and people, people everywhere.

I hope you have enjoyed this Walk thru Venice that lead to Infinity Studio. This is only part of a Boardwalk Retrospective by watercolor. I now invite you to Walk Thru Santa Monica. I hope you will be captivated by what you see, as I was and still am.

Boardwalk views are available here.  Visit my Neighborhood.



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