As a young girl growing up in Venice Beach in the 80’s, Artist Ruth Chase says she would lie in bed counting gunshots, “anyone in their 50’s who grew up in Venice remembers the gunshots.”
Born in 1965, Chase was a third generation, Venice Beach local. Her mother Renee was a seamstress who had a shop on Ocean Front Walk. Her father Eddie was a Merchant Marine and a fix-it guy, “Dad was into the bohemian thing in Venice,” says Chase. The family lived next door to Joni Meroni’s on the Boardwalk.
In her latest project Chase aims to capture the, “wisdom that came through growing up in a place like Venice” and through this, preserve the history of Venice through it’s people.
So has begun The West of Lincoln Project, a series of paintings that portray individuals from the area of Venice Beach bordered by Rose Ave., Ocean Front Walk, Lincoln, and Washington Blvds.
Chase says the project started as a self-portrait she titled You’re Stronger Than You Realize. “While working on this painting, I recognized that my childhood challenges, though tough, provided me with a brave and resilient spirit. From that enlightenment, I realized I wanted to capture that same experience for others.
Already Chase has completed 7 portraits of people and says “every painting I do I learn an amazing life lesson from that person.” The West of Lincoln Project, “distills a person’s life. Reflecting on what they’ve learned in their life,” she says.
As Chase continues to paint she has started the hunt for a space in Venice to display her works. She has a few places in mind but hasn’t settled on anything yet, “I’m waiting for the right space. I’m open to suggestions!”
Recently, Chase was awarded a grant from the the Carl Jacobs Foundation. This will allow her to employ a writer to transcribe the interviews she has recorded with each of her subjects, and include the written text in her show. She says the words will add to the story her pictures tell. Also, the grant provides relief. Writing is something Chase finds difficult, the result of having a mother who couldn’t, “Mom didn’t read or write, or drive a car.”
Chase’s self-portrait will be part of The West of Lincoln Project.” It was inspired by a photograph she had found of herself that had been taken on the Venice Boardwalk when she was a child. “I was wearing a tutu and standing in front of a wall. It was a regular picture of a little girl, except when I looked closer I could see the gang tags in the wall behind me.”
In her painting she writes child-like words that read, “every night I go to sleep and I wonder if the guns and helicopters will get me, could I be president, did girls like me go to college.”
Chase says because her Mother and Father had had little education she lived in fear of never getting the chance to go to college. This scared her almost as much as the gangs and guns in her neighborhood. “College was a dream and as I was growing up I was terrified I wouldn’t get that chance.” However, she did get that chance and it came through her art. Today she is a proud graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute.
“Within me was a well of strength that wasn’t realized until I left home. Venice taught me that I could choose to not be afraid, and that dreams come true if you don’t give up,” she says.
Any tips for a gallery space can be forwarded to Chase through her website RuthChase.com
Kids throughout the Venice neighborhood are gearing up for camp during their summer break from school. Venice Arts is asking the community for help in sending children from low-income families on a summer camp adventure too.
Last year 8-year-old Kamran was the youngest student in the Venice Arts “Movies in the Mountains” summer camp. Kamran, who aspires to be a Film Director said, “I liked going to Solstice Canyon because I never go to dusty cowboy places.”
The program is supported by the National Park Service and is in keeping with the entire premise behind Venice Arts – giving under privileged kids opportunities to which they would not usually have access.
While taking part in the program, Kam- ran and his camp buddies produced the short film “Solstice Canyon.” It is a ghost story which, Venice Arts Associate Director, Elysa Voshell said, “reflects the sense of discovery and adventure they felt at Camp.”
The group is hoping to raise $15,000. That would be enough money to support scholar- ships for 100 low-income youth like Kamran.
“Last year we had 140 students on full scholarship for Camp, and we hope to be able to provide that again this year with the community’s support,” Voshell said.
A $70 donation sends a child to Camp for one day. $1400 covers a full month. One of camp donors is Kreation Organic. The Abbot Kinney restaurant will feature an exhibition beginning April 22, Earth Day, and running through May 8. The show will feature works from Venice Arts students, exploring intersections between art, science, and the environ- ment.
Donations are being accepted until April 30th. Visit VeniceArts.Org
On March 3, 1991, motorist Rodney King’s savage beating by the Los Angeles Police Department was captured by resident George Holliday. The public release of the footage and its international reach could arguably make the 11-minute clip the world’s first viral video.
The acquittal of all four officers the following spring was the match that ignited the Los Angeles uprisings of April, 1992. “These seminal moments in L.A. history are a necessary reference point for today’s reinvigorated civil rights movement against racially motivated violence in law enforcement,” say organizers of the next exhibit at SPARC in Venice.
Tonight, the opening reception for VIRAL: 25 Years from Rodney King will be held in SPARC’s Durón Gallery at 685 Venice Blvd., in the Old Venice Police Station next to Beyond Baroque. Doors open at 5pm the event runs until 8pm.
Artist Daryl Elaine Wells, founder of the Art Responders social media community, has partnered with SPARC to present an interactive, immersive timeline of cases, causes, insights, and developments within the past twenty-five years, since the Rodney King incident.
The Social Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) will join the Venice Art Crawl for the first time, opening their doors to a powerful exhibit, Ayotzinapa: A Roar of Silence.
“This is an exhibit that really brings out a part of everyone who is a parent or who is concerned about a relative,” said visiting resident curator at SPARC, Marietta Bernstorff. “To think that you can lose a child to police, whether it be in the United States or in Mexico. This is a very powerful and moving show.”
On September 26, 2014, students from the Escuela Normal Rural de Ayotzinapa in the Mexican state of Guerrero boarded buses towards the town of Iguala. Here the plan was to protest a political event hosted by a political leader and his supporters. As the students arrived in Iguala, local police intercepted the buses.
While details of the violent confrontation remain unclear, the police eventually opened fire, killing six and wounding 25. Another 43 student were herded into police vehicles and never seen again.
Eight weeks after the disappearances, internationally renowned artist and activist Francisco Toledo, in conjunction with the Instituto de Artes Gráficas de Oaxaca (IAGO), received over 700 designs from international artists after launching an open call for artworks addressing the 43 missing students for an exhibition titled Carteles de Ayotzinapa. Forty-three were displayed at the Museo de Memoria y Tolerancia in Mex- ico City, along with an installation of 43 kites – each displaying the face of one of the miss- ing students – created by Toledo and partici- pants of an “Art and Paper” workshop in Oaxaca.
SPARC, the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG), ArtDivision, and Self- Help Graphics & Art, all Los Angeles-based organizations committed to using art for social change, have collaborated to bring this important, international exhibition to Venice Beach. This is the first time this exhibit has been seen in the United States.
“From Iran to the United States to Germany to Poland to Portugal to Argentina to Mexico, these posters demonstrate how pow- erful artists can be using just one image to say something,” Bernstorff said.
A local Venice organization, SPARC has been around since 1976 after one of the orga- nization’s founders, Judy Baca, had an idea for a space where public art could be developed and artists from different backgrounds could come and create social justice work.
After internal corruption forced the Los Angeles Police Department to shut down and take charge of police duties over the existing Venice Police Department. The original Venice Police Station, in the build- ing next to Beyond Baroque, was left abandoned.
In a fitting move, SPARC took over the old building after one of the organization’s founders, Judy Baca, had an idea for a space where public art could be developed and artists from different backgrounds could come and create social justice work.
To this day SPARC has fought for social justice through art. Ayotzinapa: A Roar of Silence, is one of the many moving exhibits that have honored the walls of SPARC’s Durón Gallery.
The exhibition continues to run at SPARC, the Social and Public Art Resource Center, 685 N. Venice Blvd., from 11am to 5pm, Tuesday’s through Saturdays. Admission is free.