Category Archives: Venice Beach Art

These posts are about the art, artists, and gallery events Venice Beach California is known for!

Venice Arts Gallery Presents ‘Disaster Is My Muse’ – Opening Reception Saturday, Aug. 1

Venice Arts Gallery is counting down to its opening reception on Saturday, Aug. 1 for its latest exhibition, “Disaster Is My Muse.”
Taking its title from an Art Spiegelman quote, “Disaster Is My Muse” explores the realm of the disastrous as it intersects with the canny, familiar, and domestic.

The show features 25 international artists who all seek to document the ways in which insidious forces creep into our lives and betray our sense of stability.

From natural disasters to atomic warfare to our own personal catastrophes, these works remind us of the fine line between the every day and the cataclysmic.

This is Venice Arts Gallery’s fourth annual Summer Juried Exhibition, a themed show in which artists working in traditional and experimental documentary photography, film, and digital media from all over the globe are invited to submit works for consideration.

With a wide range of entries – ranging from critiques on femininity to experimental animation to political divide – this year’s submissions revealed a myriad of exciting and eclectic works that collectively epitomize the gallery’s mission to promote creativity, visual storytelling, community, and education by presenting various artists’ unique perspectives in the documentary form.

“This is a reminder that not all things last forever, but in this case some can still be found hidden away behind locked doors waiting to be rediscovered,” said New Zealand-based photographer Ambrose Benedict of her harrowing interior shots of an abandoned horse track.

Her works, alongside the work of U.K.-based photographer Karl Child, confront the familiarity of space with the unsettling feeling of abandonment and desolation.
Working out of Corona, CA, photographer and veteran Ernesto Gutierrez’s piece “Reflections of War” focuses on the small, personal disasters he has to face within himself. “Once the blood has been shed and the bodies packed into bags, the veteran return home with no purpose, but to assimilate back into society,” he says in his artist’s statement. “Dealing with the horrors of war, one can’t turn on and off like a light switch, always on alert and ready to defend your family and friends from an invisible foe. Veterans with PTSD find themselves staring in their mirrors at home and dealing with their demons that they can’t shake off.”

Kyle Bravo, a multimedia artist working out of New Orleans, will be exhibiting work from two different series that both address the post-Katrina realities of his city.

“Years after the storm, the effects of Katrina were still ever-present … not only deaths directly related to the storm, but also the deaths brought about by the injustices so deeply rooted in the city that were only exacerbated by the bungled aftermath of the disaster,” Bravo said.

The opening reception will run from 5 pm to 8 pm on Aug. 1. The exhibition will remain on show through Sept. 19, 2015.
Regular gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 10 am to 6 pm and by appointment.

Venice Arts is located at 1702 Lincoln Blvd., Venice.
For more information, visit

Up Front With Venice Artist Erik Thorkildson

Venice artist Erik Thorkildson (pictured above) creates primarily acrylics on canvas from his home.
Venice artist Erik Thorkildson creates primarily acrylics on canvas from his home.

By Jess Linde

Erik Thorkildson is one of the many talented local artists involved in the Venice Art Block, an artist-run collective. His works, primarily acrylic on canvas, are an exploration of the interplay of color and light, and bring back an aesthetic of the psychedelic era.

Yo! Venice talked to him recently.

So first, just tell me about yourself. How did you get into art and when did you start painting?

My commitment to art has been a lifelong thing. My mom was a painter and I grew up watching her paint canvasses and doing lots of great things. I’ve really been doing art since I was able — my parents have a painting on their wall from when I was two years old. I was born and raised in Reno, Nevada, then I moved to San Francisco to get my Bachelor’s degree in fine arts and practiced art and flourished and practiced a little more there. I relocated to Los Angeles and moved to Venice eventually, where I really found a sense of belonging and through that have met a lot of people and been a part of a great community that is very creative. Through all that I have found a home in Venice as an artist.

How did growing up with your mom as a painter inspire you as an artist?

I grew up in a family that always fostered my creativity as well. I spent summers tie dyeing shirts and my parents were always supportive. My younger sister and I would spend summers and time off from schools crafting things and making art, color was just a constant theme of my life.

Could you tell me what about Venice inspires/has inspired you so much?

Well I think it’s a little bit of the bohemian vibe that’s there. It’s very being near the ocean, it’s very aligned with a lot of ideology that I seem to share with people. Anywhere I go when I walk down the street I’m surrounded by creativity, from the signposts to the street art, everything. It’s such a great, colorful, creative place that’s very inspiring to me.

I was looking at some of your paintings online, and they were very cool. Do you have a specific favorite piece?

Gosh, that’s so hard to say! There’s a red one I’ve held onto for years, I’ve been offered a lot of money for it but I just have a sentimental attachment to it. It’s moved with me for years and years and years.

How did you get involved with the Venice Art Block?

Well I’m very good friends with Eric Schwabel, he’s a photographer, and he actually has a studio space right across from where I live in Venice. It’s a hub of studios so it’s like an artist commune out there, there are six or seven artists who live and work in that space and exhibit their work. So just because I was living in Venice and befriending my neighbors, especially Eric Schwabel, he invited me to take part in this committee they have, the Art Block Committee, so I joined up this year. It was a huge success for me, I sold about seven pieces and met a lot of great people in the community and had a great time.

Do you have any future plans for exhibitions or anything?

Yeah, as a result of the Art Block I made a couple connections and have an upcoming show in Eric [Schwabel’s] art space. He has a gallery called “Window” and I’m going to be doing a solo exhibit of around 12 of my works. The fall or early September is what we’re shooting for. Art Block happens twice a year so I will be participating in the second event this fall as well.

Discover Venice’s Cool Hidden Murals Through Free App

Venice Boardwalk App co-founders Mason Lee and Evan White invite locals and tourists to download their free smart phone app to discover murals, attractions, and discounts throughout Venice, Santa Monica, and Marina del Rey.
Venice Boardwalk App co-founders Evan White and Mason Lee invite locals and tourists to download their free smart phone app to discover murals, attractions, and discounts throughout Venice, Santa Monica, and Marina del Rey.

It’s Friday morning on the Venice Boardwalk, too early for the tourists. Venice locals Evan White and Mason Lee wander along Ocean Front Walk past the building that is home to the Venice Beach Freak Show. The sun shines a milky light through the marine layer, Lee points out a mural; “I don’t think that one’s in yet.”

Lee’s talking about adding the mural and its location to the app he and White have designed. The Boardwalk App is an app that showcases much of what Venice has to offer and it’s something that can be used by everybody.

From sharing the location of an obscure mural to featuring an app-only cocktail special from a local bar, the Boardwalk App is about helping both tourists, locals, and local businesses get the most out this beach community spanning from the Venice Pier to the Santa Monica Pier.

Co-founder Evan White explains how, the inspiration for the app came after feeling, that as a Venice local, he wasn’t making the most of all that was on offer in his own backyard.

“At least for me, I end up going to the same places all the time,” White says. “I think people end up kind of in a rut, they know there’s cool stuff around them but they get comfortable, so we built an app to help people explore the neighborhood around us.”

Available for both Android and iOS, the app lists more than 650 local restaurants, bars, murals, and attractions. The Boardwalk team is continually adding more and more. Within the app users can find exciting things to do, interesting things to see, and access discount coupons to local businesses.

While White says the core business is helping people find discounts at bars and restaurants, it’s art that really drives the app.

“We’ve found an awesome niche here with the art community,” White says. “There are hundreds of murals in the neighborhood which people seem to really, really love.”

Owner of local Venice business, LA Social Karma, and avid long distance runner, Jennifer Wilson (pictured above) has been using the app to help train for an upcoming race.

“I’m running a 100 mile race in August so I do a lot of running during the week and I was trying to figure out a way to break up some of the runs,” Wilson says. “I discovered the Boardwalk App and I loved all the murals, so I thought I’ll create a run around Venice where I could check out the different murals.”

The way the app works lends itself to duplication around the globe. However, if they were to expand the app to other cities White explains that because local arts, and artists are such an integral part of the app, “it would almost have to be somewhere that has an amazing art culture as well, so maybe that’s Sydney or Paris. Some neighborhood that not only has a lot of bars, restaurants, and tourists attractions, but also an amazing art community.”
For now, however, the team is happy to stay focused on the attractions in their own backyard.

“We’re not eager to spread it before it’s ready to spread,” says Lee. “Right now we’re on iOS and Android, and if anyone wants to be featured we’d love for them to email us at to add their restaurant, bar, or mural.”

Both Lee and White moved to Venice in the early days of the tech migration to Venice. White worked at a previous startup. Lee, an engineer by trade, moved to find like-minded tech entrepreneurs.
“We bootstrapped this, he’s (Lee) a brilliant engineer, I’m pretty good at business and we decided, let’s put this together on our own and just do it and see what happens,” says White. “So far the Venice Chamber of Commerce and the local business associations have really loved it, so we think we’re on the right track.”

For both, as locals, it was important they make something that benefits the community they call home.

“A lot of the other tech startups in the neighborhood are working on amazing, cool things, and they’re raising millions of dollars, but it has nothing really to do with the neighborhood,” says White. “Sure locals use their services, but we’re one of the very few tech startups located in Venice and really aiming to help people here in Venice.”

Check out Boardwalk in the App Store:

Local artists reimagine Outer Space at Venice exhibit

One of the 8-foot 3-D images of the landscape of Mars from xRez Studio.
One of the 8-foot 3-D images of the landscape of Mars from xRez Studio.

The G2 Gallery in Venice is currently featuring an exhibit with the environmental theme “The Great Unknown” through Aug. 9 featuring a handful of local artists.

They include Martin Cohen, Beverly Houwing, Chris Miele Matthew Kuhns, Don Whitebread, and xRez Studio (Eric Hanson and Greg Downing).

“The Great Unknown” is the first exhibition of its kind to equate outer space with endangered environments on Earth.

To date, no environmental protections for extraterrestrial areas have been passed, but increasing technological advances in space exploration suggest that this new frontier would benefit from such protections.

“The Great Unknown” sets out to reimagine outer space as an environmental area that requires the same protection and conservation as forests and oceans.

The show includes three distinct collections: Mars Seen, which features massive, 8-foot 3-D images of the landscape of Mars from xRez Studio; Martin Cohen, featuring astrophotography from the eponymous artist; and Without a Telescope, a series of photographs of stars and nightscapes taken without the aid of a telescope by Beverly Houwing, Matthew Kuhns, and Chris Miele.

xRez Studio is a collaboration between visual effects designer Eric Hanson and photographer Greg Downing.

Founded in 2007 in Santa Monica, xRez Studio is a creative imaging studio pioneering new methods to capture and convey natural, urban, and imagined landscapes.

xRez counts Microsoft, Adult Swim, Dolby, National Geographic, Griffith Observatory, and Canon among their many clients, and the studio’s images and pursuits have been covered in The New York Times, USC News, and Wired.

Eric Hanson
Eric Hanson

Eric Hanson specializes in the creation of digital environments. His work can be seen in such movies as “The Day After Tomorrow,” “Cast Away,” and “Fantasia 2000.” Hanson is also Associate Professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Greg Downing.
Greg Downing.

Meanwhile, Downing’s specialties are image-based 3D technologies and computational photography techniques. His work in these fields can be seen in “Spider Man 3” and “The Chronicles of Narnia,” among other films, and he also teaches at Gnomon School for Visual Effects. Downing’s photographic work has been exhibited at the American Museum of Natural History, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and Cincinnati Art Museum.

G2 Gallery is located at 1503 Abbot Kinney Blvd. It is open Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 7 pm and Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm. For more information about G2 Gallery, call 310.452.2842 or visit

Yo! Venice spoke with Eric Hanson and Greg Downing about their works on display in “The Great Unknown.”

How many pieces are in this exhibit?

There are 11 images from the Mars orbiter on display; nine of the images are Stereoscopic and are viewed with red/blue glasses that let you see the depth of the images.

Why is this exhibit and particular 
collection of works important?
These images represent Mars in a way that most people have never seen. They eerily resemble the earth’s landscapes and reveal the beauty of nature in a familiar way. The images were selections from a collection of 36,000 images. Each image was selected for its evocative spirit.

What is the intention behind the show?

The intention is to show Mars in a new light one that is both familiar and new.

What about theme is important to you and your work?

We see this as an expansion of what we do in landscape photography, finding beauty in nature and bringing it to the viewer.

Over how many years were these works created?

The images were captured by the HiRISE (high resolution imaging science experiment) a reflecting telescope on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that takes images with a resolution of .3 meters (about a foot) per pixel. Most of the images were captured between 2006 and 2010.

Join the Venice Art Crawl Thursday

The Venice Art Crawl kicks off another festive evening of art, entertainment, and culture on Thursday, June 18 when artists and performers team up with local businesses in a celebration of art and community throughout the streets of Venice.

Numerous businesses and Venice restaurants will be taking part in the event, such as: Danny’s Venice, Hama Sushi, Canal Club, The Venice Whaler, The Terrace, The Sidewalk Café and James’ Beach.

2015 marks Venice Art Crawl’s 5th year in the beachside community. The VAC is now part of the Venice Chamber of Commerce and wants to share, inspire and promote collaboration within Venice through mixers and art events hosted by local businesses and artists’ studios.Venice Art Crawl

“The VAC’s goal is to foster and reinvigorate the creativity that has historically made Venice such a vibrant and dynamic community.” says Lauren Harrison, one of the event organizers.

The Venice Art Crawl happens four times a year on the third Thursday of the quarter months. For 2015 the next dates are -June 18, September 17 and December 17.

The VAC is always looking for artists, venues, sponsors, volunteers, art lovers, and art buyers. For more information about joining the crawl visit their website.

VAC maps will be available at Danny’s Venice Restaurant, 23 Windward Ave., Venice.

To save a tree,  download the “official” Venice Art Crawl Boardwalk App here.

Post VAC photos with #VeniceArtCrawl

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