Category Archives: Venice Beach

Opening Today – ‘New Codex: Oaxaca – Immigration and Cultural Memory’

Saturday 23rd May, 2015 11:44am

SPARC’s latest exhibition ‘New Codex: Oaxaca – Immigration and Cultural Memory’ begins today.

A special opening reception will run from 4:00pm-8:00pm  in SPARC’s Durón Gallery located in the Old Venice Police Station at 685 Venice Blvd., Venice.

The exhibit curated by Marietta Bernstorff, illuminates the contemporary visual discourse of Oaxaca and explores the impact of immigration to the United States.

With over one million Oaxacans having immigrated to the United States, the exhibit looks at the impact on those left behind who are often unable to see loved ones, husbands, and children for many years.

For many of the artists the exhibit has not only been an opportunity to explore otherwise suppressed emotions around loss of family and the hardships faced in their small town of San Francisco Tanivet,  but it has also been an opportunity to be granted a visa to visit the United States. For some this meant being able to reunite with loved ones they had not seen in as many as 10 years.

“This exhibition is totally in line with the 40 year mission of SPARC. Which is to be a voice for the voiceless” says Debra J.T. Padilla Executive Director at SPARC

Food for the evening will be provided by Oaxacan Restaurant La Guelaguetza and beer and wine is by donation. All proceeds go towards SPARC’s Mural Program.

Z-Flex Skateboards Jay Boy Classic Tomorrow at the Skate Park

Friday 22nd May, 2015 9:39am

Top amateur skateboarders from across the country will be at the Venice Beach Skatepark tomorrow for the Z-Flex Skateboards second annual Jay Boy Classic. 10Eric_Tuma_Britton

This year the event will honor the life of skateboarding legend Jay Adams. Adams was a Venice local from the 1970’s who not only had an unprecedented influence on today’s skateboarding culture but also on youth culture as a whole.

“Z-Flex is stoked to hold an event to celebrate his life.” said an event organizer.

From 10am there will be a grass roots bowl jam for up to 40 un-sponsored local skateboarders to compete for over $3000 in product prizes followed by a Master Bowl Jam that allows Adams peers to participate in the day.  The Invitational Cash Grab is scheduled to kick of approximately at 3:30pm.

For a look at last year’s event click here.

Support Venice Arts and Meet Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett

Lady Gaga’s charity theCheek to Cheek Lady Gaga Tony Bennett Born This Way Foundation and Exploring the Arts will feature Venice Arts at an upcoming stop of      Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga’s Cheek to
Cheek tour in Los Angeles on Sunday,May 31, 2015.

Additionally, Venice Arts will receive the proceeds from a pair of tickets to the show and a meet and greet with Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga that will be auctioned off by CharityBuzz at: https://www.charitybuzz.com/catalog_items/816202

The initiative is part of a partnership between Born This Way Foundation and Exploring the Arts to highlight exceptional nonprofit organizations at Cheek to Cheek stops across the country. Organizations are chosen based on their demonstrated excellence in empowering young people to become compassionate, creative, and brave.

Venice Arts will be featured prominently at the show and staff and  volunteers of the local Venice charity will have the opportunity to interact with the thousands of fans who will be at the concert, increasing awareness of the services and programs the organization offers.

“We are honored to have our transformative work with low-income youth in Los Angeles recognized by the Born This Way Foundation and Exploring the Arts, who share our commitment to empowering youth to discover and develop their own creative voices.” said Lynn Warshafsky, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Venice Arts.

Venice Arts’ mission is to ignite youths’ imagination, mentor their creativity, and expand their sense of possibility through high quality, accessible media-based arts education programs. For the past 22 years, Venice Arts’ program of free media arts instruction, mentoring, and internship opportunities has opened windows of Venice Artspossibility for thousands of poor and low-income children. Since the start of 2014, students have received nearly 40 prestigious national, state, and local awards, including: Presidential Scholar in the Arts; National YoungArts Awards; California Scholastic Arts Awards; and the Music Center’s Spotlight Award. Graduating seniors this past spring went off to colleges including Boston University and NYU, some on full scholarships.

Rickie Bautista has been a student at Venice Arts for the past four years. He is currently enrolled in an advanced photography class while working as a paid intern at the Lincoln Blvd. creative space. Photo by Melanie Camp
Rickie Bautista has been a student at Venice Arts for the past four
years. He is currently enrolled in an advanced photography class
while working as a paid intern at the Lincoln Blvd. creative space. Photo by Melanie Camp

“Born This Way Foundation is thrilled to partner with Exploring the Arts to shine a light on the work these exceptional local organizations do for the young people they support. We share a mission to inspire and empower today’s youth and the resources and services these groups are providing in their communities are critical to that goal,” said Cynthia Germanotta, Co-Founder and President of Born This Way Foundation.

“Exploring the Arts and Born This Way Foundation were founded with the goal of touching the lives of young people and inspiring the next generation of artists and leaders. The local organizations we’re featuring share this commitment, working hard every day to uplift young people in their areas,” said Susan Benedetto, Co-Founder of Exploring the Arts.

This initiative reflects Born This Way Foundation’s commitment to working with local and national allies – from GLSEN and YMCA to Youth Service America – to reach hundreds of thousands of young people directly. These relationships have enabled the organization to connect youth around the country with services and programing in their communities. Similarly, the partnership reflects Exploring the Arts’ deep history of engaging local organizations to improve arts education in public high schools throughout New York City and Los Angeles.

Read the Yo! Venice feature on Venice Arts here. 

Another Tragedy In Venice

Columnist Mark Ryavec.
Columnist Mark Ryavec.

By Mark Ryavec

What can we learn from the tragic death of 29-year-old Brendon Glenn, a beach dweller shot to death in a confrontation with police officers in front of the Townhouse bar on Windward Avenue on May 5?

Well, first that Brendon was yet another traveler, from Troy, New York, who was attracted to the easy life of sun, panhandling, and booze on the Venice Boardwalk. Since the homeless all have cell phones and occasionally laptops, too, the message that it’s all a great party here in Venice is constantly circulating coast to coast.

Next is that Brendon was a troubled young man, struggling to find a job while still in the grip of an alcohol addiction. He told his counselor at the Teen Project on Windward the day he died that he had started drinking at 11 am.

While all his friends on the Boardwalk are quick to remark on his friendliness, he was combative that night, getting into a physical altercation with the doorman at the Townhouse before the police tried to restrain him.

Some want to read the shooting as part of the larger national portrait of police violence towards Black men. I see it within the continuum of violent incidents stemming from the lawless, “Lord of Flies” atmosphere along the Boardwalk and elsewhere in Venice.

Here in our beachside community a supposedly civilized society allows 741 homeless people – the unofficial count from earlier this year – to live on the town’s parks, streets, and alleys and does almost nothing about it.

The result is ugly and shows the dysfunction of our city and county governments which have for too long been more focused on the care and feeding of its employees than meeting its core mission, which is the care of its residents and the indigent.

Let’s tally the victims of this neglect since just August 2013, less than two years.

A transient living in his car in Venice takes offense to a drug deal gone bad on the Boardwalk and mows down 17 pedestrians with his car, killing Alice Gruppioni, an Italian visitor in Venice on her honeymoon. The driver is now on trial.

A transient is caught on CCTV beating the crap out of another beach dweller with a chair.

In April of last year a young mother and two children barely escape a home invasion at 4:30 am on Horizon as the homeless invader breaks through a glass door pane, covers their apartment in blood from his cuts and in his PCP rage pulls two bolted sinks off the wall of the bathroom.

Over several months four more home invasions follow within six blocks of the Horizon break-in, committed by campers living along Venice Beach.

In October of 2014 a transient sleeping on a walk street attacks Robert DiMassa because Robert’s service dog had urinated near where the transient was sleeping. The damage to DiMassa was two broken ribs, severe abrasions on his legs, two black eyes and a bloodied lip. The culprit was never caught.

Then, in an incident similar to the events that took Brendon Glenn’s life, a transient went into the Cow’s End and demanded money from the patrons. The owner, Clabe Hartley, asked him to leave, and the fellow attacked Clabe, wrestled him to the floor and bit off his finger tip.

In Brendon’s case, he was harassing Townhouse patrons and passersby and the doorman tried to back him off. One report says he had earlier gone into the bar to panhandle and been evicted by the doorman. Later Brendon picked a fight with the doorman, which led to the police getting involved.

What’s the common denominator in all these incidents? The instigator was homeless (and most were white).

There is more to learn from all of this.

Why are there so many homeless in Venice and what’s being done to help them get off the street?

Well, the sunshine helps bring them here from all over the nation. (That’s why many of us are here, too.) Then there’s a slew of short-sighted court decisions and legislation that makes it much easier to live out in the open in California, and in Los Angeles in particular. This is compounded by a squishy, homeless-loving City Attorney, Mike Feuer, who had advised the LAPD to not enforce the City’s “no camping, no camping equipment and no encampments” rules (which are enforced in other city parks like the one next to City Hall).

Then there is the time honored tradition of giving complete responsibility of any area in the City to the councilmember (in this instance Mike Bonin). The result is that the Mayor and City Council have washed their hands of any responsibility for Venice despite it being a phenomenal tax generator for the City and the primary park/beach destination in Los Angeles. For example, Griffith Park has fewer visitors and yet gets park rangers, but not Venice. A recent proposal by the Venice Neighborhood Council to add a Recreation and Parks Department superintendent, accountable for management of the Venice Beach Recreation Area, to the City budget was ignored by Mayor Eric Garcetti.

At the recent LAPD community listening session on the shooting there were two notable absences: Mayor Garcetti and L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. Their absence is also reflected in the dearth of City and County services. Other than the $350,000 that the County gives to the St. Joseph Center annually to focus on moving the 40 homeless most likely to die on Venice streets (or parks) to housing and services, there is no County or City financial support to provide any relief to the other 700 homeless folks living here (other than meager general relief which some receive). There are no counselors from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, who can arrange housing for our homeless.  There is no funding for the Teen Project, which must depend on donations. There is no funding for People Helping the Homeless (PATH), which provided critical services and housing to the homeless when Bill Rosendahl was councilman.

So, Venice continues to be abandoned, with just a few LAPD officers to contain the uncontainable. The situation reminds me of Los Angeles’ early years as a wild, ungoverned frontier outpost. And as everyone knows, people get harmed or killed fairly easily in such an environment.

Mark Ryavec, a 29-year resident of Venice, is president of the Venice Stakeholders Association, which is suing the City and County of Los Angeles for maintaining a dangerous public nuisance along the Venice Beach Recreation Area.