By CJ Gronner
Last month was the second Venice Art Crawl, and everyone absolutely adored it. I kept hearing, “This is how First Fridays USED to be!” all evening, and they were right. Crowds of people walking around, and I recognized MOST of the faces. People opening up their spaces to celebrate ART and our neighborhoods, as the different venues sprawl all over town. Everyone in a good mood, learning about new art, seeing new spaces and old faces, and generally having a grand old time.
We started out at Gretchen Rollins’ “Drive By Gallery”, piece in the exterior window of Doug Edge’s supercool studio on Vernon of a Jeff Koons-like dog made out of kitty litter sitting on Astroturf, called Eat Grass. Shared some hugs, had some wine, snooped around the very interesting inner sanctum studio of a guy that shared the space, that frankly blew our minds. People in our daily midst are so darn creative, and art is everywhere. This has the potential for every day to be awesome and full of exciting possibilities, in my view, and digging around in it all only makes this more clear.
From Vernon, we cruised on over to Nikki’s, then to Venice Originals to check out the in-progress painting of a Venice landscape on a leather jacket by Dougo (Doug Smith), whose painted skateboard decks were hung all over the shop as well.
Super legit, and I can’t wait to sit down and hear Doug’s whole story (and then share it with you). I ran into an old friend out front of the shop, and just loved that the whole evening felt like it was for US – the people of Venice that live and love it.
Artisan Venice was full of people creating and mingling.
Danny’s Deli was full too – video installations and the upstairs full of different pieces by different artists – all of it fairly dope. They even had live music! Take that, First Fridays!
The band played some Doors covers, appropriately, and I especially liked the guitar player decked out in a Charms Blow Pop costume. Between official stops on the crawl, artists had thrown up Pop Up Galleries everywhere to go along with it all, bootleg style.
They had their own official Security people, all of whom were being COOL.
There was a girl at a table outside of Danny’s where the Boardwalk begins, handing out maps of all the venues to crawl to … and after a Maker’s shot at Danny’s (just to warm up!), crawling was getting to be closer to the truth than sauntering.
Time for a food break. There was a wait at Mao’s, so we went across the street to take in some more art at the excellent Market St. building taken over by William Attaway and Gary Palmer (and Destin Clover too). A dramatic red-carpeted staircase led to an outdoor deck full of rad art, that got even cooler when you went up another staircase to the rooftop, where even more art was hanging.
As were citizens of all stripes that all seemed to know and enjoy each other, as a dreaded guy sang Bob Marley and strummed an acoustic guitar. One guy near me nudged his friend and said, “Rooftops, Dude.” I got it. The location just felt classic. The whole evening did, for that matter. It mattered not that it was so misty and chilly that half my photos had mist dots on them. Who cares? When we left there to go claim our Mao’s table, my friend Jenny said, “Every single spot I saw someone I LOVED, that I haven’t seen for a long time!” How’s that for an endorsement of the event?
We watched crowds – ORDERLY crowds, there for the ART of it all – stream past the window as we ate, and agreed that none of us had ever seen so many people on Pacific at night. Sadly, that also goes for the rows and rows of people who were turned in early for the night, sleeping right there on the sidewalk in front of Mao’s. That’s the reality of where we live, high art and homelessness, hand in hand.
WONDERFUL events, like the new and honestly just so great and impressive FREE Venice Art Crawl, make that reality all the more appreciable. Just when you’re faced with the very worst scenarios in our society, right there too is something to celebrate.
Looking over the map again this morning, I’m already excited for the next one, as there are so many stops still to explore. Thinking over the night again this morning, I’m excited too for all the faces I’ll see again, and the ones that haven’t yet crawled, but will now. I mean, Art, old friends, cool spots, free flowing fun AND no food trucks?! I think the Venice Art Crawl is really REALLY on to something great.
Congratulations to all the artists, organizers, participants, and Venetians, period! We’ve got yet another thing to be stoked about in these parts.
The Venice Art Crawl is every Third Thursday. I’ll look so forward to seeing you there next time! b