The Hammer Museum’s Venice Beach Biennial

By Dean Henderson

The Hammer Museum’s Venice Beach Biennial, an open air art exhibition, will take place July 13-15 on Ocean Front Walk. Fifteen Venice boardwalk artists will be among the nearly 50 artists exhibiting their work during the free three-day event. The Venice Beach Biennial (VBB) name is a reference to the famous Venice Biennale in Italy that draws visitors and artists from around the world.

The focus of the VBB is local rather than international, being part of the Hammer Museum’s three month long Made In L.A. 2012 exhibit series. In years past, before Venice was trendy, low-rent studio space attracted artists to the area and an artist’s community was born. This was, in a sense, a return to Abbot Kinney’s original vision of Venice as a center of art and culture. Inexpensive studio space is a thing of the past, but a large community of artists remains, some with national or international reputations.

During the annual Venice Art Walk, local artists open their studios to the public, and there are far too many to visit in one day. Not all of our artists work in studios and exhibit in galleries, a number of them set up in the open along the Venice Boardwalk to create and sell their work. Under the current vending ordinance, that number has grown. Aside from its bizarre and disturbing instance of politicians determining what is art (and jewelry is not art, according to the L.A. City Council. Tough luck Tiffany and Faberge), the ordinance has forced out most, but not all, commercial vendors of mass produced items, opening up space now filled with artists. Perhaps “artist” is not a title that applies to everyone painting, drawing, or otherwise creating and selling on the boardwalk. Fortunately, the City Council has left it for the public to decide what constitutes good art.

The VBB brings together boardwalk artists and more established artists, taking the latter out of their comfort zone of studio gallery and museum, and places them all along Ocean Front Walk and Windward Plaza. Artists working in a wide range of media including sculpture, video, ceramic tile, performance, paint, installation and photography will be part of the VBB.

Longtime local Venice artist Arthur Moore assisted in the selection of Boardwalk artists invited to participate, and his best selling painting, Funky Pussy, is the image appearing on all VBB promotional material.

More information is available at