Art and health go hand in hand in Venice

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The 26th annual Venice Art Walk and Auction takes place Sunday to benefit the Venice Family Clinic.

By Austen Tate / Special to The Malibu Times

Nonprofit entities such as free clinics sometimes run short on funds. Struggling artists sometimes run short on basic needs, such as healthcare.

To help alleviate such concerns, Nurse Irma Collen, shortly after the opening of the Venice Family Clinic, a nonprofit clinic that has been providing free health care to its community since 1970, decided to take the two-the artists and the nonprofit-and raise money by bringing the community together with art.

“Venice is home to many artists who struggle,” said John Miller, chief developmental officer of the clinic. “There was a growing need for more medical care all over. Irma’s vision led to the collaboration of artists and the community to hold events auctioning their art, donating all proceeds to the Venice Family Clinic.

Since then, the Venice Art Walk and Auction has raised more than $10 million in a 25-year period. Art and care has helped create more services and shelter in the community.

Kicking off this year’s art walk, which takes place Sunday, contemporary artist and co-founder of the Venice Art Walk and Auction, former Malibu resident Laddie John Dill opened his studio in Venice for more than 200 collectors, artists and supporters of the clinic for a pre-event auction.

Honorary chairman actor Cheech Marin, an avid art collector, helped kick off one of the biggest celebrations of art in Venice alongside Robert Berman from Berman/Turner Projects and Santa Monica Auctions.

Marin, a strong advocate for supporting artists, said he feels “people owe it to their community to represent.”

The pre-event was a colorful display of hors d’oeuvres, music, wine and good performance at the auction stand.

The first art piece by Bill Barminski titled “Have Some” went for $4,000, pushing the crowd for an enthusiastic start. Well-known artist Robert Graham, a local in Venice, contributed an image for the event’s T-shirt.

“Artists are very generous,” said artist Astrid Preston who donated her Shakespeare’s Mid-Summers-themed oil on canvas piece, “Woodbine,” to the auction. “It is about giving back to the community, staying healthy, and in return the clinic gives back the honor to the artists. One year, I gave my car away.”

This year’s art walk will feature self-guided tours of more than 60 local, private working studios and homes of notable Venice artists and private collectors. The exhibition’s theme this year is “Bridges and Beyond,” and a special auction will take place in honor of the observance of the 100th anniversary of Venice, which will extend out to the Venice canals. There will be a variety of entertainment, food fairs, children’s art activities, and art in the form of paintings, sculptures, photographs and animations.

The auction will take place at the Westminster School, 1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd., May 22, from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. in Venice. Tickets are $50.

More information can be obtained by calling 310.392.9255 or logging