Walking, looking, buying

Living spaces and studios of Venice artists were open to the public for self-guided tours on May 22 and 23 to benefit the Venice Family Clinic. William McGarry / TMT

The 25th Anniversary Venice Family Clinic’s Annual Venice Art Walk and Auction

By Yayoi Lena Winfrey/Special to The Malibu Times

Famous for its artsy population, the city of Venice has long been home to some of Southern California’s most visually expressive residents.

Every year, art aficionados have the opportunity to personally visit with Venice artists in their houses and/or studios during the annual Venice Art Walk held to benefit the Venice Family Clinic. The largest free clinic in the U.S., the health center provides services to uninsured and low-income individuals and families in Los Angeles County with the help of almost 2,000 volunteers.

This year, living spaces and workplaces were opened for a Saturday afternoon, self-guided driving tour of 10 studios, and architecturally distinctive homes, followed by a reception. Or, pedestrians could put on a pair of hiking shoes and hoof it to studios and/or homes on Sunday. In either case, docents as well as artists were available at each location to guide patrons with information about the artwork on display.

In honor of the Art Walk’s 25th anniversary, sculptor Robert Graham donated a wall sculpture toward a raffle, Laddie John Dill (who grew up in Malibu) contributed an image for the official poster and guerrilla artist Robbie Conal loaned his “Watching, Waiting, Dreaming” illustration (featuring caricatures of Ghandi, the Dalai Lama and Martin Luther King, Jr.) to T-shirts sold at the festival.

Adding a touch of glamour to the otherwise funky fest was the addition of Venice resident, artist and actor Dennis Hopper and wife Victoria Duffy as honorary chairs. Two Mercedes Benzes were donated for a drawing.

In addition to the drive and walk, artwork was up for grabs at a silent auction where more than 400 emerging and established artists contributed original works. Inside Westminster School on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, hundreds of paintings, sculptures and other objects graced walls or were housed in rooms like the Cartoon Gallery or Klay Gallery. A children’s arts area included hands-on activities and author Laura Neumerhoff reading from one of her books.

About 300 guests showed up on May 22 for the driving tour and on May 23, maps were distributed to those boarding free shuttle buses taking them along one of three color-coded routes.

During the tours, patrons could purchase artwork exhibited in the studios or homes and artists could donate a portion of those sales to the clinic.

Besides graciously chatting about their work, some artists offered bottled water, hors d’oeuvres and candy to their guests.

Besides all the visual treats, a tented area next to Westminster School featured a food faire with cuisine from a variety of Westside restaurants. For the first time in the event’s history, an al fresco cocktail garden served libations like beer, wine and margaritas.