Seek­ing new can­vas for Venice art scene

The com­mu­nity once was a haven for vis­ual artists, but new­com­ers have been priced out.

Los Angeles Times - - California - By Martha Groves

Venice of the 1960s was a raw and some­times vi­o­lent place, home to drunks, a cou­ple of greasy spoons and plen­ti­ful cheap lodg­ing. It ap­pealed to the down and out, el­derly Jews who were long­time res­i­dents and a clus­ter of artists who ap­pre­ci­ated an en­clave they could af­ford to call home.

“It was no man’s land . . . with no place to go and nothin’ to do,” said Billy Al Bengston, 72, a Venice-based artist who found him­self part of the ’60s Cal­i­for­nia Pop Art move­ment.

To­day, Venice is an eclec­tic play land, es­pe­cially for those will­ing and able to ab­sorb the cost of a meal at Joe’s or a bam­boo-and-cot­ton Ja­panese Tshirt at Salt or a litho­graph at Hamil­ton Press Gallery.

Over the years, ris­ing real es­tate prices have re­sulted in an ex­o­dus of strug­gling artists, who are opt­ing for de­cid­edly un-Venice-like venues such as Tor­rance, In­gle­wood, El Se­gundo and San Pe­dro, where af­ford­able space is still avail­able.

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Ri­cardo DeAratanha Los An­ge­les Times

PI­O­NEER: Lad­die John Dill, work­ing at his stu­dio, and oth­ers hope to find af­ford­able space on the West­side where emerg­ing artists and older men­tors could cre­ate a new “Venice art colony.”

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