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Celebrating the Creative Community of Venice.

Four Local Venice Non-profits, Arts Educator and Students Collaborate on Venice Beach Poet’s Monument Restoration Project

(VENICE-1/22/14) Several of Venice’s iconic public art works have suffered from neglect and have fallen into disrepair due to increased vandalism and the lack of adequate funds allocated for maintenance programs. Over the last two years, four Venice based organizations and an elementary art school teacher and her students, have joined forces to ensure the vibrancy of one of these unique public art works, the Venice Beach Poet’s Monument. The monument features poetry fragments by 18 poets on four Venice Beach locations and features historic Venice Beat Poets; Frank T. Rios, Tony Scibella, Charles Bukowski, Stuart Perkoff, and John Thomas as well as Jim Morrison of the “Doors”, Exene Cervenka of the punk-rock band “X”, and actor Viggo Mortensen.

Contact: Suzanne Thompson (310) 570-5419 suzannethompson55@gmail.com Endangered Art Fund
http://venicebeachpoetsmonument.wordpress.com/2011/09/

Venice Art Tiles

The Venice Beach Poet’s Monument (formerly known as the Poetry Walls), was created as part of the City of Los Angeles 2000 renovation of the Ocean Front Walk at Venice Beach. It was curated by Fred Dewey, director (1996-2010) of Beyond Baroque Literary / Arts Center, based in Venice, and built by the City under the leadership of Councilmember Ruth Galander’s Chief of Staff, Mike Bonin. “The Venice Beach Poet’s Monument is a unique testimonial to the importance that Venice has played in nurturing poetry of international significance”, said Richard Modiano, Director , Beyond Baroque Literary / Arts Center.

The Endangered Art Fund, a project of the Venice Arts Council (VAC), created the Venice Beach Poet’s Monument Restoration Project to restore and protect, and bring further awareness to the poetry monument. The project consisted of obtaining bids, creating budgets, fundraising, special events, and securing community and government support. The first two phases of the restoration work included preservation, restoration, graffiti removal, as well as the application of a protective coating, signage and a maintenance manual. The Social Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) Public Art Rescue Program (PARP) did the restoration work. “The Venice Beach Poet’s Monument is a testament to the power of word, art and community. SPARC is proud to be a partner on this important project”, said Debra J.T. Padilla, Executive Director.

The second phase of the restoration was completed in January of 2014. Funding was provided by; Councilmember Mike Bonin, CD 11, individuals and businesses from a special music, art and poetry event held in May 2012, and the Abbot Kinney Festival Association Community Grants Program. This grant provided Venice artist/educator Tamie Smith with funding for 5th graders at Grandview Elementary School in Mar Vista to create 63 new visual poetry ceramic tiles. These tiles were added to tiles created in 2000 by local Venice children for the initial installation. When asked what about her work on the project, Tamie Smith explained, “Art, in the widest sense of the word, I feel is a vital part of education. It will help to mold the adult of the future, and of course, the new world. All children are gifted with the power to create and should be given equal opportunity to express themselves. For me personally it helps develop ones – self; a sense of individuality and self affirmation. These elements deserve a healthy start. It’s about removing layers of doubt, inhibition and fear. The most beautiful thing about children’s art is its expression of a genuine innocence of perception, a way of looking at the world that is always brand new. Free of logical structure it has a logic all of its own. It’s a visual language; a universal language, it’s the beauty and creative power of unconscious distortion. The three legged grandpa or the scarab beetle with chicken feet being ridden by a giant head, that’s what gets me excited about children’s art and something I love being part of.”

The first phase of the restoration work on the Recreation and Parks/LAPD Substation building wall was completed in July 2012. Councilman Bill Rosendahl, CD 11and the Abbot Kinney Festival Association Community Grants Program provided the funding. The Venice Arts Council Endangered Art Fund is seeking additional funds to complete the monument’s restoration at the Brooks Avenue and Horizon Avenue public restroom locations.

“Poetry meets the ocean---past, present and future collide in a project for the ages. The Venice Beach Poet’s Monument combines poets from its early Beat Days to contemporary scribes, as well as art tiles from young students. Exciting to see poetry thrive in an alphabet dance that everyone can experience”, said Ellyn Maybe. Grand View Elementary 5th grade students compliment the poetry fragments engraved on the 17th Street/Ocean Front Walk public restroom with the new visual poetry ceramic tiles.

When Frank T. Rios was asked what it meant for him, the only surviving Venice Beat Poet, to have fragments of his poetry memorialized, he responded, “The wall is a symbol of the magic of the holy poem we struggled with and to see it etched in stone makes it timeless.”

Sponsors and contributors to the Venice Beach Poet’s Monument Restoration Project include: Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, Councilmember Mike Bonin, Abbot Kinney Festival Association, Voice of the Canals, Oliver Stone, Beyond Baroque, Venice Community Housing, Venice Boardwalk Association, General Real Estate Management, Altered Space Gallery, Shout!Factory, Venice Beach Suites & Hotel, The Erwin Hotel, Boardriders, Venice Cucina, Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman LLP, Tru Protection, Linus Bikes, Amoeba Music, Danny’s, Canal Club, James’ Beach, The Argonaut, KPFK 90.7fm, Venice Paparazzi, LA WEEKLY, Tami Smith and 5th graders at Grandview Elementary School, SPARC PARP and other poets, musicians, artists and individuals.

Venice Beach Poet’s Monument - Poets and Locations:

- Poets: Philomene Long, Exene Cervenka, Jim Morrison, Manazar Gamboa, Viggo Mortensen and Linda Albertano are located at Windward Plaza - Recreation and Parks/LAPD Substation building.

- Poets: Frank T. Rios, Tony Scibella, Charles Bukowski, and Ellyn Maybe are located at the 17th Street / Ocean Front Walk public restrooms.

- Poets: Bob Flanagan, Stuart Perkoff, John Thomas, and Taylor Mead are located at the Horizon Avenue / Ocean Front Walk public restrooms.

- Poets: Majid Naficy, Wanda Coleman, Bruce Boyd, and Keith Antar Mason are located at the Brooks Avenue / Ocean Front Walk public restrooms.

The poetry fragments engraved on the 17th Street / Ocean Front Walk location are:

I am a man who stands against the mountain and thinks of pebbles – Frank T. Rios

Feel of rain in the face moonjuice/ partial to poets the lady's tears - Tony Scibella

the madmen can find other holes to crawl into. I used to walk that pier when I was 8 years old - Charles Bukowski

my mind is a radio once I could sing the play by play of Blonde on Blonde like it was Eddie Doucette weaving basketball free throw averages with a handful of scars – Ellyn Maybe

Venice Beach Poets’s Monument Partnering Organizations:
The Venice Arts Council (VAC) was formed in 2004 by artists and members of arts organizations and serves as a forum for community input on public art, promotes projects that include resident artists and their work, and gives collaborative support to local Venice arts organizations. The Endangered Art Fund was established in 2006 to prevent two iconic Venice murals from being painted out and is dedicated to the preservation of public art works in Venice. Past renovations and current projects can be found at www.veniceartscouncil.org.

SPARC is rooted in ART | Community | Education | Social Justice | since 1976. Housed in the historic art deco Venice Police Station, SPARC is a cultural center that creates public art as a vehicle to promote civic dialogue, foster cross-cultural understanding and address critical social issues. Their Public Art Rescue Program (PARP) is a restoration and graffiti abatement service available for hire. SPARC has developed a unique system for public art restoration that emphasizes the element of community rededication and education as a pivotal tool for maintaining any public artwork. For more information visit www.sparcinla.org

Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center was founded in 1968, and is housed in the original Venice City Hall building. Beyond Baroque is one of the nations’ leading independent literary / arts centers dedicated to expanding the public’s knowledge of poetry, literature and art through cultural events and community interaction. Visit their website for a listing of free workshops and events at www.beyondbaroque.org .

The Venice Arts Council is sponsored by the Venice Community Housing, a non-profit, providing permanent, affordable housing, education and supportive wraparound services for over 25 years. See www.vchcopr.org for a list of their services and locations.

Venice Beach Poet’s Monument Restoration Team:

Venice Arts Council Endangered Art Fund: Suzanne Thompson, Senior Project Manager
A native Southern Californian, and thirty-year resident of Venice, Suzanne has produced documentary films, concerts, special events, and fundraisers for local and international organizations. Her experience with the City of Los Angeles included; serving as President of the Grassroots Venice Neighborhood Council; a member of the Venice Art Walls Task Force; a member of the City Wide Mural Ordinance Working Group; lease negotiations for Beyond Baroque, and supervision of the Social Public Art Resource Center’s (SPARC) roof repairs. In 2005, she co-founded the Venice Arts Council, and produced the Venice People’s Centennial Celebration, “Divas of Venice”, honoring eight exceptional Venice women with the “Venus of Venice” award. She has chaired the Endangered Art Fund since it was founded in 2006 and the Fund restored two iconic Venice murals in 2009. She is currently a member of the Rose Avenue Working Group and a founding member of the Venice Japanese American Memorial Monument Committee.

SPARC Team: Carlos Rogel, Project Manager, Daniel Gutierrez, Eric Torres and Sam Camarena.

Tamie Smith, Visual Artist/Educator
A native Californian, based in Venice, Tamie is a multi-media artist who has been teaching at P.S. ARTS since 2000. Their mission is to restore the arts in public education, catering to underserved schools, enriching children’s lives and their community. She has completed several ceramic tile murals around Los Angeles and worked with at-risk youth and non-profit organizations. She studied at Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera in Milan, Italy.

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