The Venice Art Walk, held at Google Los Angeles in Venice on May 17, is a fund-raising event that directly benefits the Venice Family Clinic and their patients. The clinic works directly with local artists to design an event that is representative of Venice culture. With this customized approach, studio tours and silent auction featuring hundreds of local artists, the clinic raises nearly $700,000 annually to provide health care services to 20,000 uninsured patients, some of whom are homeless.
Founded 36 years ago by a group of artists who wanted to help the Venice Family Clinic, the idea is simple. Artists open their studios for a ticketed tour and donate the profits to VFC. During the late 70’s and early 80’s artists like DeWain Valentine, Robert Graham, Laddie John Dill, Ed Moses, John Baldessari and Ed Ruscha decided that the clinic was a social cause they were willing to organize around, and today there is an exciting new crew of artists taking on that task.
With over 350 pieces of art available in the silent auction, it is clear that many artists believe in the Venice Family Clinic, but it takes a major commitment from a few select artists to rally those forces. The Venice Family Clinic’s Chief Development Officer, Laney Kapgan, notes that, “It’s hard when the artists of the past start something and you don’t know who is going to carry the mantle. If you don’t bring in the next generation of supporters an opportunity goes away.” Fortunately, three artists, Analia Saban, Jacob Kassay, and Sam Durant, stepped forward and are currently carrying the torch.
Sam Durant, who moved to Venice in the early ’90s to start his career, was a patient of the clinic before he could afford insurance. He says, “I was asked to help get younger artists involved and I agreed to do that because the clinic offers a vitally needed service still. The clinic has been going for some 40 years. It is kind of a testament to how bad our national health care system still is, that we still need it. I think the younger generation understands that as well, we all have to deal with the health care system.”
Analia Saban, who was born in Argentina and moved to Los Angeles 14 years ago for an MFA at UCLA, is excited to get involved because the clinic “has a vision for the human being as a whole.” When she first visited the facility she was impressed by many of their daily practices. “Something they do that I really like is they give books to children. So, it is almost like a prescription. They say, ‘Ok, You have to read to your children every night,’ or ‘here is a book that the child is supposed to read,’ with a different book at each visit.”
Jacob Kassay moved to Venice four years ago and immediately got involved with the clinic. In that short amount of time, Kassay has already donated his work for the auction, opened his home as a gallery space for the Art Walk, and dressed up, with is wife, as an elf to give out toys at the Venice Family Clinic’s annual Children’s Holiday Movie event, which has been taking kids from low-income schools and homeless shelters to see movies in theaters for over 25 years.
All of the art on auction is available for viewing at no charge from noon to 6 p.m. at Google Los Angeles in Venice. The art is also available online for viewing and pre-bidding here through May 15.