Shuttered: ICU Art Venice Art Walls Program


On Sunday, WUZHERE! will hold what will now be the last Venice Art Walls event to be organized by ICU Arts. (The next post will be about the WUZHERE event.)

Venice Beach Art Walls

From Stash Maleski, Head of In Creative Unity Art:

We are very sorry to announce that ICU Art will be ending the Venice Art Walls program after twelve years. On Sunday, September 2nd, 2012 ICU Art and I Wuz Here are having a special live painting event on the final day of the Venice Art Walls Program from noon until 7pm. I Wuz Here has invited specific artists to paint the walls one last time as part of this historic program.

The program is ending because the City of Los Angeles is unable to contribute funds to the program. ICU Art has extended the program as long as we could with our own funds for all of 2012 in the hopes that a funding source could be identified for the program. The most substantial expense is paying the artists that staff the area on weekends issuing the free permits to artists to paint.

In 2007, the City of Los Angeles required a formal permit system for the area in order to stay operational. Prior to that ICU Art was able to fund the program 100%. ICU Art and the City of LA shared the cost of the program since the formal permit system was introduced in 2007. The permit system requires staffing to implement. ICU Art is unable to cover the entire cost of the program without the support of the City.

The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks has expressed a willingness to continue the program in some way using their own staff. The proposals discussed by Rec & Park so far are unacceptable to ICU Art and we do not support the City’s plan. The City of LA has proposed charging artists that paint the walls a fee of as much as $20 per artist. We feel this is not in line with the conditions set forth by the California Coastal Commission. The CCC permit that allowed for the demolition of the Venice Pavilion required that the Venice Art Walls area be preserved as a cultural resource and that it remain a low cost recreational resource regardless of people’s economic status. At this point there are no plans to remove the walls from the area.

ICU Art has managed the program as service to those graffiti artists and muralist of Los Angeles and as a service to the Venice community. We would like to see a local non-profit arts organization take over the program at the Venice Walls. ICU Art is available to work with any organizations that might have a viable plan for the area.

The Venice Art Walls has served as one of the only places in the City of Los Angeles where artists have been able to legally paint murals. Due to the City of LA ban on murals on private property since 2002, the only place to paint murals legally has been on city, state or federal property. Most city owned facilities require a lengthy permitting process. The walls in Venice change every weekend with an average of 30 to 40 artists painting each weekend. The Venice Art Walls program is debatably the most high profile and well established graffiti art program in the country as one of only a few programs on actual municipally owned property. The program has served as a model for legal graffiti art programs all over the world since it’s inception in 2000.

Please stay tuned for more information on this topic. We will be talking more about the City of LA Plans for the area and what we are doing to help transition the program to an acceptable city-run program.

Thank you to all the artists who have worked as On-site Supervisors staffing the area all these years. Thank you City Council Office 11, Bill Rosendahl’s Office for all the support over the years. We could not have done it without you. Thank you to those Rec & Parks personnel that have helped the program in various capacities. We would like to thank the Department of Cultural Affairs for their support over the years. Thank you to the people and organizations of the Venice community that have supported the program with their love and support. Most of all we would like to thank those artists that have painted on the walls over the years contributing their amazing artwork to the community.

Stash Maleski
ICU Art – In Creative Unity
Venice Art Walls

Jeanna Penn
Venice Art Walls

[email protected]
(310) 309-7756



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