Above picture credit: Venice Paparazzi
By Melanie Camp
Venice locals and art lovers gathered to celebrate 23 years of Venice Arts at the organization’s gala on Saturday, November 5. Their office at 1702 Lincoln Blvd, Venice was crammed full of beautiful people who kicked off the party season with drinks, nibbles, and bids on some incredible art.
Spotted in the crowd were Venice Arts Board President Ruthie Serussi and her husband, and President Emeritus of the Venice Neighborhood Council, Mike Newhouse. Venice Arts Board Member Brandell Davis looked stunning in a bright red dress. Event Producer Kelly Layne, Venice Art Crawl President Sunny Bak and Venice Chamber of Commerce President George Francisco all came to show support. The student-run photo booth was hugely popular and came highly recommended by Rand Corporation’s Wenjing Huang and KPFK Host Brandon Barney.
Venice Arts’ Mentoring & Education Program provides free, high-quality media-based arts education to low-income youth. With a mission to ignite imagination, mentor creativity and expand a sense of possibility through high quality, accessible media–based arts education programs. “We often have students who are the first in their family to go to college,” said Associate Director Elysa Voshell.
Student Kashmir McDaniels has been studying at Venice Arts for three years. He told Yo! Venice the experience has been life changing. Through Venice Arts McDaniels had received an internship at KCRW. That placement led to a part-time job for the 15-year-old. “I’m part of the film crew that produces the live stream for Morning Becomes Eclectic. The opportunity came through Venice Arts. I wouldn’t have the job if it weren’t for them,” said McDaniels.
McDaniels had a photograph in the silent auction. Dr. Rotana Tek had placed the winning bid. “Kashmir told me his philosophy is to stand out of the crowd and that’s my philosophy,” said Tek. The artist and the bidder had bonded on the night. Tek said his father had been a doctor in Cambodia before being forced to flee the country as a refugee. “My dad gave up everything. Because of him, I have had the opportunity to do what I do. It’s so important to help kids get the opportunities they need to succeed in life. That’s why I support Venice Arts. I love what they do,” says Tek.
Artist Natalie Franco agrees. For the past four years, she has donated art to Venice Arts fundraisers. Saying the organization is “essential because it helps nurture and inspires the next generation. It sets them on track. Some of these kids come from rough neighborhoods, and they don’t see a way out. But when they take a class at Venice Arts it directs them to the path of success.”
Party goers enjoyed live music from the Santa Monica High Jazz Combo, food and drink donated by local restaurants, wine from Alba Cellars, beer from Lagunitas, agave spirits from Revel and a vodka cocktail by Tito’s Vodka and local cocktail bar The Lincoln.
Follow Venice Arts and get on the mailing list for future fundraisers online at VeniceArts.org