This is an update on the winning proposalfrom the CREATE category in the 2019 LA2050 challenge.
For the last 30 years, Venice Community Housing (VCH) has developed deep roots in the community through its affordable and supportive housing developments, resident services, homeless services, YouthBuild program, and advocacy work in the communities of Venice, Mar Vista and Del Rey. 100 percent of those served by VCH are low-income and more than 30 percent of current tenants have experienced homelessness prior to residing with VCH.
As a result of gentrification and challenges to developing affordable housing, Venice has a lower housing supply today than it did 50 years ago. Venice has always been a long-standing epicenter for arts and culture from diverse backgrounds. With continued gentrification and the rise of Silicon Beach, Venice has been in danger of losing its unique identity and culture. This has coerced many low-income artists with long-standing roots in Venice to move out. VCH aspires to tackle this challenge head-on in an effort to preserve the arts and culture that has distinctly characterized Venice for so many years by building an economically robust and self-sufficient arts program accessible to all.
In 2018, VCH created an arts initiative called Arts Community Collective (ArtsC2), a sub-group within VCH's Advocacy Committee. ArtsC2 consists of VCH staff, tenants, local artists, and community members, and works to further VCH's mission by incorporating art projects into existing and new housing developments. Through public art installations, ArtsC2 hopes to highlight that the formerly houseless who now live in supportive housing deserve a well-designed, artful building to call home.
The funds awarded to VCH from the LA2050 challenge are being used to create murals on four buildings in VCH's portfolio. Public art installations will also serve the greater community and the nearly 30,000 tourists who visit Venice Beach on a daily basis.
After releasing a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) in fall, VCH received about 25 artist applications, from which 12 artists were selected and invited for interviews. Each artist was interviewed by a panel of staff and artists from the ArtsC2 committee. Through group consensus, the final four artists were selected in mid-December.
In addition to artist selection. ArtsC2 also worked with VCH's Property Management team to select the four buildings that will serve as the sites of the murals. Representing a mix of affordable and supportive housing units, the selected sites are located at 102 Navy St., 12525 Washington Pl., 4216 Centinela Ave, and 4429 Inglewood Blvd.
ArtsC2 is currently in the process of selecting the artist apprentices, who will receive a stipend to assist and learn from the lead artists. Those interested have responded to a separate RFQ. Two apprentices have been chosen, and the remaining two openings will be finalized by January 31 after receiving input from the lead artists.
The final step in building each mural team is to select a community liaison for each project. He or she will be the conduit between the artist and the residents of the building. Ideally, this role will be filled by a tenant from each of the four buildings. ArtsC2 will consult the Resident Services team for tenant recommendations.
In the next six weeks, each lead artist will attend a tenant meeting at their respective sites of their art installations. Tenant meetings are facilitated by VCH's Resident Services and Property Management staff and will be the forum for tenants to provide feedback to the artists about how they feel about their homes and what they would like to see in the murals. VCH staff and tenants can't wait to see what the artists come up with!
In January, artist Ivo Vergara finished VCH's first mural project at 200 Lincoln Blvd. VCH held an unveiling party on January 11th, which was well attended by community members, VCH staff and supporters, and the individuals whose faces were featured in the mural. Our first art installation was a great success, with many lessons learned along the way that will help inform our processes moving forward with the next four murals.
To follow along as the artists begin their design and community engagement process, find us on Instagram @vchcorp and @artscsquared
Pictured: VCH staff, muralist Ivo Vergara, and community members whose portraits are featured in the mural
Meet VCH's LA2050 Artists!
My name is Samantha Aguilar. I am a Los Angeles based illustrator and painter. A lot of my inspiration comes from the Los Angeles Community. All of my paintings communicate a hopeful message that I hope will encourage people to feel represented and uplifted.
Gary Palmer was born in Belfast in 1968, and grew up in small town of Holywood, Northern Ireland. He completed a Master's degree in Architecture at University of Edinburgh in 1992. He has traveled in Australia, Europe, and the U.S. making 3D Chalk drawings for international festivals. Some of his accomplishments include winning competition for public art in London in 1994, and being commissioned for the Ulster Museum in Belfast in 1995. Gary emigrated to the U.S. in 1996, and now works from his studio in Venice, California.
Educator and Muralist Sergio Daniel Robleto has been actively engaging with multiple communities in order to produce murals that deliberately act as a platform and voice for the locals. Most notably is his collection of murals made in collaboration with the community of Boyle Heights. He manipulates the aesthetic of each mural so that it links directly with the aspirations, concerns, and culture of the people therein. The result he says " is a wall that acts as a silent dialogue with the beholder."
Henry Lipkis was born in Venice, and grew up on the boardwalk eating Big Daddy's pizza, sitting on the grass sketching local characters, and slowly becoming one himself. Though now based in New Orleans, Venice has shaped and compelled him to paint substantive murals around the world for the last 10 years. After moving away and honing his community based practice, Henry is eager to return home to create a personal monument to Venice.