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Venice Biennial Draws Artists from Throughout L.A. to Venice Beach

The Venice Biennial over the weekend exceeds expectations.

More than 50 fine artists joined local artists on the Venice Beach boardwalk over the weekend as part of the Venice Biennial, a public art show presented by the Hammer Museum.

Terrorists took over an exhibit space on the boardwalk Sunday as Venice artist Cara Faye Earl displayed her $1,200 knee-high sculptures of international terrorists. She also had terrorist postcards at five for $5.

"It's been exciting," Earl said. "It's nice to get feedback and work outside of the studio."

Earl's work has been shown in galleries in New York, Florida, Switzerland and South Africa and she was on the boardwalk at 6 a.m. waiting to grab her spot at 9 a.m.

"I have a lot more respect for the vendors who are here after doing this," she said. "You know people care about their work."

Earl was inspired to create the political piece based on her experiences in the markets of Mexico City, where traditional statues of Catholic saints were joined by popular, unsanctioned icons such as the patron saints of drug dealers and death. The sculptures were of terrorists representing

"The work is bringing to light that these people will be in our history books," she said. "They are icons of the century."

Earl said she wasn't supporting terrorism but seeking to start a dialog about fame and propaganda. She said that some war veterans who walked by her sculptures supported it, while others were angry that she would create sculptures of terrorists strapped with suicide bomb-belts and holding rocket-propelled grenades.

"I'm not a pretty-picture kind of painter," she said.

The Venice Beach Biennial was a little nod to the Venice Bienniale in Italy, a major contemporary art exhibition that takes place every other year in Venice, Italy. The Venice Beach Biennial public art show was presented in conjunction with Made in L.A. 2012 and was directed by Ali Subotnick, curator of the Hammer Museum.

"It's exceeded any expectations we had," Subotnick said during a peripatetic interview Sunday on the boardwalk. "The integration between the different artists and the vendors was seamless. Everyone is so happy, it's weird."

Subotnick said she was a little nervous going into it because there were many variables that were unpredictable, such as not being guaranteed space on the boardwalk.

Many local businesses and neighbors came down to the boardwalk to check out the project and some of the outside fine artists said they were thinking of returning to the boardwalk, Subotnick said.

Regular boardwalk artist Stacey Kai Young of artbysky.com welcomed the new artists to the boardwalk where she sells her uplifting paintings inspired by the sun, the ocean and trees.

"I think it's kind of cool giving them the experience of sharing their art with the public," she said. "And knowing what we go through all the time. We make and sell art every day."

Red balloons along the boardwalk marked stalls featured by the Venice Beach Biennial and regular vendors they liked, including Daniel Militonian, who was live-painting on a canvas Sunday in a style that appeared to be a blend of Rat Fink creator Ed "Big Daddy" Roth and surreal painter Salvador Dali.

"That was the best day I ever had in Venice," Militonian said.

Militonian, who also makes custom skateboard art, was selling posters for $10.

"I'm very grateful Venice and Los Angeles would allow for something like that to happen," he said.

Subotnick said the Venice Biennial was planned as an one-time event, but worked out so well that perhaps it'll happen again.

"We'll see," she said.

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