Google Draws Large Crowd for Venice Family Clinic Fundraiser

Google opens its doors as the official sponsor of the Venice Art Walk & Auctions to benefit the Venice Family Clinic.

The two-day Venice Art Walk & Auctions to benefit the Venice Family Clinic – the largest free clinic in the country – featured a party and silent auction hosted by Google inside the Binoculars Building.

Google, which moved offices from Santa Monica into Venice last year, opened its doors Sunday as the official sponsor of the fundraiser. The fundraiser also included weekend tours of artists in residence as well as architecture and home tours. The Venice Art Walk & Auctions recently has raised over $600,000 annually for the clinic.

One of the tours included the studio and home of Huguette Caland, who was born in 1931 and is a Lebanese painter, sculptor and designer. Caland's home and studio was built in 1996 with an open design with the help of architect Neil Kaufman. Her father was the first president of Lebanon and Caland's works have appeared in group and solo exhibits in Beirut, Paris, Rome, Barcelona, London, Los Angeles and Venice, Italy.

Google's silent art auction and party featured gourmet food trucks and a deejay on blocked-off Hampton Drive for the community, while registered auction bidders and tour participants were welcomed inside the Binoculars Building for the silent auction that included access to a relaxing courtyard with a deejay and beer and wine.

"I think the weekend has been a smashing success," said Elizabeth Benson Forer, chief executive officer of the Venice Family Clinic, as the auction bidding was ending. "Google has been an amazing organization to work with, extraordinarily helpful. Their staff is amazing and how they allowed us to use their facility for this community-wide event has been a meaningful experience for us. We hope that we've raised a lot of funds to help Venice Family Clinic and help our patients."

The artwork up for auction consisted of contributions from a wide range of artists and Forer said the "artists who contributed gave their very best."

Auction item No. 31 was done by actor Jeff Bridges and was a 1998 11-inch by 13-inch, black-and-white photo called "Julianne Moore, The Dude's Dream, The Big Lebowski" that showed Moore in Norse costume during a dream sequence scene. Brandon Boyd, singer/songwriter for the band Incubus, also contributed a four-color screen print.

Venice-based artist Jay Kelly presented an evocative and captivating mixed media blend of painting, collage and photography that featured a brunette woman with a pixie haircut reminiscent of actress Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday. Bidding opened at $2,400 and there was a high-bidder at $2,600 shortly before the auction closed.

Robbie Conal, an artist who has brought political street art to new heights, had his Andy Warhol-inspired piece snatched up early in the bidding and Venice-based artist Geraldine Neuwirth also had strong bidding for her 2010 untitled piece.

Venice-based graffiti artist Jules Muck, aka Mucky Pup, also had strong bidding for her 31-inch by 24-inch "Righteous Natural," a new 2012 piece that is similar to her green-tinted Marilyn Monroe and Whitney Houston work currently on the 1400 block of Main Street and her previous Lindsay Lohan street art.

A roughly 18-inch tall whimsical work by Venice sculptor Jeffrey Manpearl drew the eye of silent auction attendee and Brentwood resident Jeff Sinaiko, who also is on the board of the Venice Family Clinic. Sinaiko, who started volunteering at the clinic while attending Palisades High School, said he submitted a bid because the piece would "feel right" at his house and he said he also was drawn to its shape and color.

"This event means a lot to us in terms of fundraising," Sinaiko said. "But it's also been a great connection for us to Venice and the community for 30 years."

The Venice Family Clinic was established in 1970 to serve Westside residents who are low-income or uninsured. It has more than 2,000 volunteers, including nearly 500 doctors, who help provide medical care for more than 24,400 patients at nine sites in Venice, Santa Monica, Mar Vista, Inglewood and Culver City. The Venice Family Clinic's pediatric programs serve more than 6,600 low-income and uninsured children annually.

Cindy May 22, 2012 at 03:11 PM
Let's hope next year more people are aware of the changes to the Venice Art Walk. Google was a nice addition to the walk. I believe there were less people in attendance compared to prior years due to the changes. I have been volunteering for 14 years and never saw such poor attendance. We normally have double the amount of galleries to visit. I think the silent action should remain at the school. The exhibit at the school was easier to see each piece and easier to bid on a piece. From the long walk the beer & wine garden should be on a patch of grass somewhere with tables and chairs to sit down and discuss the art we have seen. The area was not very inviting. Some live music would be nice. It was still a great day!


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