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The Mar Vista Art and Music Walk recently returned to live events in September and will return on Saturday, October 23 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. at ArtBarLa in Venice. Photos of Sarah Vélasquez

Mar Vista Art and Music Walk spotlights artists from the disability community

By Bridgette M. Redman

The Mar Vista Art and Music Walk made its triumphant return to live events in September and will be back in the streets on Saturday, October 23 from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. at ArtBarLa in Venice.
The live event will be paired with a virtual event that will run until October 31. Both events are themed “Parity” and will feature works of art and music from people belonging to the disability community. The event is free and a limited number of tickets are available at eventbrite.com/e/187256728917.

The march builds on successful celebrations

Founded in December 2015, the Mar Vista Art and Music Walk is a quarterly event scheduled to celebrate each season. At the first event – with just the two co-founders organizing it – between 500 and 1,000 people attended and the event grew from there. A joint effort of the nonprofit environmental initiative Green Communications Initiative and local artists, creators and small business owners, it took place on the first Saturday in March, June, September and the Saturday after Thanksgiving in November.

Their largest event was organized jointly with the artistic community of Venice, attended by between 5,000 and 7,500 people. They had up to three outdoor stages along their walk and many small setups for the buskers. They would also have two to three indoor concert halls at each event.

Their last was in March 2020, a week before the state was shut down due to COVID-19. Like others, they’ve found ways to go virtual, with around 3,000 people showing up online at the first joint they made with Venice in the summer of 2020. Then, according to Lenore French, co-founder of Mar Vista Art and Music Walk, they started by hosting smaller events to be broadcast live in January 2021 and also offered an online virtual exhibit on their website.

“We were able to fundraise to offer these small micro-grants three to four times a month and run live broadcasts on our Instagram,” French said. “It was a way to keep the artist community involved and to keep them paid. From an artist’s perspective, the main benefit of an art walk is that it provides them with a market to sell their prints and the many types of merchandise that they can develop as an artist to showcase their talent and creativity.

Art and Music Walk reboots with events on one site

Now they are holding small monthly events at one site until summer 2022, when they plan to have a big arts and music festival on the streets again. The events, which began in September, are COVID compliant with crowds checked and volunteers taking temperatures and checking vaccine cards upon entry.
“We will continue to hold these one-location mini-events that will showcase some of the highlights of our pre-pandemic art walks,” French said. “There will be music, performing arts and a list of actors. “

Organization focused on parity for the themes of each event

There have been some policy changes since the pandemic. French said the art walks were organized around a theme and these themes have now changed focus. She cited the racial calculation the country has had since the extrajudicial murder of George Floyd.

“Like many organizations, we have become very aware of the role art can play in creating discussions about topics that might otherwise be difficult,” French said. “Art is something that you feel at the level of the heart. It bypasses the fight or flight instinct that occurs in your brain. The beauty of art is that it is meant to be felt in the heart. You can have difficult conversations while watching something beautiful.

French said they reassessed their situation after George Floyd’s murder and that their math involved creating a platform to give everyone a fair voice. They create a platform for those who have been traditionally under-represented as artists so that they can have parity. This is why the October event focuses on showcasing the work of artists from the disability community.

“What we’re doing is partnering with the Disability Community Resource Center to reach their constituents and clients who are artists,” French said. “We have made a special effort to reach artists and artist sellers who see themselves as part of the disability community.”

The party will stretch into the night

The plan is to have art, music, comedians and food trucks at the event. ArtBarLA will also offer a limited food menu. French said the comedy show will feature performers discussing everything from mental illness to the use of wheelchairs. She cited the benefits of having it in a bar, even though after 7 p.m. guests will have to be 21 or older.
“Our typical millennial, zillennial, Gen Z audience can have fun late into the night,” French said. “There will be an afterparty after we ostensibly leave at 10pm. The festivities will continue.”

What: Mar Vista artistic and musical walk
When: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday, October 23
Where: ArtBarLA, 12071
Venice Blvd., Los Angeles marvistaartwalk.org

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