Nestled in an idyllic, romantically lit, creative home called the Venice Beach House, located steps from the Pacific Ocean, Wynn Miller, Jim Ganzer and Anthony Friedkin, three world-class documentarians, displayed a photography show titled “On The Edge Of Society” that takes you back in time as much as the classic 1911 landmark building.
As Venice has become infiltrated with gentrification, it is more important than ever to recognize and celebrate the colorful past and true nature of Venice. It makes perfect sense that the “On The Edge Of Society” show, highlighting the true colors of Venice, was hosted in a building that housed the creators of Venice. Originally home to Warren Wilson, best friend of Abbot Kinney, The Venice Beach House also known as “the oasis of Venice Beach” now serves as a boutique inn complete with lush gardens as well as the Barefoot Gallery to enjoy art and photography intrinsic to the Westside.
“On The Edge Of Society” featured old black and white photographs of classic beach culture – skateboarding, surfing, chilling and partying. Walking through the space, the loud, confident attitude of Venice shone through Miller, Ganzer and Friedkin’s work. Shown in a small gallery space, the show was intimate and warm, inviting people to dive into the chill beachy vibes the location and visual content inspires.
Outside of the room the photographs inhabited, families, artists, skaters, surfers, and people from all walks buzzed around the venue – sitting, sipping and enjoying the company of Venice. Overall, great vibes.
– Words by Maile Cowell
– Photos and video from the opening night celebration by Dan Levy
We followed Tony Alva around the magical scene on opening night for a glimpse of how a professional skateboarder from Santa Monica, who has been surfing and skateboarding on the Westside for over six decades, reacted to the exhibit. TA described it best as “soul food” and as he talked about the location of the show, he said, “It’s in a beautiful house that they converted into the ghetto – ghetto fabulous.”
Juice Magazine’s Dan Levy captured a few words with Anthony Friedkin and Jimmy Ganzer as well as a rare moment with TA and Jesse Martinez.
Friedkin explained the fantastic job that Matt Wessen did in curating the show, and detailed his own contributions to the show, including selections from his surfing essays featuring a previously unseen shot of Jay Riddle skateboarding Point Dume on the steep hill.
As TA described it, Wynn Miller’s wall is “full glory gold… gangster OG” while Friedkin referred to Jim Ganzer’s wall as “a history of Venice from the early days with Laddie John Dill, as well as classic photos of Topanga when it was private.”
As Wynn Miller explained, “It felt great to share this work with the community I love, the artists, skaters and surfers in Venice. It was a great experience working with Matt and being in the company of Friedkin and Ganzer, two artists I admire. The opening was really exciting, and reminded me of how many people still have an interest in this work.”
This unique photography installation, curated by Skip Engblom and Matt Wessen, is on display through August 14, 2019 at the Venice Beach House located at 15 30th Avenue in Venice, California.
Curator Skip Engblom commented, “Nice to see you like the show it took Matt Wessen and I over a year to put together. Thanks for the love.”
The Venice Beach House:
As Abbot Kinney created the Venice of America with its own canals, his friend and newspaperman Warren Wilson created in 1911 one of its first and finest buildings. Perched on white sand dunes overlooking the Pacific, this Craftsman landmark, known as the Venice Beach House, and listed by the U.S. Park Service in the National Register of Historic Places, has always been filled with families like the Kinney family, who shared the grounds as Kinney’s sons married Wilson’s daughters. A hub of social life, the Venice Beach House has always welcomed the biggest celebrities of the time, from Charlie Chaplin on “retreat,” to the very end of the run from Athens to LA of the Olympic Torch Relay. Through all the years, the Beach House has remained a quiet constant in a Venice that attracted beatniks, then hippies, and then tourists from all over the world. A hidden oasis, faithfully restored by the Boesch family and maintained for travelers and, for all of Venice, the Venice Beach House remains a throwback to an era gone by, a mysterious gem in a city where discovery and tranquility are hard to come by. To those who have discovered its magic, there is something in it that keeps calling you back, and the Beach House is here to welcome you.