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A Walk With Ocean Park’s Artists:

Santa Monica is blessed with numerous art galleries and even a few museums. Most people know about the galleries at Bergamot Station but are probably unaware that a new “gallery row” is developing on a stretch of Ocean Park Boulevard between 16th and 18th Streets.

On September 30, this burgeoning Gallery Row held its First Annual Ocean Park Art Walk. More than a dozen shops and businesses located on the two-block row kept their doors open from 4 to 8pm, put some of their wares out on the sidewalk, offered refreshments of crackers, cheese, fruit, cookies and wine and allowed visitors to walk into each shop and look at art and handicrafts that, in the chain-store age, are miraculously unique to each shop.

Seventh Muse offered items straight out of a fairy tale book – small ornamented boxes, trinkets, small dolls, paper dolls and feather boas. Sahara featured clothing from the Middle East and India and crafted objects from Africa. At the handcrafted jewelry emporium Artful, the wares included pendants in the shape of vegetables. Mexican import shop Oaxacan Art featured many examples of the calaveras (skull and skeleton) art of Mexico from tiny skeleton figurines to sugar-skull Dia de Los Muertos molds.

Stone Soup, the headquarters of sculptor Tom Hellwarth, featured his bronzes, jewelry and other artifacts of his own creation, including tiny figurines made from empty paint tubes.

Even the Sunset Masonic Lodge became, temporarily, a gallery, exhibiting among other art works the humorous collages of Byron Furgol. In Furgol’s art world, Rod Serling sported a third eye, the Venus de Milo had the head of Jim Morrison and The Three Stooges (George, Colin and Donald) declared “Let’s Nuke Baghdad.”

Two art studio-schools, Art Paths and The Art Studio, also opened their doors to visitors. At The Art Studio instructor George Small spoke about his classes while guests looked at drawings by Small’s students (he teaches figure drawing, mixed media/montage and acrylic painting).

Next door to The Art Studio, Rebecca Marder runs Art Paths and teaches art classes. She explained that she and the other artists who own the galleries and shops on the two blocks created the Art Walk to ”bring the community together,” not only to do outreach to art lovers but to share their creativity with each other. It’s ironic, she noted, that shops located on the same street often are not aware of each other’s wares and intents until an event like this happens, enabling the artists to network. Marder hopes that the Art Walk will be an annual event and will help to bring together the resources of the Ocean Park community.

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