William Attaway Speaks on the Artwalk/Artblock/Artcrawl

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Article Reposted from http://freevenicebeachhead.wordpress.com/2013/06/01/william-attaway-speaks-on-the-artwalkartblockartcrawl-2/ Venice Beachhead | By Eric Ahlberg

EA: How was Artblock for you?

WA: I was great, I did well, but it wasn’t necessarily from Artblock people per se, it was some people who have always been here for every year, but the energy was good. I wasn’t sure how many people would show up, and then it got better and better. But I just liked all the artists coming together and doing their thing. It took me twenty years to get on the Artwalk. Some people tried, you know, anti-artwalk, every goddamn cute thing to go around Artwalk. But now they have blocked art from being in it, and we are Artblock. It actually has a meaning, metaphorically it’s working for all sides of it, for anybody who’s upset or happy or just wants to start something new. And then at the same time I thought, you know, we gotta do this separate from the Artwalk, two times a year.

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EA: What has been your experience with the Artwalk?

WA: One of the ladies, and she didn’t tell me what company she was with, she said she was with one of the major funders of the Artwalk. She came, and she stayed for a long time, and she was just like, “ I cannot understand why you are not on the Artwalk.” The disrespect, I applied four times, the fourth time I applied, Sheila, who used to run it, her daughter came in that weekend and they spent $10,000. Her daughter came in with her husband and two kids, loved everything, and she said, “You know, I really want to talk to my mom about you being on the Artwalk. I told her I had applied three times. So I felt that was the last application: when her daughter applied for me verbally. She went over there, and she left all her stuff, they came back after the show to pick everything up with their car and she was almost in tears. And a little pissed. She said, “It’s not right, you do make Fine Art, and they say you don’t.” And I was like, are you kidding me? This is the most patronizing thing I’ve ever heard. And I’m like, my uncle has been head of the Art department at Yale for 25 years. My brother went to Yale, I could have gone to Yale, I turned it down. I came here at 13. I was already in 12th grade. Schooling to me means nothing, it’s about survival. It’s about me surviving as an artist with six kids here. And struggling, and Google and Microsoft moving in, where it’s like finally someone who can help us move forward as artists. And our community also, and then I get wiped off the map? And tell me it cost any money, that map is given to them by a printer, who writes it off because they put their name in there. The busses, does that save them money? I think it’s just like planning in the City. They think they are doing well, they don’t know what they are doing. You wanna finally know how I got on the Artwalk? I got a call from our people about how they wanted to come by and see my studio. I was sorta offended, well, I just finished the Boardwalk. I finished a 25 foot column down there. I did tile work on restrooms all the way down there, and I’ve done just about every school on every block all around here at my own cost, and you want to see if I can be on the Artwalk? And I said OK, come on over. And then they were there with three of the new people with Laddie Dill. And Laddie’s like, Bill, we need to come in. And I said, “No No No you’re not coming in here. None of you guys are coming in here.” And they’re like please calm down and I said “No, Fuck that! Before I open my door, you tell me I’m on the Artwalk.” They put me on the Artwalk, but not my column on the Boardwalk. I’m a little bit of a hothead, but I’m a truth sayer.

EA: The event looks kind of Touristy to me.

WA: That’s what we want, I have no problem with format, what’s important is the art is in each place. And that they respect that there’s a living person in there, who are coming from all different lifestyles. Everyone’s struggling. I’m trying to keep up a massive studio. Two tons of clay used to be 400 bucks, now it’s 1000. Venice survived on art, and we helped all the artists start down there, the old guys who were here started inspiring people like me who came here and started going on the Boardwalk. Now the whole Boardwalk is filled, I know those guys down there.. they’re making 600 bucks a day a lot of them right? I’m lucky to make 600 bucks a day here. I have to wait for the big payoff.

EA: Who makes $600 a day down there?

WA: I know a guy, he goes down there on a Monday Tuesday or Wednesday. On the weekend he leaves somebody else down there. He never sells any, cuz everybody’s coming down there with 20 bucks. But during the week, people walk by and they live here, the whole neighborhood is changing. People used to ride by on the bike and not buy anything.

EA: What do you think about Artcrawl?

WA: I was part of the first shows, and I loved it. I got a little burnt out, because we did the first shows up on top of Tony Bill’s building. Juan Carlos and myself and a bunch of artists but every month, and then after a year, and not selling one piece, I was delirious, and a little tired. I think it’s an incredible thing, but I think it’s diluted. The first year Artcrawl started, people would ask “Oh you’re doing the Artcrawl?” and I’d say “No, it’s the Artwalk,” but now it’s the Artblock. I think it’s really about Venice Art. The so-called brat 7 white pack, the great guys who were doing their stuff back here in the sixties, and a whole lot of women were doing stuff here also. There were a few other artists, I know Basquiat worked here for a while. There’s an inspiration here that’s different, so for me, anything that promotes the arts in any way, I am unshamelessly ready to support it. Like some people are all upset about the Artwalk kicking us out. I’m like, this is an opportunity for me.

EA: Francisco Letelier told me he has never been in the Artwalk.

WA: Once they accepted me I said they had to accept Francisco. This is a man whose father was a great patriot to the arts, music, politics, truth, everything, romance, and then he’s assassinated right there near the White House and this kid did not take up arms, he took up brushes. They don’t even respect that?

EA: His house is a beautiful shrine.

WA: I go over there and there’s like Jackson Browne playing, and Chilean writers and artists. It’s a cultural center, it’s a place of high respect, and he owns it. And he’s not on the Artwalk, what the fuck is that? And then my friend Juan Carlos, who works for Robert Graham, hasn’t been on the Artwalk forever, he’d always be on the Artwalk across the street and here at my studio. And finally, thank god, he got put on the Artwalk down on Pacific and Westminster. He’s totally torn, he came over here and said “I don’t really even want to be on the Artwalk.”

EA: How are Boardwalk Artists doing ? I was under the impression that people were just selling ten to twenty dollar works.

WA: Even when I go down there myself, I did some artwork down there for the Venice Alehouse, and I started doing these fish down there. And I realized there’s a whole other market down there now, I watched somebody sell a painting for $800 right in front of me at seven o’clock at night. Couldn’t believe it, the guy paid cash. Most prices are between one hundred and three hundred dollars. That guy, Smell my Finger, that old crazy drunk guy, I love that guy. The big museum, they did the whole thing for them, they included everybody but me. If you sell six paintings at one hundred dollars a piece. You got two hundred thousand people coming through on the weekend. You got the City tax people checking it off, and it’s a great place for the parole officers, that’s what I hear, they just go down there and check people. I was pretty pissed off. I gotta tell you straight out. I’ve had the worst 5 years financially in my life. I take my kids to the Free Clinic now. I’m receiving financial help. Things have been slow. I have six kids, it’s not easy. What the Free Clinic provides to me, over the last 20 years. I’ve been here when I only had two kids, picking through a dumpster to get wood to paint on, and I put a nail through the palm of my hand and I went over there and they took care of it. I’ve been over there very sick and waited and they take care of me. I take my kids and we might have to wait a couple of hours, it was very frustrating but I was very grateful. At the same time the doctor comes in and he’s sick, he has a mask on, he’s working overtime. So everybody’s working overtime. You wanna supply the war machine, or you wanna supply the making of something from nothing machine, and that’s what we do as artists. And that’s what we have to start doing as a country. We can turn this whole thing around, I see more kids sitting around here on the Boardwalk with a note written or a little cute drawing, or they make some kind of cute limerick, give me a dollar or give me a joint.

EA: I saw one guy with a sign “Kick my Ass one dollar”.

WA: That’s fucking Genius. For me we’re at a breaking point, and I think art is going to be a big part of it. Creation is more important than all the monetary things. Even when you got the monetary, you have to create what you want with it, or you are not happy. We have a whole lot of people here that should have been included. In the long run, I don’t like seeing things fragmented, and I have no answers, but I am totally there to work with anybody and I want to make everything work together, because the Venice Free Clinic is a part of our community. Without that we don’t have a backbone. We have the VFC, we have VCHC, St Joseph, Venice Arts, we have SPARC, we have so many great organizations that are dedicated to moving forward about everything that is best in America and Venice. This is what I’m talking about, and vote for me when I run for president.

EA: There you go.

WA: On the whole gentrification thing, it would have been better if they explained that it would have been better not to sell your house for a hundred thousand because if they waited 10 years, it would be worth a million.

EA: Has Google affected your neighborhood?

WA: It’s been great, really good. People come by on bikes and buy from me. And they dress down, too.

EA: Has there been more traffic?

WA: Gold’s Gym patron traffic is the craziest. Those guys are, they fly out of there, that’s the worst. Google, they are really patient, they have the busses, it seems like it’s very calm. I ride my bike there all the time and I have never had one impolite person coming near me. Gold’s Gym patrons, they will run you over. You know 9/11, right when that happened, I was coming out that morning about ten o’clock and I was in shock watching TV. I’m coming out of Rose Cafe on my bike, a cup of coffee in my hand. Two guys pull up, full Gold’s Gym outfit guys. I’d seen them there before, and they stop me, they pull up next to me, and say “Fucking Terrorist!” I looked behind me, then I looked back. The dude spit strait in my face. I mean like a car length. And I had long hair you know, and I had my kaftan, My Iranian scarf, it had peace signs on it though. I was already freaked by the whole 911 thing, so they rode along next to me and cussed at me the whole way. I thought don’t pull into Gold’s. And sure enough they did and they got out of their car and started screaming at me, “Come on Terrorist!” Two Mexican Guys. I was like, Brother, what the hell is your trip?” I got a cup of coffee and a face full of spit, so I don’t know what to expect ever in Venice, but I don’t judge anything. You know what I do? I just try to help everybody in front of me, do one thing at a time. Because when the shit hits the fan, you are going to need people behind you. You gotta have that spirit behind you, because people will remember you when the time of change is happening.

EA: Do you think we should make efforts to get the Artwalk to bring the local artists back in?

WA: Alright, they brought in artists from LA, from downtown, to show here, after cutting us out. I think they are losing out, they don’t understand their perspective, they don’t understand what’s going on. I want to reach out to them, I want to reach out to everybody that, there are no divisions, the Artwalk, The Clinic works for everybody. They are totally underwritten, they don’t need the Artwalk, but the reason they got the underwriting is because of two things: supporting local artists in Venice, and supporting youth in Venice, who are primarily poor Black and Mexican kids. Now the demographics have changed, and so they branched out to other areas, but at the same time they have to look at who are the suffering people in Venice now. It’s young artists trying to pay enormous rents. to survive and stay in a place like this. And to go to the most prestigious place in the world to make art. It’s not New York anymore. It’s Venice. And then there’s three different cultures of it. There’s the Boardwalk Art, making a dime a dozen, busting their ass, and in that group there are people working their fine art, working their way up. There are the people who are renting small apartments, who are making galleries inside these little spaces, like Juan Carlos. And then there are the people who are renting gallery studio space, like Gary Palmer.

EA: Do you ever hang work in restaurants?

WA: I setup in Giraffe Restaurant a few year ago, and I sold one piece in three years. I just did an installation at Wabi Sabi with Juan Carlos, we did all the art in there. I did the Venice Alehouse.

EA: Final Words?

WA: We are the Artwalk we walk with art, we walk as art, we are walking art.

http://attawayfineart.com/news/william-attaway-speaks-on-the-artwalk-artblock-artcrawl

Venice Running Tour Now Includes One-of-a-Kind Souvenir

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Article Reposted from http://argonautnews.com/venices-mosaic-sculptor-attaway-to-exhibit/ By The Argonaut

NeWork, an exhibit of paintings and sculpture by local artist William Attaway, who contributed to today’s look of Venice Beach when he was commissioned by the City of Los Angeles to design a number of sculpted structures, opens with a reception at noon Saturday, August 13th, at Ocean Front Gallery, 801 Ocean Front Walk #5, Venice.

The exhibit remains on display through Tuesday, September 6th.

In 1999, Attaway completed sculpture and mosaics for the renovation of the historic Venice Ocean Front Walk. He created Dreams Come True, a 25-foot ceramic sculpture inspired by “Los Angeles’s journey to find it’s own identity.”

Dreams Come True is in front of the police drop-in station and children’s play area. Along with this piece, he covered the exterior walls of three public restroom facilities with decorative sculpture that illustrates the running of the grunion, an annual event when millions of fish lay their eggs along the Southern California coastline.

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Attaway began working with ceramics, painting and sculpture steadily in 1979.

Throughout his career he has worked with city planners, politicians, corporations and youth and community groups. He has also sought to be active in restoring arts to Los Angeles public schools.

Attaway was commissioned to do his first public installation in 1993 in the City of Pomona. He created three massive ceramic columns surrounded by intricate mosaic seating. The theme of these columns, Past, Present, Future, reflects the rich multicultural heritage of Los Angeles, he says.

Attaway was asked by the United Nations in 1995 to create three installations for the opening ceremonies of the global conference, “Environmental Sustainability.” He painted several fifteen foot panels entitled Recycle, Restore.

He also created the monument Copper Man from refuse material found on the site of the conference. World leaders and officials gathered under his designs to discuss the global environmental future.

In 1996 he helped develop the Venice Clay Works, a nonprofit job training program that teaches ceramic and mosaic skills. Mosaics and murals now cover many Venice schools due to the program. Attaway says he was steadfast in including “at risk youths” in the program.

“We must pass on our skills and knowledge to the children of our community,” says Attaway. “This is the only way to help our people overcome their circumstances and create hope where all hope is lost.”

http://attawayfineart.com/news/venice-running-tour-now-includes-one-of-a-kind-souvenir

William Attaway - Other Venice Film Festival Featured Artist

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Article Reposted from http://freevenicebeachhead.wordpress.com/2011/10/01/william-attaway-featured-artist/ By CJ Gronner | Venice Beachhead

The Other Venice Film Festival is honoring William Attaway as its Featured Artist during all the screenings at Beyond Baroque (October 13-16th) so I thought it was about time I and We got to know a little bit more about the man behind a lot of the art that we see in Venice every day.'

Known around town as simply “Attaway”, he is probably best known in these parts for his beautiful mosaic column looking out over The Breakwater (by the beach park for kids next to the Police Station), creating a circle of calm amid the Boardwalk madness.

Born in New York to artist parents (and Grandparents – his Grandfather designed the interiors of Radio City Music Hall), Attaway took after them, and was always an artist himself. They were a black and white family and in the early 60′s with all the assassinations, it could be a scary time for bi-racial families, so Attaway’s family moved to Barbados, where they lived “the simple life” until he was 13. Attaway always loved to draw, and spent many of his days watching men make pottery in kilns built right into the side of Barbados’ Chalky Mountain. This was mainly to escape the wrath of a hard core Grandma, but his love of clay was discovered during those long afternoons of observation.

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The family re-located to L.A. for his Dad’s work, and soon young Attaway was working as a 16 year-old assistant to Brian Scheller at a ceramic studio called The Pot Farm (now called the Clayhouse) in Santa Monica. After blowing up the kiln on his first day – literally – Attaway worked extra hard to learn all he could about ceramics. His pots grew bigger and bigger, as “there is no limit to clay”.

Attaway came down to Venice a lot to skateboard, and soon decided to drop out of high school (in 10th grade) to go in on an art studio with his friend. His Dad said he could if he really meant it and created a body of work. “So I did.” He sold out every community art show he entered, and walked around with a bunch of cash in his pocket as an 18 year old artist. A good time in 80′s Venice.

The art continued to expand as Attaway began to think of his sculptures more architectually, influenced by Gaudi, and he felt the urge to create something that hadn’t been done before. When plans for a Venice Arts Mecca school at the beach (where he was going to teach ceramics) fell through, Attaway applied to be the artist to create a work at the site of the former Venice Pavilion. The architect for the area had been looking at Attaway’s columns done for the Pomona Metro Station when the news came in that Gratefuk Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia had died. The guy had been close to Garcia and was very upset, and took it as a sign that he should give his blessing to Attaway doing the art. Over 500 applicants, down to 8 finalists, and Attaway walked in to give his presentation right after Robert Graham had given his. But Attaway didn’t even have to finish his whole spiel, as they agreed with him right off that, “I knew what should happen here. I grew up here.”

From 1995-2000, with an entire year on physical labor alone, the 25 foot beach column was brought to life. Through the hard work of two people – Attaway and his best friend, Kenny Roberts – 5 tons of clay, 25,000 gallons of cement, and lots of short ribs between them and the Filipino security guard, the column was finished and “It’s a dream come true.” To have a signature piece of Venice art of his own making in his own backyard, in what his kids now call “Papa’s Park” truly is the kind of gratification any artist would aspire to. He does say it was not a pleasure to work with the City, and that things really came together in a great example of community over bureaucracy to get the project completed.

That community is the same thing that has kept Attaway in Venice all these years. “There is a love of family here, and a love of art that has kept Abbot Kinney’s vision intact. Venice still resonates with that intention.” Of course, Attaway has seen the changes we all have, but as he sees it, “Venice was a scary place, you had to watch how you walked, there were major shoot-outs you would not believe right in front of here, crack trucks, gang murders, people were literally giving away their mortgages,” so the fact that I didn’t even think about all that when I came to see him is actually a really big improvement.

“It’s not gentrification that splits us apart, it’s War-ification. How our money is spent, what programs get funded … war over art, greed and instant gratification … not looking at the big picture … The more fighting that goes on outside, the more goes on inside.” In order to combat that, Attaway feels that people need to stand up and revolt. How can everyday people do that? “People don’t know how to wait for their food to grow anymore. You can grow your own food. You can drink lots of water. You can ride bikes and not use cars.”

To that end, Attaway’s new series of paintings is called “Gardens”, and his favorite place to have coffee in Venice is in his own garden. He thinks there should be signs when you enter Venice that say, “When you enter Venice, Bikes have right of way”. There should be vacuums in the alleys so you can suck up the glass and stuff so everyone doesn’t puncture their tires. There should be naked Police. Naked Police will stop violence, people would just take one look at them and stop.” We talked about Cityhood for Venice, which he’s all for and said, “Venice IS the original Hood City, so, yeah. Everyone who goes to Disneyland comes to Venice the next day for free to chill, so we should be getting more than the 1 percentfrom the City Of L.A.”

Attaway thinks that Venice is a place “where a lot of people have made their lifestyle dreams come true.” From skating back in the day with Tony Alva, having the dream of a skatepark on the beach come true, they MADE that happen. From a mailman who does his route and then goes fishing every night on the pier, he MADE that happen. “Look at the drum circle – I call it the Chaos Circle – The Boardwalk is the end of the Earth. I love it.”

You can see Attaway cruising around on his bike: Getting food at the La Isla Bonita taco truck by Gold’s Gym that he did mosaics for. Eating at Axe. or Danny’s Deli for matzo ball soup, or James Beach for chocolate souffle. Or late-night octopus and martinis at Hal’s (”I want my art hung in Hal’s when I grow up”). Drinking at Venice Ale House or Oscar’s (”the #1 new hot spot”).

You can see Attaway’s art all over town (The Column. Mosaics on beach bathrooms. Mosaic at Tabor Courts VCHC. Etc…Etc..), see art documentaries on him by his friend, Venice local Christopher Gallo, or just go by 334 Sunset on Saturday or Sunday and see if a Flying Man statue is outside. That means you can go in and see his art works in progress. There might be musician friends playing, there might be a chef friend cooking up a feast, and “What happens, happens.”

As true a Venice statement as any I’ve heard.

http://attawayfineart.com/news/william-attaway-other-venice-film-festival-featured-artist

Attaway - Something From Nothing

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Christopher Gallo presents artist William Attaway as he creates something from nothing.

http://attawayfineart.com/news/attaway-something-from-nothing

The Argonaut: Mosaic Sculptor Attaway to Exhibit

Published:

Article Reposted from http://argonautnews.com/venices-mosaic-sculptor-attaway-to-exhibit/ By The Argonaut

NeWork, an exhibit of paintings and sculpture by local artist William Attaway, who contributed to today’s look of Venice Beach when he was commissioned by the City of Los Angeles to design a number of sculpted structures, opens with a reception at noon Saturday, August 13th, at Ocean Front Gallery, 801 Ocean Front Walk #5, Venice.

The exhibit remains on display through Tuesday, September 6th.

In 1999, Attaway completed sculpture and mosaics for the renovation of the historic Venice Ocean Front Walk. He created Dreams Come True, a 25-foot ceramic sculpture inspired by “Los Angeles’s journey to find it’s own identity.”

Dreams Come True is in front of the police drop-in station and children’s play area. Along with this piece, he covered the exterior walls of three public restroom facilities with decorative sculpture that illustrates the running of the grunion, an annual event when millions of fish lay their eggs along the Southern California coastline.

Continue Reading Article...

Attaway began working with ceramics, painting and sculpture steadily in 1979.

Throughout his career he has worked with city planners, politicians, corporations and youth and community groups. He has also sought to be active in restoring arts to Los Angeles public schools.

Attaway was commissioned to do his first public installation in 1993 in the City of Pomona. He created three massive ceramic columns surrounded by intricate mosaic seating. The theme of these columns, Past, Present, Future, reflects the rich multicultural heritage of Los Angeles, he says.

Attaway was asked by the United Nations in 1995 to create three installations for the opening ceremonies of the global conference, “Environmental Sustainability.” He painted several fifteen foot panels entitled Recycle, Restore.

He also created the monument Copper Man from refuse material found on the site of the conference. World leaders and officials gathered under his designs to discuss the global environmental future.

In 1996 he helped develop the Venice Clay Works, a nonprofit job training program that teaches ceramic and mosaic skills. Mosaics and murals now cover many Venice schools due to the program. Attaway says he was steadfast in including “at risk youths” in the program.

“We must pass on our skills and knowledge to the children of our community,” says Attaway. “This is the only way to help our people overcome their circumstances and create hope where all hope is lost.”

http://attawayfineart.com/news/the-argonaut-mosaic-sculptor-attaway-to-exhibit