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Venice Flea'd Boardwalk sells commercial junk, once again, forever ?

by Venice artists Tuesday, May. 15, 2012 at 1:32 PM

Venice Boardwalk has a new ordinance that went into effect, was momentarily enforced by the LAPD, and has deteriorated back to what is was for too long = a junky cheap flea market, Since the very same vendors - that were made to not sell non-art which is now illegal, but they have brazenly returned ... to sell their re-sale mdse. to look-like-crafts-or-not- even-pretend-art and get away with what they did before...illegally but loopholed as long as they are not caught in the act of selling the stuff... art be damned...barely exists here. Rules and ordinances can be ignored. Bullying and being sly is what makes Venice work. How Sad, ugly, a loss for Venice.

Apparently the LAPD and LA Rec and Parks are unable to ENFORCE what the new ordinance intended...and huge loopholes have allowed vendors to "pretend" to "only take donations" as long as the LAPD is standing watching.

Otherwise they demand their prices and SELL their flea market stuff, again, as before.

There are few police enforcement officers out on the Venice Boardwalk - and only during the 'heavy' summer months - are more assigned to just mostly stroll thru, coming from other areas and not actually enforcing minor issues, not seen as serious crimes worthy of their attention and not knowing the Venice Divisions rules either.

Walking down the Boardwalk on a warm Saturday, the same pretend-I-did-it-and-I-call-it-"ART" are being sold, for a few examples:

1. a woman with a table within a ‘lottery’ no longer enforced square [free of rent or obligations spot to sell whatever] had crocheted caps, squares, potholders, as are done in elementary school beginning crochet classes. No one stopped her or seemed to care.

2. The same ‘over the bottom border’ items found in Tijuana and other bordertowns, sold in border-drive-into-USA-lines are the bobbing tiny wood turtles, spoons with painted land- scapes, skulls in any form, and items seen continually and yes, painted, but not by the sellers on Venice Boardwalk…

they are obviously ‘imported’, bought cheaply and re-sold in USA w/o taxation or import duties…as there may be 1-2-3 made-here but most are brought in, made not by an “artist” but a souvenir seller and mass produced.

3. “fossils” and stones, not artist-human-made but nature-done-w/o-human-hands excepting cutting up mountains and digging into rocks, are displayed [legal to display but NOT to sell] on Boardwalk…just showing the stuff or out there for a profit ?

Of course, everyone knows why the seller returns weekly or daily to have free-rent space with people who walk by who may buy some..not cheap either… but if the LAPD charged with enforcement do not SEE the sale, it is ‘not a sale’ , per seller, that is.

4. Black Henna ‘tattoos’ are back, copying patterns from magazines and books, the ink used is not really “henna” at all, but black ink …this has been decreed ‘dangerous and illegal’ by the LA Health Dept.

The LAPD cannot enforce the ban on these pseudo-artist duplicators who do not care about the severe reactions such substances can cause on some people [not FDA approved ! ] because they can pack up and leave if anything goes wrong, of course! mobility and no-cost-space-for-free is the name of their games, for profits and fools.

5. so-called “dream-catchers” of the native-american-indian culture are sold as ‘art’ or are they claiming religious or spiritual virtues on these commercially made items ?

One person was wrapping tape and a strip around a metal ring and adding fringe, selling these fluorescent colored items as “art” or as what ?

Buy Buy Buy, who cares what it is as long as the seller can claim their personal version of “this is Art -because I made it”.

6. Oh, and t-shirts printed with any design or image is being sold now too.

And Rasta men have some wood objects that appear to be not art nor craft but objects-to-be-sold that may be hand-made but have no relationship to ‘expression’ other than what they claim they are expressing…hmmmm?

And vinyl records bent into bowl shapes that the seller claims is “craft” because it does sell since the old labels are desired, but that is NOT expression, not artistic, but an object in which to put fruit perhaps ?

More stuff. Garbage. Miscellaneous trinkets.

And Rent-paying-East-sidewalk vendors extend way into sidewalkway too, putting 15 bicyles tied together to display against the building but past the bldg edge and 4 more bicycles actually obstructing the sidewalk=Boardwalk area for pedestrians too. If the West side vendors steal space, why not everyone get into the act too ?

Imports from Turkey, glass objects, pretty but not the artist-presenting-their-work-here, clearly commercial stuff sold in any store that makes profits and makes store-sales. Not art galleries. Stores of merchandise.

Anything that someone put some ‘paint’ on can “pass” as art now ?

7. So WHO gets to differentiate between what is ART and what is CRAFT and what is SOUVENIR and what is COMMERCIALLY PRODUCED objects that sell cheaply ?

The LA City Attorney gets to define these categories?

The LAPD claim they do not have the authority to define what is art and thus cannot enforce more than the most blatant abuses, such as an incense seller.

But the ABUSE of the ordinance has happened, yes, again. And why not, if these hostile, greedy, cheap, grabbers of city sidewalk space can do so and maybe, maybe not much, get a little cash for their stuff from people wanting something to take home, cheaply.

And the Venice Neighborhood Council, also charged with keeping the area clean and lawful is not helping at all, with monitors or visitors or assisting law enforcement to prevent this infiltration, yet again, of the commercialization and flea-market-ization of the Venice Boardwalk.

How to CHEAPEN an area and make it unattractive, even dirty and uncleaned by vendors, with no assistance from those who claim to Care and Improve Venice.

They could have a rotating Board member of the VNC walk the boardwalk on weekends, hand out small flyers indicating VIOLATIONS of the ordinance as they see, without confrontation or conflicts.

They could MONITOR and report illegal sales to the LAPD and call them to enforce what the VNC members should-cannot.

They could do a lot working with Venice Residents to help clean up this very famous area that long ago WAS artistic and now is filled, like a land-fill, with junk, plastics and other kinds. But maybe no one cares much.

Maybe the Venice is NOT a Community that wants to improve or legalize what has deteriorated and become ugly and dirty and the same as any less developed country’s ‘tourist flea market’ becomes.

Sad, ugly, a loss. The Boardwalk was momentarily showing that ‘only art’ of any quality - w/o objects pretending to be what they are not, were displayed. An article written at

in February, it APPEARED to have changed, but apparently not…the cheap vendors have won after all, for now. Sad, ugly a loss. Venice has lost.

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