As the Los Angeles region grapples with an ongoing homeless crisis many residents are looking for ways to make a difference and Safe Place For Youth (SPY) is providing a personal opportunity for anyone to connect with homeless youth while supporting their creative endeavors at their second annual art show this weekend.

The organization is one of the only youth-focused providers of homeless services in the area and they will open their doors for a free community art show “Magical Mystery Tour Through Spirituality” this Saturday from 3 – 6 p.m. Homeless youth, volunteers and staff have donated art work for the show that is part fundraiser, part awareness campaign and part entertainment.

Healing arts manager Sarah Boehmke said the shows began last year when a group of youths requested a place to show their work. That year was only a display but this weekend, they have partnered with Artwalk Inc. to facilitate the sale of youth art and the sales are being used to help the youth develop financial skills.

“This year we do have the ability to sell which is super exciting,” said Boehmke.

Each artist is taking a fiscal management class and they will receive 70 percent of the total sale price. SPY will receive about 23 percent to help fund the arts programs and the other seven will cover costs associated with the sale.

“Our intention is to set real world expectations,” she said. “It also helps show how the business side of the arts works,” she said. “How you can make money in art, what kind of art sells, the cost of supplies.”

SPY client Artemio said the food, clothing and financial resources are of course vital but perhaps more valuable to homeless youth is the acknowledgement of their humanity they receive from organizations like SPY.

“It’s the support,” he said. “For a lot of youth, they don’t get love or caring at home. If you’re a homeless youth, people don’t talk to you, they look down on you.”

He said SPY programs have helped him find a job and housing but he used to spend his nights homeless in Santa Monica.

He would set up in the Starbucks on the Promenade for most of the evening working on art projects until they closed and most people left the area. Then he’d bed down for the night in an elevator in a nearby parking garage to sleep for a few hours.

“I don’t think a lot of people even knew I was homeless,” he said. “I’d have a job, I showered, I go to work every day and draw at night.”

His personal goals include finding a car to help cut down on his two-hour commute to work every day and in the long-term he’d like to find work in the arts field, particularly working with someone like the Jim Henson company on creature design.

He said participating in a public art show is a huge boost for any artist, regardless of their housing situation, because the public appreciation can offset some of the self-criticism that comes with creating art and there’s a bonding experience that comes with sharing the work.

“You can’t make art without feeling art,” he said. “You can’t force someone to have it.”

The show will include a variety of visual art including drawings, paintings, jewelry and some limited photography. In addition to youth created works, some of the staff and volunteers have donated art work to the sale.

In addition, youth musicians will be performing for about an hour between 4 and 5 p.m.

SPY’s arts program offers a youth a save space for creative expression. Officials said the art allows young people to build self-esteem, connect to emotions, improve mental health and can be a gateway to other services.

The programs rely on community donations for materials and volunteer facilitators to share skills either during the regular drop-in hours or via workshops. The center also offers experiential learning opportunities such as museum trips or photography field trips.

The art show will be held on Saturday, April 14, from 3 – 6 p.m. Safe Place For Youth is located at 2469 Lincoln Blvd. in Venice (at the intersection of Garfield and Lincoln). Entrance for the free art show will be via Garfield Ave. and street parking is available nearby.

Visit www.safeplaceforyouth.org or email sarahb@safeplaceforyouth.org for more information.

editor@smdp.com

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