We have a wealth of great cultural events in Santa Monica, from our free summer concerts on the Santa Monica Pier to free movies at Santa Monica Place, and an endless variety of gallery openings at Bergamot Station and around town. In this city you can drown in the free wine and gorge on Gorgonzola almost every weekend.

Some of the events are not as exciting as others. An exploration of the wonders of organic composting, while important, is not quite as thrilling when compared to a celebrity reading from their latest book at the public library.

Sometimes it’s the venue that makes the event special. Thursday nights, for example, are much more fun when you can sit on the beach and listen to an aging rocker from the 1980s bang out tunes from your 20s. Being on the upper deck of Santa Monica Place enjoying dinner from the food court while watching a comedy under the stars and with heaters is pretty darn wonderful too.

Other times it’s the people you get to associate with who make an event spectacular. I’ve had the opportunity to meet movie stars and musicians, writers and artists and the occasional philanthropist at various events around town, which adds to a great social life.

So last week when I was working out at the Loews Hotel and the spa manager, Martha Lockie, asked me if I wanted to attend an event this coming weekend, I was excited to say yes. Martha is like one of those California girls that the Beach Boys sang about. She’s all blonde hair and bubbly, with the laid back beach vibe that makes you dream of summer days filled with coconut tanning lotion and nights spent sitting around a warm bonfire with your feet buried deep to find the warm sand. She runs the gym and spa and was doing publicity for the Molly Barnes Art Series.

Molly Barnes is putting on a series of lectures at the Loews Hotel in the Venice Room. As I walked through the lobby towards the ocean side of the hotel, I turned left and strolled past the Sunday brunch buffet, which was taunting me with its delicacies. There I came across this meeting room which overlooks the ocean and the pier. It’s not a typically boring, four-wall meeting room with a screen up front. No, the Venice Room is three walls, and open on one side, so as you are listening to the lecturers you can enjoy the view of sunlight glistening on the water and children playing in the surf.

The lecture itself this time was four pioneering women in the art world, but not as artists. They were the gallery owners. They shared their experiences of what it was like to be mostly divorced women opening up galleries in the ‘70s. This was a wild west time in the art world, not like today’s corporatized, marketing-driven environment. These women said it was all about passion and inspiration.

About 50 people were privy to their insights on the art world and their stories about what it was like to find a gallery and want to own it, or finding an artist and wanting to make them famous. Joni Gordon shared her story of buying Newspace gallery for a dollar (along with assuming the debt) and how she kept it all going.

This was a very enlightening experience because I’ve heard many artists share their stories about working with galleries, but never from the other side. To understand what the gallery owners have to do and how they operate was a wonderful experience. There were about 35 women and 15 men, all of whom seemed to be intensely interested in what was being discussed.

The Loews Hotel put out a great spread of nibbles and noshes, and Martha was a great hostess. This was a great event thanks to the location, the topic, the lecturers and the other guests. There is one more lecture scheduled and I suggest that if you like the art world, call Martha to find out more and get on the invite list.

We are lucky to have access to such free events and I hope you get to take advantage of them, especially when the surroundings include ocean views.


David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at dpisarra@pisarra.com or (310) 664-9969.

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