Art: ‘The offering’ by Rose Leila Fanner is one of over 200 pieces. Also pictured is a work by Kim McCarty. Courtesy images

Beginning today and running through May 12, the Venice Family Clinic is hosting a virtual auction of more than 200 pieces of art to help fund its vital health services for people in need.

Venice Family Clinic was founded in 1970 as a tiny operation running out of a borrowed dental office, and has since blossomed into an essential community resource that serves over 27,000 patients at 14 sites annually.

In 1979, VFC was at the brink of bankruptcy when community members rallied together to create the first-ever Venice Art Walk fundraiser. Forty-two years later this unique and impactful event is still running and is currently in its second virtual iteration due to the pandemic.

“It’s kind of incredible to put a work of art in your home and know that you supported the Clinic and supported an artist and supported your community,” said Erin Harnisch, VFC director of events. “It’s really a beautiful story that goes along with a piece of art that feeds your soul.”

While initially centered around the Venice art community, the Art Walk has grown to include many nationally and internationally recognized contemporary artists.

This year’s auction features works from several iconic local artists who participated in the original 1979 event — including John Baldessari, Ed Moses and Ed Ruscha — in addition to pieces from over 50 artists who are participating for the first time ever.

“We have a really diverse group of artists this year, which is very exciting,” said Harnisch. “We love that we can expose our collectors to new talent as well as have them see some of the great artists they’ve come to know and love and expect from us over the years.”

The event, which traditionally takes place in person, is an important way for the clinic to connect with the surrounding community and build its network of supporters. In order to deepen this year’s online experience, the Clinic is hosting a series of virtual talks with important figures in the art world.

Speakers include Lindsay Preston Zappas of Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles and KCRW; Shana Nys Dambrot of LA Weekly; Terry R. Myers, a writer and independent curator; and Dominique Clayton, an arts manager, writer, and gallery founder.

All community members are invited to participate in the event, from casual first-time collectors to the most experienced art connoisseurs.

“If potential buyers are looking through our catalog and they have a question we’d love to give them more information,” said Art Walk Curator, Lisa Gelber. “We have a story behind every artwork and every artist, so we’re accessible all during the two weeks that the auction is live, either by phone or email.”

This year’s fundraiser is more important than ever given the increased significance of VFC’s free and accessible services during a devastating public health crisis. From expanding food distribution to providing mobile and onsite vaccinations to getting essential care to people experiencing homelessness, the Clinic has consistently stepped in where care was urgently needed.

Gelber said those looking to learn more about the event, the artwork, or the virtual art talks should visit venicefamilyclinic.org/veniceartwalk.

Clara@smdp.com