Artist Talk by RUTH CHASE

On Sunday, August 10th at 10:30, Ruth Chase will be giving a brief talk about how the West of Lincoln Project happened and how it was for her to use art for positive social change. Following, Ruth will be available for any questions about the project.

West Of Lincoln Project
Closing Reception: Sunday, September 10, 10am-12 pm
VENICE ARTS, 13445 Beach AVE, Marina del Rey, CA 90292

Open Reception at Venice Arts West of Lincoln Project .jpg

Venice Arts presents Painter Ruth Chase’s first solo exhibition, The West of Lincoln Project. Awarded a grant by the Carl Jacobs Foundation, the project traces the history of Venice through the life stories of people who grew up here, as told through large-scale paintings and audio interviews by Chase, and accompanying biographical texts written by Gena Lasko. The exhibition is a chance for Venetians—both longtime residents and newcomers—to reflect on the history of our unique community as told through personal stories.

The West of Lincoln Project

West of Lincoln Project Opening Reception Photos

On August 5th Venice Arts Gallery hosted the West of Lincoln Project to a crowd of somewhere between 300 – 400 guests. Denise Woods and Fernando Manzanilla couldn’t attend, their presence was very missed as both of them played an important roll in the project.

The exhibition will be available to view through September 10 with a Closing Reception on September 10, 10 -12.

Special thanks to Ray Rae and Venice Arts for the awesome photos, check out Ray Rae’s work at, and Venice Arts at



West of Lincoln Project



YoVenice – Venice History Though the People Raised Here

An interview with Mel of YoVenice

Venice girl forever. Artist Ruth Chase as a young woman. Courtesy: Ruth Chase.


Venice History Though the People Raised Here

by Melanie Camp.

For two years, Yo! Venice has followed Venice-raised artist Ruth Chase as she worked on a series of large scale paintings, recorded audio interviews, and collected the stories of those who have, and do call Venice home.

The West of Lincoln Project traces the history of Venice through the people who grew up in the neighborhood. This Saturday, August 5th, at Venice Arts, the Project opens. On the eve of her exhibition, Chase shares how she feels about the changes to the community and why she will always be a Venice woman.

How do you feel?

Other than excitement, I have a little fear, some anxiety mixed in with a deep sense of love and pride from Venice. It’s been a journey that I have not taken alone, up to 300 people have participated in this project along the way. I suppose that is what has kept me going. This project has held a lot of emotion that has collected along the way. I’m not so stressed about the opening, I know the opening will be off the hook, my anxiety is more about showing up as a whole person when I have played small most of my life. Some will dig the paintings, but I think what makes this event powerful is that it is real and from the heart, mixed in with memories about the Venice that most people will relate to or go away with a greater understanding for a city that has all eyes on it.

The stories of those who have, and do call Venice home. Courtesy: Ruth Chase.

What was it like hearing the Venice stories of so many people who grew up here?

It’s been life changing. I’m sure I have listened to well over a 100 Venice stories over the past two years. The other day I was editing the audio that goes with the West of Lincoln painting, and I couldn’t stop crying because everyone had this special bond with Venice, past, and present. It made me realize what a sense of belonging really is and that it doesn’t go away.  I heard once that you can’t know who you are until you know who you’ve been. Listening to the stories made me realize just how tough Venice was, not just for me, but for most people. People that grew up here tend to be authentic, outspoken, protective, passionate, and what you see is what you get kinda people.

Can you share an example of a particularly moving story you discovered?

Ohh that’s a tough one, they all moved me in one way, or another or I wouldn’t have been able to paint them. I think one that stands out for me is Gloria Olivas Omar because her insight was so unique. She titled her painting “Place of Strength” for a very moving reason. When I interviewed her, I knew she was completing treatment for stage four breast cancer. My first question was how Gloria was dealing with all of it. Her answer was that she held a vision of herself as a little girl. That her less than perfect childhood actually empowered her, that those years would serve her as an adult and fuel her inner strength. My take on it was that when children are hurt, they know only to look for love, that is their instinct, even in the worst of circumstances. As we worked on the painting over the three months, she impressed on me that it takes courage to love. If you have that, you win!

“Going through cancer was nothing compared to what I went through as a kid, but it has required the courage of that little girl from the beach. I never thought that the challenges in my childhood would be my source of strength, but it is. There is strength in innocence” – Gloria Olivas Omar

One other to choose from would be Ananda Jaynes photo submission for “West of Lincoln” painting. It’s an image of her holding her little brother Joe, walking down the boardwalk with their mom who would pass away from cervical cancer. Joe and Ananda wouldn’t see each other for over 30 years shortly after the picture was taken until Joe’s wife saw the image of the painting online and was able to contact Ananda. Now they are all meeting at the Opening for the first time in 30 years. That was awesome for me to be a small part of that.

Chase’s childhood home at 523 Rialto Ave in Venice. Courtesy: Ruth Chase.

You grew up in Venice. What were your thoughts on Venice before and then after working on the Project?

BEFORE: Growing up here I knew nothing else. The only thing that was clear in my head was that we were poor and that outside world looked down on where I lived and how we lived. It was us and them.

In 2014: I walked around Abbott Kinney Blvd., I felt sick to my stomach and confused. If I were visiting someone else’s home town, I would love all the fancy shops, the good hipster food, but not when it was in my Venice. It felt like I had landed in another time and I couldn’t identify anything I knew about “home” or as a place that I had ever been before. I felt very displaced. Where the fuck was I?

AFTER THE PROJECT: I can see now that I used this project to work out the multi layered relationship I had with Venice then and now. Now I see Venice as an energy; it’s alive, it’s ever changing, and it has people who live there that really, really care about it. My hope is that others will understand Venice better through these stories. That as Venice moves forward there could be an understanding of the energy that Venice has, and has always had, and to respect it and work with it, on both sides of the dollar.

Chase in the 80’s on the roof of her home on Rialto Ave. Courtesy: Ruth Chase.

Has the Project changed the way you think about Venice? If yes, how?

YES, BIG TIME. Now I understand why there is so much local pride and protectiveness about the outside world moving in. No different than any other small town, except Venice people have an edge. People think of Venice as LA but really it’s been a small town for a long time, many of it’s older residents staying primarily within its borders. Since this project, I can FEEL Venice, not just as a place or concept in my head, but as a living breathing place with energy that has a current running through it. I will never see Venice the way I did before because I know that the culture here is built on a vibe that shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Venice by Ric Clayton.

What was the biggest thing you discovered working on the West of Lincoln Project?

Two things, one is that streets smarts have value and while street life is often romanticized by the mainstream. These life lessons are valuable to our culture, and for anyone who LOVES Venice, they could learn why and how Venice got to be the way that it is. If people want to keep Venice alive and real, they may want to understand the people who have lived here for awhile.

And secondly, I took much of my childhood that wasn’t great and was able to find value in the pain and suffering, which will forever change me moving forward. I no longer look back on my life and see it with judgment or ignore the dark days, but rather use my past to empower me.

Chase’s Self Portrait ‘You’re Stronger Than You Think’. Courtesy: Ruth Chase.

Will you always be a Venice girl?

YES, anyone who grew up in Venice feels this way. When people ask me where I’m from I say, I live in Nevada City, but I’m from Venice. Venice is my emotional birth home; no other place can replace that. There is a quality inside me that makes me feel different from other people when I am away from Venice, when I’m with Venice sisters and brothers, I feel something that is the same.

The West of Lincoln Project exhibition is at the new Venice Arts gallery space, east of Lincoln, at 13445 Beach Avenue. Join the opening reception on Saturday, August 5th from 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm. The exhibition runs until September 1st. 

Chase in her studio with her dog. Courtesy: Ruth Chase.


“West of Lincoln” Painting with Help From Many PARTICIPANTS


“West of Lincoln”

by RUTH CHASE with help from many PARTICIPANTS

The “West Of Lincoln” painting is a collage of personal stories of people from all over the world, and across many decades. Every participant submitted an image and recorded an audio clip about their experiences and memories of Venice CA.

PARTICIPANTS in “West of Lincoln” painting:

Ric Clayton, Jenny Moore-Prather, Anna M. McGuirk, Ananda Jaynes with Mom and Joseph Anson, Noah Pachnowski, Dylan Pachnowski, Jon Reneau, Mark Rosenberg for Cheapskates, Doug Mug Swanson, Hassan DeSalles with Jason Sugars, Michael Cramer, Monica Leyba, Joey Leyba, Salvador Gonzales, Shannon Robinson LeFort for Bob Dean Robinson, Xavier Rimmington, Campbell Rimmington, Christina Brunk Stroh for J.Kevin Brunk, Bingwa, Stacy McDannold, Bernardo Charca, Jeff Cody Morris, Colleen Graham, Dale Henderson, Jim Fallon with Brady Dalton, Melanie Camp & Tricka, Luciano Mota, Carolyn Rios, Roxanne Rossi Kovak, Tamira L. James, Beth Allyn/MsVenice, Kristina Peterson, Renee Smith, Mona Perez Freedman, Carrie Hayrup for Eugene Tarango, Laura Ceballos, Richard (Dopey) Cortez with Robert (Trippy) Ayres, Francisco Letelier, Kori Cody Worman for George Del Rio, Miguel Bravo, Joann Goodwin, Sybil Roberson, Denise Woods and Gena Lasko.

BIG THANKS to David Scott, Mathew Martin, Care Burns, and Steven Luciano for use of their photos.


W e s t  of  L i n c o l n  Project


August 5 – September 1

Opening Reception | Saturday, August 5, 4 – 8pm
13445 Beach Ave., Venice Marina, CA

Growing Up In V E N I C E by Ray Ramos

Submitted for the Venice Tribute Wall by Ray Ramos

Ray Ramos

When I think of Venice; I think of my Grandma Jessie and my Grandpa Eddie. The Martinez’s arrived in Venice in 1937, from San Pedro. First residing on Trolley Way (now Pacific Ave.), then on Linnie Canal (the house long gone) until moving finally to Penmar Ave. in the mid sixties. They were hard working, simple folk. My Grandma Jessie was a soft spoken Christian woman (The Church of the Nazarene.) She always seemed to be cooking (homemade tortillas every morning) or sewing something wonderful… (how many people in Venice own a sewing machine these days?) My Grandpa Eddie was a big, rough and tumble guy, with hands the size of baseball gloves. He and his brothers had their own refuse service, that took care of the Venice area. This was way before Los Angeles had a city sanitation department.  My Grandpa Eddie was probably. the most influential man in my life. He was one of those guys, who could do, or fix anything. He enjoyed photography, and even had his own darkroom in the garage (No doubt, he developed the negative for the this accompanying photo.)  He would take the time brew and bottle his own beer (even root beer for me  and my brothers… even though it was pretty damn strong stuff. Some of my most cherished memories, are just spending time with him, watching television together; anything to The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet and The Rifleman to Let’s Make a Deal and The Match Game. He really enjoyed television, he would watch it, with his long left leg slung over the arm of his wooden ranch style chair (which I still have.) My grand parents passed in the early 90’s. They weren’t in Venice from the beginning; but they were part of the Venice community for a long, long. long time. To me, that’s when Venice was cool. I still miss them… they were my favorite part of growing up in Venice.

Ray Ramos ~ Venice, CA


W e s t  of  L i n c o l n  Project


August 5 – September 1

Opening Reception | Saturday, August 5, 4 – 8pm
13445 Beach Ave., Venice Marina, CA

Ghost Writer for West of Lincoln Project

Gena Lasko

‘Ghost’ writer for the West of Lincoln Project 

Gena pic cropped

I grew mostly in Davis with weekends in Carmichael, California, jumping horses and singing in Madrigals. I am also the niece of the beloved retired Franklin School (Santa Monica) teacher Dorothy Thatcher, and have been coming down to visit her at her South Side Santa Monica beach house my entire life.

I moved to Santa Monica almost immediately after high school. Finding that I generally didn’t fit in at UCLA where I attended college, I spent most of my time at the beaches of Santa Monica and Venice. After college that included a brief stint in Lake Tahoe to study music, I abandoned a future in Sociology and carried a very large backpack around the world for most of a year.

Returning with a new direction, I returned to the beach and studied sound engineering. Not successful at job hunting, I moved back north, did a bit of singing, and went back to school studying photography, ceramics and biology. I finally got a ‘real’ job with Fish and Game when I was about 42, and finished a Master’s degree in fish biology.

Currently I live at the base of the hills of the Sierras so I can catch those powdery turns at Squaw Valley, and still work for Fish and Game (now the Department of Fish and Wildlife). I have an amazing teenage daughter and I still don’t totally fit in, so head home to Dogtown to visit Dorothy and my amazing group of beach friends whenever I can. Ruth moved up this way and we have become great friends. I found her project so salient and near to my heart that I asked to be a part of it.

I am incredibly grateful for Gena who has given much of her time for free to accomplish the undertaking of going through many hours of audio recordings to get the biographies completed as well as edit countless material needed for this project – R


Reception, Saturday, August 5, 4 – 8 pm @ Venice Arts
13445 Beach Avenue • Venice, California 90292
Tel 310.392.0846

The West of Lincoln Project is an exhibition of biographical paintings, audio interviews, written biographies, and a tribute wall as part of an examination of Venice, CA through the eyes of people have a connection with this city.  Born and raised in Venice herself, Ruth presents an authentic and intimate view of the Venice community.

Growing Up in V E N I C E by Ananda Jaynes

My name is Ananda Jaynes, the image I submitted is of myself, my mother and my half-brother walking down the boardwalk, taken about 5 years before my mother passed away of cervical cancer.

Ananda Jaynes copy

I was given the honor of scattering both my mothers and my brother’s ashes down at the breakwater. My brother Dylan (right) died when he was 13 by drowning while he was body surfing. He was high on angel dust and was missing for over a week, before he’s body washed up at Bay St. In Santa Monica. My mother never fully CDAA1252-0EBB-4715-8F63-768C943C2026recovered from having a child that died before she did. This is a special memory to me because it is a picture of my mother and myself (left) while my mother was still healthy, from a time when I remember Venice as it was. My mother always said that once you live in Venice you will always return because its inside of your heart. Today, no matter where I travel or live, Venice does remain in my heart and my true home.

Black and white image was the last image of  Dylan taken by David Scott



W e s t  of  L i n c o l n  Project


August 5 – September 1

Opening Reception | Saturday, August 5, 4 – 8pm
13445 Beach Ave., Venice Marina, CA



Growing Up In V E N I C E by Rhonda Lynn Wise

17796533_1316997978380894_6437867995413378292_nMy grandmother introduced the whole family to Venice when she moved there in 1967. To her it was an oasis of friendships, cool breezes, corner markets and starting a new life.  Winifred Pierson AKA Winnie was the rock of our family. I really looked up to her because she just seemed to have it all together. She knew how to get things done, she knew how to talk to people, she knew how to relate to people and she knew how to care about people. That’s what really mattered in Venice, that we all cared about each other. I was too young to understand the circumstances as to why my grandparents weren’t together anymore but I really enjoyed visiting my grandmother in Venice. It was a hop skip and a jump to the beach, to the white sand and brisk ocean. We would picnic on the beach and stay out all day. It was just like being on vacation all the time.

by Rhonda Lynn Wise

Rhonda is one of the 11 featured people who grew up in Venice from the West of Lincoln Project.  Click here to view Rhonda’s portrait. Please join us for the Opening Reception to read Rhonda’s biography, meet her in person, and view the painting inspired by her life growing up in Venice.

August 5 – September 1
Opening Reception | Saturday, August 5, 4 – 8pm | 
Venice Arts
Click here to learn more or be sent a postcard invitation >




Growing Up In V E N I C E by Colleen Graham

Mom and dad separated so we came to live with Kay, who lived on the Venice canals. We got two afghan hounds, this one is named Youtoo and the other named Metoo. Mom and I would show the dogs in the AKC dog shows. Here, I am about 14 yrs old at the Venice pavilion in 1960 taking Youtoo for a walk. Afghans are difficult dogs to train, but I loved this dog, this was such a fun time for me. At this time Venice was an easy and fun place to live, the boardwalk was a busy and safe place to hang out at night. I had never known about Venice until we came to live here. I went to Mark Twain jr. high, then Venice high. Colleen Gidley at the time of this photo. I went on to raise my two children in a tiny bungalow on Grand Blvd, both of my kids, Terry and Monique graduated from Venice High.


Colleen Graham 1960s Venice Pavilion  Colleen Graham Gidley The West of Lincoln Project  copy.jpg


W e s t  of  L i n c o l n  Project


August 5 – September 1

Opening Reception | Saturday, August 5, 4 – 8pm
13445 Beach Ave., Venice Marina, CA