Art + Activism Online Classes

CREATING POSITIVE SOCIAL CHANGE PROJECTS

How do you take your current creative practice as a painter, photographer, sculptor, and turn it into something that can create positive social change? Through a series of inquiries, you will tap into a deeper sense of who you are and the resources you already have. In this two-hour interactive workshop, you will unravel the missing link between your medium and it becoming a community project. We will also review funding resources.
Let’s explore the missing pieces and how to turn your work into a community bridge-building project that can attract funding.

WHERE: ZOOM Meeting
WHEN: Thursday, April 16, 11 AM
REGISTER: Free, email Ruth at RuthChaseFineArt@ymail.com

FACEBOOK PAGE

REGISTER for Creating Positive Social Change Projects

If you have the means to pay for this class, thank you. You can choose as many increments of $5 as you wish. I will email you instructions for the class within 24 hours.

$10.00

“I attended Ruth’s workshop at the Business of Art. If only this class were longer, I could have spent all day working with Ruth”

Carol Turner
Artist | Community Activist


BIOGRAPHICAL PORTRAITURE
Creating narrative for art-making that is inspired through an interview.

Biographical Portraiture (BP) is the use of personal or collective biography to create an artwork. It can be literal or symbolic. Interviewing the subject is a tool used to gather content to depict a story, theme, commentary, or perspective. Research can be an alternative tool for gathering information other than an interview. While BP is often used to portray a single person, it can also illustrate themes and topics that reflect social issues. This class includes a followup phone call with Ruth.

BP is for artists working in any medium, looking for a new and inspiring way to create portraiture that incorporates storytelling. This class will provide useful tools that will push the traditional portrait and offer an exciting way of working that can be used for a single picture or for engaging the public on a broader scope. Best suited for artists who have a medium they’re already familiar with. The workshop that follows BP is Making Art in Service to Community, a workshop that dives deeper into the practices of working with others to create commentary.

BP is a two-part class. In this first class, we cover the basics of BP by practicing with someone you know first. In the second class, Making Art In Service To Community, we cover a more in-depth understanding of BP and working with the public.

Key skills you will learn

  • What is BP
  • The difference between Subject and Content
  • Working with real people in collaboration
  • How to conduct an interview that will provide content for your work
  • Using symbolism for storytelling

WHERE: Online at your convenience
WHEN: Wednesday, April 8, 11 AM followup ZOOM meeting optional
COST: BY DONATION ONLY

FACEBOOK PAGE

REGISTER for Online Class – Biographical Portraiture

This class includes a series of five videos that contain four lessons. Four PDF printouts, and a followup phone appointment with Ruth. PLEASE pay only what you can. Upon purchasing you will receive an email from Ruth with the link and password to begin.

$10.00

“Biographical Portraiture online class was an enriching experience for me as an artist and organizer, and also left me with excellent questions to explore in my own work. I found it added impeccable depth to the conversation of how to engage with telling other’s stories in a respectful, collaborative, and meaningful way. Ruth teaches with passion, expertise, inquiry, and honesty, all these traits combine fora compelling and invigorating experience any artist wanting to expand their work will appreciate.”

Mira Clark
Artist | Visibility Through Art Coordinator for CHIRP
existinspired.com

MORE CLASSES ON THE WAY

LA Weekly Review of West of Lincoln Project

An Artist Remembers Venice in the ’70s, When Growing Up Was an Act of Survival

Ruth Chase with two of her paintings at the opening of "West of Lincoln"

Ruth Chase with two of her paintings at the opening of “West of Lincoln”
Jennifer Swann

Eddie Hadvina points to the painting of himself as an 11-year-old Boy Scout. In it, he’s wearing an olive green cap and a red kerchief with his khaki uniform, a skateboard in one hand and a trophy in the other. On his left shoulder is a patch representing Venice’s Troop 34, which he joined at his mother’s insistence.

“That’s where all the trouble started,” says Hadvina, now 56 and sporting a gray goatee. “That’s where I met all my Venice Hoodlum friends,” he says, referring to a street gang that was active in the neighborhood in the 1970s.

Hadvina’s parents, both Hungarian immigrants, visited Venice on their honeymoon in 1960 — Hadvina says he was conceived during that trip — and decided to move there two years later. Hadvina discovered skateboarding when the sport was still brand-new and being pioneered in the neighborhood by people like Stacy Peralta, one of his peers. But Hadvina’s substance abuse problems weakened his chances of becoming a professional skateboarder.

“When I was a teenager I was really good at skateboarding and surfing,” he says. “But every time I showed up to skateboard, I’d never make it in [to the skate park] because they’d all be partying and I love partying.”

Hadvina, who on a recent Saturday wore a baseball cap and a T-shirt printed with images of the Venice Skate Park, is one of the subjects featured in artist Ruth Chase’s exhibition “West of Lincoln.” The show of a dozen paintings and accompanying audio portraits, which opened earlier this month and runs through Sept. 10 at the nonprofit Venice Arts gallery, seeks to tell the stories of people who grew up west of Lincoln Boulevard in the 1970s, when the neighborhood was better known for poverty, gang violence and a burgeoning youth skating culture than for billion-dollar tech companies, designer boutiques and trendy restaurants.

Like Hadvina, many others featured in Chase’s project experienced violence and addiction to drugs and alcohol from a young age. Some spent years trying to recover from habits they picked up on the streets of Venice. Nearly all recall a tough, eclectic neighborhood that felt nothing like the wealthy, sterilized enclave it is today.

“Most people either dealt with drive-by shootings — I got jumped — or knew somebody that died because of a gunshot or a knife, a stabbing,” says Chase, who grew up in the neighborhood in the ’70s and describes the culture as one of survival. “We always used to say, you go east of Lincoln to see green lawns and two parents.”

“You had to have a little bit of an edge or you’d get picked on,” says David Fowler, one of the people Chase featured in the show. “You had to hold your own, and people had to know that you were tough enough not to mess with.”

At the same time, Venice Beach was attracting free-spirited 20- and 30-somethings who moved there from across the country to live the so-called hippie lifestyle and find work on the boardwalk, with its tourist-friendly arcade games and cafes. “They experience Venice entirely different than a local does,” Chase says. “It was a weird contrast.”

Skateboarders David Fowler, left, and Eddie Hadvina

Skateboarders David Fowler, left, and Eddie Hadvina
Jennifer Swann

The first time Chase noticed Abbot Kinney becoming a destination was when Hal’s Bar and Grillopened on the block — then known simply as Washington Boulevard — when she was still a teenager. “We were on welfare. My mom, she didn’t read or write, she didn’t drive a car, and Hal’s moved in and it was like, ‘Wow, this is a cool fancy new place,’” Chase says. “I remember taking my mom there and realizing she couldn’t afford to eat there.”

Rhonda Lynn Wise, one of the subjects featured in the show, says it’s no wonder the area gentrified so quickly: It’s home to beachfront property. And yet, for years, she says, “West of Lincoln was a ghost town. That’s where the Latinos and the blacks and the surfers lived.”

Venice began to shed its ghost-town reputation in the 1990s, when developers swooped in aggressively. “Venice was the type of town where you passed your property down to your family,” Wise says. “When these developers came in, they put very large price tags on these homes. When someone offers you a million dollars for your home, you’re probably going to sell it.”

Rhonda Lynn Wise stands next to the painting inspired by her life.

Rhonda Lynn Wise stands next to the painting inspired by her life.
Jennifer Swann

Wise says her family never owned property, and she still marvels at the fact that her single mother was able to raise three kids in a three-bedroom apartment near the beach for about $300 a month. “It’s unheard of now,” she says.

Chase, who now lives in Northern California, came up with the idea for the “West of Lincoln” project during a visit to Abbot Kinney in 2014 — just a year before Hal’s was priced out of the block and was forced to relocate to Playa Vista. Chase found herself standing in the middle of the street, disoriented by what she was seeing: high-end shops and restaurants in every direction. When she returned home, she wanted to find other people who could relate to the quaint, scary, weird Venice of her childhood. She thought maybe they all shared similar experiences growing up, and she wondered how those experiences might have affected them as adults. She posted ads on Facebook and Craigslist seeking people willing to be interviewed and then painted. Getting them to trust her wasn’t easy.

“What I’d hear was, ‘Well, who the fuck are you?’” Chase says, imitating her critics. “‘What do you want? You’re just part of that motherfucking gentrification and you’re just gonna tell our stories and make money off it.’”

But word-of-mouth spread and Chase eventually found a group that agreed to participate, but only after she proved that she was one of them: a Venice native with no monetary incentive. It helped that she also guaranteed her subjects full creative input over the final result. Chase conducted interviews and then hired a writer, Gena Lasko — thanks to a grant from the Carl Jacobs Foundation — to condense them into short biographies.

Chase’s paintings are not intended as acts of realism but representations of each person’s upbringing and most transformational experiences. Hadvina, for example, is portrayed as a Boy Scout, but behind him is an adult silhouette referencing his present. The silhouette is painted to look like water, a nod to the empty swimming pools he got in trouble for skating in as a kid.

Chase’s painting of Fowler, a skateboarder who also struggled with drugs and alcohol, depicts him flying through the air on his board. On the bottom of his deck are the faces of his wife, children and parents. The visual is a metaphor for his support of his family through various health crises, including both his wife’s and his mother’s ovarian cancer diagnoses several years ago. Now a real estate agent in Venice, Fowler says he’s lucky to raise his kids in the same neighborhood where he and his wife both grew up, especially now that he can teach them not to repeat the same mistakes he made.

“Our kids go to the same elementary school we went to 40 years ago. It’s so amazing,” he says, “to be an example to them so they don’t have to suffer the way we did.”

After all these years, Hadvina and Fowler haven’t given up on their skater roots. They both ride for Santa Monica Airlines Skateboards and Hadvina still competes in competitions aimed at older skaters. Sober for more than two decades, it’s as if they’re getting to redo the childhoods they never had.

“We’re still doing airs out of pools,” Hadvina says. “We’re skating like kids.”

The closing reception for “West of Lincoln” is Sun., Sept. 10, 10 a.m.-noon, at Venice Arts, 13445 Beach Ave., Marina del Rey; (310) 392-0846, venicearts.org.