If you’ve cruised the Venice boardwalk or bike path any time in the last 18 years, you’ve seen a vectored, angular steel sculpture by Mark di Suvero, planted in a grassy hillock like a sword, facing the ocean like the nautical sextant it evokes. It has mystery and swagger, and it strikes a surreal and monumental presence against the sweep of the western horizon.
In 2001, Mark di Suvero installed “Declaration” in honor of the Venice Art Walk’s 22nd edition, and its support of Venice Family Clinic’s community-based healthcare mission. Now “Declaration” is setting sail for a more permanent home elsewhere, and will soon be deinstalled — but not before nearby gallery L.A. Louver hosts its farewell party this Wednesday evening.
“At the time of installation, the work was was intended to be on view for six months. Nearly two decades later, we didn’t foresee how important this piece would become to the Venice community,” L.A. Louver owner Peter Goulds tells the Weekly. “Yet with its steel beams, its gesture of welcoming with arms outstretched to the city, rather than the ocean, it became a focal point and a natural monument, where we held a remembrance service for the victims of 9/11 in December 2001. Since then, it has been an icon of the Venice beachfront.”
Wednesday’s Summer Celebration notably coincides with the gallery’s current exhibition of sculptures and paintings by di Suvero, which closes on Saturday, June 8. Although di Suvero is known for large-scale public sculptures on the order of “Declaration,” as the gallery exhibition demonstrates, the artist is equally adept at smaller (aka indoor) sculptures, which are often kinetic when hand-nudged, as well as vibrant and expressive paintings, many of which glow under blacklight (which the gallery has helpfully installed for your slightly trippier pleasure).
“Declaration was installed eighteen years ago in 2001 with the community in mind,” says Goulds. “Back then, the Venice Art Walk that benefits the Venice Family Clinic was in its 22nd year, and the artwork was erected as part of L.A. Louver and Mark di Suvero’s participation in this event. The installation was a massive production with heavy cranes and machinery hoisting the steel beams, with Mark on-site directing the entire installation, fastening large metal pieces together in a cherry picker.
“Once we understood how integral this piece is to the community,” Goulds continues,” we worked at length with local officials to make it a permanent fixture. Despite our best efforts, we’ve been unable to secure any serious commitments from the city towards keeping the artwork in its current location. As a result, the work will unfortunately be relocated to the artist’s studio in Northern California later this year. The artwork was erected for public view, and our hope is that it will continue to remain so.”
“The heart of art is the search for form that is electrifying, that gives life to our vision,” explains di Suvero via the gallery. “This is the language of emotion…Aesthetic is feeling. The thing that is most important is the dream, the vision for what doesn’t exist that could exist.” Or in this case, something that has existed and will soon depart with the late-Spring fog. Come say farewell.
L.A. Louver, 45 N. Venice Blvd., Venice; Wed., June 5, 6-8 p.m.; lalouver.com; free.