The soul of the Venice Art Walk is, of course, the afternoon art-walking between and among the famous open studios of Venice Beach's talented and diverse artists — especially in the rough triangle around Abbot Kinney between Lincoln, Venice, and the beach. But in each of the 34 years since this legendary event launched, it's grown in both vision and geography. Not like getting access to the variety of rooms where the magic happens, plus the voyeuristic pleasure of peeks into more private quarters of some of the city's best known artists, isn't its own reward. The silent auction at Google Los Angeles is also a highlight every year, since it's free to peruse and frequently includes surprise big-name gems. But the addition of special events, receptions, exhibitions, and home tours on both the day of the Art Walk and the Saturday before have turned the whole weekend into a destination. Just one example is this year's private tour of the astonishingly gorgeous home and studio of painter Huguette Caland — the modern-Mediterranean palace she designed and filled with artifacts and art by herself and her international crew (Ruscha, Moses, etc) — which epitomizes the bohemian-luxury spirit of the occasion. Expect festivities to be turned up a notch this year too thanks to the participation of Google, who just moved their L.A. HQ into the beloved Frank Gehry/Claes Oldenburg Binoculars building on Main Street. Check the website for a full rundown of events, ticketing, and free parties. Registration and HQ at the Google Los Angeles, 340 Main St., Venice. Sat., May 19, noon-8 p.;m.; Sun., May 20, 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; $50 & up.

Sat., May 19, 12-8 p.m.; Sun., May 20, 11 a.m.-7:30 p.m., 2012

LA Weekly