Mostly Venice, 1974 – SPARC

Whew! I could just about write a book about this photo and the memories it triggers.

Old Venice City Jail, 1974 (© lawrence hathaway photography)

This is the old Venice City Police Station and Jail, located at — I won’t forget this address — 685 Venice Boulevard. I don’t recall the first time I ever saw it, but by the time I had taken this photo it had been vacated by the City of Los Angeles, and was mostly being, and continued to be, rented out for film productions (it even shows up in the Woody Allen movie, Annie Hall). Here as the “Dull City Jail” it was apparently decked out with temporary, fictitious signage for one such instance.

A couple of years after I made the above photo, the place was acquired by three artists and filmmakers (JudyDonna and Christina) who founded SPARC in that place.

SPARC — the Social and Public Art Resource Center — was soon to become my workplace, even my live-in studio residence for a time, and would be the venue for some utterly remarkable adventures and acquaintances (not the least of whom were the co-founders, particularly the amazing Judy Baca with whom I worked closely and often as her administrative “right-hand man” and advisor) over a good number of years. Don’t even ask, don’t get me started on stories of feminist politics, art world machinations, city government escapades, legal and extra-legal exploits, art projects undertaken against all odds and much, much more that arose from those experiences.

Here’s a link to SPARC’s website. And here’s a February 2016 Google Street View image of the SPARC site.

And, finally, the SPARC building as shown in “Annie Hall”: