By Greta Cobar
As we continue to come together as a community to fight yet another major wave of gentrification (there have been others in the past 65 years or so), it is now worth remembering the snowball that started it all by ripping the heart out of Venice and taking away our Story of Venice mural.
Our historic post office was the heart of Venice, as all roads lead to it much like all arteries lead to the heart. The beautiful and well-preserved Story of Venice mural by Edward Biberman, which had been housed in our historic post office since 1941, was leased by the United States Postal Service to Joel Silver, the new owner of the building, at no cost.
Silver’s move to Venice and his open disregard to the community’s concerns, such as access to the Story of Venice mural, paved the way for other like-minded individuals to move in with similar attitudes.
While we continue our fights to both take back the heart of our community, our historic post office (we have an ongoing case in the 9th Circuit Court in Washington, D.C.) and to re-gain public access to our Story of Venice mural, our beloved mural will be shipped to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) for an exhibit on Venice featuring the art of Biberman.
We’re all for sharing – after all, we fought permit parking in Venice three times to ensure the public’s access to the beach. And as much as we are open to sharing the Story of Venice mural with everyone from far and wide, the Story of Venice belongs in Venice, and nobody should have to go to mid-city Los Angeles to see it.
Biberman’s Story of Venice mural will be available for public viewing at LACMA for the first time since the closure of our post office two years ago. It will be the main attraction of the Edward Biberman, Abbot Kinney and the Story of Venice exhibit taking place May 18 to November 16. It should not be an attraction traveling across town, but instead be allowed to continue to be a part of our community and our history, as it has been over the last 75 years. And while LACMA charges a $15 admission fee, everyone could see the Story of Venice mural for free before our historic post office was closed.
Silver spent $100,000 on cleaning the Story of Venice mural, but according to Suzanne Zada, Executive Director of the Biberman estate, “There was nothing wrong with it – it didn’t need any cleaning.” On a more positive note, SPARC will be partnering with LACMA to present Lost Horizons: Mural Dreams of Edward Biberman. The exhibit will display Biberman’s unrealized mural sketches and several other works. They will be on loan from Suzanne Zada. Opening for the show will be Saturday, May 31, 5-9pm, and it will continue through July 31. SPARC exhibition hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 11am-5pm.
It would have been even better if the Story of Venice mural were exhibited in the show at SPARC and then moved to the Abbot Kinney Venice library for public viewing until we get our historic post office back.
Above: Section of “Story of Venice” mural by Edward Biberman