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2007 – Judy Stabile: Long Time Venice Art Walk Artist


Have you ever heard the expression “What´s in a name?” Judy Stabile lives up to hers! “Stabile” is a term coined for Alexander Calder´s huge sculptures that have fixed units and remain stable.

Judy moved to Venice in 1973 when abandoned store fronts on Abbot Kinney Blvd. (then W. Washington Blvd.) were plentiful and has worked/lived in the same space since then. You´d never know she was there if you were just walking down the street and that´s on purpose.

In the 70s, artists came to Venice because rents were cheap and the light was good. Judy remembers how the artists would move in and improve their building to make a livable space. “There was nothing here,” she says. “I had only a hotplate and a mattress.”

The front windows remain frosted after all this time. “We didn´t necessarily want people knowing where we lived,” she says. “It wasn´t a gallery. The artists lived in the studio and painted. You wanted your privacy so you could paint.”

A graduate of Chouinard Art Institute, Judy remembers fellow Venice artists – Chuck Arnoldi, Laddie Dill, Guy Dill – as classmates and with whom she still maintains a friendship. This is where she was introduced to the light and space movement and started working on glass, which continues to be the backbone of her art. An early influence also was good friend and artist Larry Bell who, too, worked in glass.

Again, stability plays a part in Judy´s life as an artist. Her shapes – cone, cylinder, oval – relate to nature. It´s in this geometric interplay that references a state of balance, or equilibrium, which is inherent in nature and her work.

Judy is a master of shadow – creating a three-dimensional image on a two-dimensional plane. In her cylinder paintings everything works around red and then one-color leads to another. “Each color dictates where the painting is going next,” she says. In addition to using a wide palette of acrylic and spray paint to produce distinctive and deeply hued colors, she does a series using gold, silver and copper leaf because they are natural elements and luminous.

Part of the Art Walk since the early 80s, Judy calls it a symbiotic relationship between the artists and the Venice Family Clinic. “It´s a great way to make a contribution to the community,” she says. “In the 70s and 80s this area was about artists and people would come on the Art Walk because it was the only way to have access to artists´ studios. So, the Venice Family Clinic, realizing that this whole area of Venice had all these artists hidden away in all these spaces – Jim Ganzer, Peter Alexander, Eric Orr, Chuck Arnoldi, Laddie Dill, Guy Dill – everybody was here – in those days it really was an art walk. Then things changed. Now it´s more of an art walk in the sense that you´re going to see art collections in people´s homes in the area – the architecture of the area in addition to seeing artists´ studios.”

One of Judy´s favorite memories from the 80s was Robert´s restaurant on Ocean Front Walk. It was run by Hal Fredericks, now of Hal´s Bar and Grill on Abbot Kinney Blvd. “It was fabulous,” she says. “There was nothing like it in the city. All the artists went to Robert´s.”

There are other memories – not so good. “You can´t do an article about Venice in the 70s and 80s without talking about the violence,” she says. “I´d be in bed and there would be shot gun holes in the windows. I had a dead body on my front door step one night when I came home at eleven o´clock. I had to step over his body to get inside. He laid there until three o´clock because it took that long for the coroner to get here because there were so many killings in the area.”

The parking problems that we know today were not always an issue. Judy says she paid thousands of dollars in tickets on Abbot Kinney before making room for her car in the alley. “In the 70s, you didn´t have to worry about finding a space on the street,” she says. “But, now…”

Close to her home, the streetscape of Abbot Kinney has changed so much in the last number of years. “I´m living proof,” she says. “Every day I open my door and there´s something new going on. At one point there was a building going up to the left and one to the right and a building in the back. I´ve been surrounded by this.”

Although Judy has found a sense of stability in her life, she is aware that change is inevitable. There is a note over her desk that quotes Charles Darwin – “It´s not the strongest of the species that survive, but the most responsive to change.”

The Venice Family Clinic is the largest free clinic in the United States. Although it provides care to many uninsured, low income and homeless patients, the need continues to outweigh the resources available. Every third person in Los Angeles has no health care coverage and it looks like the situation will not improve any time soon.

May 20th is the Art Walk. This is when studios and homes of selected Venice artists are open to the public. This is our chance to see the creative spaces behind those nondescript high walls and fences. Discover the treasures we have in Venice. There will also be special exhibits, a children’s center, food faire, shopping place, music and more.

We can do our part by supporting the Venice Family Clinic´s wonderful endeavors and have fun and an educational experience at the same time. For more information call 310-392-9255 or go to