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Venice Beach: Where Normal Takes a Day Off…Even for the Police

Monday, November 26, 2012

Venice BeachCalifornia is known for being a little…you know… “off.”  From the strange to the absurd, you can always find a little bit of everything in the sunshine state.  One of the epicenter’s of the state’s strangeness is located on the sandy beaches of Southern California along the Venice Beach Boardwalk.  With over 16 million visitors a year, this strange and entertaining boardwalk is one of a kind with its muscle bound weightlifters, roller skating guitar players and oddly talented street performers.  It is a bucket list type of place for tourists all over the world. 

Another aspect of Venice Beach is the uniqueness of its outdoor marketplace of vendors.  From sunglasses to henna tattoos to spray painted artwork, some of the most creative and interesting products are available.  In fact, one of the strangest evolutions of this already strange place is the new role that has been placed on the police that patrol the boardwalk.  This new role is that of art critic.  Yep we said art critic.  It is not something that police train for or are even qualified to necessarily do but in Venice Beach, that isn’t a requirement.  Venice police officers now have the job description of keeping and maintaining the peace and also keeping and maintaining the artwork.  They are being asked to ensure that the art being peddled on the boardwalk is actually artwork.  According to a new ordinance passed by the Los Angeles City Council, the only people allowed to engage in commercial activity on the boardwalk are “local artists.”  Violators of the ordinance are subject to fines and potentially jail if they are repeat offenders.  So artists beware, practice your sales pitch and your brushstrokes, because if it’s not art, you can’t sell it in Venice and if you try, there is a good chance you might be looking for a bail bond agent sometime soon.  We aren’t sure if this is the best use of our police force in today’s overburdened criminal justice system, but then again, what do we know?

Check out the original article below.  It is an interesting story about a specific police officer who now spends his time giving street vendors creative guidance and advice and making determinations around whether or not something is actually "art" and whether vendors are violating the new ordinance.

Original article:  Is It Art? On Venice Beach, Police Can Make the Call