Sometimes, an idea just fits a neighborhood perfectly. If you were going to open a rare vintage clothing store, for example, you'd definitely want it on Melrose, and if you were looking for a place to sell eco-friendly upscale children's clothing, you wouldn't think twice before settling in Santa Monica. By that token, if you're a purveyor of low-calorie mixers looking to set up a funky, casual house/working art studio where guests can relax, enjoy health-conscious cocktails, mingle with artists and shop for unique art pieces, there's hardly a better place on Earth to set up shop than right off of Abbot Kinney in Venice. Luckily, that's exactly what Refine did, and the result is San Juan Ave's The Refine House, a spot we'd imagine we're going to see a lot more of in the coming months.
The opening night of The Refine House showcased the artwork of Kelcey Fisher, a local painter and photographer whose work lies somewhere between street art and studio art, featuring bold colors, re-purposed iconic imagery, and dynamic texturing. Artwork including canvas paintings re-imagining portraits of icons like Bob Marley and Steve Jobs, and even two painted bicycles were all on display through the first and second levels of the house, with guests welcome to take home a favorite piece– for the right price, of course. Totally on the house were the Refine lo-calorie grapefruit margaritas and watermelon mojitos.
One very special guest who made his way to the party was "cosmic" artist Jack Armstrong, a radical painter and personality who Andy Warhol once referred to as "the last wizard," and who has, in turn, referred to himself as the most famous artist on the planet. While I would imagine that's an open conversation, Armstrong's showmanship and energy are boundless, and whether or not you think he's the heir to Warhol's legacy, his electric personality had the house buzzing with excitement. And lest you think we're not respecting his actual output, check out this very cool, one-of-a-kind custom motorcycle he did in partnership with Harley Davidson, a project from which you could draw a very clear line to Fisher's equally delightful painted bicycles.
Cocktails, music and art go together anywhere in the world, but in Venice, they take on an even greater level of perfection. Here's to Refine for picking the perfect spot for The Refine House, and here's to everyone involved for ensuring that our days and nights by the water will be full of delicious drinks and beautiful art for a long time to come.
Wednesday, May 22
We sat down with Anne Pasternak for a few questions about Creative Time's past and future, as well as the importance of having an awareness about public art in the city.