Archive for the ‘Art & Culture’ Category

Enjoy South Robertson

Ivan Gallery. Art by Barbara Mendes

Sunday June 4, I walked 3 blocks from my home to South Robertson to experience the SORO Fest, a joyous community event in its 20th year, when this usually busy street between Cadillac and Cattaraugus is closed to traffic and SORO residents enjoy walking to the many restaurants and shops in our neighborhood.

I greeted my friends, at the booths for RVNA, SORONC, Hami Garden, and said hello to Barbara Mendes, who was teaching kids how to do chalk drawing on the sidewalk in from of Ivan Gallery.

Fred’s Bakery-Avi Kadmon.

I spoke with Avi, who bought Fred’s Bakery two years ago and recently completed a thorough remodel. This neighborhood favorite was opened in 1949 by Fred and Harriet; when Fred passed away in 1992, his children (Bob, Steve and Cecilia) ran it for 12 year, then sold it in 2005 when Cecilia (Cissy Klein) moved to Las Vegas.

Wonders Kids World. Julia, Natalie

I looked into the window of Wonders Kids World. They were closed today, but a couple of weeks ago I had met with Natalie, from Paris, France and Julia, from Yucatan, Mexico. They are devoted to teaching pre-school children French and Spanish in a fun way, through music and games.

Barbara Mendes painting Angel Wall. July 2012

You don’t have to wait another year to enjoy South Robertson, now dubbed the Great Emerald Blvd. These businesses are open most days of the week. Go have breakfast at Undergrind Cafe, lunch at Dolce Isola, dessert at Monaco Gelato, take home tasty Argentinian Empanadas or a heavenly green chile burrito from Campos. Check out the many programs the Relational Center has to offer. Enjoy art at the Ivan Gallery, decorated with the colorful and intricate murals painted by Barbara Mendes through the years. Explore all the places that she included in the map below.

For a list of our favorites click on the Robertson page of the RVNA website.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Romantic Bookstore

It was only a few days ago, while reading an article in Los Angeles Magazine about the 14 Best Mom and Pop bookstores in L.A., that I discovered The Ripped Bodice, A Romantic Bookstore, in downtown Culver City.  It opened March 4, 2016, after a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $90,000.  It’s the dream project of two sisters, Bea, 27, and Leah, 25, smart and accomplished young women. Leah graduated from USC in Visual and Performing Arts, Bea studied Fashion History at NYU, her master thesis was titled “Mending the Ripped Bodice.”

Bea, photo (c) Elisa Leonelli

Bea (c) Elisa Leonelli

I was so intrigued that I immediately contacted the sisters. Bea graciously received me and answered my questions. “Bodice Rippers” is a term used for erotic romance novels of the 1970s and 80s. Bea said they wanted to poke fun at that popular perception, and immediately communicate to their fans, “This store is for you.” “Sex is not something that we should be ashamed or embarrassed about, we all come from sex. It’s completely insane to me the way sex is discussed in this country, and all these issues that women are facing right now.  We’ve reverted into this dark age.”
Their store carries all sub-genres in the romance novels category, from paranormal to LGBTQ, and they host community events. “Thursday December 15, 8pm, is our monthly romantic comedy night, and this month we are collecting travel size toiletries to donate to women shelters in Los Angeles.”

The Ripped Bodice (c) Elisa Leonelli

The Ripped Bodice (c) Elisa Leonelli

The store is huge and bright, decorated like a comfortable home, with armchairs and couches for reading, books are piled up everywhere. Get over there, it’s well worth a visit.

The Ripped Bodice: 424-603 4776
3806 Main St. Culver City, CA 90232

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Culver City summer

Kirk Douglas Theatre (c) Elisa Leonelli

Kirk Douglas Theatre (c) Elisa Leonelli

Yesterday I checked out the Summertini event in Culver City. I discovered that the name means small tastings of martinis, vodka mixed with different fruit juices.  They were served in tiny (tini) plastic cups, not only at restaurants, but also at art galleries (The Whole 9) and a gift shop (Lundeen).  My favorite place turned out to be Grilliant, because they offered me a full size Winetini in a real glass.  The best location was the Kirk Douglas Theater lobby, where tea, not alcohol, was available and a platter of assorted cheeses and fruit.  I had seen an amusing play there in April, Women Laughing Alone with Salad, and I loved the atmosphere.  They had a backdrop set up where photographs of audience members were taken holding fake salad bowls in front of virtual scenery. Very cool. Take a look at their fall/winter season.
The Third Wednesday event for August 17 is called Tropical Staycation.  It’s the 5th annual Spiked Tropical Punch Tasting, so check it out.
Free summer concerts have been taking place for years in the courtyard at City Hall. Tonight July 21 it’s Latin Salsa dancing rhythms.  See program for the upcoming Thursdays: July 28, August 4 and 11.  Our favorite way to enjoy these evenings is to sit at Hikari across the street and listen to the music, while eating sushi and drinking sake.

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Culver City Hall (c) Elisa Leonelli

Culver City Hall (c) Elisa Leonelli

Arcana-Helms Bakery

Aline Smithson

Last Saturday afternoon I attended an event at the Arcana bookstore in the Helms Bakery District. I was intrigued by the photographer, Aline Smithson, who was signing her new book, Self & Others: Portrait as Autobiography. My curiosity was rewarded, because Aline turned out to be an interesting woman, and her book is amazing.
“Beginning with her earliest black and white silver gelatin prints, she photographs the world around her considering the poignancy of childhood and the pathos of aging and relationships. The photographer considers all her portraits a reflection of herself and the stories she wants to tell, and in that way, has created a visual language that is her own unique autobiography.”

Helms Bakery, murals

Helms Bakery, murals

I then walked around and discovered something I had not noticed before, murals reproducing old photographs of the bread delivery trucks, on the wall by the valet parking. And that the furniture store Plummers is now called Scandinavian Designs.

Click on our previous post about the Helms Bakery and go there to explore yourselves, then please comment on your favorite places.

Text  and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Helms Bakery

The Helms Bakery District

The Helms Bakery District (Photo: © 2015 Joe Martinez- All Rights Reserved.)

Living so close to Culver city, it seems a shame not to take advantage of some of the areas that practically border our neighborhood. One area that I like to frequent, and is well within walking distance, is The Helm’s Bakery District just south of Venice Blvd.

Once upon a time, it was an actual bakery. The family owned and operated Helms Bakery supplied local residents with its fresh-baked bread for over four decades. Now it is a local landmark and home to a variety of restaurants and businesses. From Father’s Office Gastro Pub, with its 36 beers on tap, to LA Dijonaise Cafe’, with it’s offerings of fresh baguettes, croissants and desserts…there is something here for everyone.

After a bite to eat, I like to make my way over to Arcana Bookstore, one of the world’s premier visual arts bookstores. It is unique in that its primary focus is Photography, Art, Fashion, Design, Architecture, Cinema and Music. It’s been in business since 1984. Originally in Santa Monica, it moved here in 2012.

Or perhaps you need to freshen up your decor? You can head-on over to a number of establishments that cater to home decor furnishings like HD Buttercup or Room & Board.

In any case, it is a nice way to spend an afternoon browsing or shopping…and it’s “right next door.”

Oh and be sure to catch the 6th annual free Helms Sunset Cinema series returning to Helms Walk – the pedestrian plaza on Helms Avenue. The Outdoor film screenings kick-off on September 5 with the Disney animated film “The Princess and the Frog”

For more info, check out the Helms Bakery Website.

Helms Bakery District
8800 Venice Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90034 *

* In a strange zoning configuration, part of Helms Bakery District is in Los Angeles and part in Culver City

– Joseph Martinez

Wilde Thistle

Wilde ThistleWilde Thistle












This Sunday afternoon we visited a lovely Irish-Scottish Cafe and Pub (for Artists, Writers, Thinkers & Lovers), at the corner of Motor and Palms, named after Oscar Wilde, the national poet of Ireland, and the Thistle, the national flower of Scotland.  Inside we found the most pleasant atmosphere (they also have an outdoor table), with a trio of musicians playing Irish music (two women on the fiddle, a man alternating between a flute and a concertina). Behind the bar a small TV was playing the FIFA World Cup football game between US and Japan.
It’s a family place run by Caite Wallace, daughter Ciara, sons Liam and Brennan.  They have Happy Hour from 3 to 7pm from Tuesday to Sunday (closed Monday), with draft beers at $5, soup+grilled cheese at $5, a trio of sliders for $7.  The art on the walls is by Steve O’Loughlin and it’s inspired by Celtic designs.

The Wilde Thistle Cafe: 310-730 6208
3456 Motor Ave, Los Angeles CA 90034

Please check it our and write your comments!

Text and photos by Elisa Leonelli

Movies in the park

Movies-park 15s

Last night we went to check out this new event in our neighborhood.

Street Food Cinema presents summer movie nights in nearby Syd Kronenthal Park in Culver City, at the end of McManus Ave, South of Washington Blvd, walking distance from Reynier Village, once a month for five weeks, starting May 16, doors open at 5.30pm, movies at 8.30.

See schedule for more info and prices
Food trucks provide the food

At 6pm many families armed with chairs and blankets (it was cold) were arriving.  It’s hard to find a spot in the small parking lot of the park, and a sign warns NOT to park in the neighboring streets.  Parking is provided at 5780 Jefferson Blvd.  Better to walk or bicycle.

Please let us know if you attend any of these movies, send your comments.

Text and photo by Elisa Leonelli