My village has always been an inspiration to me. I adore everything about Venice; the small town feel, the people, the art scene. It has been awhile since I have dedicated a Sunday afternoon to strolling Abbot Kinney with my camera in hand. There has been much talk among local Venetians on how our beloved boulevard has changed... "jumped shark"! I am guilty of throwing around that phrase probably more than anyone I know. I remember a past when I would sit on the corner of California & Abbot Kinney with a cup of joe from Abbot's Habit and watch the fledgling street scene. I would smile to myself about LA's best-kept secret. It was the worst kept secret. Everyone now wants a piece of this prime real estate. Abbot Kinney was voted "coolest block in America" by GQ. Sidewalks are crowded with shoppers and the cafes have lines of people waiting outside to get in. Lucky Brand and Gant have taken over art gallery spaces, and other major brands are clambering to leave their own mark. All of this has left me a little uninspired to shoot this gem of a neighborhood... until yesterday.
What I saw through my lens was a village that has matured, yet kept its youthful, bohemian vibe. Yes there are chain stores, throngs of shoppers and culinary tourists, but just underneath the surface lay the same hometown spirit that I fell in love with twenty-plus years ago; neighbors still greet each other with a smile and hello as they pass on the street, the arts scene still thrives, and locals are still enthusiastic to offer up directions and recommendations to lost visitors (most with camera in tow as well).
Abbot Kinney's vision for Venice of America lives on, even as its neighborhoods continue to evolve. And I still find myself in a love affair.