Friday, November 4, 2011

Monday, October 17, 2011

Artists and Artisans in the Marina -- From Pottery to Street Art

Marina del Rey’s history is full of engineers and enigmatic businessmen, fishermen and the Federal Government. It was always the Marina’s colorful neighbor to the north, Venice, which attracted the hippies and drums, poets and guitars. Yet, with its shimmering water and enviable architecture, Marina del Rey now stands on its own as a place that harbors artists and artisans alike.


In Fisherman’s Village to the South, Howard Marchese recently opened Marchese Fine Art Gallery, a space specializing in Southern California artists. Marchese's reason for opening his gallery was to focus on the fine array of artists that are based in Southern California. Howard Marchese studied the great impressionist masters at the Mission Renaissance Academy in Hollywood. He settled in Marina del Rey nearly a decade ago and now teaches and hosts workshops at his new gallery.


Near Marchese, Alixandra Pottery opened this summer. Owner Alix Cunningham has been spinning her pottery wheels for years and considers it a meditative practice suitable for both children and adults. Her small shop showcases her work, from rustic platters to stately bowls, and also hosts pottery classes for everyone aged 2 to 92.


Photographer Caryson is based in Los Angeles, but visits the coasts and waterways of the city for inspiration. In his Reflections in Venice Grand Canal, he shows a moody side of the Marina. With its grey reflections, it reminds one of winter.

Greg Wenger has been taking professional photographs in Marina del Rey for many years. Without him, we wouldn’t have some of our earliest photos of the Marina as he helped preserve many of Marina del Rey's earliest photographs. Based in the Marina, he often finds artistic inspiration around him on and off the water. Wenger’s photographic range extends into portraiture as well, making him a sought after celebrity photographer.


Popularized by international sensations like Banksy, Shepard Fairey and Mr. Brainwash, street art is more than just graffiti. Photographs of it are the only way this temporary but vivid and well-exposed artwork survives. Artists working in the Marina frequently spot their share of these clever and quirky images, adding life and personality to every day public structures.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mixing a Drink or Officiating a Wedding, Fran Adams is Marina del Rey’s Biggest Fan

The Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey straddles the line between contemporary elegance and approachable ease. The hospitality is warm, the standards are high. At its signature restaurant, jer-ne, the bar is the main attraction. Both locals and international travelers spend late afternoons and late nights at its high-backed, plush leather stools. The difference between jer-ne’s bar and the bar down the street is not just its proximity to the water (100 yards away) or high end bar snacks (think: truffled fries) – it’s a bartender named Fran.

Frances A
dams has been working behind jer-ne’s bar for exactly 14 years this month. She’s a former Second City performer from the Midwest who’s adopted the Marina as her permanent home; her personal and work email handle is “windymarina.” A few years ago, good friends of hers who were also co-workers, asked if she would consider becoming a minister to marry them. She did, and has since married seven couples in the Marina – all of them had been regulars at her bar. Recently, we sat down with Fran to talk drinks and share stories about the Marina.

Q: How long have you been a bartender?

A: Since I was 18. I’m originally from Milwaukee and I’m a 4th generation bartender. My father was an outstanding bartender. His father was the most famous bartender in Milwaukee. My great-grandfather was a horrible bartender, my great-great grandfather was also an excellent bartender, so they say.

Q: Where in town do you live?

A: In the Marina, in Mariner’s Village. When I first moved to LA, I thought it would be a good place to start but I love it. I love the fog and the cool mornings, sweaters and fireplaces. If I never see another humid Midwestern summer I will be happy.

Q: What’s your favorite water activity in town?

A: I’m not much of a water person, but I do love being on boats. I love the Marina’s $1 water taxi in the summer. I take it every weekend on my way to doing my grocery shopping at Nick’s Grocery Store. Mike and Michele own it; it’s right off the beach.
You’d think it was a little bodega but they have a great wine selection, unique frozen foods too.

Q: What’s the most popular cocktail at Jer-ne?

A: The Vodka Martini. We also have a really beautiful single malt scotch collection. Scotch lovers know us pretty well.

Q: What’s your favorite drink to make?

A: It’s also our signature drink, the #14. It’s a cocktail I created for a guest who stayed with us for a full summer. He’s an NBA Player, Anthony Mason. That year, he was training and looking to get a contract. All summer long, he wouldn’t drink because he was training, but he fantasized about drinks and would come and sit at my bar and ask me what kind of drink I would make for him once he was signed and the summer came to an end. I thought about it and made him a drink that tastes like summer, with pineapple and passion fruit. At the end of that summer, he signed the biggest contract of his career. He comes back to visit his lucky place every year – it’s been 10 years since I created that drink – and now there’s a #14 ½ -- he has a son who also plays basketball! We added coconut to the #14 for that one.

Q: What are some of your favorite places in the Marina(besides Jer-ne)?

A: Tony P’s. I love Tony. He’s the unofficial mayor of Marina del Rey. I love him as my neighbor, he’s just so gracious and he’s a wonderful host.

I’m addicted to Mendocino Farms, I send all of our guests there. They all come back raving about it.

I also always find great things at Beverage Warehouse – I could spend a day in there, just looking at everything!

Q: What else so you love about the Marina?

A: I love that at my bar I have regulars, but they’re not all locals. I have regulars that come from San Francisco every other week who know the regulars that come from New York once a month who know the regulars that come from down the street. Marina del Rey is a great neighborhood because you always feel like a local, even if you’re not from the city…

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

On the Water: Kayak Attack

This summer, think of the Marina as a tall glass of water. Simple and refreshing, it’s the best way to cool down when temperatures climb above 75F. There are dozens of water activities – from paddle-boarding to sailing – to partake in, but lately we’re partial to kayaking.

Like a romantic gondola’s slick cousin, the kayak is a great way to travel around the Marina, see the sights and sunset, and get a work-out all at the same time. Why slave away in a stuffy indoor gym when you can take a personal breezy boat ride on the Marina?

While kayaking has a reputation as being a fast water sport, on the Marina, it’s a relaxing way to while away an afternoon. Go with a partner and take turns taking in the sites and paddling. Bring a waterproof camera to capture the views digitally too!

Kayaking is great for groups too. Recently, we talked to newlywed and local resident Otto Rose and owner Russ Carrington of Action Watersports about the kayaking bachelor party they hosted last summer.

What gave you the idea to host a kayaking bachelor party? It was actually Russ's idea. I live in C basin and the idea made sense...not much driving, very low cost, giving local businesses our business.

What bars/restaurants did you stop at? Which were your favorites and why? We stopped at Chart House, Del Rey YachtClub, and finished at the California Yacht Club (CYC)...the first two were good. Classy and good food.

What is the craziest thing that happened during the party? We met God...some guy at the DRYC gave me a biz card that introduced himself as GOD. He was a bit weird but made things interesting.

Any plans to try a new water sport like say, paddle boarding? No plans, I am pretty active with most water new wife wants to surf though.

What three words would best describe your experience? Camaraderie, tranquillo, healthy.

Would you recommend an Action Water Sports adventure to other grooms-to-be? Absolutely, everyday, all day.

Rent kayaks right in the Marina at these convenient businesses:

4144 Lincoln Boulevard, Marina del Rey
(310) 827-2233

13719 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey
(located at Fisherman's Village)
(310) 574-2822