Beyond Baroque Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary in 2018

Beyond Baroque in Venice
Photo courtesy of Beyond Baroque, Facebook

Founded by George Drury Smith in 1968, Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center is one of the most successful and influential grassroots incubators of literary art in the country. Housed in the original Venice City Hall building in Venice, Beyond Baroque is a nonprofit public space dedicated to cultivating new writing and expanding the public’s knowledge of poetry, fiction, literature, and art through cultural events and community interaction.

The Scott Wannberg Bookstore & Poetry Lounge at Beyond Baroque
The Scott Wannberg Bookstore & Poetry Lounge at Beyond Baroque | Instagram by @cjgronner

The Center offers a diverse variety of literary and arts programming including readings, workshops, new music and education. The building also houses a bookstore with the largest collection of new poetry books and CDs for sale and an archive that houses over 40,000 books, including small press and limited-edition publications, chronicling the history of poetry movements in Los Angeles and beyond.

D.H. Peligro (Dead Kennedys), filmmaker Mars Roberge, and Angelo Moore (Fishbone) at Beyond Baroque for L.A. Punk Film Festival screening of "Scumbag"
D.H. Peligro (Dead Kennedys), filmmaker Mars Roberge, and Angelo Moore (Fishbone) at Beyond Baroque for L.A. Punk Film Festival screening of "Scumbag" | Instagram by @scumbagthemovie

Through the years, Beyond Baroque has played muse to the Venice Beats, the burgeoning Punk movement and visiting scholars. Many of the city's leading literary talents - including Dennis Cooper, Wanda Coleman, Tom Waits, Exene Cervenka and Amy Gerstler - are alumni of the Wednesday night poetry workshop. Some of the world's most well known independent artists, including Patti Smith, Henry Rollins, Ellyn Maybe, Michael McClure, Dana Gioia and Viggo Mortensen have performed on its stage.

Peter J. Harris and Rex Weiner in conversation at Beyond Baroque
Peter J. Harris and Rex Weiner in conversation at Beyond Baroque | Instagram by @gnd54

Guided by the Center's Executive Director, Richard Modiano and a council of prominent artist-curators, a year-long 50th anniversary program of activities will take place at Beyond Baroque’s Venice location and in venues throughout Los Angeles.

“Beyond Baroque has an incredible record of cultivating some of the most innovative and widely influential literature and art to come out of Los Angeles over the past 50 years,” said Modiano. “We aim to nurture the next 50 years of cutting-edge Los Angeles poetry, literature, and art.” Highlights of Beyond Baroque’s 50th anniversary include:

  • The commissioning of new works for performance and publication from major writers and rising stars in fiction, poetry, and non-fiction.
  • A series of public dialogs between poets and prominent artists, performers, community leaders, and thinkers on the intersection of poetry and culture.
  • The selection of diverse guest curators to organize a major festival of multidisciplinary artistic events and community gatherings at Beyond Baroque and in neighborhoods all over Los Angeles, spotlighting the many literary and artistic communities that make LA one of the world’s richest cultural centers.
  • Appearances and performances by prominent Beyond Baroque alumni and friends.

The Center’s calendar of events will showcase Beyond Baroque’s extensive roster of talent as well as exciting new voices drawn from L.A.'s diverse literary communities. The celebration will culminate with Beyond Baroque’s 50th anniversary gala in November 2018, at which honors will be awarded recognizing the achievements of selected poets, writers and artists.

Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center
681 Venice Blvd, Venice 90291
(310) 822-3006