Artist Faile Helps Keep Venice Weird With Huge Tile Installation Covering Rocco Gardner's House

by Kylie Obermeier

A stroll down Venice Beach’s Ocean Front Walk gives you an over the top taste for the kind of countercultural eccentricity the neighborhood has fostered since a bunch of beatniks made it their home in the 50s. Fold-up table psychics, sidewalk artists, breakdancers, acrobats, dudes who look like Jesus on rollerskates, dudes trying to peddle you a little weed (or should I say medical marijuana, wink wink) and new-agey nomads coexist in one carnivalesque two and half mile stretch.

But as tech companies move into Venice and West LA at large, residents are worried that the wonderfully weird neighborhood is changing for the worst.

One of those residents is Rocco Gardner. While only a part-time resident (the entrepreneur calls Las Vegas home and brings together creatives at his Pioneertown-based recording studio at Rancho V), Gardner has collaborated with Brooklyn-based pop art duo FAILE on a tile installation that remakes the face of his modern, asymmetrical house at 741 California Avenue. The piece aims to capture “the essence of Venice” while Venice is still a place for the artsy and the odd, celebrating the neighborhood in all of its creative freakiness and cultural diversity.

Tilework has traditionally been and is still practiced by Mexican, South American and European peoples, and FAILE has extended this tradition to the culture of Venice with artwork that incorporates quintessentially "Venetian" motifs--there are tiles based on bikini bottoms, skateboards, and waves for instance.

Floral motifs, arches, triangles and half-circles now adorn the exterior of Gardner’s home in an array of shades: aquamarine, creamsicle orange, ocean water blue. They form their own kaleidoscopic patterns but also playfully collide and invade each other’s spaces in geometric disorder. It is a 16,000 piece patchwork quilt with the stitches let loose, unwilling to obey the typically tidy, symmetric grid formation. Like Venice and all of its weirdos, it refuses to follow the rules.

The beatniks would approve.

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Written by Kylie Obermeier
Photography by Jonathan Bookalill