Founded in 1904 by developer Abbot Kinney, the neighborhood of Venice consisted of saltwater marshland dredged into canals inspired by Venice, Italy. By the 1950s the coastal town was so neglected that it was tagged “the Slum of the Sea.” An abandoned amusement park, empty rental stations, and a beat-up boardwalk provided a post-apocalyptic atmosphere welcoming to graffiti artists, skaters, surfers, and gangs.
Built in 1961 originally as a recreation facility and amphitheater, the Venice Pavilion rose to fame in the 1980s and 1990s, attracting now-legendary graffiti writers and skateboarders. Degraded conditions and raw energy created the perfect formula for undisturbed periods of cultivation. The area’s aesthetic became instantly recognizable in skate magazines, and its gritty mixture of street creativity sparked an entirely new form of skateboarding, with a hardcore soundtrack to match. Graffitied messages of “SKATE AND DESTROY” and the infamous “Rat Bones” logo by local artist C.R. Stecyk III punctuated the landscape.
In the 1980s, graffiti artists like Kelly “RISKY” Graval hit the town. RISKY and others at the time helped introduce the western edge of the country to East Coast-style graffiti often associated with the subways of New York City.
By the 1990s the “Venice Pits” was a notorious intersection between graffiti and skating, with worldwide influence. In a move toward cleaning up Los Angeles, the city tore part of Venice Pavilion down in 2000, leaving pieces buried in sand.
Today the California landmark remains hidden but the significance and influence this site ignited within subcultures is still evident globally through countless references in magazines, films, and apparel.
In homage to the historical site, adidas Skateboarding & BEYOND THE STREETS have replicated elements of the Venice Pavilion, featuring site-specific concrete picnic tables, benches, a stage, and fire pits authentic to their original designs. This re-creation is skateable and features original graffiti by the artist RISKY and others who painted the location decades ago.
BEYOND THE STREETS Los Angeles, 2018. Photo by Beau Roulette.