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Sculptor's Studio an Optical Illusion

May 11, 1986|BARBARA BAIRD | Times Staff Writer

Every now and then, someone rings the doorbell at St. Jive's-by-the-Sea and asks where to find the church's social service programs for the needy.

But these visitors have to be redirected down the street to the St. Joseph Center, for St. Jive's is neither a church nor a social service agency.

Easily mistaken for a house of worship because of its name and church architecture, complete with steeple, St. Jive's is the home and studio of Venice artist Annette Bird.

On Benefit Walk

Located at Rose and Hampton avenues, St. Jive's will be among more than 40 Venice and Santa Monica artists' studios and galleries that will be open to the public on June 1 as part of the Venice Art Walk.

Bird bought St. Jive's 10 years ago from needlepoint designer Barbara Batcheller, who converted the former Marina Baptist Church into a residence and studio 14 years ago.

Batcheller, a jazz aficionado, named the place St. Jive's-by-the-Sea and regularly invited friends over for jam sessions, Bird said.

"People ask us who St. Jive was and we tell them he was the patron saint of jazz," Bird said with a laugh.

Although the pews have been removed, architectural elements including the high ceilings and stained glass windows have been retained.

St. Jive's was built in 1904 as a church, Bird said. One of the yellow, brown and green stained glass windows is dedicated to a former church patron, Burnsie De Vore, while another commemorates the contributions of the Riverside C.E. (Christian Endeavor).

The bathroom is located in what used to be the baptismal area, because that is where the water lines and plumbing were available, Bird said. She uses the church steeple as a storage area, she said.

"In the basement, where I imagine they used to have church socials, I have opened a printmaking workshop with 25 members," she said. The St. Jive's Intaglio Workshop, which Bird founded in 1976, provides artists with the opportunity to use the printing presses at a modest fee, she said.

Bird's studio contains her extensive collection of ethnic and folk art, and examples of her own work that show the evolution of her 30-year career as a sculptor and printmaker. While her earlier works depict geological and environmental themes using outdoor landscapes, her current work shows indoor scenes and themes dealing with the inner psyche, she said.

Bird, who holds a master's degree in sculpture and printmaking frim California State University, Northridge, has won a number of honors including Purchase Awards from the Brand Art Institute in Glendale.

In addition to her artistic work, Bird for the past six years has volunteered at the nonprofit Venice Family Clinic, which will receive funds raised by the June 1 art walk.

Bird is one of about 900 volunteers who help make it possible for the clinic to provide free medical care for the needy, according to executive director Fern Seizer.

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