Frank Gehry’s ties to and architectural projects in Los Angeles are well-known. Perhaps less common knowledge is that he was instrumental in saving the Venice Family Clinic from closing its doors back in 1979. Founded in 1970 as a small storefront operation, the clinic provided comprehensive primary healthcare to people in need. When it began struggling financially, Gehry along with other supporters initiated the Venice Family Clinic Art Walk & Auction, corralling the likes of John Baldessari and Ed Ruscha to donate works as well as open their studios to the public.
Cut to today, the clinic not only still operates but has also grown to encompass 12 locations throughout L.A., serving some 30,000 people a year, particularly crucial during COVID-19. Because of the pandemic, however, the annual fundraiser could not proceed as usual. Instead, it was held digitally, via Artsy, last month, with 188 artists and designers participating—Claudy Jongstra, Kelly Lamb, and Leo Marmol, among them—raising more than $700,000 for the clinic. And to mark its 50th anniversary and his support, Gehry was honored as the signature artist.