Artist Richard Stephens launched Cannery Row Studios in Redondo Beach over 20 years ago as home, refuge and springboard for local artists.
While many businesses have struggled to keep their doors open, Stephens and his in-house artists have managed to thrive in spite of the economic downturn and inevitable fluctuations in the South Bay art scene.
Born in Stockton, Stephens was raised in the South Bay and while he has no official address and refuses to divulge exactly where he lives, he visibly hasn’t strayed far.
When asked about the state of the art scene in the South Bay, he says, “It’s improving. Used to be when you opened the calendar section of the Easy Reader, there would be a whole page of music listings and only one art show or event. Now, there are more listings for art than music. More galleries, more shows.”
His latest show, featuring the work of artist Carlotta Giangualano, End of Days: Feast of the Jaguars, opens on November 11th. The opening night event features an authentic Mayan dinner and lecture by the artist. Advance tickets are $45, at the door $50. Call 1-888-366-1988 for reservations and advance ticket sales.
The following are a few of the reasons he remains committed to showcasing and supporting South Bay artists.
Q:What do you consider the South Bay’s best kept secret?
Q:In your opinion, what is the most successful community improvement project in recent memory?
A:The new theater in Lawndale over on Inglewood Avenue. I think its part of the high school. (Stephens is referring to the Centinela Valley Center of the Arts that opened in May of 2011 and is part of the Centinela Valley Union High School District.)
Q:Preferred South Bay cultural pastime?
A:Viewing the arts. This past weekend I went to the big art show at the AES plant….it was good. When I have time, I go to other galleries.
Q:On the Strand, you are…..
A:Looking at the houses…what’s new, what’s left…..memories of what it used to be like when I was a kid…..looking at all the pretty girls.
Q:Your go-to South Bay eatery?
A:Tammy’s Corner Café at 2nd Street and Hermosa Avenue.
Q:Favorite local holiday tradition?
A:The 4th of July in Hermosa Beach.
Q:How would you describe South Bay style?
A: The beach culture used tobe pretty laid back. The South Bay was a refuge but the real estate boom changed all that…now, it’s a money culture.
Q:South Bay charity of choice?
A: South Bay artists. We all help each other.
Q:You’re enjoying a summer Sunday concert at Polliwog Park while sipping…..
A:Never been…..the Studio is open on Sundays so I’m usually working.
Q:What recent South Bay story inspired you?
A: I recently read a story in the Easy Reader about paddleboard racing. I’m inspired and impressed that Kevin Cody is out there competing in these races. The fact that he’s out there, participating…..he’s doing it.
Q:Can’t miss local event?
A:The Super Bowl 10K.
Q:Surf’s up! Long board or short?
A:Long board….it’s in the back. (We conducted this interview at the Studio.)
Q:Friends are visiting the South Bay for the first time – where do you take them?
A: First we’d go and rent bikes at Barnes’ place at Beryl and Harbor Drive and head straight to Java Man for coffee. We’d cruise the Strand to about 40th Street in Manhattan Beach and turn around. On the way back, we’d stop at the Poop Deck for a drink and go next door to the Mermaid for lunch. I’d take them on a detour down the alley to see the historical mural on the parking lot wall and then we’d stop by my friend Fernando’s shop for beach stuff and admire my sign. We’d cruise along the Esplanade to Torrance Beach and stop in Harmony Works and head over to the Bull Pen for a drink before heading north and returning the bikes. Then it’s on to Quality Seafood for dinner, followed by a stop at the Fun Factory and finish up with a night cap at Tony’s on the Pier.
Q:Strolling along the shore, you find a genie in a bottle and are granted one specific wish – what South Bay institution, tradition or establishment would you restore?
A: I would restore downtown Redondo Beach – have the pier with all the little businesses surrounding it.
Q:The South Bay offers an assortment of guilty pleasures. What’s yours?
A: Hanging out inHermosa Beach on the 4th of July…..all the beautiful women in bikinis.