Arts Bridging the Gap for All

On Sunday morning, June 7, 2020, before thousands of peaceful protestors marched on Hollywood Blvd., the corner at Hollywood and Vine had a small group of professional artists and volunteers painting peaceful messages of love, hope and solidarity on plywood boards.

The beginning of Amy Smart’s Art

It all started when Wally Moran, General Manager of Wood & Vine Restaurant & Bar boarded the front windows of the restaurant facing out to Hollywood Blvd. He needed to protect the restaurant located in the historic Taft Building, from damage from potential looters that targeted DTLA, the Fairfax District, West Hollywood and Santa Monica.

Days after the boards were secure, Moran noticed offensive messages tagged on his boards and reached out to his friend Georgia Van Cuylenburg, founder and organizer of Arts Bridging the Gap, a youth social justice organization. Together they organized “Paint Your Peace” to transform plywood boards into meaningful works of art.

SeYxYes mural of hands holding 1 heart on Vine.

Starting at 10 a.m., almost 30 people designed and painted colorful messages to promote a positive change for Hollywood and the world. “First the artists starting painting along the block of Wood & Vine, and then we extended up to Katsuya and the Hollywood and Vine Lift Building,” Moran said via text.

Amy Smith’s completed piece

Artist Amy Smith claimed the board in front of Wood & Vine, painting a stunning pink piece of civil rights activist Maya Angelou. Smith’s mural is a multi-layered collage emphasizing Black Lives Matter.

Peace & Love by LA.Nice

Talking to Georgia by phone, I inquired about how she and Moran organized this peaceful event. “Growing up in Australia, Hollywood was a dream,” she said. “I arrived at the age of 18 years old. (Georgia has a long Hollywood resume as a comedian, performer, writer, and producer) social work fuels my heart,” she said.

Art by Ari Nichol (Before)

“Wally is an incredible leader in Hollywood,” said Georgia. “When he called with this request, I immediately agreed.” There are now almost 20 colorful mural messages along Hollywood Blvd. “We can add more,” she said, because Wally and Georgia are able to get swift approval from the Hollywood Entertainment Council. With her work at Arts Bridging the Gap, she not only has an artist’s mind, but can also efficiently get the paper work done to get approvals quickly.

Completed mural by Ari Nichole

Since Georgia has worked with several of the artists involved, it was easy to contact them and tell them about the vision. “I said to each one, here’s the deal, we have an incredible opportunity in Hollywood,” she said. “What happened that day was magical.”

As the professional artists started painting, people contacted Georgia to see if they could have a board to express themselves. She looked at their ideas and IG sites and soon gave them approval. One was Marcus, a security guard working nearby, who wanted to spread a message. He painted George Floyd with the words Value Human Race.

Marcus has his piece at Soprano on Hollywood & Vine

According to Georgia, a black mother and her two young boys, dressed in super hero costumes, walked up to this powerful piece and stood proudly for a photo. Marcus told her, that he never felt “seen” until he painted this yesterday. Now the Hollywood community and world will see how this talented man has such a influential message to share with us all.

Another surprise artist was Zook58. He approached Georgia to paint a board. “He sent me his beautiful design and was so kind, that I immediately agreed to allow him to express his message of an officer and young black boy kneeling together,” Georgia said.


Reaching out to this artist, he shared that “AP news captured it for the cover of an article titled – Cops on air for 33 seasons, dropped by Paramount Network.” I learned this piece took about 4 to 6 six hours to paint, like many of his other murals. His colorful and meaningful images can be viewed in Studio City, on Melrose Ave., and Los Angeles. Check out his IG account @zook58.

@MikeMDS is featured at APL Restaurant

Moran informed me that “Wood & Vine is still closed (as of June 10, 2020), but soon will be hosting the artists for drinks to celebrate.” He added that when the boards come down and the restaurant reopens, the art will be displayed inside the restaurant. “The Pantages Theatre said they want to do the same, and Georgia wants to do a show [displaying some of the pieces] later this year,” he said.

Want to help make Hollywood and surrounding communities beautiful? Art Bridging the Gap is looking for donations to help pay for supplies and expand their programs to empower youth all over Los Angeles. Click here Art Bridging the Gap to learn more.

Part of this article was featured in the Beverly Press on June 10, 2020.


Tour MGM Internationals $250 Million Dollar Art Collection in Vegas

MGM Resorts Art & Culture was established in 2016 to manage all of the MGM Resorts’ collections. The public and guests staying at the Park MGM Hotel and Casino can take a free concierge led art walk every Wednesday at 10 a.m. The enriching tour includes information about the artists and art pieces through the Park MGM, ARIA, Vdara and Bellagio properties.Guests staying at the resort will notice original artwork from commission artists made from mixed media paintings, glass, paper and natural products offering interesting landscapes and gardens. 

Italian Food & Art at Luigi al Teatro

The Chateau Paintings displayed at Michelin-starred chef Luigi Fineo’s restaurant Luigi al Teatro, adds to the theatrics of the Santa Monica California seafood with a Southern Italian flair menu.

Michelin-starred chef Luigi Fineo

Luigi al Teatro has an artistic past as once the historic Powerhouse Theatre. Inside the dining room on the walls are painted faces of actors looking towards the kitchen where Executive Chef Luigi Fineo prepares his Italian specialities. Outside on the al fresco dining patio, art is the focal point among greenery and a wall of herbs for the chef to cultivate and use for sauces, garnish and decoration.

Artist Lisa Gizara

A few weeks ago, I met resident artist Lisa Gizara during her art opening reception at Teatro di Luigi in Santa Monica. While sipping Prosecco, Gizara shared with me her “once in a lifetime” experience in France at The Chateau Orquevaux. “The chateau was about 3.5 hours East of Paris, between Champagne and Dijon,” said Gizara. “I would wake up in the morning, look out my window and feel so lucky.”

IMG_4443Her two week residency brought her close to other artists from around the world. The 2018 Artist-in-Residence program received applicants from artists in over 25 countries including Canada, South Africa, and Egypt. There is a two-week and four-week residency program. Gizara stayed for two week in a studio room on the top floor. “We would eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together, paint and share wine together. It was magical,” said Gizara.


Since 1990 she has only painted black and white paintings, however after living at the chateau for weeks, she was moved to incorporate colors on her canvas. “For the first time since college, I totally immersed myself in art while at the chateau,” said Gizara.

Born in upstate New York, Gizara started painting at the age of 13. She fondly remembers painting New England landscapes and farmers in fields. While attending U Mass Dartmouth, she discovered that she wanted to be an artist full-time and moved to Santa Monica in 1986. “I started painting monochromatic images in black and white with a little bit of gray and olive green,” she said.

Her work has developed a Hollywood following, with her limited edition portfolio of both photograph & paintings included in the 2014 Oscar Nominee Gift Bags. Her work has appeared on Entertainment Tonite, The Insider, Access Hollywood and the The Ellen Show.

Actress Jennifer Lawrence and actor Bruce Dern display Gizara’s artwork in their private collections, and Disney executive Sean Cocchia has some of Gizara’s Los Angeles photographs.


Come see Gizara’s artwork until December 3, 2018 during brunch or dinner at Luigi al Teatro.


Brunch dishes include a variety of toasts topped with smoked salmon, crème fraîche and capers. I enjoyed the luscious avocado, burrata and pickled onions, and mint. Another offered a soft poached egg on top of layers of prosciutto, arugula and a cherry tomato. For something sweet the ricotta with fig jam and fried rosemary is a winner.


Salads include a brightly colored heirloom tomato with burrata, and baby gem lettuce drizzled with an orange bourbon vinaigrette. Fineo also makes a spinach quiche, baked eggs and a sea urchin omelet. Brunch is available on Saturday starting at 11 a.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. Dinner service begins at 5 p.m.

3116 Second St., Santa Monica, (310)328-0000 – Click here to see the dinner menu