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LAPD Officer Inspiring/Cracking Down on Venice Boardwalk Art

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Back in January, new rules went into effect for selling stuff on the Venice Boardwalk--basically they allow free speech activities like petitioning, performances, and self-made art. That last one has made for some tricky enforcement and the Wall Street Journal tags along with LAPD Sergeant Daniel Gonzalez, who all of a sudden finds himself tackling an issue usually left to Sarah Lawrence undergrads: what is art? (For the record, he picked up some knowledge working part-time security for Sotheby's in the nineties and really likes Paul Cezanne.) Gonzalez calls his gig patrolling the boardwalk "a little bit of higher calling" and man has he ever answered. He's given some major assists to the potential artists of Ocean Front Walk:

-- A homeless man asked Gonzalez how he could keep his spot on the boardwalk, so the officer told him "If you're out here and you do have some creative juices flowing inside you, figure it out." The guy now sells handmade "bum signs" with clever slogans like "Couldn't think of Anything Snappy So Just Give Me a Dollar And Beat It." (Who is buying these and with what?)

-- Vendors can't sell crystals, so Gonzalez encouraged "one crystal vendor to make beach-themed snow globes from her precious stones" instead.
-- He also "spurred another woman to melt crayons onto canvases with a blowtorch" (more backstory on this one, please).
-- "On a recent Thursday, he told a dread-locked artist dabbling in a variety of media that he should 'get more into the wood stuff, less into the hats.'"
· Is It Art? On Venice Beach, Police Can Make the Call [WSJ]
· What You Can and Can't Buy on the Venice Boardwalk Now [Curbed LA]