Venice Beach: The last days of a bohemian paradise?

PHOTO: Hello Sunshine - Jenna carefully watches two giant boa constrictors that their owner, a street performer she barely knows, entrusted to her.PlayDotan Saguy
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Photographer Dotan Saguy has been documenting the diverse and bohemian spirit of the iconic Venice Beach boardwalk for the past three years.

He was drawn to the free-spirited, anti-materialistic and inclusive nature of the world-famous location, which he found to be a “breath of fresh air from Los Angeles' sometimes homogenized, celebrity-obsessed, plasticized culture,” comments Saguy.

PHOTO: Singing in the Rain - A group of young hippies sing on a bench across from the Muscle Beach Gym. Dotan Saguy
Singing in the Rain - A group of young hippies sing on a bench across from the Muscle Beach Gym.
PHOTO: Mr. Muscles - If it wasnt for the price of pizza revealing the contemporary nature of the scene, one could mistake this photograph for a slice of 1970s Americana, complete with Blues music and policemen on horses, comments, photographer Saguy. Dotan Saguy
Mr. Muscles - "If it wasn't for the price of pizza revealing the contemporary nature of the scene, one could mistake this photograph for a slice of 1970's Americana, complete with Blues music and policemen on horses," comments, photographer Saguy.
PHOTO: Neptune Parade - King and Queen Neptune frolic in the Pacific Ocean waters, celebrating the start of summer with the yearly Neptune Parade. Dotan Saguy
Neptune Parade - King and Queen Neptune frolic in the Pacific Ocean waters, celebrating the start of summer with the yearly Neptune Parade.

The renowned Venice Beach Boardwalk includes the famed Muscle Beach outdoor gym, funky shops for souvenirs, street buskers, mimes to musicians and everything in between.

The boardwalk is great for people-watching. But Saguy and others believe it is now giving way to upscale boutiques, coffee bars, high-priced homes and through gentrification, is, unfortunately, being threatened from the way of life that has defined Venice for decades.

PHOTO: Graffiti Wall - A little boy who came with his family to paint on the Venice Art Walls mischievously peeks at two teenage girls on roller skates posing for pictures. Dotan Saguy
Graffiti Wall - A little boy who came with his family to paint on the Venice Art Walls mischievously peeks at two teenage girls on roller skates posing for pictures.
PHOTO: Challenge Monday - Venice Dynamics is a group of calisthenics enthusiasts who meet regularly in the sand pit by Muscle Beach to exer-cise together. Dotan Saguy
Challenge Monday - Venice Dynamics is a group of calisthenics enthusiasts who meet regularly in the sand pit by Muscle Beach to exer-cise together.
PHOTO: Muscle Beach Gym - A weightlifter lifts a barbell loaded with heavy plates while a bodybuilder performs an aerial handstand at the Muscle Beach Gym in Venice Beach, Calif., April 1, 2016. Dotan Saguy
Muscle Beach Gym - A weightlifter lifts a barbell loaded with heavy plates while a bodybuilder performs an aerial handstand at the Muscle Beach Gym in Venice Beach, Calif., April 1, 2016.

Saguy knows that he has documented what could be a lost society should the people portrayed in his book are forced to acculturate. It is his hope that Venice Beach will help bring awareness to the issues at stake before this amazing way of life is left to fade away.

PHOTO: Love Venice, Hate Snapchat - the day Snapchat goes public on the Nasdaq, Venice residents organize a protest in front of Snapchat’s Market Street headquarters, March 3, 2017. Dotan Saguy
Love Venice, Hate Snapchat - the day Snapchat goes public on the Nasdaq, Venice residents organize a protest in front of Snapchat’s Market Street headquarters, March 3, 2017.
PHOTO: Grateful - The man portrayed in this photograph tells photographer Saguy, his name was Keetoowah Eagle Soaring. Dotan Saguy
Grateful - The man portrayed in this photograph tells photographer Saguy, his name was Keetoowah Eagle Soaring.
PHOTO: Back from Surfing - After an exhausting but satisfying surfing lesson on a stormy spring afternoon, a group of teens on a class trip walks back from the ocean carrying their surfboards on their heads. Dotan Saguy
Back from Surfing - After an exhausting but satisfying surfing lesson on a stormy spring afternoon, a group of teens on a class trip walks back from the ocean carrying their surfboards on their heads.

The exhibition and opening reception on Aug. 11, from 5 to 8 p.m., runs until Sept. 21, and is presented as part of Venice Arts’ 25th Anniversary celebrations. It corresponds with the publication of the monograph Venice Beach: Last Days of a Bohemian Paradise by the German photo book publisher Kehrer Verlag.

PHOTO: Venice Gladiator - An oiled-up bodybuilder wearing nothing but a Speedo enters the stage of the Mr. Muscle Beach contest. Dotan Saguy
Venice Gladiator - An oiled-up bodybuilder wearing nothing but a Speedo enters the stage of the Mr. Muscle Beach contest.
PHOTO: Jingles Blessing - The older man, who goes by the name of Jingles, has been preaching for animal rights and a vegan lifestyle for many years from his booth on the Venice Boardwalk. Dotan Saguy
Jingles' Blessing - The older man, who goes by the name of "Jingles," has been preaching for animal rights and a vegan lifestyle for many years from his booth on the Venice Boardwalk.
PHOTO: Hello Sunshine - Jenna carefully watches two giant boa constrictors that their owner, a street performer she barely knows, entrusted to her. Dotan Saguy
Hello Sunshine - Jenna carefully watches two giant boa constrictors that their owner, a street performer she barely knows, entrusted to her.