Bell — whose most recognizable pieces are his minimalist cube sculptures from the early 60s that rest on clear pedestals — is currently at work on a series of abstract collages made from mylar, laminate, film and paper. They blanket every wall of his studio and earlier pieces also hang at what's known as Larry's Lounge, a conference room at the Hotel Erwin. The works' colors, created through an interaction of aluminum and quartz, rest in the hazy opalescent territory of motor oil spilled on asphalt. Figures, in the barest of outlines, seem to live in some of the collages. But, seen from different viewpoints and depending on the direction and quality of light, they sometimes almost disappear in ghost-like fashion.
Of course, when he's not holed up in his studio, Bell can often be found enjoying a beer at his namesake restaurant. Read on to find out what dishes Bell can't get enough of at Larry's — which offers up 26 beers on tap and where dishes top out at $15 — as well as a short list of his other must-visit Venice restaurants:
What are your favorite dishes at Larry's? There’s very good pizza. In particular, I like the brussels sprouts pizza [with bacon, parmesan and chili vinegar]. I’ve never had that before. It's fabulous. And I like the Larry's BLT [rye, pork cheek, beefsteak tomatoes, romaine and bbq mayo.]
What's your beer of choice? I like Mexican beer. They have Negra Modelo and they have it on draft and you don't find that very often.
Where else do you eat in Venice? I'm real partial to soul food. I like Campos on Windward. It's Mexican soul food. Dollar for dollar it's the best meal in the area. My palate is pretty simple and they are close. I go to Capri because it's the only restaurant I know on Abbot Kinney that's not noisy. The food at Gjelina and the Tasting Kitchen and Joe's is fantastic but you can't hear anything. Also, when I was there last time, I thought Piccolo was fantastic.
How has Venice changed over the year? When I first came here and looked towards Santa Monica and saw 20 people on the boardwalk that was a big day. Nobody was down here. It was funky and cheap. Now it’s funky and expensive.
Why have you stayed in Venice all these years? It’s a high-energy place. The air is ionized. The weather is always great. I don't mean that in a superficial way. The millions of feet that have walked here have pounded energy into the boardwalk. It reeks of energy. There's a kind of creative force that exists. It’s always worked for me. I think it's one of the only real places in the city.
Larry's, 24 Windward Avenue, Venice, CA, 310-399-2700, larrysvenice.com