Sev Ven provides 'ego-free' space

Huntington Beach gallery, whose name is a twist on owner's lucky number, invites unconventional artists to shine.

April 07, 2014|By Rhea Mahbubani
  • Owner Kat Monroe, center, poses for a photo with artists, counterclockwise from right, Vincent Gabriel, Carissa Martin, Michael Bermudez and Danaan McGregor at Sev Ven Gallery in Huntington Beach.
Owner Kat Monroe, center, poses for a photo with artists,… (KEVIN CHANG, HB…)

Kat Monroe was on the verge of setting up an art gallery, but a catchy name eluded her.

The Huntington Beach resident only knew that she wanted it to be unique and incorporate her lucky number, seven. Beyond that, she was at a loss.

"I was speaking to my daughter, who was on her way to college, and she said, 'Well, Mom, why don't you add two v's and a space, and it'll be seven letters for seven?'" Monroe recalled. "And so I did it — I ordered all this stuff and got really excited."

But her happiness was short-lived.

"Then, my 14-year-old came to me and said, 'Mom, that's only six letters,'" said the blue-haired 40-year-old, bursting into laughter at the thought of being shown the obvious with Sev Ven.

But the name stuck. It stands out in people's minds, Monroe said.

Established on Slater Avenue in 2012, the gallery recently relocated to another spot on the street.


To Monroe, Sev Ven was established as a "non-drama, ego-free place," where about 30 national and international artists can display their work and feel comfortable, not judged or criticized.

"I remember applying to so many different galleries and hearing, 'No, no, no,'" said the gallery owner, who also does assemblage art. "I wanted to open the door of opportunity to artists. Why can't everybody live their passion? Why is it that only the so-called 'special ones' get to show their art and everyone else can't? And who's to say your art is good enough for people to see, and someone else's is not?"

Embracing diverse opinions and aesthetics, Monroe welcomed work by professionals educated in the craft as well as those without a formal training in art. Although the mix surprises viewers, it works, allowing all the artists to learn from one another.

"I want people to be able to accept art — whether they like it or not — for being art," she said.

Monroe also finds that people who are self-taught and have sometimes been struggling to carve a niche for themselves reflect a purity in their work. Their art is often edgy and replete with raw emotion, she said.

"I feel truly blessed and honored that Kat sees the beauty beyond mainstream art," said Michael Bermudez, currently Sev Ven's featured artist. "She not only creates an eclectic and accepting environment within the walls of Sev Ven, but her ability to nurture and motivate artists that focus on a dark and somewhat surreal palette is nothing short of inspirational."

Dark is right.

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