Dating Ideas For Santa Monica Couples On A Budget

Friday, 24 Feb 2012, 12:47:00 AM

Kathy Leonardo

Visit dnj gallery for a cheap date night out. Currently the works of Jennifer Bain are on display with an opening reception set for Saturday evening.
Courtesy Photo
Visit dnj gallery for a cheap date night out. Currently the works of Jennifer Bain are on display with an opening reception set for Saturday evening.

Dating can be an expensive venture. Planning an evening out, which includes dinner, and some sort of entertainment takes some thought, especially if you are on a budget.

However there are many creative ways to stretch your dollar. Many restaurants offer happy hours, live music, and more. Art galleries are also a great avenue to explore.

La Vecchia located at 2654 Main St. in Santa Monica offers a hearty Italian happy hour at its bar. The portions are large and not restricted to just appetizers.

Options include six varieties of pizza, salads, and even pasta. Visit www.lavecchia.com.

If you want to dance the night away on a Friday night, stop in at South in Santa Monica for “Dirty South” with a video DJ, and $3 Finlandia drinks all night. There you can partake in a southern-style happy hour food featuring, Gator Wings, Cajun Rings, Hushpuppies, and more. South is located at 3001 Wilshire Blvd. Visit southsantamonica.com.

To inspire the artist within, stop into the Bergamot Arts Station at 2525 Michigan. Here, you’ll find a cluster of venues where you can wander, and enjoy art presented by galleries such as Skidmore Contemporary Art (D-2). This Saturday, Feb. 25, Skidmore holds an opening reception for Jennifer Bain from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.

Bain’s art uses contrasts and dualities within a botanical theme. Inspired by artists such as Maria Sibylla Merian of the 17th century, Bain offers a nod of reverence with her delicate floral designs on fresco-like ivory-based panels.

Bain explains her passion for the art.

“The magnetism of painting for me is the mystery of creating ideas, mood, or context from images. Since I’m fascinated by many different kinds of visual information, my work is a fusion of all that I see.” Visit skidmorecontemporaryart.com.

You may as well get there a bit early and pop into dnj Gallery (J-1). As part of NoirFest Santa Monica, a three-month Noir Arts Festival, dnj Gallery features the work of multi-media artist Helen K. Garber. This is the final weekend of “Encaustic Noir.” dnj will be open until 7 p.m. Visit www.dnjgallery.net.

Shoshana Wayne Gallery (B-1) will also be holding an opening reception for Shirley Tse’s exhibition “Vital Organs and Other Stories” from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.

This is Tse’s fifth exhibition with the gallery and as described by the name, “Vital Organs” features a sculpture created in the shape of a bound human heart, complete with electric tendrils dangling from the ceiling.

In the East Gallery, Tse creates an elaborate installation, with several floor to ceiling sculptures made of lightweight, mesh materials. Collaborating with filmmaker, Dana Duff, a video of underwater turbulence will be projected within the dark cave-like room. Visit shoshanawayne.com. For more art openings, visit www.laartparty.com.

If live music is more your scene, Santinos in Venice, hosts “Acoustic Thursday Showcase” each week. Known for its late night dining and tapas, you can also enjoy local performers such as singer/songwriter Geoffrey J. and James Elliot who are scheduled for the March 8 showcase at 11 p.m. Expect a lively show from this duo, featuring original music by Geoffrey J. as well rock favorites. Visit www.geoffreyj.com. Santinos is located at 1611 Pacific Ave, just off Windward. Visit www.santinosvenice.com.

Whatever you decide to do on your next date, it doesn’t mean you have to break the bank. Take advantage of the free arts Santa Monica and the Westside has to offer. You can impress your date with how cultured you are, while staying within your budget.

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