Here’s to the Lady Who Lunched: Goodbye, Elaine Stritch!

Broadway icon Elaine Stritch.

Broadway icon Elaine Stritch.

I’d like to propose a toast: to the lady who lunched, who occasionally chewed scenery, and who was a character actress with great character but also great dignity, great honesty, great fears she faced, and great star power. She was more than a broad from Broadway, she was a Lady of the Theatre in the proper sense, a student of finishing schools and also the University of Hard Knocks.

The unforgiving microphone: recording "The Ladies Who Lunch" on the cast recording of "Company" proved harrowing for Stritch who flubbed her way through take after take. The next day she nailed it and the song became her signature tune.

The unforgiving microphone: recording “The Ladies Who Lunch” on the cast recording of “Company” proved harrowing for Stritch who flubbed her way through take after take. The next day she nailed it and the song became her signature tune.

I saw her perform live and she was at one with the stage, a zen exercise in which the lines and lyrics didn’t matter. She could have stood on stage and read the Hong Kong telephone directory aloud and literally no one in the theatre would have cared. It was a chance to bask in some good old-fashioned star quality.

Having worked in talent agencies in Los Angeles and Chicago I have met some of the most beautiful men and women in the world, I have known some very recognizable names, and had the pleasure to know a great many hardworking actors and actresses whose work is solid and who are consummate professionals. But you can spot a class act like Elaine Stritch a mile away and as the old cliche goes, they don’t make ‘em like her anymore. “Everybody rise!”

Poised to Shatter the Glass Ceiling: Meet Marlo Bernier!

Triple-threat actress-writer-director Marlo Bernier.

Triple-threat actress-writer-director Marlo Bernier.

When Jared Leto was nominated then won the Golden Globe and Academy Awards for Best Actor for his performance as a transgender character in Dallas Buyers Club, reactions to Leto’s being cast in the role were mixed throughout the mainstream and transgender communities.

Dallas Buyers Club director Jean-Marc Vallee further diluted any positive message his film might have offered when he was quoted by Time magazine asking, “Is there any transgender actor? To my knowledge—I don’t know one…I’m not aiming for the real thing. I’m aiming for an experienced actor who wants to portray the thing.”

Whether it was the case or not, Vallee’s quotes were taken by many as signs of Hollywood laziness and an apparent refusal to leave the comforts of a studio office in search of talent outside of a limited A-list circle. Not only are there transgender actors and actresses out there, but some of them also possess a vast array of experience in the acting field, not to mention talent.

One of them is Marlo Bernier.

Once upon a time there was an actor named Mark Bernier, who found success as a working actor on stage and screen. And, as Bernier has previously joked, “My career just wasn’t tough enough, so I woke up one morning and decided to change my sex.” Bernier’s personal story is a little more complicated than that, of course, but making the transition from Mark Bernier to Marlo laid the foundation for a groundbreaking new television pilot called Myrna, a dramedy based “with some theatrical license” on Bernier’s own life and experiences.

As she explains, “Myrna is a show about an actor who, after a modicum of success both in front of the camera and on the stage finally comes face to face with their true identity and makes the life-altering decision to transition from male to female.”

Television programs have often used humor to win over an audience, while still making a point regarding social change or understanding. Producer Norman Lear’s groundbreaking body of work is an obvious blueprint: shows like All In the Family, Maude, Good Times, and One Day at a Time brought people from a wide variety of backgrounds and life experiences into mainstream American homes, using humor to deliver the basic message that underneath the surface we’re all the same. Whether it was lower middle-class Archie Bunker or upwardly-mobile George Jefferson, recently-divorced Ann Robinson or the struggling-to-make-ends-meet Evans family, the characters on these shows illustrated our common bonds, becoming members of our collective family.

Marlo Bernier as Myrna Michaels.

Marlo Bernier as Myrna Michaels.

And now Marlo Bernier wants us to welcome Myrna Michaels as an addition to that family. Bernier co-wrote the script and will play the title role alongside a gifted ensemble cast. The script is funny, heartfelt and thoughtfully written. While many sitcoms choose laughs over heart—or vice-versa—and paint their characters in stark black-and-white contrasts, Myrna paints its characters in varying shades of gray. Not all the characters are always likable, and they aren’t meant to be, because they are realistic human beings with foibles and frailties, living within a story arc allowing them room for growth.

“I can’t speak for the community, I can’t speak for fifty people. I can speak for me,” Marlo takes pains to emphasize. “I always hope that my work will help society or help people understand, or at least make people be compassionate. That’s all I ever ask. If you can’t fully get it, could you please attempt compassion? I know transsexualism is not easily understood. It’s not easy for me, either.”

Her Myrna compatriots, cast and crew members, are all in agreement that this is an important story to tell and one delivered using the proper tone.

“There has never been anything like this before, ever, in the history of films or television,” says fireball actress Alexandra Billings, one of the show’s co-stars. “There is no such thing as a television show whose central character is transgender.”

That’s why Bernier & Co. have teamed up with Brad Wyman’s brand-new online crowd-sourcing platform Fanbacked.com in order to raise the budget to shoot and deliver the pilot episode.  You can find the Myrna TV show page here at greenlight.myrnatvshow.com. The fundraising video features Bernier briefly discussing Myrna. “It’s not just about a boy who is a girl,” she explains to viewers. “It’s about the human connection. And ultimately it’s about all of us striving to be who we really are.” Even the show’s theme song, a jazzy, sophisticated score composed by Regi Davis (a friend and colleague of Marlo & Co.) which plays in the background of the video, hints at the level of things to come.

“We need a voice,” Billings said, “because the only time we’re represented on television or on film is when we’re sick, getting ready to be sick, or dying…This is an actual group of people who live on the planet. These aren’t cartoons, they’re not stereotypes.”

Having moved past the typical man-in-a-dress routine we’ve now graduated to something with a little more depth. “It’s time that we started telling our own jokes, don’t you think?” Marlo asks rhetorically, giving a clue what to expect from the show’s writing. Instead of being maudlin and delivering its message with a heavy-handed sermon, it’s got bite, humor, and subtlety. Above all it wants to entertain its audience.

“I only ever wanted to assimilate,” says Marlo. “I’m not Dame Edna, I’m not a drag act.” And the character Myrna is dealing with the same emotions, realizations and milestones in the course of the show’s storyline.

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Bernier’s offscreen journey has been every bit as interesting as Myrna’s onscreen one. Born a heterosexual male on the East Coast, Bernier made the choice to pursue acting.

“When I came to L.A. I had a decent amount of experience, primarily theatre. It’s there I cut my teeth, and yes, I was known in Baltimore. I wasn’t a celebrity, but people knew my work and kept hiring me. I did a lot of work at AXIS Theatre, which was at the time a cutting-edge theatre company. I did good work with other companies, too, but I did a lot of my work at AXIS.

“I was Taft-Hartleyed into SAG on my first film job in 1977. I was eighteen years old. I worked with Alan Arkin and Richard Jordan and Shirley Knight and Donald Pleasance and Ted Shackelford in a movie-of-the-week when there were only three channels to choose from. That’s how old I am!”

“I did a guest star role on Homicide: Life on the Streets. I did an indie film. I worked for John Waters, I did Cecil B. Demented. When I came here I had my SAG card and didn’t have that struggle to overcome, but it was almost two years to the day before I booked my first job [here]. There’s a long wait in line. I booked a guest star in the second episode of the first season of Cold Case with Kathryn Morris. It was a great role. Paris Barclay directed me, a famous director, now the president of the DGA. They booked me on a week and I think I shot three or four days. I did Alias, I did Las Vegas.”

“One of the last things I did, I worked for David Fincher on Zodiac. I was on IMDB credits a year before the film was released and it was right before the premiere and I had a new agent. I said, ‘Can you get me into the premiere?’ And she said, ‘Okay, I’ll see what I can do.’ All of a sudden she goes, ‘You’re not listed on the IMDB anymore.’ I’d been cut. And I still get residuals, which is the oddest thing ever. You see me in the background but you don’t see my mouth move. It’s possible I’m in the director’s cut or something. I know I’m not the only person in Hollywood to ever get cut, but I needed that one really badly.”

But that’s showbiz, baby. And as they say, where one door closes, another one opens, and that’s where Myrna fits in. Making the transitions from male to female, from actor to actress, and from onscreen-performer to writer, director and producer, Marlo has had to grow in many unexpected directions.

“I made a decision at the beginning of my transition to step out from in front of the lens because I thought I wouldn’t be able to do it anymore,” she admits. “Not because I wasn’t capable of doing it technically, but I thought, ‘Well, maybe this is the reason I’m directing and writing now.’”

Making the segue into writing, she co-wrote a couple of indie film scripts before the idea for Myrna started to take shape. Transitioning from male to female requires far more than hormones and or, surgery; it involves a shift in attitudes, acceptance and self-acceptance, and a coming-to-terms with your place in a sometimes harsh world.

In real life Marlo has a therapist, one who has been with her throughout her transition. “She’d ask me every once in awhile, ‘Well, what kind of woman do you hope to become, or do you envision for yourself?’ And at first I just couldn’t answer the question because…I don’t think any of us, regardless of where we come from or what our philosophy is or whatever, have answers for everything. I think it takes time and we grow with it. But it finally dawned on me what my answer was: ‘What kind of a woman will you become?’ And I said to her finally, ‘The same kind I was as a man: kind. That’s what I hope to be, just kind.’”

And that realization also helps to define the character of Myrna who finds the transition from male to female sometimes pales in comparison to the transitions from addict to sobriety, from emotional basket-case to fully-rounded human being, from child to responsible adult.

Marlo’s background as a performer long-since prepared her for everything she and Myrna have to face. “My mantra is, ‘Deny nothing, invent nothing, tell the truth,’” and she quotes John Cassavetes when she says, “We as artists must be willing to risk it all.”

To check out the Myrna TV show fundraising page on Fanbacked.com and hear Marlo discussing the project in her own words, click here.

 

Behold, Franz Szony’s Homage to “Maleficent”

"CAST BY SPELL!" photographed by Franz Szony, modeled by Deven Green.

“CAST BY SPELL!” photographed by Franz Szony, modeled by Deven Green.

Walt Disney’s Maleficent (starring Angelina Jolie as the title villainess) just opened in movie theatres and in anticipation of the film photographer Franz Szony created the image above in its honor.

Entitled “CAST BY SPELL!” the image was captured using black paper, smoke grenades and a curtain rod. Maleficent was “played” by model Deven Green.

“Maleficent has been my favorite animated character since I was a child,” Szony wrote on his Facebook page. “It seemed the perfect time to create a piece of art in homage to the 1959 Marc Davis animation. Using black paper, smoke grenades and silk, I transformed the fabulous Deven Green into this incredible villain.”

Szony’s photographic studio at The Brewery just east of downtown L.A. has proven to be one of the most popular stops in the twice-annual Brewery Artwalk. Sightseers visiting his loft space were dazzled by the baroque tableaux on display there and at a recent exhibition of his work at the Archangel Gallery in Palm Springs.

The Reno native relocated to Los Angeles within the past year and has already built up a sizeable following among art devotees, not to mention clients in the fashion world. To see more of Szony’s photography, check out his Instagram page and his official website. You can also find him on Facebook.


A behind-the-scenes look at the creation of “Cast By Spell!” (Credits at the end of the film.)

Stonewall Activist, Drag King Storme DeLarverie Dead at 93

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Storme DeLarverie

Storme DeLarverie, a lesbian activist who took part in the New York Stonewall riots in 1969 that started the gay rights movement in the United States, died Saturday at a Brooklyn nursing home. She was 93.

Born in New Orleans in 1920 to a black mother and a white father, DeLarverie “was born into adversity and lived in adversity her whole life,” said Lisa Cannistraci, a longtime friend and one of her legal guardians. In 1969 she was among those who fought against a police raid in the Stonewall 1969 riots.

In a 2010 profile, the New York Times wrote, “Her life has been flamboyant, boundary-breaking, the stuff of pulp fiction.

“Friends say she worked for the mob in Chicago. The drag-queen group she performed with decades ago, known as the Jewel Box Revue, regularly played the Apollo in Harlem (she dressed as a man and the men dressed as women). She was photographed by Diane Arbus. She carried a straight-edge razor in her sock, and while some merely walked to and from the gay and lesbian bars in the Village, friends said, she patrolled.”

Peter Frank of the Bronx LGBTQ Community Services Center called DeLarverie “a fierce woman who stood up for our community on countless occasions.”

In recent years, DeLarverie suffered from dementia, and was the subject of a 2010 article in the New York Times.

storme-willard59Friends mourned the fact that many young members of the LBGT community had never heard of her and were unaware of her place as a gay rights pioneer, but DeLarverie herself seemed not to mind. She had a positive message of empowerment for the up-and-coming generation of queer youth. “Just be themselves, like they’ve always been,” she said. “They don’t have to pretend anything. They’re who they are.”

Did the U.K. Department of Education Kill a Mockingbird?

mockingbirdA change in the British literary curriculum has caused an outcry both in the U.K. and stateside.

British Education Secretary Michael Gove made the decision that the English literature list for a British national exam needs to be more English, so he is swapping American books in for British ones. While the formal lists have not yet been announced, a number of professors and other education experts have already lamented the loss of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, and Harper Lee’s seminal To Kill a Mockingbird.

The changes to the lists focus specifically on a standardized test known as the GCSE, the General Certificate of Secondary Education. The new GSCE syllabus for English literature is scheduled to be published later this week.

Many authors and academics noted the thematic parallels between the Education Department’s actions and the themes of the books that are getting the ax. The Crucible uses the Salem witch hunts as a metaphor for McCarthyism. To Kill A Mockingbird teaches lessons about tolerance and diversity.

In a statement, the U.K. Department of Education insisted that no books have been actively banned, and they took pains to state that teachers are free to add additional books to their in-class teaching if they so choose. The lists are merely guidelines intended to insure students are exposed to (according to a statement from the U.K. Department of Education) “a wide range of literature, including at least one Shakespeare play, a 19th century novel written anywhere, and post-1914 fiction or drama written in the British Isles.”

Conspiracy theorists may be reading a lot into the changes proposed by the U.K. Department of Education, but it just goes to show that—whether in the U.K. or the U.S., supplementing one’s formal in-class education with reading and educating oneself on one’s own is always a good idea. With the ongoing debates regarding the content of American schoolbooks and education guidelines in both public and private schools here, this latest brouhaha stresses the importance of education, that knowledge is power and access to learning is imperative to human growth and understanding.

 

Harvey Milk Honored With U.S. Postage Stamp

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Today, May 22nd, is Harvey Milk Day in California, and what better way to spend it than by attending a press conference at the White House unveiling the new U.S. postage stamp honoring Harvey Milk?

Milk, who would have turned 84 today, was the first openly gay politician elected to office in California. He was shot and killed on November 27, 1978 at the age of 48 by a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He is now the first openly gay elected official to be commemorated on a postage stamp.

Mike Pierce (left) and Jim Knight purchase Harvey Milk stamps from the Castro post office on May 22, 2014. Photo: Kurtis Alexander, The Chronicle

Mike Pierce (left) and Jim Knight purchase Harvey Milk stamps from the Castro post office on May 22, 2014. Photo: Kurtis Alexander, The Chronicle

The unveiling took place at the White House at 3 pm EST and featured remarks by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senator Tammy Baldwin, Representative John Lewis, Deputy Postmaster General Ronald A. Stroman, and other distinguished guests including the Co-Founders of the Harvey Milk Foundation, Stuart Milk (Harvey Milk’s nephew) and Anne Kronenberg.

The Harvey Milk Foundation worked with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force for seven years to honor Milk with a stamp.

“Harvey Milk is a hero to millions of people who believe in freedom and justice for LGBTQ people, and for everyone,” said Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. “He always liked to say, ‘I’m Harvey Milk and I am here to recruit you.’ Now his drive to engage more people to the movement for positive change will be immortalized in a forever stamp.”

Harvey Milk was the subject of a bio-pic, simply titled Milk, released in 2008. Directed by Gus Van Sant from a screenplay by Dustin Lance Black, the movie garnered two Academy Awards (winning Best Screenplay and for Sean Penn as Harvey Milk for Best Actor). This latest honor adds visibility for Milk’s legacy and helping a new generation learn how far LGBT rights have progressed in the past thirty-odd years.

 

Audrey Hepburn’s 85th Birthday

Audrey Hepburn: Everybody's Huckleberry friend.

Audrey Hepburn: Everybody’s Huckleberry friend.

Today, had she not died in 1993, Audrey Hepburn would have been 85 years old. The star of the classic films Funny FaceBreakfast at Tiffany’s, and My Fair Lady, she was more than simply an actress. She parlayed her celebrity status into charity work, trying to make a real difference in the world.

Born on May 4, 1929 in Brussels, Belgium, she grew up in Amsterdam as a Dutch citizen. Recognized as Hollywood royalty in her adulthood, she was in fact born a Dutch Baroness; she would later renounce the title upon acquiring American citizenship.

As Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.

As Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady.

She began her career at a time when movie stars were voluptuous and looked like Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, or Debbie Reynolds—all-American women with curves. By comparison Hepburn felt she was gawky, flat-chested, not beautiful enough; but she possessed great charm and poise, which meant she was perfectly cast as a wayward princess in Roman Holiday, for which she won the Oscar. The film’s startling message was that not every faerie tale ends happily ever after, a totally new concept in American movies.

But then, Hepburn was not born an American. She endured great sadness in her life. Her father abandoned the family, and she and her family endured great hardship during World War II; her slimness throughout her life didn’t come from diet and exercise, or anorexia, as some gossips suggested, but from childhood malnutrition. She and her family nearly starved to death due to wartime deprivation.

Remembering the aid she and her family received after enduring the German occupation during the war, Hepburn became actively involved with UNICEF, starting in the 1950′s, and in the late 1980′s then-President George H.W. Bush appointed her a Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF. Her work on behalf of the organization was made easier by her multi-linguality—she was fluent in English, Dutch, French, Italian, Spanish and German. She was used to being photographed for magazine layouts and by paparazzi, but now she could use those photographs to bring attention to the famine and poverty she witnessed firsthand in her travels.

Her deep compassion for children came from her own deprived childhood.

Her deep compassion for children came from her own deprived childhood.

She reported what she saw to world leaders, governments, and the international media in an effort to bring aid to those in need across the globe. After visiting Sudan (in which civil war cut off food aid) in April, 1989, she stated, “I saw but one glaring truth: These are not natural disasters but man-made tragedies for which there is only one man-made solution—peace.”

She also brought attention to the problems facing Somalia, which was ravaged by internal strife and an ongoing drought. “I walked into a nightmare,” she admitted. “I have seen famine in Ethiopia and Bangladesh, but I have seen nothing like this—so much worse than I could possibly have imagined. I wasn’t prepared for this.”

Though she died of cancer in January 1993, her service for children continues today through the U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s Audrey Hepburn Society, and through the many people, inspired by her example, who have gotten involved in public service on a local or global scale.

Today's "Google doodle."

Today’s “Google doodle.”

In honor of Audrey Hepburn’s birthday today Google has headed their main page with a “Google doodle” bearing her likeness.

L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City

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Fans of the seedier side of local history will want to pick up John Buntin’s new book L.A. Noir: The Struggle for the Soul of America’s Most Seductive City, a gripping examination of the battle between the mob and the L.A.P.D. from Prohibition through the Watts Riots.

While Buntin’s tome focuses on the intertwined lives of gangster Mickey  Cohen and police Chief William Parker, their battles play out across the larger tableau of the City of Angels stretching from the mansions of Beverly Hills through the nightclubs of the Sunset Strip to the gritty streets of Boyle Heights. It’s a vast, complex story that includes colorful figures like J. Edgar Hoover, Robert F. Kennedy, and Malcolm X.

With 16 pages of photos, L.A. Noir is non-fiction that nevertheless reads like a thriller. As Publisher’s Weekly describes it, “Packed with Hollywood personalities, Beltway types and felons, Buntin’s riveting tale of two ambitious souls hell-bent on opposing missions in the land of sun and make-believe is an entertaining and surprising diversion-as well as a sobering look at the role of the LAPD in fomenting racial tensions in L.A.”

John Buntin

John Buntin

John Buntin is a staff writer at Governing magazine, where he covers crime and urban affairs. As he explains what led him to write the book, “Five years ago I went to Los Angeles to report a story on L.A.P.D. Chief William Bratton for Governing Magazine. I had lived in Los Angeles previously, loved the city, and was fascinated by its history. So I dived deeper into the department’s history than I might otherwise have. I soon found myself pondering a puzzle: how did the police department of Chief James ‘Two Gun’ Davis and ‘Bloody Christmas’—the L.A. Confidential L.A.P.D., as it were—suddenly become the Dragnet L.A.P.D.? How did a department that had answered for decades to corrupt politicians come to answer to no one? The more deeply I read, the more convinced I became that the answer was bound up in the lives of Chief William H. Parker and the gangster Mickey Cohen…”

If you appreciate Raymond Chandler novels and Films Noir like The Big Sleep, Chinatown and L.A. Confidential, then you’ll want to check out John Buntin’s L.A. Noir.

The links below take you to Amazon, where you can check out the Kindle as well as hardcopy editions of L.A. Noir.

Llyn Foulkes: “Overnight Success” Only Takes 77 Years

 

Llyn Foulkes at the opening of his art retrospective at The Hammer Museum last year.

Llyn Foulkes at the opening of his art retrospective at The Hammer Museum last year.

Film buffs take note: you’ll soon be getting a chance to see a unique and moving documentary seven years in the making, titled Llyn Foulkes One Man Band.

Llyn Foulkes. The Corporate Kiss, 2001. 2The slogan “The most famous artist you’ve never heard of” may or may not be accurate. Los Angelenos who frequent the biannual Brewery Artwalk downtown will recognize Foulkes from his concerts at the “Church of Art” space in the creative complex. During these performances Foulkes would take to a makeshift stage and play the unique musical instrument he created out of random horns, cowbells, organ pipes, and more, a contraption he simply calls “the machine.”

But Foulkes is more than a musician whose chosen medium is an instrument crafted out of found objects. He’s a painter, sculptor, father, and an off-and-on husband; along with other L.A. art world figures like Dennis Hopper and assemblage artist George Herms, the documentary offers viewers candid interviews with Foulkes’ ex-wives, openly and honestly discussing the pros and cons of being married to an artist.

JPFOULKES3-articleLargeLlyn Foulkes One Man Band tells Foulkes’ story against the backdrop of three separate art openings of his work and brilliantly captures the fears, neuroses and triumphs that fuel as well as stifle the creative process. It also honestly captures the money problems faced by many artists today—how to juggle being a rebel with a vision while still paying the rent.

The Hammer Museum held a retrospective honoring Foulkes and his work last year, and now this film will help bring the man a wider audience. Sometimes it only takes 77 years to becomes an overnight success.

foulkes-653x870Mark your calendars: the documentary screens in the Laemmle Music Hall 3 in Beverly Hills, in the Laemmle NoHo in North Hollywood, and in the Laemmle Playhouse in Pasadena from May 16th to the 22nd (prior to that it runs in New York at the Film Forum from May 7th to the 13th). Foulkes and the filmmakers will be on hand to do a Q&A at selective screenings at the different theatres, so check listings on the film’s official website for details.

(Below, a clip of Llyn Foulkes singing and playing his “machine.”)

 

Shayna Saide LaBeouf Art Opening

Love Has No Equal, Mixed media, 15 x 15 inches

Love Has No Equal, Mixed media, 15 x 15 inches

The JNA Gallery in Santa Monica’s Bergamot Station is hosting an opening night reception on Thursday May 8, 2014 from 7 to 10 pm for artist and designer Shayna Saide LaBeouf, in the first solo exhibition of work in Los Angeles. The exhibition, which runs until Wednesday, May 14th, will showcase approximately 30 of her small mixed-media works and a dozen freestanding sculptures.

“The Garden of Sacred Song”

“The Garden of Sacred Song”

LaBeouf is a noted L.A.-based purse and jewelry designer whose work has been sold in trendy boutiques, including Henri Bendel’s, in Los Angeles and New York. For the past dozen years she has focused on her private art practice.

The self-taught artist creates the beautiful, often gem-encrusted collages out of old brooches, pins and necklaces, and other found objects. The results mash-up the Renaissance, the Victorian era and pre-Raphaelite painting, with imagery incorporating Madonnas, Buddhas, and the world of haute couture.

“I aspire for my work to be a witness to the sacred and the sublime,” says LaBeouf, “I encounter poetry and enchantment in every day life, offering themselves to endless interpretation. I use the brush of my inner eye to represent them in my work.”

According to one press release, “LaBeouf’s delightful tableaux, showcased in elegant shadow boxes, are the distilled result of the artist’s personal meditations on love, compassion, and acceptance, including the sacred bond between mother and child. The transcendent constructions combine ephemera and mementos, including archetypal images of women, gemstones, and vintage found objects. The subject matter and modes of execution in LaBeouf’s work link to 20th century art currents such as the magical naïve art of Henri Rousseau, the personal surrealism of Frida Kahlo, and the celebration of the Feminine by artist Judy Chicago.”

Child of Wonder, Mixed media, 15 x 15 inches

Child of Wonder, Mixed media, 15 x 15 inches

A portion of the proceeds from the exhibition will be donated in part to Artists for Trauma, a Los Angeles-based non-profit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of both civilian and military trauma survivors by pairing recovering patients with established artists from various disciplines.

The show is part of JNA’s Mother’s Day celebration, which includes exhibitions of Vintage Americana and a group show in adjacent galleries. The JNA Gallery is located at 2525 Michigan Avenue, Building D4, in Santa Monica. For more information, check out the JNA Gallery website here.