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Category - Press
Posted - 07/09/2023 11:15am
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Daily Inspiration, Voyage LA Magazine


Daily Inspiration: Meet Lia Bonagura-Transue - Voyage LA Magazine | LA City Guide

Local Stories

Today we'd like to introduce you to 

Lia Bonagura-Transue.

Lia, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
As far back as I can remember, I have always drawn or painted. Some of my earliest works as a child are hidden on the pages inside my parent's old collectible books and much to their dismay, the elevator doors in the Manhattan building where I grew up. New York City was both my backyard and my canvas. I was a graffiti artist as a teen and attended the School of Music and Art, you know, the one they made the film "Fame" about. My father was an Art Director in NYC, one of the original "Mad Men" and my mother a seamstress for a well-known fashion designer so you can imagine the guests and endless parties in the 60's & 70's, rooms full of larger than life adults, me and my little brother, six years younger all packed into a smoke-filled 800 square ft 16th-floor Midtown apartment till 3 or 4 or 5am. It was an education, in art, in fashion, and in life, but actual homework was a bit of a blur.

I have always been drawn to representational painting, something that connects back to my formal training in design and illustration, and that love for representational work led me to explore a manner of painting over the years that is carefully composed, balanced, crisp, graphic, mostly representational yet sometimes surreal or abstract. Being new to the Coachella Valley, the desert landscape, colors, and sculptural forms have certainly informed and inspired my new work which I would say has a continuity that blurs the lines between narrative, surreal and the abstract perhaps even more.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you've learned along the way. Looking back would you say it's been easy or smooth in retrospect?

Boy, when is it not a struggle? A struggle for time, a struggle for money, a struggle for inspiration, recognition, validation. Being an artist is not an easy job and anyone who tells you it is, doesn't know any artists. Art is a constant struggle both internally and externally, but it's a beautiful struggle and one most artists probably secretly hope they never win.

For many years I was the Director of an art Museum and a mother, so finding time to make art while working full-time and parenting was certainly a struggle. Losing one of those children was the definition of struggle, after living 31 years in Sonoma and deciding to move to Palm Desert during Covid, we could write a book on struggle, but you keep doing what you do and what you love because

that's who you are. You do it to overcome the struggle.

Breaking into a different art "scene" and culture is also not easy, it takes time for people to accept you and recognize that you're here to stay and serious about what you do, so it definitely has it's challenges, but then there's also this fresh, steady flow of inspiration, living a new life, in a new landscape, making new friends and connections and creating a new body of work, so again, it's a struggle, but it's a beautiful struggle. And then there are those things that make it all worth it, like being closer to our son Maxwell Transue who is an amazing human, composer & musician based in Los Angeles.

Thanks - so what else should our readers know about your work and what you're currently focused on?

I am a painter and I paint predominantly with oil on canvas. They used to average 2 x 3 to 4 x 4 feet, but I have bigger walls now so they're getting bigger, which could be a problem soon. During Covid I allowed myself to experiment with new techniques and ideas I had been wanting to explore for some time which presented an opportunity to reinvent myself as a painter. Challenging and exhilarating, but also a scary thing to do when you have been successful in your previous work, but I think we can be a lot of things in a lifetime as well as having many styles and interests in your art practice. I found it interesting when I was the Director of Sonoma Valley Museum of Art and we had several retrospective shows of well-known painters, that most experimented with multiple ways of creating in their lifetime with many coming full circle in the end. Will I come full circle? I don't really know, what I do know is that the trajectory I'm on now definitely has an arc.

Lia is a painter living in the Coachella Valley in Southern California with her husband and college sweetheart. Born and raised in New York City. Lia studied at California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA and received her BFA from Academy of Art College in San Francisco. She has exhibited in many solo and group shows and her work can be found in private collections throughout the US as well as internationally.

Contact Info:

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Category - General
Posted - 04/07/2017 05:02pm
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2000-2009 Founding Executive Director, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, Sonoma CA
1996-1999 Founding Art Director, Sonoma Community Center, Sonoma CA


2022 "Community"  Artist Center at the Galen, Palm Desert, CA. JUROR'S: Consuelo Montoya -- Assistant Vice President of Adult Education and Public Programs at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art Nicolas Orozco-Valdivia -- Curator-at-Large at The Mistake Room, and Curatorial Assistant at the Benton Museum of Art at Pomona College
2022 "Hot Times :Cool Art"  Artist Center at the Galen, Palm Desert, CA.
2022 "ACE"  Artist Center at the Galen, Palm Desert, CA. JUROR'S: Edina Adam, Assistant Curator of Drawings, J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles,Melissa Russo, Director, San Bernardino County Museum, Redlands, Daniel Foster, Artist, Poet and Executive Director, Shumway Ranch Artist-in-Residence Program Palm Desert
2022 "Panic": JUROR: Chester Arnold, Curated by Jeremy Thornton, O' Hanlon Center for the Arts, Mill Valley CA,
2017 "Tres Technicas", Alley Gallery Sonoma, California
2016 "Co-Chairs" ,Alley Gallery ,Sonoma, California
2014 Marin Museum of Contemporary Art:Summer National Juried Exhibition JUROR: Catherine Clark, Director/Owner, Catherine Clark Gallery
2013 "Untitled" Gallery 300, Santa Rosa, CA
2012 "Summer Selects": A group show  I Sonoma Gallery , Sonoma CA
2011 " New Works", La Haye Gallery, Sonoma CA
2011 Petaluma Arts Center, Petaluma CA
2010 Arts Guild of Sonoma, Sonoma CA
2006 "Never to Forget: Faces of The Fallen" Sonoma Valley Museum of Art, Sonoma,
2000 Sonoma Collects Three" Sonoma Valley Museum of Art,


2015 "Can't Take It With You: The Alley Gallery, Sonoma CA
2011-2012 Sonoma Gallery, Sonoma CA
2011 "New Works" La Haye Gallery, Sonoma CA


1997, 1998, 1999, 2005, Salute to the Arts Competition, award winner
2008 Individual of the Year Award, - The Sunny's Community Awards, Three House Multi Media Sonoma, CA, 2008
2005 Mentors & Models program for Innovation Award, Community Foundation Sonoma County, CA

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Category - General
Posted - 01/09/2014 11:20pm
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Lia will be participating in Desert Open Studios in Coachella Valley, CA 
March 18 & 19 and 25 & 26, 2023 Saturdays 10-4 & Sunday 12-4

SF Open Studios
Weekend 4 - November 8th/9th, 2014
Neighborhood: Fort Mason
Fort Mason, Bldg. C, Room 260
Building: C
San Francisco, CA. 94123

Marin Museum of Contemporary Art
MAY 31 - JULY 13th 2014
500 Palm Drive, Novato, Ca 94949.
Museum Hours :Wednesday – Friday 11am to 4pm
 Saturday-Sunday11am to 5pm

JULY 19,20 - JULY 25-27,2014
148 East Napa Street ,Sonoma, Ca 95476
RECEPTION: JULY 18, 7-9:30P.M.
Gallery Hours:12:00-5:00PM or by appointment

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