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Lia's Art Blog

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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.

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