The Face of Malibu by Johanna Spinks

Councilwoman Laura Rosenthal took part in a special collaboration between The Malibu Times and local artist Johanna Spinks. 

The Malibu Times is proud to present “The Face of Malibu by Johanna Spinks,” a unique ongoing monthly series featuring a portrait sketch painted by Spinks highlighting the modern day face of Malibu. Her aim is to paint people from all walks of life in a live sitting at her Malibu studio, their unique life story told through Spinks’ award-winning portrait eye, accompanied by a written profile.

Spinks brings this exciting project to The Malibu Times having just completed “The Face of Ventura,” a very successful two-year project where 57 people in the town were painted using the same approach. There she showcased the proverbial butcher, baker and candlestick maker—from a movie star (Kevin Costner), to a police chief, a harbor master, town politicians and benefactors.

Tune in to see who is painted next in Malibu…readers are also invited to nominate people they feel of special interest.

Born and raised in Great Neck Long Island, Laura Rosenthal was raised in a politically active Democrat family. She recalls heated nightly dinner conversations revolving around politics and working on campaigns, both experiences shaping her view of the world. She attended college at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, receiving a degree in psychology. After graduating, she migrated to the West Coast where she earned a Masters at USC, and a PhD in Clinical Psychology. She began an internship at the VA hospital where she focused on eating disorders. Soon after, she opened a private practice and organized family therapy groups at Northridge Hospital. She maintained her own private practice in Brentwood and Malibu for almost 20 years.

Along the way she got married and started a family. “Having children really changed me a lot,” she said. “I considered myself a real hippy/radical when I was young, and the thought of ever having a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence, a station wagon, and the PTA president, I would have laughed if you told me that at 18 years old, but life has a funny way of changing.” Laura and husband Walter have two sons, Will, a senior at Malibu High, and Joe, a student at the University of Oregon. “I loved being a part of my boys’ lives. I volunteered in their classroom and then the school, and I ultimately became the PTA president of Point Dume Science Elementary School,” she said. Laura has also served on the Little League Board and the city’s public works and parks and recreation commissions, before running successfully for City Council in 2010.

What do you like most about living in Malibu?

Two different things. One is the environment, just the beauty of it, the clean air, the beautiful ocean. I love the mountains, and being able to enjoy amazing sunrises and sunsets. I love the people. I’ve lived here for over 23 years and I’ve made some wonderful, wonderful friends. I’ve been able to meet so many different kinds of people through school activities or recreation or city. It’s just such a wonderful eclectic mix of people.

What would you like to see changed in Malibu?

I’d like to make our roads safer. I’d like to make the air and the water even cleaner but if I had to make it even more personal, I wish I could get more people involved in our city in some way because I feel they would be enriched by it. I’d love to be able to make it easier to go from point A to point B at certain times of the day and year. But I think one of the things we give up by living here is being able to do things easily. It’s a beautiful and wonderful place. I want to share it with the world and I think that the world should enjoy it as much as we do.

How do you see Malibu’s future?

I see the future in many ways similar to the present. We’re going to have many people very involved with the city and lots of visitors. I hope more families move in because it’s a wonderful and enriching place to raise your kids. What you give up in being in a big city you really get back being next to the outdoors and not having to lock your house and feeling safe and being around wildlife. I hope those things stay the same and we’re able to control development. I think it’s also important to balance that to make sure that the people that live here also have the amenities they need and deserve.

How was your experience having your portrait painted by Johanna?

It was wonderful. It was very different; I had never done a professional photo shoot, let alone getting my portrait done. It was a very fluid experience because I’ve known Jo over the years and we had things and people to talk about and much to catch up on. But she makes it very easy. She’s so likable and professional.

To learn more about Johanna Spinks’ Fine Art, featuring classical heirloom family and corporate portraiture visit Email: