It wasn’t your run-of-the-mill crowd at the McLean Gallery, but it wasn’t your run-of-the-mill exhibit either. Locals lined up to eye the iconic work of Judy Ragagli. Let’s just say this living doll is the ultimate Barbie girl living in a Barbie world. If you’re a fan of Mattel’s perky, plastic pal, you might see Ragagli’s playful paintings as a dream come true.

Barbie lovers were greeted by “Bora Bora Barbie,” a sizable 30-foot-by-40-foot work that features a classic 1950s Barbie sporting a snazzy-red strapless one-piece with white-Marilyn Monroe shades, ruby lips and fire engine nails.

There were blond Barbies, brunette Barbies, black Barbies, Barbies with bangs, Barbies with buns, Barbies in bathing suits, Barbies in bustiers.

One thing’s for sure, no matter what the occasion, you can always count on Barbie to get glam to the max. And that’s a major part of her legendary allure.

“Barbie symbolizes beauty,” Ragagli explained. “She symbolizes femininity, style and independence.” As for the artists first Barbie? You guessed it…a local favorite. “Malibu Barbie was my first and I’ve just really loved Barbie all my life.”

Ragagli turned child’s play into a lucrative career. “I started out doing abstract stuff,” Ragagli recalled. “But I just kept going back to Barbie, and the response has been absolutely tremendous.”

How do those hard-nosed, lawsuit-happy toy execs feel about her work? “Oh, Mattel is fine with it,” JR says matter-of-factly. “You see, some people sexualize Barbie. Some people politicize her. I don’t do that.” As far as Ragagli is concerned, Barbie is more than a just a toy. “I see her as possessing a soul and positive spirit, a persona beyond the plastic facade; still and noble, like the Mona Lisa.”

Mamma Mia! Now that’s taking your kid stuff seriously!


“Lost in Translation” director Sofia Coppola has another reason to celebrate her status as the industry’s new It girl. SC has become one of only five women who have ever been nominated by the Director’s Guild of America for its top film prize. Francis Ford’s little darling is in excellent company, joining the likes of Clint Eastwood, who is up for the DGA Award for “Mystic River,” Peter Jackson for “Return of the King” and Australian filmmaker Peter Weir, who was behind the critically acclaimed epic “Master and Commander.” Two big time directors who were considered shoo-ins were overlooked. “The Last Samurai’s” Edward Zwick was left off the list as well as “Cold Mountain’s” Anthony Minghella. The winners will be announced on Feb. 7.