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Jim LaForte was born in Buffalo, New York in 1941. He attended the University of New York at Buffalo from 1968 – 1971 attaining his BFA, majoring in sculpture. He continued his studies in the master program at the University of California Long Beach where he studied with Lewis Cohen, a third generation student of Rodin, and first generation of Harold Tovich. In the early 70’s LaForte continued his studies with Lewis Cohen on a four year scholarship at the Laguna Beach Professional Art Institute, Laguna Beach, California. In 1980 LaForte moved to Italy to enroll in the Academia d’Arte in Florence. While in Florence he met and studied with the world renowned artist Joseph Sheppard, who sponsored LaForte into the prestigious fellowship of the Uffizi Gallery Archives where he studied the great masters of the western world. During his time in Florence LaForte also had the opportunity to study anatomy in the state owned (but then closed to the general public) LoSpecola, Sala d’Anatomica. LaForte’s works have been represented in Florence, Italy; Buffalo, New York; and Jamestown, New York. He has also shown in the prestigious Chautauqua Institute, Chautauqua, New York. His works are collected throughout the United States and in Italy. Two of his bas reliefs are permanently installed in the chapel of the church in Buriano, Italy. As an accomplished sculptor, LaForte is a classic mask maker in the tradition of the Venetian Scuola de Le Maschere, where he studied with Professore Agostino Dessi. He has produced masks for theater and performing groups. His concentration of the human form is represented in both his paintings and sculpture. He has produced works of terra cotta, bronze, and plaster as well as wood carvings – one of which is installed at Hillside Church in Wrightwood, California.

In addition LaForte is a classically trained French and Italian chef. For many years his exquisite culinary creations have pleased the palates of those from all walks of life. During his tenure as a professional chef and restaurant owner, not only were his paintings, sculptures and drawings on display in his Orange County, California restaurants, his mastery of the “art of food” was evident in each and every one of his dishes. Throughout his culinary career LaForte won favorable reviews from the top critics and publications in the industry and always revered food as a natural art form. Jim LaForte maintains a studio in the California mountain community of Wrightwood where he continues to sculpt paint and draw.

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