Found objects, assemblage, 14 x 16 x 14 inches, on a 45 inch stand
VALERIE VON SOBEL (Hungarian-American 1940-)
A survivor of the Communist era, Valerie Varda [von Sobel] fled her native Hungary during the 1956 uprising against the Soviet regime to settle in Toronto, Canada. She vividly remembers that time. She recalls carrying her younger brother on her back while walking eight miles with her parents through a marsh, to cross the forbidden border to the safety of Austria. After the elation of the escape, there were many months in refugee camps.
In high school, Ms. Sobel was interested in acting. Through a fortuitous encounter, she was flown to Los Angeles for a screen test and won a role in “Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation” with Jimmy Stewart. In 1962 she became a California resident. Marriage to Erwin von Sobel, a prominent attorney, was followed with the birth of her son Andre and daughter Simone. She eventually left film to focus on family, and later developed a successful career in international interior design with projects appearing in books and magazines, including Architectural Digest. She remains a member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) as a “keepsake from that career.”
Mrs. von Sobel’s life changed the day in 1994 her teen age son Andre was diagnosed with a malignant, inoperable brain tumor. A year later, the family suffered his devastating loss. Shortly thereafter her mother died, and a year later to the day of Andre’s death, her husband Erwin 54, took his own life. Through the subsequent months of crushing grief, Ms. Sobel sought to re-direct her life.
Witnessing children who were alone in hospitals having to face their fears, their pain, treatments, and at times even their death–alone–continued to haunt Valerie. In most cases, these children were from single parent homes. Reflecting on her own experiences with her son, she found it hard to imagine how brutal it must be for those in a similar situation, without financial means, without the support of another caring partner.
This was her motivation for establishing CompassionCantWait.org in 1995. Surprised by what seemed to be a spiritual revelation, the vision of the foundation and its purpose became clear: “Experiencing the sudden onset of a life-threatening illness of a child devastates every family,” she said. “But for the single parent without financial resources, it is inconceivable.” The Foundation has helped around 100,000 people in its wol years plus.
In addition to serving in the full time role as Founder and President of the foundation since 1995, Ms. Sobel is recognized as the “cover girl” of Advanced Style: Older and Wiser by Ari Seth Cohen, a celebration of women over the age of 60 with unique personal style. She has appeared in numerous lifestyle and philanthropic magazine articles, and is sought after by leading fashion photographers and artists.
Valerie is a charter member of the Women of Washington/Los Angeles, the Music Center’s Blue Ribbon Society, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, The Council of Women World Leaders, and a founding member of the Women’s Foundation of California’s Donor Circle. When she is not traveling, Ms. Sobel spends time between Los Angeles and her mountain home in Idyllwild, California. Daughter Simone is a graduate of Lynn University and a nationally ranked chess player and chess instructor.
Her recent exhibition at Denenberg Fine Arts, Inc. attracted international recognition, and even a congratulatory note from British royalty.