LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Four years have passed since art designer Marcelle Danan first shared her story of her special friendship with homeless artist William Laga.
“You’d never think he was homeless. He was struggling with his own sickness,” Danan told CBS2’s Pat Harvey. “He tried to heal himself by painting.”
Laga’s story first surfaced in 2009 when CBS2 featured an exclusive report of Danan’s unique relationship with Laga, who at the time was living on the streets in Westwood.
Every Monday, Danan would help Laga unleash his creativity and free his soul — days she affectionately dubbed “Mondays with William.”
“It’s a lesson to us to see how this guy is fighting with himself trying to survive,” she said.
Harvey followed Danan to Paris, where Laga’s prized paintings were well-received.
“Because of CBS and the segment and everything, we sold enough paintings. And then, with this money, we invest[ed] in the studio and we put him in a studio,” Danan said.
Laga moved into a Beverly Hills apartment at the corner of Burton Way and Robertson Boulevard. There, he filled his days painting, but business wasn’t booming.
“Up and down,” Danan recalled. “And up and down. And up and down until the down came. We didn’t have enough money.”
“Mondays with William” soon ended and Laga returned to the street. But although the artwork was shelved, his story lived on.
Eventually, the wife of a documentarian contacted Danan after seeing CBS2’s “Mondays with William” series.
“She told me, ‘My husband [does] documentaries and I would love you to get in touch with him [because he] is interested in the story of William,” Danan recounted.
What followed was the release of the “Mondays with William” documentary, which Danan hopes will revive Laga’s passion to paint.
“I paint a lot of stuff,” Laga told Harvey. “I painted a job in Bel-Air. I went in the backyard and I painted some paintings for somebody.”
“I don’t really have nothing to do. I don’t think about it in between. I just get a job once in a while. I’ve been an artist for so long. I was doing it a long time ago,” he said. “And I became popular, on and off.”
Most apparent, though, is Laga’s popularity in his Westwood neighborhood.
Although Laga says he took a “vacation” from painting, he intends to start up again.
“He said to me, ‘So, I’m starting. You and me back. And I have very good ideas on a new painting that I want to do it,'” Danan said. “William coming back and painting is giving him more happiness again.”
“I’ve got all kinds of techniques. I’m ready to go,” Laga said. “I’m one of the best. I mean, I can paint.”