Documentary : #Oscars Heaven Is A Traffic Jam On The 405 Short Subject

Such a beautiful human being.  I highly recommend this to everyone, especially artists.

Length: 40minutes

Release: Oct 2016

Synopsis: Mindy Alper is a tortured and brilliant 56-year-old artist who is represented by one of Los Angeles’ top galleries. Acute anxiety, mental disorder and devastating depression have caused her to be committed to mental institutions undergo electro shock therapy and survive a 10 year period without the ability to speak. Her hyper self-awareness has allowed her to produce a lifelong body of work that expresses her emotional state with powerful psychological precision. Through interviews, reenactments, the building of an eight and a half foot papier-mache’ bust of her beloved psychiatrist, and examining drawings made from the time she was a child, we learn how she has emerged from darkness and isolation to a life that includes love, trust and support.

IMDB Page: Heaven Is A Traffic Jam On The 405

A sculpture by Mindy Alper:

On her Rosamund Felson Gallery bio, the last paragraph is astounding:

Alper has also performed in a comedy, “The Love Machine;” was writer and actor in Imagination Workshop, an improvisational performing art theater group, UCLA; and is a founding member of the Buttersticks, a performance group. Her teaching experience has been at Dorothy Cannon Art Studio, Studio City; as a T.A. at Alternative School, Los Angeles; and at the adolescent terminal ward, Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles.  She was a visiting artist at the Experimental Drawing Class, CalArts, Valencia.  Alper has exhibited with the Rosamund Felsen Gallery since 2006. She lives in Los Angeles.

I say astounding because she has overcome a number of obstacles throughout her life while coping with mental illness. In the piece she describes being at her wit’s end with her mental illness and deciding to go through electro therapy.  In the process her brain was damaged but she notes that damage may have saved her life. She suffered through a ten-year period where she was unable to speak.  By the end of the piece I wanted to reach through the screen and hug her, if my cooties would have allowed it.

I found the whole film on YouTube:

Below this are the spoilers, the things I thought of during the film:

  • In describing traffic on the 405: “As long as I’m not late or have to pee, it’s Heaven.”
  • Phobia of touch: My poison would come off and they would die.
  • She saw her Mom in black and white and her Father in pink but sometimes red.
  • She took a handful of pills in the AM and in the PM, she notes she must have mixed up and taken more of one than the other.  Yesterday morning she threw them up because she did not eat.  This was always my fear while caring for Dad.  The mixup or double up of medication.  Her meds cover: depression, anxiety, OCD, digestion, migraines, anti psychotics, cholesterol, mood stabilizers and more stomach meds.  We watch her at one point struggle with the meds and discuss the difficulties, though not as bad as she previously experienced.
  • She talks about her teachers, primarily Dorothy Cannon (her first and longest teacher) and Tom Wudl (her current teacher).  She says that they wanted her to feel free through her art.  It is a beautiful thing, her relationship with art and her ability to express the ideas in pictures of the emotions she has internally.  I would LOVE to see her work in a gallery setting, up close.  I am hoping I can at least find a print for sale that I could hang in my library.
  • Her father was difficult, didn’t believe in mental illness.  Her Mother had what sounds like post partum that extended for a lengthy time.  The thing with her Mom – she made sure that Mindy had art teachers throughout her life.  She might not have connected with her daughter in a societal way but she did protect her daughter through providing her with people she could connect too.  She almost comes off as being a bad person in the film for making her daughter leave the house when she was 16 but I feel her Mom had her own struggles and maybe was doing the best she could.
  • She is sound sensitive.

The director Frank Stiefel was a speaker at a graduation, that can be seen here:

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