Making Friends With The Deceased- Being a Part of Family and History

When I’m not sculpting monumental Alice in Wonderland characters, you may often find me making friends with the deceased.  That is what someone told me years ago. It took me aback, but I realized that is what I do.  I create posthumous sculptures, and like the video for Texas Country Reporter states, I get to know my subject very personally and at special times I’m now realizing, I get adopted into a family.  I can feel that now as I work with my new sculpture of Norma Zenteno, an incredible musician who died of breast cancer. The “feeling like family” and becoming friends also extends to those four-legged critters as  part of the Norma project I’m sculpting Kippy, a rescue dog from Barrio Dogs.  I feel the warmth of family in this new commission, and this weekend I felt the warmth of family as I visited an old friend.

I sculpted Patsy over 11 years ago in 2005/2006. Looking back it was an interesting time of transition. I had just built my new studio behind my home, began a regular blog on my website, and was writing a book on the process of sculpting the deceased- still unpublished.

A few years ago I began to receive invitations to a family party on the Patren Ranch. This is a ranch that has been in Patsy’s family for over 100 years.   David, Patsy’s son and his wife Becky live on the property.  David is also a musician so besides visiting the sculpture of Patsy under a large old oak, where “tree Whisky” hangs, there is always great live music.  Though it is a long drive home, I had to stay late, just to hear David play his fiddle and see the family begin to join in on the revelry. If you know me, you know I’m all about the music, either dancing or joining in on harmony, it is one of those other favorite things that I do.  The rolling hills and the old refurbished family home, now a museum complete with the German history of the area leaves me feeling nostalgic and sentimental.  Clusters of Blacked-Eyed Susans crop up in wild areas, and crickets hop over my sneakers on patches of dry mowed lawn as I wonder the fields.   An olive grove was put in by Patsy’s husband, Howard a few years back and I’m tickled to go see the progress. I ramble past the new old “kitchen” building.  Howard tells me they are  building it from reclaimed wood. I hear it will be the “music” building.  I have longed for property for which to grow my business, and for which to grow historical relevance and pass on to the family.  While walking through the main house, a charming young man grabs my hand, shakes it hard, and says, “I’m Cody, Howard’s grandson, I’m so pleased you are here.” His intensity, charm, and warmth radiate from him. I watch later as it spreads on stage with his singing.  I know very few people invited to this gathering save for Howard, Patsy husband and Jennie, Patsy’s best friend who posed for the sculpture. But the family embraces me like I’m a relative who has been away on a journey. With the tight schedule of the Alice Project, I have been away and have not been able to attend a Patren Ranch party in a while. It is good to be back.

Tree whiskey “Patren Ranch.
The story is told that Patsy’s
grandpa had a still. Grandma didn’t believe
in drink, so her grandpa
would hide the whiskey bottles
high up in the trees.
The workers could be found taking
more than a rest under one of these old trees

Howard and I sit by the new pool, as the sun sets over the rolled up bales of hay in the field, me dangling my toes in the water and talking as I watch the family dogs jump in and sit on the pool ledge slightly submerged in the water.  I am sure this was built for them. They bound out, sniff me and Howard, and then chase after their mates clearing the small stone fence like graceful equine jumpers. It is a playful ritual that is repeated several times during our visit and endears me to the family, and property all the more.  I sip a frozen margarita and Howard and I talk about the last ten years and my career. It forces me to reflect on my accomplishments. I’m glad I brought him a copy of my book. I’m extremely thankful for all of the commissions that have brought me to this point in my life.

Later, a  young woman gathers around my prime seat in front of the stage, my space where I have parked my things for the last several hours. She says, “I need a chair like that. It looks so comfortable.” I tell her it is my camping chair and stool. “Do you go camping a lot,” she asks. “I love to,” I say. Her reply makes me laugh, ” Well I am not a camper but I like sitting and that is a fine chair for that.”  Not long after that I pack up my “fine chair” and prepare for my long drive down the back country road to  Houston.

The music, the family, the incredible refreshing property that is Patron and the memories have refreshed me. I think of all the people who have referred to my sculpture and said, “I’m so glad we have Patsy to visit.”  I have become a part of a memory, a part of the history of this family and this property through my work. I’m so very honored. Thank you, Patsy.

Look Past The Whimsy To The Love

Today I went to Evelyn’s Park. I have not been there since the grand opening April 22, 2017. The grand opening for me was exciting, but also a little bit sad, I had hoped my sculpture would be there for all to enjoy.

The dedication plaque is a separate piece. Here is the message from the Rubensteins. Remember the love, when you look at the whimsy.

Today I went to the park, and especially the memorial garden. Many may not know that there is a special place in the park. It is on the south-east corner of the park and is called Evelyn’s Memorial Garden. You will know it because the pathway changes. It goes from pea gravel to gray brick.  In the middle of this memorial garden, there is a spot that is filled with brown mulch and empty. That is where the sculpture of the Mad Hatter tea party will go.

I was delighted that the hard work of the Rubnestein family and foundation had finally come to fruition. It was a long road for them, and they worked hard to get the park to this point.  No one, but them and those who dedicated themselves to getting the park done, knows how hard that was.  I wanted to go there today and think about that. I wanted to think about Evelyn and how thankful I am that I have been a part of creating a memory in honor of a woman that will be cherished by many. A memory that two boys began, because they loved their mom.  I’m thinking back to the dedication plaque

I think we are all so caught up in the idea of the whimsy of the sculpture, and the hidden objects, that somehow the love, the true meaning of this sculpture has been overlooked. Today I went to Evelyn’s Park and talked to Evelyn. On my way. I was overwhelmed with the need and sorrow that I did not bring a rock. I am not Jewish, but my best friend is, and I grew up surrounded by the Jewish culture. Because I also create many sculptures of deceased loved ones I have studied death and the traditions surrounding death.  The Jewish traditions surrounding death are some of the most endearing.  But my urgency for a rock came from a simple custom combined with my absolute love of rocks. I collect them from wherever I go. Rocks line my window sills. In the Jewish tradition, it is customary to bring a rock to the grave of a loved one.

On the book sits a mouse reading the copy. At the top of a book the white rabbit jumps down a hole.

In article I found on my Jewish learning  they quoteRabbi Simkha Weintraub, rabbinic director of the New York Jewish Healing Center . “They say that by placing the stone, we show that we have been there, and that the individual’s memory continues to live on in and through us.”

I don’t know where Evelyn is buried, but I want to celebrate her life. I have studied her as I was also commissioned to do a sculpture of her for the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center.   I have been celebrating her life all through the last few years by creating this sculpture. Her children have celebrated her by creating this park, and by commissioning me to do this sculpture for the park in her memory.  I do know she was an amazingly strong woman, and I hope I can have her strength, courage and business sense as I proceed in my life.   I have decided that I may go and walk this pathway once a week until the sculpture is placed. Don’t be surprised if you see random rocks in the midst of the empty spot.  I will be culling through my personal collection and placing them there to honor Evelyn and her memory.

If you go to the park, after the sculpture is installed, look behind this book and dedication plaque. If you see a rock, now you will know what it means, and perhaps you will know that I have been there, or maybe others, and that her memory is indeed continuing to live on, in and through us. We are celebrating the memory of her and finding her love through the whimsy.

Dedication plaque reads…

Once upon a time,
In a land called Bellaire, there were two brothers,
Bo and Jerry Rubenstein.

The boys wanted to do something special,
To honor their mother, Evelyn.
Evelyn would often say,

“The way to make a difference is by giving and sharing.”
And so, in her memory,
The brothers created Evelyn’s Park
And placed within it


Visiting Cemeteries And Sculptures


Today, while at the Glenwood Cemetery I visited the places that I love the best. I visit Ellie,  as I most often do.  I realize that this little girl would be nearly 20 now. I never knew her, though each time I do a posthumous sculpture I feel like I do know my subject. Somehow we develop a relationship after death.

A bronze by Harriet Frishmuth

And I visit this sculpture created by Harriet Frishmuth. It is interesting because it has the same softness that I feel from the angel that I mentioned in my last post. I have seen other work of art by  Harriet Frishmuth such as aspirations in the Forest Lawn cemetery in Buffalo NY. This sculpture is hidden in Glenwood and hard to find, but I always stop and say hello.

Though my other posthumous sculptures are not at this cemetery I think of them as well, and the mothers and fathers who love and miss their little ones. To those who have a similar loss, may you find peace and comfort in the celebration of the lives of these precious little ones. They are still with us.

A baby angel, in loving memory of Jenna.


Bridgette Mongeon is a sculptor, writer, illustrator and educator as well as a public speaker.

Her blog can be found at

She is the vice chair of the planning committee for 3DCAMP Houston 2012

She is also the owner and creator of the God’s Word Collectible Sculpture series

Follow the artists on twitter and

Follow me on Facebook

Listen to The Creative Christian Podcast or the Inspiration/Generation Podcast

Click on Podcast Host Bios for a list of all podcasts.

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My First Inspiration Comes Back

My favorite sculpture in the Glenwood cemetery.

When I first started sculpting nearly 30 years ago I became intrigued with cemeteries. When I travel, I visit them like some choose to visit museums, or historical buildings.  When I go to the cemeteries, I gravitate toward certain plots. I visit them as if I knew the individuals buried there.  I visit because of the art.

From the moment I entered Glenwood Cemetery, many years ago I fell in love with this sculpture. It is very simple. It does not look like it belongs on the base where it is placed.  I remember when I first began sculpting, even before I began creating work for cemeteries I said, “One day I hope to create a sculpture like this, with the same feeling and emotion and peace.”  When I would envision my own burial plot, it is this sculpture that I envision on it.

Today a potential client called and told me that she and her mother liked one specific angel in the cemetery. They would really like their sculpture similar to this.  I was elated.  It was my angel! Though I’m not sure we should call her an angel because she does not have wings.

I don’t know if I will get the commission.  I do hope I do, as it will fulfill a deep desire in me that I have held for 30 years, but I think it is nice to know that this sculpture that I have loved has a special place in the heart of others as well.  I hope when I am gone, others will feel that way about the work I leave behind.


Bridgette Mongeon is a sculptor, writer, illustrator and educator as well as a public speaker.

Her blog can be found at

She is the vice chair of the planning committee for 3DCAMP Houston 2012

She is also the owner and creator of the God’s Word Collectible Sculpture series

Follow the artists on twitter and

Follow me on Facebook

Listen to The Creative Christian Podcast or the Inspiration/Generation Podcast

Click on Podcast Host Bios for a list of all podcasts.

Listen to the Art and Technology Podcast

I Love Cemeteries, And I love What I Do For a Living

I want to give a life meaning. I do that through my art, through getting to know the love of the family and creating continuing bonds with them through my sculpture.

I left the cemetery today and said, I miss doing more posthumous sculpture. I need to focus on only this.  Perhaps the lull in this type of commissions this past year and a half are because we have really walked our own loss through this time.  In fact, death, which is usually so much a part of my creativity , has become very personal with the losing of a father, mother, father in law, step mom and God mother— all within a few short years.  I’m keenly aware of the loss from my clients perspective.

Leaving the cemetery today I thought, “Sure the giant monuments pay a lot, but for me, this part of my work- posthumous sculpture is much more fulfilling.”

I know  many artists who bid on these type of projects and refer to them as, “just another commission.” Anyone who knows me and has followed my work and my studies over my career knows that I do not refer to posthumous sculpture in this way.  I believe that sculpting for a prayer garden or a cemetery is one of the most honoring things I could ever do in my life and with my talents. When I do this, I always thank God for giving me this talent.

I know that some might think of this type of work as macabre.  I suppose it is in how you look at death.  It is interesting that I really no longer want to think about Halloween, but I am increasingly interested in The Day of The Dead.  The Day of the Dead is A Hispanic tradition where family members embrace, remember and celebrate their loved one.  We— in the western culture are too quick to brush a death away.  People think they cannot or should not grieve and celebrate. My work gives people permission to do that, as does The Day of The Dead.

Another element to my passion for this type of work is the children.  When I found this tiny grave at Glenwood cemetery I knew I had to have my picture taken with it.  The children are here for such a short time, but this does not lesson their impact on the lives of others.  The posthumous sculptures of and for children are by far my favorite thing to create.

I went to the cemetery today with a parent.  I don’t know if I will be awarded this commission. But it does not matter. The moment we meet. I am connected to this mother and her grief. Someone else may be sculpting the project, but I will be holding this family in my heart and prayers for many years to come. When holidays come, I feel their greif and pray for their loss.  As I told a friend of mine this afternoon, the responsibility that comes with this type of work is more than creative, but I embrace it. It is a part of who I am.

Here is a portion of the novel I wrote. This is a young adult novel about a young girl who, like her mother, is very sensitive to the emotions of others.  Her mother is a sculptor. Yes, it is based a bit on my own experiences.  I am reminded of the novel and this scene as I visited this place in the cemetery.  The inspiration for this novel came from this marvelous serene cemetery. Maybe I should work on getting his novel polished and published.  Today when I visited, the man in my story was gone, there is a headstone now, but I will forever have this vision printed in my heart, and I know my potential client can identify with the sentiment.

Picnic in the cemetery

The creeping vines cling close to the brick, creating topiary sentinels that hold open the iron gates welcoming the large, sliver van. Mothering oaks spread their long arms intertwining over graves, and winding grey roads that are carefully edged with red brick curbs. The roots of the nurturing trees hold the dead, with tears from years of grief and memory– cradling, scooping nestling.

Caroline looks for her favorite places, as the van proceeds at a reverent pace deeper and deeper into the shade, and green and history that is the cemetery. The road widens at the gazebo, a courteous place for parking. A man in jeans and a light blue shirt who is not quite as old as her own parents stands at the foot of a tiny fresh grave that is heaped with dirt. Dirt that will settle into the earth as the pain and grief settle into the man. He stands, arms heavy and empty and hanging by his side. There is no head stone only stuffed animals and store bought figurines of cherubs. Caroline feels a bit breathless, the center of her chest tightens, a longing and loneliness bore a hollow spot in her.

She tries to shake it off. “This is someone I don’t even know.” She reminds herself. She wishes she was alone at this moment, that the man were not there, nor her mother for she has an overwhelming urge to lay down on the ground next to the pile of dirt, and tell it a story. “If only the man knew my mother, and what she does, maybe she could help.” She thought. But she has discovered, as Ms. Moyer has, that not everyone can handle what Ms. Moyer does. To some it brings immense comfort, others extreme pain. Even some that come to her go away for a time and then come back and say, “No, I can’t do this.”

Bridgette Mongeon is a sculptor, writer, illustrator and educator as well as a public speaker.

Her blog can be found at

She is the vice chair of the planning committee for 3DCAMP Houston 2012

She is also the owner and creator of the God’s Word Collectible Sculpture series

Follow the artists on twitter and

Follow me on Facebook

Listen to The Creative Christian Podcast or the Inspiration/Generation Podcast

Click on Podcast Host Bios for a list of all podcasts.

Listen to the Art and Technology Podcast

Memorial And Posthumous Sculpture

If you are at this part of Ms. Mongeon’s web site you are probably considering a sculpture to honor someone that you love or admire. A sculpture that captures and expresses the incredible magnitude of not only a person but a life lived. Posthumous or memorial sculpture is one of the artist’s favorite sculptures to create.

“The process of remembering and creating is not always an easy subject for individuals to broach. I understand all of the nuances involved and would be honored to create this work of art with you. To not only lovingly guide you through the creative process and the recollection of the loved one, but also to celebrate this life with you. Thank you so much for considering me. I am truly honored.”
Bridgette Mongeon

You can see some of memorial sculpture work on the gallery pages. Ellie, shown on this page, has her own page discussing the process that the artist and her parents went through in creating the Ellie memorial. If you would like to talk further about a project please fill in the artist’s contact form and she will be in touch with you.

The following is an excerpt from the artist’s upcoming book Bringing to Life the Spirit of the Deceased- A Sculptor’s Journey Chapter One- Why I Am Drawn to Posthumous Sculpture.

“I have always been intrigued with the story that I heard about elephants, marveling at the bones of their ancestors that they never knew. I remember seeing an elephant documentary that said that elephants that came across bones of their ancestors would pick them up and caress them, passing them from one to another in a respectful but mourning ritual. By doing so, it helped them come to terms with death. I feel that this action, this simple action by a wonderful and majestic creature is what I feel when I create posthumous portraiture. When the box of personal affects comes to my studio and I examine its contents, from that day forward until the day that the sculpture is complete, I have spent time lovingly caressing the life that I have had the pleasure of being introduced to. I turn that life over and over in my hands and in my heart as lovingly as those majestic elephants did with the bones of their ancestors. It is through this ritual and my art that my experience is enhanced and the healing process and letting go occur for my client. “
Bridgette Mongeon

Sparks Commission- Update – Developing A Relationship With The Deceased

Here the process begins again, tapping into more than a likeness, but the life and essence of someone I have never known. As I get to know my subject, “develop a relationship with the deceased”, as a friend once said. I feel very honored to be the artist chosen to capture such a great man.

The other day I met Mr. Sparks’ daughter. I gravitated to her, felt bonded with her. She was real, caring, a grown women who had a part of her daddy in her. Her love of animals, her desire to help others. It is these elements that I see and feel in the living that helps me bond with the deceased.

I just finished watching the memorial video of Mr. Sparks. At first I could get no sound and i searched through the video instead looking for profiles, something that was lacking in the reference material that I was given. Screen shot after screen shot I longed to hear what was being said about the man. I’m interested in his life, his part in history.

I found a button on the computer that gave me sound and watched the entire segment the second time this time with volume. These comments of those who knew and loved the man are as important as the physical reference. They help me to tap into the essence of who he was. One video segment made me smile. I rewound the video, saying “Stop, stop, oh there you are”. The twinkle in the eye, the smile. Let me capture that essence.

Now to transfer this to clay. I’m ever reminded of the little boy in the movie Hook. Who smooshes the grown Peter’s face around until he says, “Oh there you are Peter Pan!” That wonder is how I begin.

The state of Oklahoma and the state of Tennessee sure were lucky to have such a man as Willard R. Sparks

Is There A Message From Beyond?

Please pass this post on to everyone that you know.

Would you like to be a part of this book project called – Kisses from Heaven?

Bridgette Mongeon is a sculptor that specializes in creating posthumous sculpture for memorials, prayer gardens and personal art collections. She has heard numerous encounters of messages of comfort from beyond. This book project was created to give her clients and others an opportunity to share these blessings and comfort. The book is compiled by sculptor Bridgette Mongeon, and her client Rosanna Mangini, who recently lost her beautiful baby to cancer.

The two authors met in 2008 when Rosanna Mangini commissioned Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon to create a life size sculpture of baby Jenna for Jenna’s gravesite. As they began to share their own feather moments and kisses from heaven, as well as report the experiences of others, they realized these stories needed to be told. Now they are working on two projects—the completion of the Jenna sculpture and the memories contained in the many Kisses From Heaven.

Here is more information on how to contribute. Please do not send contributions via e-mail but instead submit them through the contract form link listed below. Writers guidelines and samples can also be found at this website.
Writers are wanted to share their stories in an upcoming book- Kisses from Heaven

There are special cherished moments after the death of a loved one. Some call them coincidences, others a message from beyond. In this case we are calling them Kisses from Heaven.

They are simple things that happen that remind us of our deceased loved one. Some seem so bizarre we are not sure how they could happen. They may be snuggling in a dream, or perhaps having a symbol of a loved one continue to appear over and over, smelling the perfume of a deceased mother, or cigar of a father who passed away. These moments, however strange, comfort us. It is our personal opinion that God gives these moments to the bereaved as a way to say, “I know your pain, and I’m still here.”

If you have a story and would like to submit for consideration for Kisses from Heaven you can find a complete set of writers guidelines at . There is no monetary compensation for your submissions, but you will be able to share your blessings.

Author Bridgette Mongeon
co-author Rosanna Mangini

What Is It Like To Sculpt The Famous?

People often ask me what it was like to sculpt someone famous. Really it is the same as sculpting anyone else. Each subject adds their own nuances to the sculpture.

Many of those in the music industry have had people trying to take a piece of them their entire carriers, if that has hardened them to others then it will make my job much more difficult. Because remember, I am trying to capture much more than a likeness, I am trying to capture the essence of an individual.

For example B. B. King was wonderful to work with. Bill Monroe on the other hand was a harder nut to crack. I was able to soften him up a bit, even to the point where he hit me in the arm with his elbow as we were walking from the Grand Ole Opry.

Minnie Pearl was approaching, and Bill said, “Tell er watcha doen, tell er wathcha doen.” It was the first time he showed real emotion over the sculpture.

I have enjoyed not only the sculpting of those who are famous, but also the research about them. I love history, and studying about an individual is a study in history. Especially if they have played roll in shaping that history, either politically, like Jesse Jones, or musically like B. B. King Willie Nelson, and Bill Monroe.

A funny story about B. B. King

I was a sitting, next to B. B. King, calipers in my lap and I said, “Mr. King, I will have to touch you in this sitting.”

Texas artist sculpts entertainers like B.B. King

I know some people have a problem with people touching them especially their face, so I thought I should say something.

He replied, “Oh darling, you are already touching me!”

B. B. King signs the statue that Houston Texas artist created

I looked at the calipers in my lap and him and said, “I don’t know what you mean.”

He said, “Your thigh is against my thigh and believe me the thrill is not gone!”

I love my stories about sculpting.

By the way, I equally enjoy sculpting for those people who just think their subject is a star!

Deadlines Postponed- Sculpture Is In Pieces!

The sculpture unveiling is rescheduled for the end of September. Which will be a great time to visit Vermont, where Dick Hathaway is going. We figured a September unveiling would bring more people. While visiting the foundry the other day I took this picture. I’m creating a video on the casting process and will post it soon. It is hard to believe that the sculpture is cut into so many pieces and put back together again.