It Is All About The Family, Friends And… Food

We all gather at the Brown Foundation on Harrisburg to pick the perfect spot.  Originally Norma was going to be placed standing in the gardens beyond this small wall. I suggested She instead be mounted to the wall and playing her guitar. 

If you read my previous post you will begin to understand that the connections that I have and that are made to those friends and relatives of my subject are crucial to infusing life into the sculpture.

If there is anything that can make this sculpture “sing,” pun intended, it is getting to know and hearing the stories of Norma. That is where you as the reader come in.  You know Norma, you have experiences with Norma, share, tell, teach me who she is, and slowly I begin to feel and see Norma. Then I see it happen over and over again, that passion is transferred to the clay and in the end… to the viewer.

Playing her guitar under the street light. I can’t wait to get started. I love the inspiration of the family. 

Here is one thing I learned yesterday- Norma was all about family.  I should have known that. I mean she played music with her family. But yesterday I felt it. And in doing so, it was as if Norma was right there behind my shoulder introducing me to everyone.

Plans were made to go to the proposed site and take some photo reference of Angie, Norma’s daughter posing as Norma in Norma’s clothes. Somehow that got lost in the translation of the day, and instead the entire family Norma’s brothers  Ernie, Bobby and Javier, long with his wife Gloria, Norma’s son Miles and his girl friend jackie and Norma’s Daughter Angie and her boyfriend Chris all met at the place where the sculpture will one day reside.  Even Norma’s mom Elsa Zenteno came.

From left to right: Angie Hart (Norma’s only daughter, first grandbaby),
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon, Chris (Angie’s boyfriend),
Ernie Zenteno, Gloria Zenteno, Javier Zenteno, Bobby Zenteno,
  Elsa Zenteno (Mama Z)

Those not shown, but there earlier in the day. Miles Towns Zenteno
(Norma’s youngest son, who got the music genes) Jacki Davis (Miles girlfriend)

Instead of being there for a photo sitting to take reference for the sculpture, the family all shared their thoughts about the placement, pose and outfit that Norma should be wearing. There were a lot of ideas shared, and when thinking about it— they were shared with huge smiles and a great deal of excitement that was infectious.  Somehow, I think Norma was probably that way—infectious in her charm, livelihood and presence.  One of the brothers mentioned their playing and said something like there is no longer a … not sure the term he used, but when he said it a flood of pictures came to my mind. What was missing in this family band —the lead singer, the one that got the attention, that sparked the crowd on, flirted with the music and her brothers to bring a crescendo of intensity and involvement from both audience and musicians.  I never had the opportunity of knowing Norma. Right now I am sorry I never got to see her live in her element, with her family, creating.  I am sure it was something to experience.

We rescheduled the photo sitting for another day.  The family has work to do, in that we we need to see the placement of the sculpture at night. This means that the family will have to go and stage the piece to see what it will look like under the lighting that is already there. They will take some photos and send them to me.  Then, we did what close families do- we went and ate. I was so thrilled to be invited.

There is something about sitting down to a meal with the family for which I am creating a piece of art.  Believe it or not, in my long career of creating sculpture, especially posthumous sculpture, I rarely get to do this.  Many people I don’t even meet as they live in New England, or Alaska or another state.  I am loving that the Zenteno family is here and so inviting.  I may often appear quiet at the table, yes even after a margaritta, but I’m absorbing everything and thinking.

Norma’s mom shares a story of Norma when she was little and how she thought she would run faster than someone who road their bike.  She tied herself to the bike to prove it and came home all torn up. She smiled, the smile of a mom remembering. I looked at Moma Z and felt her love for her daughter, her strength involved in raising such a large family of boys and one girl- Norma- the oldest.  The endearing nature of the entire family toward Norma, and of total strangers that I have been introduced to. Many who meet me and hear about the sculpture project same Norma’s name, with that same family sparkle.  This… this family, and friends, and love I can feel and inspires my muse.  How can I possibly infuse it into the clay, it is more than I have felt in any of my posthumous commissions.  OK Norma, I’ll need some assistance here.

More to come:

Please contribute and share the news of this project. With your help we can make this happen. For more information about donations please visit the Norma Zenteno Sculpture Page. 

This is the documentation of Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon who created the Norma Zenteno Sculpture and Kippy for Zenteno Spirit and Barrio Dogs. You can find the process blog for this project at

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