Sunday, September 3, 2017

Havoc- Harvey Halts Happenings.

I have been wanting to update the blog for some time now.  As many of you know Harvey came through Houston, Texas in late August and caused havoc to the entire coast.  Everyone here in Houston was trying desperately to help everyone else out, muck homes, find housing etc.

Knowing how important it was to focus on the immediate needs of the community the Zenteno family decided to postpone the major fund raiser for Norma so that the city of Houston could focus their attention on recovery.  As soon as we have a confirmed date for the fundraiser we will be sure to post it here. As far as I know, it is being rescheduled for early 2018.

Studio damage and safety of Norma.

I'm happy to report that my studio and Norma are safe. We had some roof damage in the back storage area, and a new roofer came and replaced the roof, but Norma is doing very well.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

SO EXCITED! A seated Norma.

I appreciate all of the photographs that the family has sent
of this lovely woman. I have always said, many artists can
create a likeness, but I am striving for the essence
of Norma as well. 

I'm so excited. For weeks Norma's sculpted upper torso and head have been separate from the rest of her body. There are a couple reasons for this. The face takes some time and Norma's hair took forever. ( I'm still seeing her hair when I close my eyes. ) I'm still not done with the back of it.  However, some of the hair will change once we get her torso together and her guitar.  At times we have even taken Norma off of her pedestal and put her down flat. There is a great deal of smoothing that goes into the sculpting process. It is a tag team. I'll sculpt and then an intern comes in and smooths.

I had other young interns helping in a creative process of creating some of Norma's Jewelry. We have quite a bit of her jewelry that she wore and some we can use in the sculpture. We can make a mold of it and then cast it in bronze with her. Other pieces of jewelry are to delicate to use. So we used her jewelry as inspiration and recreated it.  I'm sure the young interns will relish their part of being in the creative process. I love creating learning experiences through my art. I don't know Norma, but I sense she would appreciate that.

If you remember back a few posts ago, a family member gave us a guitar for us to use in the project.  We have to modify the guitar quite a bit.  I'm surprised how hard it was emotionally for me to do that to a guitar. I play the guitar and can't imagine destroying one on purpose. But it is for a good cause and Norma will play it forever more.  ( I will remember that when I have to drill holes into it to secure it to Norma's body armature.)

Recreating a guitar for Norma.
The first thing we did was to paint the guitar the same color as the clay that we used on Norma. I find this helps both myself and the client. It is less of a visual distraction while creating and when approving the sculpture. Of course, the few pieces of jewelry that we did use that were Norma's we did not paint. It is a distraction to me, but the idea that it is "her" jewelry outweighs that distraction. The energy that jewelry adds to the piece is incredible. I'm sure you will recognize it when you see the sculpture

Back to the guitar.
We also have to be careful about the hole in the guitar.  You can't really have deep holes in bronze as it is a wonderful place for bugs to nest.  So, we need a hole without a hole.  This is less of a challenge than the other challenge- STRINGS.  If you look at most bronze sculptures of musicians you will find there are no strings on the instruments. WHAT?  here are artists coming from an artist point of view instead of a musicians point of view.  Believe it or not strings are a challenge.  They are thin and can be broken off, if created like a typical string. They have undercuts. Undercuts are areas that go in and around, which is difficult to cast.  Could you put wire on the sculpture after it is cast? Yes, but lets guess how long that would last before a vandal came and clipped them off.  So my goal is to create a guitar like it has strings, but they are part of the guitar body, no undercuts, and solid.  Wish me luck, send me positive guitar string energy. It is a challenge, but I'm up for it.

Ernie and David Zenteno with David's
grandchildren, Isabella and Noah Zapata
An intern is helping with the guitar while I work on Norma and we are making huge progress. The color or patina that will be put on the final sculpture when it is in metal will also help with us having a hole where there is no hole and showing strings.

For now the guitar sits aside, waiting for me to put the rest of Norma's body on her. I have two days alone in the studio! I love alone time in the studio. Norma and I bond and make such progress. By Tuesday  or Wed I hope to have the torso of Norma roughed in and will be able to put her guitar in her lap. Hand, arms and fingers... that is another story.   But she is coming along and I am SO EXCITED about getting to work for the next couple of days.

We are moving right along. I would expect that by the time of the Gala, the sculpture will be approved. I hope that we can reveal pictures of it at the Gala, if the family would like. We have our final push to get raise the money for casting. (Please help by spreading the word and donating now. There is a link to pay pal on the main page for the project. Or contact the family and send a check. )  I'm so excited. Sorry, I won't show pictures of the final piece until the family approves it, but I will show sectional progress.  Wish you could feel the bubbling I feel and the creative energy in the studio right now. Oh, Norma I can't wait for you to be here serenading me regularly in the corner of my studio.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The studio is filled with Norma

The studio is filled with Norma. 
The studio is filled with Norma. I have reference photos on the wall, and a blown up copy for inspiration. There are piles of Norma pictures everywhere.  I'm also referring to online photographs of her provided by the family and ones I can find on the internet. If you have photographs, especially those of an older Norma, please sent them.  So with all of my online reference my computer is perpetually covered with clay.  I must remember to clean the bottom off of it before going to bed, as I usually write in the early or late hours and this dark clay smudged on sheets, well you can only imagine what that looks like.

Lots to do on Norma's hands. We are just roughing them in. 
I worked hard on getting Norma's face. Sorry no views of that.  I'm saving that for the family. I realized I couldn't really get her face until I had her hair, and boy did Norma have a lot of that hair. An intern spent the entire day just smoothing hair that it took me 4 days to add. Multiply that by about 5 more areas and you have Norma's hair.

Even without all of her hair, I'm real close to capturing her essence and I'm delighted. Meanwhile there are body parts everywhere.  Hands with Norma's jewelry are in one place, her sculpted boots in another and other appendages await to be attached. Norma is in pieces and I can't wait to start to put her together.

It is pretty much Norma central, but at this rate we will have her complete before the September gathering.  Then it is just a matter of having the funds to cast her. I can't wait to see her and Kippy in the park.

Norma's hair. Interns helped to
recreate some jewelry that we will
use on the sculpture. 
Oh, Kippy. He sits on the other side of the room staring with vacant eyes, wondering when it will be his turn again.  My granddaughter came to my studio, found a stick and walked around the yard with it for the entire day. We have given it to Kippy. It will be what he is waiting for Norma to toss.

 Onward to Norma. Need more of her music. Did the band have a CD?  It would be great to have it here in the studio as we work. The you tube songs are not very good. Some are, but then how many times can you listen to the same few songs? Love listening to her as we sculpt though.

Don't forget to send in your donations so we can get Norma cast.  More photos to come as we have time. Now I better stop as the 1/2 moons of clay are exiting my fingernails and are all over the computer.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Hide and seek

In all honesty I have been coming into the studio late. I work weekends, I work most days, but I love what I do. If I'm not writing, I'm sculpting, but this weekend I took time for family and I did something I have not done in a very long time. I made a pillow.

Anyway...In the afternoon evenings I'm coming in to the studio. I have a few days alone with Norma, no interns, nothing going on and I'm so excited. The dog Kippy sits on the other side of the room whimpering for me to get back to him. Norma's boots are roughed in and I swear they are also tapping, waiting to be put on a body. Norma's hands are in another part of the studio.  But I keep coming back to Norma's face.

It is a game of hide and seek. It is funny. I have had this hide and seek feeling mostly with kids who have died of accidents. I would not expect to have it with Norma. But for the last week, I sculpt in the evening, feel like I am getting closer, and then walk away. The next day I come back and I can see it differently.  Each day I make a mess, talk to Norma and look and hundreds of photographs. Each night I clean the clay from my fingers, load up my computer, clean the clay off the bottom of it before bringing it into bed and then go to bed hoping she will greet me in the morning.

I was talking to my sister yesterday and told her about a portrait that I did of a doctor. I felt so good about it all night long. I was having a grand time with it and felt confident. I closed up shop and in the morning when I came in, set my things down on the counter and turned around I found I had an entirely different man in my studio. What I had labored over for so long was my own deceased father.  I spoke right out loud, "What on earth are you doing here dad and where is the doctor?"

So, though Norma is taking stage in the evening, I want to be sure she is there in the morning.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Norma's party and making friends.

Being introduced on stage. I wish I would have asked everyone
to send pictures and stories. 
I was delighted to attend Norma's Birthday Party at Sambuca on Thursday.  I planned on taking Friday off, away from my constant search for Norma.  You see, I have body parts ready to be put together, but until I can capture the essence of Norma in her portrait bust, I can't really put everything else together.

There is an old movie called Hook. In one part of the movie there is a magical moment when a little boy is smooshing around the face of Robin Williams trying to find Peter Pan.  At one point he says, "there you are Peter." I have that moment with each of the portraits that I sculpt.

Fnding my subject can be a challenge.  Sometimes, I have to step away from the sculpture. This is extremely hard, especially when I have interns waiting to get to work on parts, but I cant go any further until I find Norma. So stepping away becomes part of the process.  Thursday, when I stepped away I was delighted to be surrounded by the Zenteno family. I actually began to miss them. It is a bit odd, but I'm not sure if it is me missing them or Norma.  I bond so much with my subject it is often hard to tell where they end and I begin, well emotionally.  

It is Saturday night, I have sat with Norma's head in my lap, flipping through images and trying to pull her into the clay. 4 hours later I mushed the clay around and finally said, "Oh, there you are Norma."  Now, I step away until tomorrow, to see how she will talk with me again.  Finding the essence of Norma is a lot different than finishing the sculpture. There is SO much to do. We have actually just begun. But tonight I can sleep a little more at peace knowing that Norma is taking the stage in my studio.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Stepping out

Sculpting Norma's boots.
I love that this sculpture of Norma is starting with her feet.  Whenever I create a sculpture I divide it up into pieces. Feet, hands, head torso- each are first roughed in, then put together and then detailed. I love working with the feet. Feet keep the rhythm they dance in times of celebration and they are raised when the day is done.

For me, right now, the idea of stepping out, moving forward and especially for strong independent women is important.
My personal journey of stepping out is stepping out to hike with other women in my hiking group and stepping out with helping others to learn salsa and bachata at SSQQ dance studio in Houston.

I see Norma as walking towards confidence, no matter what the challenge. I see her walking towards friends, to greet them, embrace them, to care.  Stepping out... shoes are more than just an accessory.
Giving Norma a seat.  

Every piece of a posthumous sculpture is a connection.
For me right now it is the feet, and then I'll move to her head and hands.

Other updates.

A picture of Kippy the dog sits next to the
beginning of a clay torso. 
Along with sculpting of Norma's feet, we have been preparing to begin the other parts of the sculpture.  We need an armature for the placement of Norma which will be her seat. This was  lovingly created by Johnny Rojas for me. We returned to the area on the East End of Houston, once again, to get a look at what was being done.  It is fitting that Johnny would be helping with the armature. I'm not sure all the details, but Johnny recommended me to someone who I think recommended me to the family for this job. Thanks Johnny for bringing your energy into this project.

Whimsy into art.  The clay that we used in each of the projects is reclaimed from previous projects.  Interns have been busy on the sunny days, laying part of the Alice in Wonderland sculpture, and the feet of the mad Hatter, and the torso of a seeing eye dog for the last project of John Turner all outside on plastic.  The sun melts the clay and the interns reclaim the clay for Norma.  I love that the creative energy of the clay is infused and reused.

Another intern pulled together a very rough armature of Kippy- photos to come.

This is the week I being to absorb all things Norma. It is a strange process sculpting deceased loved ones. I really want alone time with Norma. No interns, no distractions— just Norma and I. But first, the grudging work of getting armatures and clay on those armatures.  All part of the process.  More photos to come.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Kippy— A rescue, a cause, and a companion.

Thank you Barrio Dogs for coming to my rescue.
The sculpture that I am creating is of Norma sitting and singing, but with the sculpture of Norma there will be a special companion- Kippy. Kippy is a rescue dog that died of cancer. Kippy will be watching Norma Play. Below is a video with Norma singing about Barrio Dogs and another of a performance with Norma.

Today I xeroxed Kippy to size and printed out some images so she could become a part of the studio. I also wanted to see if the size given to me was indeed the true size.  We will start on her armature soon.

Norma began Barrio Dogs  with her sister in law Gloria Medina Zenteno. I asked Gloria to talk about Kippy.
Poor Kippy needed help. 

Kippy is a she, all of Barrio Dogs rescues are special and they wish they all could be included in this project, but Kippy made an impact to many.  She was found living across the street from the school KIPP Intrepid on Lawndale and Telephone Road, hence her name "KIPPY".  Had she been a male they would have named her KIPP...any of the students and teachers felt helpless about what to do for her because she was very skittish and sick.  Barrio Dogs jumped in to save the day. They started feeding her and rescued her...  It took a few months to build trust.  

Even the vice principal jumped in on the day of rescue. She stopped traffic as many watched the rescue take place. Barrio dogs rescue team took her right to  Gulfgate Animal Hospital.

There was lots of medication and a wonderful foster named Kim.  Kippy was rehabbed to be the most beautiful girl, she loved all dogs, even cats, children and adults, there were no issues with her behavior, she was such a happy girl.  Kim fostered until her s in New Mexico.   She lived only a couple of years more, maybe less and then died from cancer. Barrio dogs saw a connection between Kippy and Norma.  Gloria Medina Zenteno suggested Kippy for the project and the entire Barrio Dogs board agreed unanimously.
It is a wonder what love can do. 

A sad pup gets help. 
A xerox of Kippy to size, sits in the
corner of the studio for inspiration.