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Gary Stokoe

Nice to come across your blog and see Gemma with one of her many papier mache's. This past Saturday, Gemma's family and friends celebrated her passing as she wished for us, she in fact designed much of the day from the ceremony to the food, not too mention the music and an art project as well.

In addition we had a friends and family art show of her work throughout the house, from early papier maches to a few small tiles and a handful of portraits. Included was a line drawing she had done just a few weeks before she passed in her last class taught.

Gemma was so much more than an artist and art teacher, more than a mother and a grandmother to her family. In an early Palos Verdes newspaper article about Gemma she was known to many in the community as, "The Listener." The article stated, "she has counseled hundreds of children who've tramped through her studio doors - some suicidal, some angry with their parents and some runaways.

"She recalls one evening when a young man on LSD pounded on her door and told her he was going to commit suicide. Gemma held him in her arms, soothing him until the drug wore off.

"I just held him all night so he wouldn't kill himself, Gemma said. We've got some pretty depressed kids . This doesn't make me bucks, but these children are my children. I didn't try to make them artists, I tried to make them feel good about themselves."

This was an article from the 70's and as a very close friend of hers, I can tell you that this care for others never left her heart. I was with her in the final hours of her life where she was conscious and lucid and even in those hours she would come out of her sleep like state and say with a strength and fury, "it's all about love, we must love our children, we must love." and then slip back into a quiet rest.

Cathy, I am sorry that more did not get to know her but if her granddaughter has anything to do about this, more people will. Evie is in the midst of doing a documentary on Gemma and her life and at the party on Saturday, Evie delighted us with a 7 and a half minute preview clip of "The Flame." It was so beautifully done and will be a delicious look into the life of a woman who touched so many. Evie is doing this on a skelton budget and if anyone is moved to support some of her production costs please visit Gemma's myspace page at: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=167042071

I will leave you with a couple of quotes from Gemma and if you'd like I can periodically drop you few more. She shared them as seeds in her garden as she was a farmer of life and she grew people.

"I trust the magnificent order of life so much that i know it's going to be fine."

"When you're an oasis people will come to you for a drink of water."

“God only shows yes!”

She is missed and has, for now, left a void.

cathy of california

thanks so much for sharing such wonderful stories about gemma. you are very fortunate to have had gemma as a part of your life.

i would also like to thank you for running across my blog. it's my goal to expose my readers to artists, crafters and designers who have inspired me. as soon as i discovered gemma i just knew that that she was a very special person and for some reason felt a connection to her and her work.

yes i have seen evie's myspace page and found the images she shared to be just breathtaking and i wish her much success with her film - i can't wait to see it!

my heart goes out to all of gemma's family & friends.



We are good friends with Gemma's son Zen. I always thought she was best known for her tile. Zen told me she is better known for her paper mache. I decided to check her stuff out online. Awsome stuuff. You should see her tile!

cathy of california

thanks for checking out my blog & your comment melanie.
yes i am very familar with her tile. it's amazing!

Gemma del Rio

Dear Cathy,
I really enjoyed meeting you at the felt club festival. It is such a pleasure to see how my mother, Gemma Taccogna, has inspired you. I know she would be very happy to know that you are doing the work that you are with such passion and motivation. Let's keep in touch.

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  • i'm a designer/maker based in los angeles. my current jewelry collection explores techniques influenced by the work of textile artists such as sheila hicks and claire zeisler. everything is made by hand in small batches using natural fibers and non-toxic dyes.


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