Lauretta Bontifiglio – Artist – Sculptor – Lady
It was a pleasure for me when two years ago at the Farmer’s Market in Uptown Butte, I met Lauretta Bontifiglio. At first, I was just admiring her work and we started a conversation about the past, present and her interests. As time went on, in the next two years I got to know Lauretta better and visited her at the Farmer’s Market and at the Main Stope Gallery where she is a member artist and several pieces of her work are displayed.
When we visited, I told Lauretta that I would like to do a short story about her on my business blog. She agreed and so we visited several times thereafter. I grew to admire, respect and care very much for the lovely lady with a beautiful spirit, heartwarming smile and personality. We talked about how as a young girl she was very adventuresome and always knew that she wanted to be an artist. She was the only girl among brothers and it sounds as if she was full of fun and zest for life. She talked about her life as a child and her mother’s influence. She shared some wonderful personal stories with me. When she graduated from high school she went off to a Baptist college in California where she was encouraged by a professor to go to Mexico to study art. In 1945 it’s hard to imagine a young girl, Lauretta is now in her 80’s, going to Mexico alone. She said her mother supported her in her decision and off she went.
Lauretta studied art and worked with several famous artists. She told me the humorous and touching story of how she met her husband. He was riding on a motorcycle very fast toward a building where she was visiting. He came to a quick stop, jumped off the motorcycle very impressively and, hence, they met. Needless to say, they were married sometime later. It was such a dramatic tale and you could envision beautiful Lauretta meeting this “Zorro type character, handsome man with a cape, carrying her off into the sunset.”
They had four children. The family returned to the United States in the late 60’s and settled in Annapolis, Maryland where she gave birth to her fifth child. She earned another degree. Lauretta and her husband later divorced and she remained there and taught school for 18 years. She later returned to the West living in California, returning to Butte to take care of the sale of her family home. At that time, she decided to stay in Butte where she lives today in the same home.
Lauretta is one of the most inspiring women I have met in my lifetime. I love to visit her. She is so “alive” and a joy to be around. Her work is beautiful and she never stops. She sends her beautiful pottery each year to Big Fork, Montana where it is sold and continues her work at the Main Stope. She designs and produces beautiful wind chimes and jewelry among other artistic pieces. She continued to make and sell at the Market; but decided to give it up at the end of last year. She is so knowledgeable and full of wonderful memories about her exciting life. Lauretta takes you to far away places in another era as she reminisces. She taught me so much about the history of our nation, and Mexico. I never tire of her exuberance. She maintains a home and garden and continues to create her pottery and wood sculptures. She is so full of life. She stated in an article by Jenna Cederberg in the Montana Standard in 2007 “my works are expressions of my spirit.” She also said at that time “I’m always trying to understand who I am, where I am, and where I’m going.” She said, “If it all goes as planned, I’ll be working until I’m 100.” I think she might be right, at least I hope so.
I have been so blessed to meet such a lovely lady, beautiful spirit and talented woman.
I asked her how she wanted to be remembered and she said, “not for my art, but holding a baby.” She will live on in my memory and heart the rest of my lifetime.
That’s what memories are made of!