Try to Tell a Fish About Water

The Art, Music, and Third Life of Norma Tanega


The first comprehensive book on the art and life of Norma Tenega.


ISBN: 9781944860356 Category:


In addition to her accomplishments as a gifted musician and songwriter, Norma Tanega was a noted gallerist, teacher, and a central figure in the vibrant and homegrown creative scene of Claremont, California. She was also a visual artist of astonishing originality. In Try to Tell a Fish About Water, the bold colors and gestural immediacy of Tanega’s paintings are presented for the first time alongside unseen photos, illustrations, journal entries, and other ephemera. Featuring reflections and remembrances from Norma’s friends and collaborators collaged alongside the visual roadmap, Try to Tell a Fish About Water is a thoughtful exploration of Tanega’s art career and a testament to a life spent immersed in creativity.

Additional information

Weight 736 g
Dimensions 25.5 x 23.2 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 28 June 2022
Number of pages 160
Format Paperback / softback
Contributors Illustrated by Norma Tenega, Text by Diane Divelbess
Dimensions 25.5 x 23.2 cm
Weight 736 g


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Norma Tanega was a musician, singer, songwriter, and painter who reached worldwide recognition after the release of her 1966 hit single, "Walkin' My Cat Named Dog." In addition to her solo career, she was a songwriter for Dusty Springfield, and performed with a number of groups well into the 2000s. A painter throughout her life, Tanega first began exhibiting her work at the age of sixteen, and received her MFA from Claremont Graduate University in 1962, with her later work often supported by the Claremont Museum of Art. She passed away in December 2019 at the age of eighty.

Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Diane Divelbess is a painter and printmaker whose undergraduate work was done at Scripps College and her MFA at the Claremont Graduate School (now University) in Southern California. She was a member of the Art Faculty at Cal Poly University Pomona, chairing the Art Department there for eight years, and is a past president and life member of the Los Angeles Printmaking Society. Divelbess lives on Whidbey Island, WA, where among her many other roles, she has been Chairperson of the City of Langley Arts Commission and continues to be active in Whidbey Island arts events.