Carving is something that comes naturally to Louise Ortega. She is the youngest daughter of world renowned master woodcarver and Santero, Ben Ortega Sr. Santeros are artists who make Santos—images of saints, and are one of the oldest living traditions of religious devotion practiced by people in the Southwest. Ben Ortega Sr. began his career in 1961 when a figure of St. Fransis de Assisi, that he had made for fun, became a collected item by dealers all around the world.
Louise began carving wooden animals at a young age, taught by her father, and now works behind her family home on the outskirts of Santa Fe. Her studio is surrounded by thousands of earth-colored pieces of driftwood she has collected from the winding arroyos and dry riverbeds of New Mexico.
Louise was 8 years old when she started carving. She had always wanted to learn to carve. One day father found her working with his tools, and said it was time for her to learn to carve because he didn’t want her to get hurt. Louise loved watching her dad, Ben Ortega Sr. Louise says her dad was a person who was so neat to watch while he was carving. She says her dad was so wonderful and she loved him very much. He was a very famous man in Santa Fe, well liked, and he loved his art! Louise thinks about her dad when she is carving every single time, especially his hands as she used to look at his hands all the time. "To me his hands were so beautiful' Louise says, "I have pictures of them and the way he would work with his carving tools". Louise looks for special pieces of wood when she is in the mountains all over New Mexico, she says, "More than anything that’s my life; going into the woods and looking and looking for wood to carve". We hope you enjoy her work.
Traditionally carved angels in three sizes. Small Angel measures approximately 5 1/2" wide by 5 1/2" tall. Medium Angel measures approximately 9" wide by 9" tall. Large Angel measures approximately 12" wide by 12" tall. All three angles have a metal loop on back for wall hanging. All are hand made so there will be some slight variations. This is traditional New Mexican folk art. Hand carved wooden Angels and Santos by one of New Mexico's best known folk artist's Louise Ortega. Louise Ortega's carvings come in 3 figures to choose from in several different sizes each: Angels, St. Francis, San Pasqual.