A native Texan, Peter F. Ortiz Jr. is born and raised in Montopolis, Austin, Texas. For individuals who are unfamiliar with this area of Austin, the Texas State Historical Commission describes Montopolis as “an area four miles southeast of downtown Austin, in south central Travis County.” Located on top of a hill, some of this area began to be annexed by the city of Austin in 1951 and more portions during the 1960s and 1970s. This artist is very proud of his heritage, where he was born and raised and now, after having exhibited his work throughout the United States, Mexico and Italy, he will have an exhibit to show where it began.
Ortiz will serve as host of his art show, Hecho en Montopolis, on February 27th, from 4-8pm at 508 Thrasher Lane, Austin, 78741. The event is free and open to the public and live music will be provided at the reception.
While we stood in his art studio, Ortiz stated this show is very important to him in that he anticipates having in attendance many people at the show who may not have seen his work exhibited or at all. I was quite surprised and he explained that many of his fellow students from Johnston High School remember him as an artist, but have not seen his work or know much of his history.
After graduation, Ortiz attended Austin Community College, then the Otis/Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles. During the years he studied and resided in LA and New York, he had several exhibitions. In 1980, the “Group Exhibition – Six New Artists” was held at El Taller Printers Gallery in Austin and in 1988, “Identity” was in LA. In 1989, he had two exhibits in Austin, “Awakening” at La Peña, followed by “Austin Artist Showcase” at the Texas Association of Mexican American Commerce (TAMACC). Another exhibit, “Black Tie Affair,” was in another restaurant in LA in 1989. During his stay in California, he also exhibited his “moments of life” at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, as well as in Pasadena and San Francisco.
Ortiz returned to Austin after living and being influenced by artists and the art scene in Los Angeles. La Peña featured the artist and presented his first show in July 1993, “Pico and Olympic: Artwork by Peter Ortiz” at Las Manitas Café, formerly located at 211 Congress. I saw an archival article in the Arriba Newspaper featured in the July 16, 1993 issue regarding the acrylic works.
His experience played a role in his approach to his art and imagery. Ortiz was one of the featured artists at the beginning of the Serie Project (Coronado Studios) and created the screen print, “Bauer Dance of Freedom,” [Serie 1 1993-1994]. The print is part of the Ricardo and Harriett Romo Collection of Mexican American Art Prints that is on repository at the Benson Latin American Collection, The University of Texas at Austin.
Subsequently, among the many exhibits Ortiz has participated in are the East Austin Studio Tour, La Peña @ West Austin Studio Tour, and he was a featured artist in a collective exhibition, Nepantla: Homenaje a Gloria E. Anzaldúa (May 2015).
Images of the artist’s works will vary in techniques, but will have a story that will consistently evoke personal feelings or emotions. Plan to view his newest works during Hecho en Montopolis.
By Liz Lopez