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A THREE COLOR RAWHIDE QUIRT
BY LUIS B. ORTEGA
LUIS B. ORTEGA: CREATOR OF WORKING ART Luis Ortega (1897-1995), born a fifth generation descendent of Jose de Ortega, one of the founders of Santa Barbara, California, arrived when the Vaquero way of life was still flourishing. During his youth, Luis dreamed of being a cowboy and pursued this rugged lifestyle instead of the more academic direction his mother proposed. He grew up on working cattle ranches in Santa Barbara County and spent all of his free time at the bunkhouse, watching the Vaqueros braid rawhide. This fascinated the boy and he determined to learn the craft. Vaqueros of that time were not especially inclined to share their knowledge, thus one had to learn by observation or trial and error. Finally, an elderly Native American recognized a budding talent and shared many traditional methods with the young Luis. By the time Luis was in his early 30's, a chance encounter with Edward Borein changed his life. Borein appreciated artistic genius when he saw it, even if the medium was rawhide. He offered Ortega work in his El Paseo Studio, selling works by both artists. This would allow Borein to paint at home without being interupted by his admirers. Borein commented to Ortega, ". . . you can punch cows for $30.00 a month or you can do your rawhide and make some real money." This suited Luis and he stayed for four years. Luis married Rose Smith, an Oregon native, and moved to Northern California. Expanding business resulted in travelling to the important California horse shows, where the finest rawhide reins, reatas, hobbles, headstalls, hackamores and quirts were offered. During a Cow Palace show in about 1962, the Ortegas were introduced to Kay Haley and from their very first visit a friendship blossomed that lasted the rest of their lives. Artistic merit was not lost on Kay, who acquired the finest pieces that Luis produced. With her ongoing patronage, Luis created fine and complicated designs that defied description. Some of the braided stings were cut so well it was difficult to believe they were done by hand. Over the years, Kay acquired these specatacular works and would hang them among her finest Boreins, a most appropriate setting. Kay Haley believed that Luis raised the level of rawhide braiding to an art form and that he should receive some national recognition for his work. To achieve this, she quietly worked to see that Luis was inducted into the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Today, there is a marvelous permanent exhibit of Luis Ortega's works in the Hall. More honors came to Luis, as Kay was instrumental in putting forth his name for honors from the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities. Luis and Rose flew to Washington D.C. for this event, which represented the pinacle of success in his chosen field. During the twilight of their years, Luis and Rose were often guests at Rancho Mi Solar and would, on occasion, participate in giving benefit talks for local historical groups, some held on the ranch. They all enjoyed and fondly recounted these events. Luis, with much assistance from Rose, did continue to make a few braids well into his 90's, and some of the last pieces were for Kay. Her patronage and friendship was truly a highlight of their lives. Linda L. Paich Co-curator of the Luis B. Ortega Exhibition Casa de la Guerra Santa Barbara, California (pre lot text to begin this section) EQUESTRIAN OBJECTS
A THREE COLOR RAWHIDE QUIRT BY LUIS B. ORTEGA

Details
A THREE COLOR RAWHIDE QUIRT
BY LUIS B. ORTEGA
Braided of natural colored rawhide, interwoven with red and brown rawide on the quirt's handle and knots. Adorned with leather fringe and a leather popper which is signed Luis Ortega on the inside
Length 35.5in. (88.7cm.)
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