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Paintbrushes take him to worlds afar

Community Portrait
By: Michael Kirby
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“I enjoy people. If you’re going to be good at portraits, you have to like people,” said artist Frank Ordaz. Ordaz recently moved into a studio space he shares with Mike Maydak on Lincoln Way. He is a friendly and easygoing guy, quirky, talkative and engaging. He is excited by the energy of the Downtown scene, and not just the art, but the people and businesses. Having spent the last few years working out of a studio in his home in Auburn doing mostly commissioned work, Ordaz is jazzed about being out in town. He is a fine art portrait painter and illustrator. Working in oils, Ordaz has the talent to capture a subject’s personality in his work and shares time, talking with every person he paints, waiting for the hint, the secret that is always revealed in time that exposes their inner person, that vulnerability and insight into his subject that Ordaz wants to capture. The 53 year-old Ordaz was raised in East Los Angeles by creative and hard-working parents and admits that as a child art was a retreat for him. He often spent many hours in his room to avoid the harshness of his neighborhood’s environment. “I was small and skinny and someone was always messing with me. With my art I could create my own world, I could control it. It was safe and beautiful,” he said. From age 10 Ordaz studied with famed California master artist Theodore Lukits, a renowned art instructor. Ordaz attended the University of Southern California on an art scholarship. After two years he then transferred to the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena to study illustration. Upon graduation in 1980 Ordaz was highly recommended for a job with Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), working for filmmaker George Lucas in Northern California. There Ordaz did background matte paintings for specialized movie production effects and worked on films like “ET”, “The Wrath of Khan”, “Return of the Jedi” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”, rubbing shoulders with well-known actors, musicians, directors and working with a talented production staff. Ordaz even had a small bit part in Indiana Jones. He won an Emmy for his work as part of a team of artists working on the 1985 television movie, “Ewok — The Battle of Endor.” Leaving movie work, and self-employed, his award-winning paintings and illustrations have been used in a line of Christian books, professional sports posters, specialty greeting cards and even a line of jigsaw puzzles. Ordaz produced a painting that the George W. Bush White House used for their Easter egg hunt. Ordaz’s painting was used on the invitations, official program, posters and tickets for the annual event. Ordaz and his family were invited to the egg hunt, met and spent time with the first family. He is currently involved in a portrait project for the U.S. Air Force, and teaching painting classes for children and adults along with painting portraits for clients out of his new studio Downtown. “I feel this is what I’m supposed to be doing now, and where I’m supposed to be,” Ordaz said. Ordaz lives in Auburn with his wife and family.