Vanessa Ortiz grew up knowing her mom would do whatever it would take to stretch their budget to ensure her daughter had access to art. Later, her mom would re-direct her creativity when Ortiz started to turn to graffiti by having her daughter volunteer at galleries.
As life always goes, a series of choices, decisions, and a leap of faith has brought Ortiz to where she is today. A full-time professional artist who was selected to showcase the natural beauty of Arizona for Super Bowl LVII through the Stallion Stampede Community Art Project.
“I was applying for mural jobs; I kept getting rejected from all these projects. Sandra (Sutton Andrews) told me to apply (for the Stallion project) since you never know if you’ll get accepted,” Ortiz said. “I didn’t have any hope of getting selected, and last minute, I submitted my application, and I was selected. There’s this fear of am going to complete this project. Or what does it entail? I went in scared, but I jumped–and I’m enjoying it. I mean, I had a little life with them.”
Ortiz’s work often features vibrant colors and desert landscapes with native flora and fauna. Sandra Sutton Andrews of the Millet House in Mesa, Arizona, encouraged Ortiz to apply so southwestern art would have the opportunity to be represented among the different stallions.
“She’s so incredibly positive, and she has what I call a spiritual connection to the desert,” Andrews said. “In other words, she’s not just painting the desert; she’s out there, rain or shine, whether she’s sick or well. And some of her art does have a spiritual aspect to it. She sees that in the desert.”
The way Ortiz sees and paints Arizona aligns with the vision the Arizona Super Bowl Host Committee and NFL had for Super Bowl LVII. Once Host Committee Vice President of Marketing, Rayme Lofgren, had the green light for the Stallion project, she knew Ortiz would be the perfect fit.
“Vanessa’s portfolio captures the colors and emotions we want the art and décor of Super Bowl LVII to portray,” Lofgren said. “She has this way with Arizona scenery that I loved, and when I saw her submission for the Stallion Project, I knew she’d be able to tell the story of our state and Super Bowl with her art.”
The process of painting the two stallions has been an exciting one for Ortiz. More than 20 drafts of the two stallion designs were created before the NFL gave its final approval. From there, she painted the two pieces from start to finish in about one month.
The two Stallions are representative of the sunrises and sunsets in Arizona. There are various native plants and animals pictured on both Stallions, with callouts in the form of a diamondback rattlesnake and cardinal, and of course, the Super Bowl LVII logo.
“What I was keeping in mind is the sunsets and sun downs, how we have the beautiful, gorgeous reds and pinks, and how it contrasts between the greens. People think when they see Arizona, it’s all desert, dry and brown,” Ortiz said. “No, there’s multiple colors out there. You just have to know where to see and look at it. And especially when it rains, it’s a whole green world out there.”
Ortiz’s two stallions will make their way to Old Town Scottsdale in the coming days and will be on display for the public to see and take photos of until March 2023. On April 15, the Stampede Gala Auction at Royal Arabians will take place, the Stallions will be auctioned off, and the proceeds will be given to select charities.