Murdered artist's work to be displayed in Fayetteville


Chris Ortega was found murdered in his Asheville apartment last October. The case remains unsolved and is being treated as a homicide.

"Well, art was his passion," said Chris' mother, Marianne Ortega.

Marianne's most prized possessions are two pieces of art in her den. The first drawing Chris drew when he was 14 years old, and the other is the last painting he completed just two weeks before he died.

"It's sickening to think that somebody did something like this," said Marianne. "We don't have any clues as to why. They left him beat up and strangled him to death."

Marianne says her son was an accomplished musician who started drawing when he was just 4 years old.

Now, all she has left is her son's artwork, which she plans to share with friends and the public. Some of Chris' best work will be on display Friday night as part of the 4th Friday Festival in downtown Fayetteville. It will be held at the Ellington-White Modern Art Gallery.

"He is edgy. He is politically in tune with what's going on," said gallery curator Dwight Smith. "So all this reflects in his work."

Smith said Chris Ortega's pop art reflects his sense of humor and dry wit.

"I really like his sense of color," said Smith. "I like the use of print umbrella and the fire beneath it. I like the irony and humor in his work."

In sharing her son's artwork, Marianne hopes someone may come forward with information that could solve her son's murder, and give her peace.

"I just remember him for the person he was -- loving and kind. His life cut short," said Marianne.

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