Author photo

By Pat Doody
staff writer 

Western artist Frank Ordaz at Art 2023 Tehachapi


March 18, 2023


Frank Ordaz.

Those attending the VIP opening event of Art 2023 Tehachapi on July 21 will have the opportunity to meet 50 nationally known plein air painters, including Frank Ordaz.

Ordaz is one of 50 artists returning to Tehachapi for the third time in May to paint local landscapes and display their finished work at the nationally recognized art show that is held annually in Tehachapi at the Aspen Builders Community Center.

Ordaz is a native Californian, born and raised in East Los Angeles. His parents were not wealthy but recognized and encouraged the talent in their young son. At the age of 10, Ordaz got his first paints. Not long after, his father contacted portrait painter Theodore Lukits, convincing him to take on the young artist as a student in return for his services as a handyman.

In high school, Ordaz was mentored by landscape painter Sam Hyde Harris, a friend of illustrator Norman Rockwell and member of the California Art Club. After high school Ordaz spent a year at the University of Southern California studying fine art; however he received a scholarship to Art Center College of Design in Pasadena where, in 1980, he earned his Bachelor's Degree in Illustration.

Ordaz has said he had three goals. He wanted to work on "Star Wars," wanted to illustrate books and to be a gallery artist. He has accomplished all three. Through a referral from Art Center, he worked for Lucasfilm Ltd. as a background artist for six years and won an Emmy for "The Ewok Adventure," a 1984 TV movie. He also worked as a freelance book illustrator, working with Christian publishers. When his wife, Jana, sent one of his illustrated children's books to the White House in 2006, he was asked by First Lady Laura Bush to be the designer of the White House Easter Egg. He was also the recipient of a Gold Medal from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association for his illustrations in the book, "The Very First Christmas."

About 11 years ago he returned to fine art. He began painting for galleries and opened his own studio/gallery in Auburn, California, near Sacramento where he and his wife now live. He teaches plein air painting and lectures on fine art in the Sacramento area. In 2013, he won the Best in Show at "The Great American Paint Out" hosted by the John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis, California. Soon after that show he was juried into the membership of the California Art Club where he is now a member of the Board. He is currently featured in the March/April 2023 issue of Art of the West Magazine.

Southwest imagery is strong in Ordaz's paintings. He says it stems from childhood visits to his grandparent's home in New Mexico. His grandfather had a trading post and spoke Navajo. His grandmother made dresses for Navajo women and his uncles were cowboys. He loved those visits to New Mexico and that love shows in his paintings.

The Tehachapi Arts Commission invites everyone to be part of the opening reception of Art 2023 Tehachapi and meet Frank Ordaz and the other artists and collectors on July 21 at 5 p.m. at the Aspen Builders Community Center located at 410 W. D St. in Tehachapi. Tickets for the event are $125 and are available now at

Proceeds from the event will go to the casting and placement of a life-size bronze statue of a skateboarded to be located at TVRPD headquarters. Guests will be able to check out the juried paintings, talk with the artists and enjoy hors d'oeuvres, drinks from open bars and award-winning wines from Dorner Family Vineyard. During the evening, awards will be presented for Best of Show, Best Landscape, Best Urban Painting and Best Still Life. Returning this year will be Charles Muench, winner of last year's Best of Show "Bear Mountain Overlook."

Be a part of this special event on July 21, save the date and purchase your ticket now at


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