An acclaimed rawhide braider of horse gear, Luis Ortega elevated his craft to collectible art and influenced a generation of gear makers. This book is the most comprehensive overview of his life, art, and career and the first book-length work on rawhide braiding in North America, charting changes in horse gear over five decades.Chuck Stormes and Don Reeves introduce readers to an itinerant cowboy who strove for a level of craftsmanship and artistry above what the market expected--and to be the best in his field. Although grounded in the Spanish vaquero tradition, Ortega's work was shaped by his quest for excellence and an intuitive sense of how to fashion humble items into objects of lasting beauty. Ever a private man, he viewed his craft as a calling yet rarely sought attention even after his reputation was established.
More than a biography, the book is a richly illustrated overview of this expert braider's art. Some 100 illustrations, 70 in color, offer close-ups of Ortega's work that depict the intricacy of his reins, quirts, and other pieces. From eight-strand reatas to figure-eight hobbles, the beauty, functionality, and painstaking care of his output shine through in every piece.
This elegant volume allows readers to better understand the Hispanic foundations of the American cowboy as it portrays the work of a man recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts as a Master Traditional Artist. It will stand as a definitive work on Ortega and a tribute to his craft.
Chuck Stormes is an award-winning saddle maker who lives in Alberta, Canada. He is a founding member and past president of the Traditional Cowboy Arts Association.y
Mehl Lawson is a renowned champion horseman, rawhide braider, and award-winning sculptor of western and cowboy art who lives in Bonita, California.