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ESTATE FIND ~ AWESOME ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI Carved Wooden Figure / Statue by the late BEN ORTEGA, New Mexico folk artist, measures 16.5 inches across armspread and stands 39 inches tall. Magnificent workmanship. Delightful carved bird accents. Lots of character. Natural wood. Bottom is signed "Ben Ortega," along with the number "6."

Very nice condition. Figure has been owned by the same person since purchased in the late 1960s and has been kept indoors, in an entryway.


Born in 1923 in Tesuque, New Mexico, Ben Ortega lived there all his life, except for the three years he spent serving with the 240th Combat Engineers in World War II.

Ortega's unassuming start as a world-renowned folk artist began when he was asked to donate something for a fund-raiser to benefit the Santa Fe Opera. The only things he could give were a couple of 9-inch wood carvings (the Madonna and St. Francis) he created with tools that he had learned to use while he was in training as a cabinet maker and machinist upon returning from WWII. That donation marked a turning point in Ben's life. The carvings were the first items sold and, subsequently, the buyer came to his house and asked him if he was "Ben Ortega the artist."

A month later he was asked to bring carvings to an exhibit at the Fine Arts Museum. All the pieces were sold within the first hour. During his lifetime, he carved thousands of St. Francis and Madonna figurines, yet no two were exactly alike.

Ben would gather twisted roots of cedar, cottonwood and aspen. From there, his vivid imagination took over. In his warm Tesuque gallery,operated by his son, Pete, since Ben’s death in the late 1990s, you can find saints, biblical characters, angels, and animals throughout. Most of them are left in the naturally beautiful tones of the wood.

In Santa Fe, Ben was honored as a "Living Treasure." There, he carved tree stumps into figures in private gardens. His art has found its way into many parts of the world, thanks to exhibits at Spanish Market, held in Santa Fe, and galleries. His nativity scenes were used on the set of Perry Como's "Christmas in Santa Fe." Permanent collections are at the Smithsonian Institute where he took part in the Bicentennial Festival of American Folklife.

Meet the owner of Bluebonnetsetc

Lana Robinson

Awesome 3 Ft. ST. FRANCIS of ASSISI Carved Wooden Figure Statue by Ben Ortega


  • Vintage item from the 1960s
  • Material: wood
  • Only ships within United States.
  • Feedback: 128 reviews
  • Favorited by: 31 people