Maria Ortiz, founder and publisher of Cultura Latina magazine, vividly recalls her childhood festivities surrounding Three Kings Day. Growing up in Puerto Rico, her family would fill three shoeboxes full of grass and water and place them under her bed. Ortize fell asleep in anticipation.
Similar to the Christmas tradition of leaving milk and cookies for Santa, Ortiz says children wait for the three kings to pass by on their camels and wake up in the morning to find gifts filling their shoeboxes. It was important to Ortiz to keep these traditions alive while living in Tallahassee, inspiring her to start her magazine and organize the Three Kings Day Celebration, which will take place at The Junction at Monroe on Jan. 4.
“We fail to see that other cultures are very alike,” says Ortiz. “When we take a look at all cultures and all celebrations, part of that unification is usually food and dancing. That is why Three Kings Day Celebration was so important to me, because I see through communication and gatherings we can be a stronger community in all aspects.”
Ortiz studied business administration but continues to immerse herself in art. Her mother taught her to draw figures and paint. She most enjoys acrylics and continues to take classes in mixed media and watercolors. Ortiz looks up to the late artist Bob Ross, gathering her brushes and the biggest canvas she can get a hold of to immerse herself in painting the natural world.
“He can take you to a new world just by painting,” remarks Ortiz, who has followed along with the artists' PBS “The Joy of Painting” show to create several paintings.
Ortiz paints in silence and is private about her work however—only displaying a few on a wall in her home rather than selling them. Many times the art will allow her to reflect on her internal thoughts and feelings. A dark still life with red circles emotes a somber mood, while bright oranges, reds, and whites reflect Ortiz’s personal, eclectic wardrobe with pops of color bursting.
Though she spends most of her morning hours painting, Ortiz takes to her computer around midnight and will work until four in the morning on her designs for Cultura Latina.She started the magazine in 2007 and acts as the CEO, publisher, salesperson, creative and graphic designer.
“It is my big canvas,” says Ortiz, who enjoys how the magazine combines her passions for cooking, dancing, music, art and culture. “Creating the magazine is part of the art that has been in me all these years. It marked a milestone in my life because it was the unification of my talents and also a way to unify the community.”
Her first magazine featured Mexican culture, which Ortiz said opened many people’s eyes to the true history behind Cinco de Mayo and the Battle of Puebla. Her second favorite publication featured her home country, Puerto Rico, and shared her family recipe for arroz con gandules — a rice specialty with pigeon peas, bacon, ham, onion, peppers, tomato, cilantro and achiote.
Read the rest of the story by visiting the Tallahassee Democrat
or read more by downloading the article here