Local News

Mother pays tribute to slain Fayetteville artist

Posted March 14
Updated March 15

— A Fayetteville woman is holding an art show to pay tribute to her son, an aspiring artist who was killed in Asheville last fall.

Marianne Ortega beams when talking about her son's many talents. Christopher Ortega was a straight A student at Douglas Byrd High School and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke with honors. In 2007, he moved to Asheville to further his career in music and art.

"Asheville is very artistic. They have a lot of galleries – a lot more things like that than Fayetteville has – so he thought that would be a good place to promote his art, and it was working well," Marianne Ortega said.

In October, police said someone bludgeoned Christopher Ortega to death in his Asheville apartment. There was no sign of forced entry, but they're not sure if he knew his killer.

Marianne Ortega said her son's roommate found his body.

"He started banging on the door, and Chris didn't answer. He opened the door and found him lying underneath his desk," she said.

Now, all she has left are the memories he left behind in his artwork.

"It brings back good memories, but I just wish he was here to share them with me and tell me more about what he was thinking when he was doing them," she said.

Marianne Ortega is holding a show at the Ellington White Contemporary Gallery, on Gillespie Street in Fayetteville, until March 28 to share her son's passion one last time with friends and the public.

"He had become something. He was beginning to get his art out there to the world," she said. "It had a meaning – a lot of it had political themes – and I'd just like to show everybody that he did become something."

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