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4/21/2013 6:01:00 AM
Artist blends oil, tobacco to deliver a powerful message
JC AMBERLYN/MinerSamantha Rezzetti, right, an 11th-grade art student at Kingman Academy High School, studies the artwork of Albert Ortiz as the painter explains how he came up with ideas for his anti-smoking campaign.
JC AMBERLYN/Miner

Samantha Rezzetti, right, an 11th-grade art student at Kingman Academy High School, studies the artwork of Albert Ortiz as the painter explains how he came up with ideas for his anti-smoking campaign.
JC AMBERLYN/MinerJanet Sackman, a Lucky Strike model who eventually got throat cancer and had her voice box removed, didn’t smoke when she was hired as a model. Tobacco executives convinced her to start so she would look more authentic. Albert Ortiz painted Sackman and her message.
JC AMBERLYN/Miner

Janet Sackman, a Lucky Strike model who eventually got throat cancer and had her voice box removed, didn’t smoke when she was hired as a model. Tobacco executives convinced her to start so she would look more authentic. Albert Ortiz painted Sackman and her message.



Kim Steele
Miner Reporter

KINGMAN - A woman peacefully sleeping in bed as a cigarette dangling from her fingers burns into the sheet and catches fire.

A car filling up with smoke from a father's cigarette as his wife and children cover their noses and fan the white wisps away.

A solitary hand picking up empty cigarette packs and crumpled butts tossed into the gutter.

The vivid oil paintings displayed Thursday at Kingman Academy High School left no room for mistake about their powerful message.

The paintings are the work of Albert Ortiz, a Chandler-based artist taking his message to Arizona schools as part of Students Taking a New Direction, an anti-smoking initiative that seeks to break the pull of addiction through powerful art.

STAND is seeking anti-smoking artwork from students that uses themes from popular culture.

"Cigarette and tobacco use of any form, shape or color is a poison," said Ortiz as students in Donna McCarthy's art class studied his work.

"If you're using it now, stop immediately - cold turkey. Later on, you won't be able to do it. It's just impossible. The end result is horrible and you don't want to go through it."

To make his point, Ortiz displayed a painting of Joe Camel, the buff icon for Camel cigarettes in the 1990s, as he lay dying from lung cancer in a hospital bed. The emaciated animal, breathing from a trachea tube, was surrounded by death-room equipment Ortiz photographed after he bribed nurses to let him see it.

The faces of numerous deceased celebrities smiled from other paintings as Ortiz listed their names - John Wayne, Don Knotts, Desi Arnaz, Michael Landon, Sammy Davis Jr., Lucille Ball - and how they died from cigarettes. Ortiz said painting those faces after reading their biographies was the start of his anti-smoking campaign.

Wayne, who stood 6 feet, 4 inches and weighed 240 pounds in good health, smoked six packs - or 120 cigarettes - a day, said Ortiz. When he died of lung cancer, he weighed 94 pounds. Arnaz suffered the same fate as Wayne, said Ortiz, weighing only 84 pounds when lung cancer took his life. Ortiz said celebrities were dropping like flies because everyone smoked.

Samantha Rezzetti, an 11th-grade art student, said she understood Ortiz's message, and finally got her father to quit smoking and is now working on her mother's habit. Rezzetti said she couldn't believe the old magazine advertising Ortiz brought along, especially the Camel ad that claimed smoking after each meal settled the stomach.

"Mr. Ortiz's work is just powerful," said Rezzetti. "I liked his attention to detail, and the colors are really nice. You can see the darkness of smoking. He got his message across to me."

Bryce Todriff, another 11th-grade art student, agreed.

"The presentation was neat and eye-opening," said Todriff. "He has a different quality of work than I'm used to seeing and he really knows his stuff when it comes to smoking."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, April 22, 2013
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith

@V Stokes,
You are absolutely right--my math was totally off! I don't intend to try and justify a smoking habit, actually have been considering quitting and think for young people it is definently better to never start! I'm in process of moving and have decided my new home is going to be smoke free.
Neither of my children have ever smoked and their homes have always been smoke free and I respect that greatly.

Your right it has become expensive! It just slays me that with the agenda to rid all natural tabacco smoking, everyone is is just fine with smoking pot. That I really do not understand!!


Posted: Monday, April 22, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

@ Amaryllis Smith

Your math is sadly lacking...at least in the case of John Wayne. If he were a chain smoker, lighting one as soon as the last was finished he could easily smoke 8 an hour which translates to 128 over 16 hrs. You should also remember...back in his day, many people smoked unfiltered brands which were generally shorter in length.

Also...smoking 6 packs a day would include ones lit, left in an ashtray forgotten, then another one lit up.

Don't try and make apologies or justify what is a nasty, stinky, expensive habit which may indeed shorten your life.


Posted: Monday, April 22, 2013
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith

If you figure an averge 24 day with 8 of those sleeping hours,John Wayne would have smoked 8 cigarettes per minute. I'm sorry but, as much of a man's man John Wayne was even he couldn't have smoked 8 cigarettes per Day!

I quit for 3 months and Feburary 1971 while sitting with Betty Beckstead in a Gallup, N.M. hospital waiting room while her husband Officer Don Beckstead was in surgery for having been shot with a 357magnum,the service revolver of Officer James Keeton who had been shot and killed with it himself just short time earlier after being stabbed between the eyes with an ice pick by nut case Greenwald from Calif. Betty went down the hall to machine coming back with a pack,Don didn't allow her to smoke even though she enjoyed it. I ask what are you doing and she responded we're having a cigarette. I haven't quit smoking since. Officer Beckstead lived 37 hours-he died in flight while being airlifted to a hospital in Albuquerque. I haven't quit since that night.

I think it's a very good thing for kids to never start in the first place but the tactics of lies and propaganda being fed to these kids in this manner is dispicable! And neither of my kids have ever smoked!!


Posted: Sunday, April 21, 2013
Article comment by: R .

"If you're using it now, stop immediately - cold turkey. Later on, you won't be able to do it. It's just impossible. The end result is horrible and you don't want to go through it."

To tell people it's impossible is untrue and you lose all credibility when you twist the truth as a scare tactic. I smoked for about 20 years and 4 packs a day at my peak until one day in 2003 I just up and decided to quit cold turkey. It can be done, I did it and I have an addictive type personality too. So anybody can do it, you just have to not think about doing it and simply decide enough is enough! And then I went day by day and crossed each day off the calendar to celebrate my accomplishment until the addiction was broken completely.




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