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Peter Ortel, New York City born and raised, retired from the New York Fire Department after serving for 21 years as a Firefighter and started carving in 1990. After a lifetime as New Yorkers, Peter and his wife Madelyn became residents of South Carolina.
He was elected into the Caricature Carvers of America in 1992 and served as president of the CCA from 1996 to 1998. He was the co founder of the Mid Hudson Woodcarvers Guild and a member of several woodcarving groups including the National Woodcarvers Association and the Affiliated Woodcarvers.
He always had a fondness for cartooning and love for wood but when he combined the two by carving caricatures, it became his passion. The excitement and diversity of the environment he knew were his inspiration and his imagination and humor were reflected in his carvings of the everyday people we see around us, if we really look.
Peter’s work has been featured on local Television, several newspapers and national and international magazines. He won many awards and taught carving classes around the country. His biggest success was to win the Best of Show award and People’s Choice award at the 2000 International Woodcarvers Congress in Davenport, Iowa for his carving he called “Love”. Because a caricature had never done this before, it is considered a major breakthrough for caricature carving.
He was a teacher of seminars and speaker at woodcarving clubs, wood carving shows and events throughout the country. His enthusiasm, animation and shared knowledge inspired his students to discover their creativity and individuality in a fun atmosphere. As an instructor, he stressed originality and he helped to cultivate the artist within each of us by encouraging students to stretch their ability and imagination. He taught his students the theories behind the woodcuts so students not only learned how to carve in the classroom but they also could take and use that knowledge on their own.
Peter passed away on October 28, 2022.