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FAST FIVE Art lives in Janey Ortega’s heart

Staff Writer | August 5, 2020 12:29 PM

Art lives in Janey Ortega’s heart

Meet Janey Ortega. Born and raised in Coeur d’Alene, Janey is passionate about giving back to her community as a teacher of eighth-graders at River City Middle School and a proud member of the Citizens Council for the Arts, the committee that organizes Art on the Green.


I am firmly in the millennial generation. I grew up with a cell phone from the time I was in sixth grade and have always loved integrating technology into my life and my classroom. This love of technology has been very helpful as I took over running the Art on the Green website this year.

Career and community involvement:

I graduated from Gonzaga University with a masters in education in 2013 and was extremely lucky to find the job of my dreams at River City Middle School, where I have enjoyed building relationships with strong veteran teachers who have guided me to be the educator I am today. I was honored last year to be named an Outstanding Teacher of American History by the local Daughters of the American Revolution. I coach eighth grade volleyball, run our eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C., am an adult adviser for our Sources of Strength program and serve as the adviser for our Associated Student Body. I have been blessed with some amazing student leaders and together we have been able to donate more than $7,000 to Make-A-Wish Idaho, granting three local wishes over the last two years. Although I have always been involved with Art on the Green as a volunteer from a young age, I recently joined the board for the Citizens’ Council for the Arts. I currently help run the website and the social media for Art on the Green:

1. When and how did you get involved with Art on the Green, and what is one of your favorite festival memories?

I don’t remember ever not being involved with Art on the Green! My Aunt Sue Flammia was one of the founders so my family has always been involved. I was shucking corn as young as 5 years old and attended Art Shop until I was in high school. Recently, I joined the Council to help with the social media and from there became an actual board member. This year, I started to run the website along with my Aunt Diane and have greatly enjoyed getting to work with the other board members. I have so many great festival memories, it’s like a family reunion for us with all of my cousins and family coming into town. I love dancing to the great music at night alongside some of my favorite people. One of my most precious memories of the festival is that my Aunt Sue would always get each of us one “treat” at the festival. Of course when I was young, I always wanted to pick a toy, but Aunt Sue would gently nudge me toward a piece of art. Now I have all of this beautiful art in my home that serves as a memory of her.

2. What do you want the community to know about the festival going virtual this year?

We have worked really hard to make sure that all of our patrons still have access to our amazing booth artists! We have created our Virtual Marketplace where you can find links to our booth artists’ websites. The Virtual Marketplace is also a great way to still enjoy the amazing art you would normally see at the festival. You can peruse the artist booths and I have found that I see even more art than I would usually see at the festival. We also have festival merchandise for sale and a portion of each purchase will go toward our goal of providing art supplies to local schools.

3. Why do you think the arts are an important part of our lives, and what do they contribute to society?

I think that art represents the best part of our society. In a world that often feels divided, the arts have a way to bring us together. Art serves as a reminder of how beautiful this world can be. The emotion that can be conveyed through art shows that at our core, we are all the same. Although we may have different beliefs or experiences, we can still find a connection. It is the record we leave behind for future generations.

4. What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I played the cello for eight years. What possessed me to choose such a large instrument at the age of 11 is still a mystery. I had to wear it as a backpack as I walked to school, which probably didn’t help my social status.

5. If you could meet any person involved in the arts, alive or dead, who would it be and why?

I would love to meet the cellist Yo-Yo Ma. The beauty with which he plays the cello is unmatched. I have always wanted to hear him play in person! I keep hoping we will be able to book him for Art on the Green, so maybe someday!