Many bones may be broken in Tucson artist Moises Orozco’s face, but the positive attitude and spirit for which he is known remains intact.
Just over a week ago, Orozco, a metal fabricator whose projects include what’s reported to be the largest disco ball in North America and pieces of the tower that holds the All Souls Procession urn, fell two stories from his studio’s roof. He fell into the sculpture garden, slamming into a metal table that held his sculpture “Alice,” a nude made from recycled metal pieces.
The 37-year-old fractured several bones in his face including eye socket, jaw, forehead, nose sinus cavities, skull and cheeks. Three of his teeth were knocked out and several others were chipped. Other injuries include a dislocated kneecap, cracked rib and many bruises and lacerations.
“His facial injures are some of the worst I’ve ever seen,” said Dr. Andrew Tang, a trauma surgeon at the University of Arizona Medical Center.
But, Orozco could have fared worse.
Given the nature of his fall, his injuries were less serious than Tang expected. Doctors looked for head and brain injury, organ damage and broken limbs, he said.
Ever the optimist, Orozco sees the incident as a minor hiccup in his otherwise “magical” life.
“I am so fortunate, this is just a timeout,” said Orozco, his jaw wired shut. “My life isn’t over, this is just a break. I needed a reset button.”
He’d rather focus on the positive aspects of the incident.
For starters, he’s alive and not paralyzed or disabled, and his hands weren’t injured, he said.
The day of his fall Orozco went up to the roof of the Sculpture Resource Center and stared up at the sun. He said he felt at ease and at peace. Then he realized his feet weren’t touching anything solid. He said he then “fainted.”
The next thing he remembers is waking up in the emergency room. “I landed on clouds because I don’t remember feeling pain,” Orozco told friends visiting him in the hospital last week.
He underwent four hours of surgery to reconstruct his face and one hour of knee surgery. He was discharged from the hospital Thursday.
He’s on an all-liquid diet, and will need dental work when he’s healed.
eager to return
Although he can’t work or lift anything while recovering, Orozco is eager to get back to his projects.
His girlfriend’s mother even hung his uniform on the wall, he joked while pointing at a Superman costume visible from his bed.
Before the fall he was working on a giant metal frame shaped like a dragon for Monica Warhol, Andy’s cousin. And his pet project, the Phoebe Bird, a human-powered vehicle.
He’s also painting a guitar that will be used as a fundraiser for the All Souls Procession, an event he’s helped with since 2010.
“He just has a zest for life that not very many people have. He’s just one of those really passionate people who’s always taking on everything with 110 percent of his willpower, and he’s highly creative,” said procession organizer Paul Weir.
Friends of Orozco’s are in disbelief over his accident. He’s far too giving and positive for it to be some form of karmic payback, some said.
Orozco frequently donates his time to help friends with whatever projects or tasks they need an extra hand with, whether it be something simple like helping them move or donating his time and materials to a project.
For Orozco, his projects are about the challenge, not about the money.
In 2012 he was asked to create a massive disco ball, a sphere with a 12-foot diameter, for Hotel Congress’ Studio 54-themed party to ring in 2013. He later made the giant orb resemble the Death Star for a Star Wars-themed bash at the hotel.
“We have a lot of wonderfully talented artists in this town, but he’s definitely a shining light,” said Club Congress entertainment director David Slutes.
His metalwork can also be seen on the patio at Sky Bar and throughout Reilly Craft Pizza & Drink.
Since word has spread about the fall, several members of the community have shown support for Orozco, who has no health insurance.
Some $12,000 has been donated to a recovery fund set up by girlfriend Phoebe Jenkins on the crowdfunding site Indiegogo.
“I personally feel so incredibly grateful for so many people reaching out to care for someone I love, with a lot of them not even knowing Moises very well,” Jenkins said. “It reminds me how special we all are and how much we can do when we join together in love.”
Other friends have lent their talents to raise money for Orozco’s recovery.
Everything from photo prints, yoga classes, cooking classes, salon services and fire-spinning performances are among fundraisers for Orozco.
“a beautiful person”
Sigret Thompson, the owner of one of Orozco’s favorite restaurants, the Tasteful Kitchen, instantly became friends with him when they first met four years ago. She donated money from a cooking class she and her sister hosted to Orozco and has whipped up tasty liquid foods for him.
“He’s just always had such a beautiful personality and he’s just a beautiful person, his heart is just so full of love and he’s just like this bright shining light in the artist community and in Tucson in general,” Thompson said. “When I found out that he was injured I was beside myself and just instantly wanted to help in any way that I could.”
Artists and musicians have also come together for a two-part fundraiser at Hotel Congress called “Bring Back the Glow.” The first part happened Friday. And the second is set for Oct. 19.
“He is a force to be reckoned with, he has this luminescence about him, he has this glow,” said Vannessa Lundon, Orozco’s former roommate who’s helping organize the upcoming event.
Orozco said he’s grateful for all of the support and how quickly everyone has jumped into action to help.
“That’s something I feel very fortunate for, there’s a community of people that are thinking of me and love me,” he said.