Life’s Better in Color

Jessica Valiente, Program Manager

September 22, 2021

Luisa Leon Ruiz smiling with a student looking at their painting on the easel

At the end of August, the Phoenix arts community lost an amazing advocate of the arts, whose energy, passion, and heart, made an unforgettable impact on so many lives. Luisa Leon Ruiz or AzLotusArt, how her community knew her, will be remembered as an artist, an organizer, a mother, a daughter, and a friend.

I first met Luisa when we were about 20 years old. The first thing I remember about Luisa was her personality. It was HUGE! She had energy as bright as the sun. Always positive, always happy, always strong. Anyone who has met her knows what I’m talking about.

You could tell that from a very young age, Luisa knew who she was and what she wanted. I think it’s because of that confidence and self awareness that she was able to do so much, and get to where she wanted to be. Up until a couple of years ago, Luisa had a full time job, working “the 9-5” as we like to say, but her passion had always been art and creating. She made the courageous decision to quit her job, and make “creating” her full time passion and career.

She began creating full time, and organizing events around Phoenix. Here’s an article with an interview of her talking about it in VoyagePhoenix. In 2018, she became a Teaching Artist at Phoenix Center for the Arts. After so many years had gone by, it was so nice to reconnect with an old friend and work on creating art programming for the community, together. She taught a lot of our one-day workshops and painting events like unWINE’d at Monorchid and Carly’s on Roosevelt Row. She also offered bilingual painting classes at the Center as well.

Luisa Leon Ruiz with painting students

Always involved in the community, she was a co-founder of Mujeres Mercado. A non-profit organization that brings together women of color who are business owners and artists, to provide a platform for promotion and a place for the public to purchase their art and other amazing products.

She was always encouraging people to create. Even if they didn’t think they had it in them. When the pandemic started, she began doing an Instagram live “show” where she invited people to paint along with her. Although I never created with her, it was so mesmerizing to just watch her create something out of nothing, night after night.

A Celebration of Life for Luisa will be this Saturday, September 11 at Fair Trade Cafe 1020N 1st Ave, Phoenix AZ 85003 from 7 a.m. to close. All of her work will be on display and the event will also be live streamed on Luisa’s IG page @azlotusart.

The passing of Luisa has been felt all around the community. She continuously inspired people to pursue their passion, follow their heart and find their art. As Luisa would famously say, “Life’s better in color!” And I couldn’t agree more. May she rest in power.