COOLIDGE — Abel Eugenio Ochoa (Sai’la Wo’l), 54, died on Dec. 11, 2020, in Phoenix.
Mr. Ochoa was born on July 21, 1966, in Florence and was a son of Ignacio F. Ochoa and Sara A. Paderez (Garcia). He grew up in Coolidge in a traditional, cultural family where he attended school until he made the decision to spend his time taking care of his mother. He took good care of her until her death in 2010. He then continued his education and obtained a certificate as a recovery support specialist and a degree in graphic design and Associate of Applied Science. He also continued his passion for cultural art under the name of Sai’la Guoi Art, which he started on April 10, 2016. He crafted cultural flutes and masks for the Pascolas and other pieces.
The majority of his experience and training in the arts came from within traditional ceremonies of his people. His biggest influences were his grandfather, mother and older brother; he learned by watching them. His media varied in acrylics, inks, clays and oils. Every piece had a story or message to tell. He had art studios at the Millet House in Mesa and PSA Art Awakenings in Tempe. Much of his personal art could be seen in different exhibits across Arizona and Mexico, places such as the Heard Museum, Chicanos Por La Causa, Rio Yaqui Gallery, Torim MMIV (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls) and Cocori in Rio Yaque. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls movement asked to use a piece of his art for one of its campaigns; he also made a painting about autism (he was diagnosed at 52 years of age).
But more than anything, he enjoyed spending time with his family, especially his nieces and nephews, listening to music, watching movies, going on rides and sitting at the park when taking a break from painting or doctor’s appointments. He also started a gathering for Yaqui families, “Prayers and Blessings” at St. Anne Catholic Mission and Cemetery and Heritage Valley Memorial Park, in November.
He was preceded in death by his parents and two brothers, Juan and Reynaldo C. Ochoa. He is survived by five sisters, Rebecca Pena, Anna Ochoa, Cecilia Molina, Sarah V. Ochoa and Olga M. Ochoa, and many nieces, nephews and great-nieces.
Wake beginning at 5 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 15, at 815 N. Main St. in Coolidge. Burial at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 16, in Heritage Valley Memorial Park.
Heritage Coolidge Funeral Chapel in charge of arrangements.