JOHNNY OTTO / Conspiracy + Propaganda = Art



"In the age of ‘Instagram Art’ - massive installations that one only experiences once in real life and then can only relive through their phones - I am trending the other way and making art that is more personal, which one can hang on their wall and stare at endlessly, pore over, indulge in, really absorb and think about. It isn’t just an event that lasts a few moments, something fleeting, it is enduring." - Johnny Otto, 2018

Johnny Otto is self-taught contemporary artist based in Los Angeles. He was born in Bay Village, Ohio in 1966, the grandson of Czech and German immigrants. Often compared to Basquiat, Haring and Picasso, Otto’s work is actually influenced by a trip to the Detroit Institute of Arts, which he visited as a child and where he was exposed to their vast collection of African Art.

Otto's work spans more than 35 years and includes shows with David Hockney (Angel Art Fundraiser Auction), 01 Gallery, Headquarters, Jeff Hamilton's Street Art Fair, Radiant Space, Ministry Gallery, Art Squat, Novian-Miller Space, and many others. His work is collected around the world by Art Collectors, Fellow Artists, Designers, from Los Angeles to Japan, Germany and France.

In 1971 his father moved the family to Canada, presumably because of the Vietnam War. His father was a Doctor who dedicated his life to helping the less-fortunate in the inner city of Detroit. This greatly influenced Johnny and since then he has pledged to help those in need. He began his art career in his home town of Windsor, Ontario in 1983. He was also a Radio DJ at the influential college station CJAM-FM from 1987-1990. In the Summer of 1990, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his filmmaking and artistic dreams. In 1991 he created his first and only still life, a painting of flowers in a vase, reminiscent of Van Gogh's 'Flowers in a Blue Vase'. When his father, who had been a major influence in his art, died in 1991, he instructed his mother to place in his father’s coffin.

Johnny Otto Artist

In the early 90's he helped form the ART SQUAT collective and is actively keeping its spirit alive in the Hollywood area. He is also a member of both the ACLU and the Los Angeles Art Syndicate. He participated in the The Angel Art benefit, an art and photography auction that was hosted by Herb Ritts, Richard Meier, Robert Graham and David Hockney. The event, emceed by Lily Tomlin, commemorated artists who have died from AIDS. He has been featured in MovieMaker Magazine and his films have debuted at The Palm Springs Film Festival and The La Jolla International Fashion Film Festivals. He also started his own festival called SLIMDUNCE, in 2009, to showcase 7 films that he made in a 7 week period.

Having trouble getting into conventional galleries, Johnny Otto decided to take matters into his own hands and created a series of unconventional solo shows including ‘Art In The Alley’, which allowed motorists to drive down an alley in Hollywood that was filled with his art. Later that year he and his friends created Art Squat as they commandeered an abandoned building across from Fairfax High School and turned it into an art space that lasted for two years before being discovered and shut down.

Eventually Johnny Otto made his way into some of Hollywood’s more experimental galleries including 01, Headquarters, The Farhad Novia & Simon Miller Space, Ministry, Jeff Hamilton's Street Art Fair and many others. He is currently working on his new series of 'Savage' paintings, highly influenced by African and Tribal art. In June 2017, he launched his #FINDART campaign and has promised to hide pieces of his art around the Los Angeles area and then leave clues on his soclai media platforms so that his fans can find the art and keep it for themselves.

In addition to paintng, Otto has dabbled in experimental art. His calling card, MOUSE TRAPS painted red, have become a collector's item in the Hollywood area. He is also planning a series of experimental art shows for the Los Angeles area which will focus on the deconstruction of celebrity and pop art.


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