|6/24/2012 10:00:00 PM|
From LA to Sedona to...Paulden
Local artist is epitome of 'body of work'
By Dixie Eddy
|Les Stukenberg/The Daily Courier|
Paulden resident Ken Ottinger is a multi-talented artist who also happens to be a good teacher. Ottinger works with colored pencils and oils to create a variety of artwork and also sculpts bronzes as well.
Special to the Courier
Robert Redford, Bob Hope and Danny Thomas have owned sculptures by Ken Ottinger, 67. Sitting in his light-filled studio in Paulden, telling stories about the "golden era," when galleries "only took a third, and the market had depth," Ottinger admits he has seen better times in the art world.
Ottinger's career began because an encouraging high school art teacher submitted his drawings to the prestigious Los Angeles Art Center. Ottinger was admitted to study on scholarship as a high school student and later as a college student. As a successful commercial artist with Universal Studios, the NFL and Motor Trend Magazine as clients, Ken also was invited to teach scholarship students at the Art Center. "They only allowed working professionals to teach," he said.
Making a successful living in commerial art, living in an L.A. home designed by Eichler and driving a Corvette, Ottinger's interest in commercial art was overshadowed by his interest in fine art. His wife at the time didn't want to follow him to his desired destination, Santa Fe, so they agreed on Sedona. She spent six months there and returned to L.A. "She wanted to find herself," he said.
Determined, he spent the next 20 years sculpting, painting and teaching. At the height of his career, his work was in 11 galleries nationwide.
"I could make $10,000 to $15,000 in a weekend if an edition (of a particular sculpture) sold out," he said.
Ottinger has a rich history in art, more than 40 years, but he has learned some hard lessons. His Beverly Hills rep "threw me out of his office because I asked for more money." Later, trying to sell his work without the gallery rep, former clients wouldn't buy directly from him because of loyalty to the gallery. "I found it wasn't my own wonderfulness that sold my pieces, it was the galleries.
"And galleries that have a vested interest in you, want you to do what they want you to do. I had money, I did what I wanted," Ottinger said. "I wanted to do World War II stuff and pre-Columbian."
The galleries found out he was no longer doing the Western art sculptures he was known for, so they began dropping him. "I started seeing cracks in my career but I didn't pay attention." Ottinger attributes this oversight to "my own arrogance."
It seems like a long way from L.A. to Sedona to where he now lives in Paulden. But, for the last four years, Ottinger has been teaching painting, drawing and colored pencil at Yavapai College. "I enjoy the interaction with the students." His vision is to bring the students and their art into the community through various shows, often benefiting nonprofit organizations. Ottinger also teaches at The Art Store and Hobby Lobby, and he works with his wife, Laura, sculpting and painting, primarily for a Cavalier dog society. "I do enjoy the lack of pressure," he admitted.
Ottinger suffered a heart attack two years ago, "but my doctor says I'm as good as new," he said, smiling. He looks much younger than his age.
"I have always been a working artist who also teaches," he said pragmatically. "I don't paint just to paint, or sculpt just to sculpt. What's the point?" he asked. "It's a job - a business."
He added, "However, if you're teaching by example, you can't help but produce a body of work..."
Hanging on the walls of his home is a collection of abstracts - some bright, others subdued, figurative and non-figurative. Startling realism featuring various animals stare back at you. "Body of work" becomes evident.
Posted: Friday, June 29, 2012
Article comment by:
I have enjoyed kens art since I met him 2 years ago in my wifes art class, he pushes her to get the best out of her and she really admires him for that and his success as well as her mom, Rachel Wells, Whom is an artist and Master engraver here in Prescott.
Thanks Ken for all you do.
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