Made In L.A. is coming to the Hammer, Barnsdall Park, LAXART, and billboards around town on June 2 and will showcase sixty emerging, under-recognized Los Angeles artists–one of which will be voted to win a $100,000 prize. In order to help you make an educated vote this summer, we’re counting down to Made In L.A. by showcasing each artist participating in the biennial.
Joel Otterson is a sculpture and installation artist whose work relates to domestic crafts, art you’d find in your grandmother’s house, created through a male point of view.
Otterson’s work are very dainty and homey and delicate in nature all with subject matters that confront their composition. Many are little porcelain or china art objects, little statues and plates that you’d find in a hutch, all of them dusty and pale from years of watching and you watching them back. As you can see, Otterson doesn’t care to make statues of little kids or pastoral scenes: his little glass figures are things like the band Kiss, a muscled out leather daddy, or an Elton John album cover, not your typical glass figurine fair. They get at more than just feminine and masculine worlds but also popular culture and touchstones in American iconography, things you would already find in any American household.
His work also includes copper piping, woodwork, marble, stained glass, quilting, and lacemaking, rounding out the entire home craft domain. He also creates giant pieces of furniture and large copper based displays or candelabra. His furniture pieces combine multiple disciplines, him employing needlework skills to woodworking skills, which allows him to collide together different influences and styles together: a table or chair of his might have both mahogany Queen Anne style legs juxtaposed with gaudy gold Chippendale legs at the other end, with brass entangling it and a velvet pillow marking where to sit. His brass objects often find themselves looking like webs of pipes with porcelain figures caught inside. Oftentimes, copper serves as the foundation for furniture and ornaments, one giant candleabra of his being entirely brass save for the two heeled shoes it wears.
Otterson’s work is fun and looks to require so much, being both heavily intertwined into many different crafts and often being on huge scales. He’ll be one of the easier artists to “get” at Made In L.A. if he brings something within the realm of his popular culture spectrum, which are very easy to digest (like the Kiss statuettes above). Regardless, everyone should find comfort and joy in his work because its like wares from your grandmothers house on acid.