Otto - Artist

Matt Tuohy
By Matt Tuohy
Friday - October 10, 2008


Otto - Artist

He goes by one name, lists cheese-cake as an art form and, in his latest show, has ants crawling all over his works. His name is Otto, and his latest exhibition, Killer Red Ants, on display at the Chinatown Boardroom, shows his obsession with the tiny picnic destroyers.

“There are 2 million ants per person, and I know they won’t take over (the world), but they could,” he laughs.

The tall, soft-spoken artist does a lot of mixed-media work, but says this show in particular is pop art because of the colors and subject material he’s using. (For those confused about the term “pop art,” a good example is artist Andy Worhal’s famous Campbell Soup Cans from the 1960s.)

All the works at the show feature the same giant red ants, and samples of Otto’s signiture boxed cheesecake (above left) are still availible at the Chinatown Boardroom

“It’s something I’ve been doing since ‘92,” Otto says. “I was doing this show that was food-related, and it just came to me while I was doing this cake.” He describes a picnic tablecloth and his cake displayed on it with hundreds of ants crawling on the feast.“Ever since then, I’ve had ants in my work.”

The show has about 11 large paintings of big red ants marching in a typical one-by-one line on papier mâché-covered boxes along the walls - and even windows - of the Boardroom.

Otto’s other trademark is his cheese-cake. The popular treat sells in a container labeled “Otto Cake” for about $8 a slice and was in the hands of many attendees at this month’s First Friday in the arts district.

All the works at the show feature the same giant red ants, and samples of Otto’s signiture boxed cheesecake (above left) are still availible at the Chinatown Boardroom

“I always think of myself not so much as baker, but as an artist with cheesecake,” he explains.“It’s not a typical cheesecake that you’re going to be dropping strawberries on top because they’re inside.”

Otto feels he maintains his creativity with the cake as an artist over that of a baker by not letting people choose what flavor they buy, leaving the types of flavors he brings to shows a creative mystery. “I have over 86 flavors,” he explains. “And I don’t want everyone to see all the ones I have on a piece of paper for people to choose.”

Otto has no formal training as an artist, per se, but justifies his artistic eye by describing himself as an arts and crafts person.

All the works at the show feature the same giant red ants, and samples of Otto’s signiture boxed cheesecake (above left) are still availible at the Chinatown Boardroom

“I don’t like to watch TV,” he says, later confessing he didn’t quite grasp the functions of his e-mail account either.“You just see more commercials asking you to buy stuff. You pay to watch stuff when they should be paying you.”

For more information on Killer Red Ants and the artist, visit or call 585-7200.


Ka Hui Kaha Ki’i

The main purpose of Art Beat is to find and give exposure to art and artists in the many forms they take. This week’s group is no exception, with about 27 years of consistently educating its members and a general openness to the community.

Ka Hui Kaha Ki’i consists of women who fill in the blank spots in our lives with color. Whether it’s a teapot, a wall at the zoo or a wooden box, members of the group continue to reach out to the community with its decorative painting.

Ka Hui Kaha Ki’i meets on the third Tuesday of each month

“It’s a wonderful group of girls that gets together to do something that everyone enjoys. It’s a diverse group with a wide age range,” says member Liz Matthews, noting the youngest member is in her 30s and the eldest pushing 80. Age aside, Matthews says the group provides a lot of community service. “We’re affiliated with the Society of Decorative Painters,” she explains.“Being affiliated with them, we are required to do service projects. And we have been doing them for as long as I can remember.”

Matthews notes one of the group’s projects is with the Ewa Beach Lions Club. “They do a Christmas party every year for special needs children,” she says.“And along with this party, our group paints picture frames and gives them to the children as a gift.” Polaroid pictures of the children with Santa usually fill the frames. “It’s a wonderful project and we probably do 150 frames every year.” The group also creates painted boxes for terminally ill children at Shriners Hospital, among others.

Currently, the group is preparing to hold its annual auction, which features many of the members’ works on a variety of surfaces.“We paint on everything,” Matthews says.“We paint on wood, plastic, glass, candles and fabric. My husband used to laugh and say, ‘If you stand still for five minutes, just be careful, ‘cause you’re liable to get painted.’”

Doors at Aikahi Elementary School in Kailua open for the auction at 6 p.m. Oct. 18 and bidding starts at 7.

“It raises money so that we can bring in teachers from the Mainland, which is very expensive because we have to pay all their expenses including daily fees,” Matthews says.

The group meets the third Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at Kalihi Union Church. For more information or to contact the group, e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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