McKay Otto

McKay Otto’s work represents a dynamic way of contemplating art, where he takes the viewer into new dimensions, breaking a traditional way of seeing. His paintings have a hidden meaning: when they are seen in the dark, Otto’s paintings reveal another work of art which is only unveiled and visible when not in the light. This uncommon and rare experience that enlightens the viewer truly gives meaning to what he is attempting to convey. He not only surprises us with his ability to play with light and darkness but his research for new materials that characterize his canvases amaze and delight as well.  It is in this way that McKay Otto was able to break the traditional two-dimensional plane into the three-dimensional. The experience of contemplating McKay’s work,  changes, evolves and is different for everyone who perceives it.

 The famed Agnes Martin, McKay’s mentor, and friend inspired him to push the boundaries of the traditional and experiment with the seen and the unseen. Martin’s famous grids and square canvas were a representation of her journey to reach one of the most perfect geometrical forms of all: the circle.  

As Martin searched for perfection and order in her work, she passed the torch to McKay to carry on the dream when she departed this earthly world.   From that moment on, McKay began his own spiritual quest as seen through his work. It is in these paintings that he achieves the basis of understanding Martin’s message and takes it way beyond what he was given and arrives at another level.   

The experience of standing before his work requires patience; as the viewer contemplates his paintings, the more one discovers new colors and shadows. McKay’s work is not static it is fluid and interactive and moving.   

One of the first elements seen in his paintings are the lines in the vertical or horizontal display; just looking forward you perceive his difficult task of achieving emptiness and nothingness. This is understood when the lights are turned off, and the viewer realizes that his journey starts from grids of reflected color that resulted in a luminous glowing circle. It is in this dark environment that the circle is seen in its glory. By glowing, his paintings emerge from the dark and illuminate the space. 

As McKay once said, “There’s always light in the dark, you just have to look beyond”.  McKay Otto has created a new visual language with indirect reflections of light, color, and geometrical forms, achieving true abstraction. Going further than any other artist, his unique canvases transcend the three-dimensional realm into a universal experience.  

Written by Francisco J Ocampo Jr.  Edited by McKay Otto & Alarra K Hewstan 


CV

Born in 1947

1989-91        Glassell School of Art Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX,USA

1970              B.B.A., University of Texas, Austin, TX, USA

1988              Laguna Gloria Art School, Austin, TX, USA

1986              School of Perceptionism, Sedona, AZ, USA

1985              Laguna Gloria Art School, Austin, TX, USA

Awards

2008             Hunting Prize Finalist

1997             Artist Grant Award, Cultural Arts Council of Houston

1994             Second Annual Sculpture on the Green


Exhibitions/ Gallery Representation 

2019

“Ever There Ever”, Nancy Littlejohn Fine Art, Houston, TX, USA
Dallas Art Fair, Nancy Littlejohn Fine Art, Houston, TX, USA
LA Art Show, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary, Palm Beach, FL, USA

2018

“The Square Then Circle”, Market Art + Design, Bridgehampton, NY, USA
 D.C. Solo Pop-UP, Washington D.C., USA
 CONTEXT Miami, Miami, FL, USA

 2017

 “Feminine Feminist”, Cinnabar Contemporary Gallery, San Antonio, TX, USA
 “Spring Eternal”, Gallery 701, Austin, TX, USA
 “Ever A Kiss Ever”, Texas Art House, Johnson City, TX, USA
 “Past/Present”, Texas Art  House, Johnson City, TX, USA

 2016

 Miami Project 5, The Red Arrow Gallery, Miami, FL, USA
 “Pure”, Texas Art House, Johnson City, TX, USA
 “Night and Day”, The OZ Studios/CAMIBAart, Houston, TX, USA
 Texas Contemporary Art Fair, Houston, TX, USA
 “Material Matters”, Texas Society of Sculptors, Austin, TX, USA
 “Power of Ten”, McNay Museum/Cinnabar Gallery, San Antonio, TX, USA
 “Ever So Ever”, CAMIBAart Gallery, Austin, TX, USA
 “Ever So Ever”, Austin Art Projects, Palm Desert, CA, USA

 2015

 Silo of McKays”, Hill Countery Science Mill, Johnson City, TX, USA
 “Almost Nothing”, Northern-Southern, Austin, TX, USA
 “Texas Abstract”, Art Scan Gallery, Houston, TX, USA
 “International Contemporary Art Fair, Cinnabar Contemporary Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, USA
 “Texas Abstract”, Art Scan Gallery, Houston, TX, USA

 2014

 “Transfiguration”, Big Medium Gallery, Austin, TX, USA
 “Ever Reveal Then Reveal Ever”, Houston Baptist University Gallery 220, Houston, TX, USA
 “Texas Abstract”, Wade Wilson Gallery, Santa Fe, NM, USA
 “Return”, Cinnabar Contemporary Gallery,  San Antonio, TX, USA
 “Texas Abstract”, Galveston Art Center Gallery, Galveston, TX, USA

 2013

 “Ever About Ever”, Nave Museum, Victoria, TX, USA
 “Ever Past – Now Ever”, The Gallery at Vaudeville, Fredericksburg, TX, USA
 “Dallas Art Fair”, Dallas, TX, USA
 “TX Spring Introduction”, Avis Frank Gallery, Houston, TX, USA
 “TX Group Opening Exhibition”, Laura Rathe Gallery, Dallas, TX, USA
 “Transfiguration/Fusebox”, Austin Museum of Art, Austin, TX, USA
 SCOPE Basel, Basel, Switzerland
 East Hamptons Art Fair, East Hamptons, NY, USA
 Art Aspen, Aspen, CO, USA
 Texas Contemporary Art Fair, Houston, TX, USA
 SCOPE Miami, Miami, FL, USA

 2012

 “New Works”, Paia Contemporary Gallery, Paia, Hawaii, USA
 “Hi Transformation”, Deborah Colton Gallery, Houston, TX, USA

 2011

 “Truth: Sublime Beyond Words”, Deborah Colton Gallery, Houston, TX, USA
 “Positive Perceptions”, Colton & Farb Gallery, Houston, TX, USA
 “New Works”, Drasner Gallery, Aspen, CO, USA
 “Light Cubed”, J Cocciola Gallery, New York City, NY, USA

 2010

 “Moment+Memory=Time”, Positive Project, Miami, FL, USA
 “Positive Project”, Miami Beach Art Fair, Miami, FL, USA
 “Ever, Ever”, Texas State University Gallery, San Marcos, TX, USA
  Dallas Art Fair, Dallas, TX, USA
  TX Abstractions, Miami, FL, USA

2009

“Ever Self Ever”, Blue Star, San Antonio, TX, USA
“Texas Twelve, Wichita Falls Museum of Art, Wichita Falls, TX, USA
“Transparent/Transclucent”, University of Texas, San Antonio, TX, USA
 Affordable Art Fair NYC, Nashville, TN, USA
 DCAD Art Fair, Pan American Art Projects, Dallas, TX, USA
“Time For Change”, Deborah Colton Gallery, Houston, TX, USA
 Pan American Art Projects, Dallas, TX, USA
 ARTENNAE, Basel-Miami Art Fair, Miami, FL, USA

 2008

 “Ever Self Ever”, Pan American Art Projects, Dallas, TX, USA
 “Texas Twang”, Shift Gallery, Seattle, WA, USA
 “Time For Change”, Deborah Colton Gallery, Houston, TX, USA
  Neiman Marcus Group Show, Houston, TX, USA

 2007

 Palm Spring Contemporary Art Fair, Los Angeles, CA, USA
 Palm Spring Contemporary, Palm Springs, FL, USA
 DCAD Art Fair, Dallas, TX, USA
 COOL, Dallas, TX, USA
 TAG Art Gallery, Nashville, TN, USA
 An Arte Gallery, San Antonio, TX, USA
 CAMP MARFA, Marfa, TX, USA
 Art Depot, Lubbock, TX, USA

 2006

 “Art of Motion”, Lemons Contemporary, New York,  NY, USA

 2005

 “Every Place”, + Gallery, Denver, CO, USA

 2004

 “Infinity”, Jennifer Kostuik Gallery, Vancouver, British Colombia
  SCOPE Art Fair, Los Angeles, CA, USA
  Affordable Art Fair, New York, NY, USA

 2003

 Bologna Art Fair, Florence, Italy

 2001

 Karen Ruhlen Gallery, Sante Fe, NM, USA
 Barbara Davis Gallery, Houston, TX, USA
 “The Box: Hooks”, Epstein Gallery, Houston, TX, USA

 2000

 Joan Grona Gallery, San Antonio, TX, USA
 Craighead Green Gallery, Dallas, TX, USA

 1999

 LewAllen Contemporary, Sante Fe, NM, USA

 1998

 Heriard-Cimino Gallery, New Orleans, LA, USA
 Barbara Davis Gallery, Houston, TX, USA

 1997

 “For All Kind”, Jung Center, Houston, TX, USA
 Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, TX, USA
 Heriard-Cimino Gallery, New Orleans, LA, USA
 Conlon Siegal Galleries, Santa Fe, NM, USA
“Infinite”, Barbara Davis Gallery, Houston, TX, USA
“Inside Out”, Conduit Gallery, Dallas, TX, USA
“Intamate”, Barbara Davis Gallery, Houston, TX, USA

 1996

  “Convergence”, Barbara Davis Gallery, Houston, TX, USA

 1995

 "The Heights Exhibition”, The Houston Heights Association, Houston, TX, USA
 Hall Barnett Gallery, New Orleans, LA, USA
 Lyons Wier Gallery, Chicago, IL, USA
“Out of This World”, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, TX, USA
“Miniatures”, Hooks-Epstein Gallery, Houston, TX, USA

 1993

 McMurtrey Gallery, Houston, TX, USA
“Beyond the Object”, Judy Youens Gallery, Houston, TX, USA
“DIFFA Take A Seat”, The Decorative Center, Houston TX, USA
Wyndy Morehead Gallery, New Orleans, LA, USA
“Climb In Time”, Graham Gallery, Houston, TX, USA
Galveston Art Center, Galveston, TX, USA
“Houston’s Know & Underknown”, Allen Center, Houston, TX, USA
Graham Gallery, Houston, TX, USA

 1991

 “Private Investigations”, Lawndale Art and Performance Center at Saks Pavilion, Houston, TX, USA
Graham Gallery, Houston, TX, USA
“Ordinary Objects, Extraordinary Subjects”, Galveston Art Center, Galveston, TX, USA
Publications
“Ever the Om Ever” - 2018
“McKay Otto” – 2017
“The Otherworldly Work of ‘Trans-Dimensional’ Artist McKay Otto, Out In SA – 2017
“The Otherworldly Work of ‘Trans-Dimensional’ Artist McKay Otto, San Antonio Current – 2017
“McKay Otto: Ever or Ever”, The Austin Chronicle – 2016
“Site Specific Sanctuaries”, Visual Art Source - 2016