Like so many assemblage artists, Ramona Otto loves a good thrift store, or estate sale, antiques mall, swap meet — any kind of treasure hunt, really, especially through the gleaming bins of vintage lives. Working in the found-object arena of sculpture can manifest a nearly infinite variety, but the adaptive reuse of sparkling jewelry, costume gems, fancy watches, abalone buttons, refractive baubles, and sheen-plated trinkets strikes a special chord of emotion and desire. With wit and an appreciation for a good pun, Otto patiently, painstakingly sorts her loot by thematic idea — imperial folk talismans of time-telling, patriotism, storybooks, princess fantasies, and other axioms.
Artist Ramona Otto’s solo exhibition at the Fine Arts Building in downtown Los Angeles is a glittering look at found art.
The cathedral-like interior of the 1917-era Fine Arts Building is a spot-on perfect venue for Otto’s 17 jeweled sculptures which evoke Faberge eggs and intricate mosaics. The show, curated by Nancy Larrew, runs through July 8th.
The lush, sparkling, and layered works began, Otto says, with her search for vintage treasures at flea markets, yard sales, and antique shops, found pieces for her dynamic artistic puzzles.
For many years, Ramona Otto was an elementary school teacher. Full disclosure: She was my elementary school teacher.
She’d often ask her students to bring in certain items for projects she was working on. Rulers, pencils and pins were often on her “treasure list.” She’d work the found items into intricate found-object sculptures — sculptures that, to her fifth grade class, were nothing short of magical. Our battered pencils would transform into a set of drawers, the colors of each somehow converging to depict a pencil. A pencil made of of pencils!