Monday, October 3, 2011

Otto is coming Oct. 7, unveiling for public at 5:30p.m.

In his book about John Otto and the Colorado National Monument, (1961), Al Look, who became a personal friend of John Otto, described his friend as an interesting character to be sure as he wrote, ”I thought he was half crazy.”
He went on to say that so many details about Otto were obscure; yet, he noted that “Although dead fewer that ten years, Otto is rapidly becoming a legend around Western Colorado.”
Look first met Otto in 1921.
“Otto appeared to be fifty years old and never seemed to get any older. A score of years later when he disgustedly pulled stakes and walked out on friends who he thought had betrayed him, he still looked to be a hard muscled, rough-handed trail builder of fifty.”
A drifter from California, Otto worked on the Fruita pipeline which crossed Glade Park and the canyon uplands as a “powder man”. It was after this job was complete that his love for the canyon took over his life.
According to Look, it was in 1907 that Otto got the idea to “develop a road and build trails to these scenic attractions he loved so much. He would ask Congress to make Monument Canyon into a National Park.”

From that time on, Otto was unbending in his efforts to do just that. He built trails, begged money, talked about his dreams, wrote many letters to legislatures, was a pest to newspapers, all the while living in the canyon with his horse and his two pack burros along with, as Look described, “lizards and pinyon squawkers and he slept with a sky for a blanket and the rim rocks for a mattress.”
“I never visited his camp, he did not invite me, and I didn’t ask…” wrote Look. “Otto was the first person to realize the importance of the scenic beauty of Monument Canyon as a tourist attraction and the necessity for its being preserved in its natural state.”
In light of his past work, Wilson was invited to submit his idea for a bronze of Otto.
“I was glad to hear my idea had been picked,” said Wilson, “so I created a maquette using my idea, but after I thought about it even more, I made adjustments on a new design that April.”
With approval, Wilson began work on the final piece October of 2010. Using historical photos and descriptions from Al Kania’s book, TRIALS AND TRAILS, Wilson masterfully brought his idea to life.
The work viewed by the travelers that day in February, was of sculpture’s clay, carefully molded over an armature of Styrofoam made by the artist. Finally, after Wilson’s many hours on special minor details, Adonis Foundry of Salt Lake City began the casting process near the end of sometime in April.
You don’t want to miss the unveiling of Otto on his horse, a compliment to the Colorado National Monument’s ongoing Centennial celebration October 7, 2011 at second and Main in Grand Junction. At this site, the sculpture will showcase Otto’s spirit gazing out at what was his home, the canyon of red spires and towers.
The figure you will see there will be bronze, the scale of which is one and a quarter life-sized.
What an appropriate time for this art work, the 100th anniversary of the Colorado National Monument!
The figure is sculpted in clay over an armiture of styrofoam.
Otto is depicted looking through his spy glass at the Monument,
The bronze cast of the figure on horse will stand 13 pluc feet at the highest point.
The maquette of Otto will be sold
for around 7to 8 hundred dollars.
Jim, Otto's dog is depicted here.
Here, the artist J. Michael Wilson points
to his work.

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