“We were all painters at one point,” he says. “Everybody painted as a child. I just never stopped.” Born in St. Pete, raised in Naples, a graduate of the USF School of Art and Art History and now living in Sarasota, after stints in both Bradenton and Fort Myers, Otto took his paints wherever he went. “It’s the medium with which I feel I can connect best with the collective landscape of the artistic world,” he says.

And what began as exercises in photorealism and black and white, capturing the craggy faces of his subjects in exacting detail like the famous photorealist Chuck Close, has bloomed into an almost opposite exploration of color and expressionism. Today, Otto finds inspiration in urban landscapes, reinterpreting the looming structures and winding streets of the city through his artist’s eye, and creating highly imaginative and colored representations that bring the disparate concrete constructions into a single, if amorphous, identity. “I see them as people,” says Otto, allowing his impression and imagination guide his brush instead of the confines of reality. “In the abstract world, I feel more free.” While varying instances of Otto’s personal symbology can be found in many of his pieces—crosses, birds, question marks—it’s the artist’s mastery of color and the bold juxtapositions in that color that perhaps speak loudest. “It’s a language—something you have to be disciplined in and practice to understand,” he says. “Like a composer in a symphony, the more colors you add to a pallete, the harder it is to get balance.” As for what kind of person the City of Sarasota is? “That’s a great question,” he laughs. “I’d probably rather not answer that.”