JJ Otero - Navajo/Hopi
JJ Otero (Navajo/Hopi) has seen life through artistic lenses even though most of his career has been spent in the Information Technology field. In his current artistic pivot, he has taken on metalsmithing with an intense drive to be the best he's capable of despite such a late start in the arts. His journey has trekked through a successful, award winning music career, a prolific two year excursion into acrylic painting, an intro to the Native American markets world through his beautifully crafted cradleboards, and his current obsession with jewelry making - a true artist that never understood it until the last five years!
JJ worked in IT for 25 years before moving into the art world full-time. In 2016, he found himself jobless with few prospects and decided that moving back to the Navajo reservation to be closer to his elderly parents made the most sense. During this time of introspection and resetting, chores around the family home required JJ to be resourceful with materials such as wood, metal, and tools.
His father, Chester, worked on a rickety table, barely holding up his chainsaws and chain sharpening equipment. JJ set out to find old 2x4’s and some screws and cobbled together a work bench and seat that his dad still uses today. More than a year and various woodworking projects later, his sister Cleo asked if he could make a cradleboard for her coming grandchild. That first cradleboard was the beginning of JJ’s career in the arts full-time. Social media posts of his cradleboards and cedar boxes prompted several artist friends to encourage JJ to enter a few of the more well-known Native art markets.
In 2018, JJ Otero was accepted into the prestigious Heard Museum Art Market in Phoenix, AZ as well as the SEEDS Art Market and Santa Fe Indian Market in Santa Fe, NM.
JJ’s philosophy guides all things in his life: This moment is perfect and there’s nothing lacking. With this deep abiding fire, JJ’s unique stamping and texturing styles coupled with a relentless drive to be a well known metalsmith is making his metalwork and personality stand out while he navigates an unexpected passion discovered in his ever-growing art career!