Otto Neals

OTTO NEALS, PAINTER, SCULPTOR AND PRINTMAKER WAS BORN DECEMBER 11, 1931 TO GUS AND DELLA NEALS IN LAKE CITY, S.C.  WHEN HE WAS FOUR YEARS OF AGE, HIS FAMILY LEFT THE FARM AND MOVED TO BROOKLYN, NEW YORK WHERE HE HAS LIVED EVER SINCE.

NEALS IS BASICALLY SELF-TAUGHT EXCEPT FOR A BRIEF COURSE AT THE BROOKLYN MUSEUM ART SCHOOL WITH ISAAC SOYER AND AT THE BOB BLACKBURN PRINTMAKING WORKSHOP WHERE HE STUDIED WITH KRISHNA REDDY, ROBERTO DE LOMANICA AND MOHAMMED KHALIL.  IN ADDITION TO PAINTING IN OILS, WATERCOLOR, PASTELS AND PRINTMAKING, HE IS PROFICIENT IN WOOD AND STONE CARVING.  THE LATE PAINTER AND SCULPTOR, VIVIAN SCHUYLER KEY WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR HIS INTRODUCTION TO STONE CARVING WHEN SHE PRESENTED HIM WITH HIS FIRST SET OF STONE CARVING TOOLS. 

IN 1951, HE ENTERED THE POSTAL SERVICE WHERE HE SPENT MANY YEARS AS AN ARTIST CREATING SIGNS, POSTERS AND ILLUSTRATIONS.

ONE OF HIS WORKS, A FOUR BY EIGHT FOOT OAK RELIEF CARVING, TITLED, “THE SPIRIT OF ‘76” IN STILL IN THE GENERAL POST OFFICE AT CADMAN PLAZA IN DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN.

SINCE 1958, HE HAS BEEN INVOLVED WITH THE FULTON ART FAIR WHERE HE MET A NUMBER  OF ARTISTS SUCH AS AL HOLLINGSWORTH, VIVIAN SCHUYLER KEY, TOM FEELINGS, WITH WHOM HE WENT TO SCHOOL, AND ERNIE CRICHLOW AND JACOB LAWRENCE WHO WERE THE FOUNDERS OF THE ART FAIR.

HIS WORKS ARE IN PUBLIC AND PRIVATE COLLECTIONS INCLUDING THE COLUMBIA MUSEUM OF ART IN SOUTH CAROLINA, AND THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF GHANA.  HIS COMMISSIONS INCLUDE A NUMBER OF BRONZE PLAQUES FOR THE “HARLEM WALK OF FAME”, THE AWARDS FOR WOODY KING’S NEW FEDERAL THEATRE, A LIFE-SIZED SCULPTURE FOR THE BROOKLYN CHILDREN’S CENTER AND A BRONZE AND STONE SCULPTURE, COMMISSIONED BY THE EZRA JACK KEATS FOUNDATION AND THE PROSPECT PARK ALLIANCE FOR WHICH HE WAS GIVEN THE NEW YORK CITY’S ARTS COMMISSION AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN DESIGN.

NEALS IS INCLUDED IN AMERICAN VISIONS MAGAZINE, THE INTERNATIONAL REVIEW OF AFRICAN AMERICAN REVIEW, SCULPTURE MAGAZINE, AND ELTON FAX’S, “BLACK ARTISTS OF THE NEW GENERATION”.  HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE COVER OF THE JUNE 1986 ISSUE OF BLACK ENTERPRISE MAGAZINE AND THE ILLUSTRATION OF AFRICAN HERITAGE COOKBOOK BY HELEN MENDES AND OTHER BOOKS.


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