‘Stealth artists’ are those visual creatives who live amongst us, are quite successful at their craft, and register strong local recognition, all despite the fact that, for one reason or another, they seldom exhibit their work here.

So, it is a command for attention when elusive artist Paul Otero surfaces, as he does with a solo exhibition of his masterful drawings that opened this week at the Fred Simon Gallery at the Nebraska Arts Council, with a public reception on Friday, August 14. (Keep on the lookout for him again in Gallery 1516’s inaugural exhibition of Kent Bellows and Friends opening in October.)

On view in Dreams: Drawings are 14 black-and-white drawings by an artist deeply devoted to the velvety textures attainable in his graphite medium. It serves his muse, which is primarily portraiture of women enveloped in atmospheric backgrounds, whether time-weathered walls, rugged landscapes or celestial skies.

Otero’s illusionistic drawings create the feeling of a memorial to his sitters, up to the viewer to decide if his subject was a live model or a remembrance of a loved one. That fluidity, between interior and exterior worlds, and the reverie of dreams, is the artist’s distinct domain. The resultant renderings provoke the audience to complete the biography suggested to them.

Paul Otero: Dreams: Drawings is on view until Sept. 18, at the Fred Simon Gallery, Nebraska Arts Council, 1004 Farnam Street. Daily hours are Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm, with an artist’s reception between 5-7pm on Friday, Aug. 14.

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