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Tom Otterness is an American sculptor whose permanent installation, "Life Underground," is located in the 14th St/8th Avenue subway station in New York City. His work, usually cartoonish and cheerful[…]

A proud Kansan, Tom Otterness was exposed to the regionalists at an early age.

Tom Otterness: Yeah, I think, I think growing up in Wichita… You know, I think childhood for everybody has a big role and for me especially. I grew up in a creek catching frogs and… You know, in the edge of the city and Wichita is a boring place, you know, and I think it drove a lot of us there to entertain ourselves. There was a surprising culture there, I thought, that you could find sort of a self made entertainment there. How does that affect me now? I’m not sure what more to say with it. I still go back all the time. It’s definitely a different prospective to have some… Mid western life behind me and then spend 30 years in New York City. It gives a different perspective to the life that’s here, you know. When I grew up there I started as a painter in Wichita and made art in school and there was a… We had high school teachers but there was special Bill and Betty Dickerson. They had a… They were regionalist painters. They knew Edward Hopper. They were really very high end teachers there and had at Wichita Art Association and I went to night classes there. And in some strange good fortune, David [Salik] is also a classmate of mine there and we grew up together in the same Boy Scout troop at the Temple [Emanu-El]. We had studios together in junior high school and high school, you know, we worked. That was… I’d say I got a jump on a lot of people that way that we had a real college level education starting from 11, 12, 13 years old, so that was an unexpected break, I think.