Bruce Jackson (b. 1936), John Otto, c. 1970-1974; Photograph; Courtesy of the artist

Bruce Jackson Being There, John Otto

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Throughout the run of Being There: Bruce Jackson Photographs 1962-2010, the artist is sharing some of the stories behind his photographs.Being There is on view until June 16, 2013. The catalog accompanying the exhibition is available at The Museum Store at the Burchfield Penney.


This is a photo I took in the early 1970s of John Otto, who was a late night talk show host on WGR and WKBW in Buffalo from close to when I got here in 1967 until his death from emphysema in 1999. How rotten that someone who lived in a world of talk—a world of air—should be killed by his own body's inability to deal with air. We agreed on almost nothing and liked one another enormously. Some of the best political conversations I've had in Buffalo were when we were on the air, disagreeing with one another, and dealing with serious people and fruitcakes who called in. Sometimes we'd look across the microphones: 'Do you want to take this one or should I?' Sometimes a caller would come in with an accusation or an absurdity about which I could say nothing rational. John would always save me in those moments: he would take on the fruitcakes and idiots himself. Our last encounter, not long before his death, was about Chris Ofili's "Holy Virgin Mary," a painting on display at the Brooklyn Museum that caused a huge stir among people who liked to be stirred up by such things, including Rudy Giuliani. I've written maybe 25 obituaries for friends and acquaintances over the years. I've hated the fact that occasioned all of them. The one I wrote for Artvoice about John is online at

-Bruce Jackson