It occurred to the eleven-year-old that he would spend his life making Art. That idea proved prescient as Otto has pursued many cross-disciplinary projects, all in the Arts, throughout his professional career.
Beginning at age 14 he studied academic drawing at California College of Arts and Crafts (CCAC) (now California College of the Arts) under the tutelage of Jacques Fabert and Richard Gayton, travelling the 240-mile round trip from home to school by bus each weekend. Later he began his college studies at California State University at Stanislaus, and transferred to CCAC by his sophomore year. In search of a more traditional apprentice-like learning experience he completed his studies at la Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence, Italy.
From Italy, he travelled to London to work back stage at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London’s West End. He returned to America by ship arriving in New York City. This was the place to be, he figured, until the American West and it’s offering of physical and conceptual space drew him back to the West Coast. Upon return, he apprenticed architectural stained glass at Cummings Studio in San Rafael, just north of San Francisco. This apprenticeship led Otto to recognize that there were a growing number of artists who were using glass as a medium for individual expression, free of traditional restraints. This decentralized and informal “movement” mirrored the ground-breaking precedents being laid out by the studio glass movement and, in general, the elevation of media traditionally seen as “Craft” into “Art.”
Otto’s interest in, and friendship with these artists led to his first publication titled New Glass (San Francisco Book Company) in 1976. New Glass led to his interest in alternative architecture and the books From the Earth Up (Simon & Schuster), The Palace Doors of Abu Dhabi (Hidden House Press), and a small instructional manual on Photographing Glass (Hidden House Press). He had lectured widely about his books when he decided to re-commit himself to his own studio work. His last two book projects went un-published: a three-part series on American Glass - as Art, as Architecture, and as Sculpture, and another study titled Six Visions - Built Alternatives to the Home, Community and City.
Soon after his return to Painting, Rigan’s interest in glass as a medium merged with his on-going appreciation of Architecture. This marriage of interests evolved quickly into the making of Sculpture for which he is most known. The temporal material glass, as a vehicle for light, merged with the physicality and implied permanence of stone has led to a series of explorations that continue to this day.
Initially, his sculptures were of a human-scale, and shown in galleries and museum shows. But soon the allure of creating a “space” or at the very least addressing the landscape and architecture in which the sculpture would reside became his principle focus. This merging of medium and message with its context has led to numerous residential to public-scaled courtyards, gardens, memorials and gateways.
To accommodate work of such scale he developed a working relationship with the Quarriers and Fabricators at New Mexico Travertine. He has had a trusting and symbiotic alliance with them since the mid 1980’s. For projects utilizing custom made cast glass he uses various glass factories throughout North America.
In addition to his sculpture, Rigan has designed residences, furniture, and a line of custom memorials. He has also expanded his palette to include woods, steel, metal leaf, mosaic, stained glass and more. In addition to having his work collected, he has become a collector himself, assembling extensive collections of: Tibetan Buddhist Art focusing on ritual objects and Mongolian Thankas; an extensive collection of Shaman’s tools, medicinal dolls and clan staffs used by the Kuna Indians of Panama’s San Blas islands, and; African Chairs and Stools, with a focus on any object produced by the Dogon tribe in Mali or other sub-Saharan cultures.
He lives and works in Tucson, Arizona.