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Whitney Otto, Art for the Ladylike

May 10, 2021 @ 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

Online, N/A, Portland, OR 97207

We are so thrilled to be (virtually) hosting Portland author Whitney Otto with her new book Art for the Ladylike, published by Mad Creek Books. In this inviting blend of biography and memoir, Otto examines her life in terms of the women artists who influenced her, asking, “Is there any social effect when a woman is explicit in her observing?” She limns the lives of eight pioneering women photographers—Sally Mann, Imogen Cunningham, Judy Dater, Ruth Orkin, Tina Modotti, Lee Miller, Madame Yvonne, and Grete Stern— to in turn excavate her own writer’s life. The result is an affecting exploration of what it means to be a woman, what it means to be an artist, and the perils and rewards of being both at once. In considering how feminism, career, and motherhood were entangled throughout her subjects’ lives as they tirelessly sought to render their visions and paved the way for others creating within the bounds of domesticity, Otto assesses her own struggles with balancing writing and the pulls of home life. Ultimately, she ponders the persistent question that artistic women face in a world that devalues women’s ambition: If what we love is what we are, how do those of us with multiple loves forge lives with room for everything?

Whitney Otto is the author of five novels: How To Make an American Quilt, which was a New York Times bestseller and a NY Times Notable Book; nominated for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award, and adapted into a feature film produced by Steven Spielberg: Now You See Her, which was nominated for an Oregon Book Award and optioned for film; The Passion Dream Book, which was a Los Angeles Times bestseller, optioned for a film, and an Oregonian Book Club selection;  A Collection of Beauties at the Height of Their Popularity, which was a Multnomah County Library selection; and her most recent novel, Eight Girls Taking Pictures. Otto’s work has also appeared in anthologies, magazines, and the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and The Oregonian. In 2006 she had an art exhibition of her shadow boxes at the Littman & White Galleries in Portland. She has also been in the New York Times Crossword Puzzle a few times–one of the benefits of having a crossword-friendly last name–and was once a Jeopardy! answer/question.

In her virtual event, Otto will be talking about some the women she profiles in her book and sharing examples of their art. She has also provided a list of books by/about some of the artists she talks about in her book; you will find that list below.

Register for the event here:


Portland, OR 97207


Broadway Books
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