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Meet Your Neighbor

Kathy Otten


by: CONNECTION PHOTO: DREW DAKESSIAN - Kathy OttenName: Kathy Otten

Age: 60

Neighborhood: Hillsdale

Claim to fame: Just finished a six-year stint teaching visual arts at Taipei American School in Taiwan.

Aka: Mother to grown-up daughters Kasia and Sadie Wilhelmi

Broadening horizons: After teaching stateside for over three decades, Otten was eager to continue helping budding artists in Taipei, Taiwan. Each week, she taught drawing, painting, ceramics, printmaking, weaving and sculpture to 380 students.

She says, “If you wonder what my medium is, I would say it’s children.”

Go with the flow: In her new home Otten had to deal with intense typhoons and terrifying insects, but she says there were few man-made dangers.

“The one thing I really appreciated about Taiwain is it’s so safe. You could walk around at night; there’s no violence. You don’t have to lock up your mail.”

Practice makes perfect: Besides teaching art, Otten’s other lifelong passion is dance. And it was no different while living in Taipei. Otten took ballroom dance lessons for several hours a week from a woman who was a partner in the top dance couple in Taiwan.

“On my sixtieth birthday my teacher’s husband took me out, and we waltzed around for two hours,” she recalls. “I just had really cool dance teachers.”

Home is where the heart is: Otten had a myriad of experiences in Taiwan, but also was happy to return home, and is now looking to start giving private art lessons in the place she loves so well.

“I just really appreciate being back,” she says. “I love Oregon and the fresh air and the trees and the clean air … the space.

In Hillsdale, you can walk almost anywhere.”

Do you know a seemingly ordinary Southwest Portlander doing singularly extraordinary things? Email Lead Reporter Drew Dakessian at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .