Daytonian of the Week lets her artwork ‘tell the story it wants to communicate’



Amy Kollar Anderson thought moving to Dayton would only be a “pit-stop” in her life.

More than two decades later the artist is still here creating her unique work that has been shown in exhibitions around the world. Lucky for us, some of her favorite pieces can be found in our local libraries.

Our Daytonian of the Week tells us what makes the Gem City and its community of artists special to her.

What is your background?

I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, then I attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for my BFA. I met my husband in high school and we had a five-year long-distance relationship until we both graduated and he got a job offer in Dayton (1996). After so many years living in different states, we decided we would try living in the same state, heck, even the same house and see if we still liked each other. Dayton was supposed to be a five-year pit stop on the way to whatever was next, but we love it here. Great people, affordable living, accessible and a central location. We have been in the same house for the past 20 years that we currently share with three felines.



How would you describe your artwork?

I create surreal narrative paintings inspired by natural forms, the decorative arts and my love of animals. Some people say it is whimsical, but also a bit creepy! I really like that contrast.

You have a unique style. What inspires your interpretation of the world?

The past few years have been focused on playing with materials and combining these experimental techniques with detailed images. Since I spend most days in my home studio, I am thinking more about space and my place in the world. I enjoy layering untraditional materials such as metallic paints, glitter, mica and metal foils into altered surfaces or render narratives that explore identity, obsession and transformation. A lot of my artwork begins with an idea or a simple image and then I let the work evolve and transform to tell the story it wants to communicate.

What is special about the art community in Dayton?

The art community here is smaller than some places but very supportive and positive. I love the variety of voices and discovering new talent. Our museum is gorgeous and I am super excited for The Contemporary Dayton to move into the Arcade.

What piece of public art are you most proud of and why?

It is a tie between “Marketplace of the Mind” at the Dayton Metro Library Northwest Branch and “Stonewall” at the Washington Centerville Woodbourne Library. I am proud of “Marketplace” because of its grand size, whimsical mood, and that it is located next to the children’s area. It was so much fun to paint those floating elephants and I also love all the symbolism from the Fairview High School, which used to be on that property, that is incorporated into the painting. “Stonewall” is a very different artwork. The triptych is abstract and minimalist but was such a technical challenge for me. I love all the textures and colors in that piece and I am super proud of how it looks so peaceful, yet vibrant in the Quiet Reading Room.

If you could create art for any space in Dayton – what would you do and where would it be?

I would love to create something grand for either Daybreak Dayton or Big Brother Big Sister. Both organizations do so much for our young Daytonians. My BBBS “Little” and I just graduated from our five-year long partnership in the program. I highly encourage people to check out both programs. I am not sure what the artwork would be, but something colorful, positive and powerful, like those two organizations.

We’ve all had a chance to reflect during the pandemic. What have you found to be positive during this time?

I have been very encouraged by how the pandemic seems to be reconnecting people with nature and appreciating our local small businesses.

What inspires you about the Dayton area?

I am inspired by all the small business entrepreneurs: Jesy at Needle, Ink and Thread, Tabitha who created Decoy Art Studio and ArtFest of Miami Valley, Mike at Monkey Bones Tattoo, Mary at Clash, Pat at Phat & Rich food truck, Karen at the Gem City Catfé and SO MANY other people who make Dayton unique. They inspire me to follow my heart and create the world I want to inhabit.



What would your perfect Dayton date be?

My perfect Dayton date would definitely involve getting out into nature at one of the many incredible Metroparks, either hiking or biking. Then a tour of the amazing breweries: Nowhere in Particular Cabinet of Curiosities, Warped Wing, Branch and Bone and Toxic are some faves. Gotta eat, so we would swing into Lucky’s for some vegan chili, Old Scratch for some Arugula pizza and wash them down with some Billie Gold Bubble Tea. Then we will get our art fix at The Co, DAI or Front Street Studios. Hopefully, we have run into a friend or two on this date since there are always good people around town. I really miss hugging friends, so the perfect date would include LOTS of hugs! Then end the night with a stellar Dayton sunset and quiet time with the cats.

For more information about Amy Kollar Anderson visit her website.

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