Multifaceted artist mixes whimsy, nature into work

Riverside resident paints, sews, designs full time.

Amy Kollar Anderson’s home and art are inseparable. All the rooms in her Riverside house, including the stairwell leading to her painting and sewing studios, are lined with her whimsical canvases. Her artworks turn the natural world into fantasy, with foxes, zodiac goddesses and botanica rendered in vivid hues. While studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago — a suburb of which she grew up in — Kollar Anderson struggled to define herself within the art school hierarchy. Was she a painter or a sculptor? A textile artist? A designer? Years of experience have revealed that she is comfortable being all of the above.

Kollar Anderson, 49, met her husband, Mark, in high school in Illinois. He took a teaching job in Dayton in 1996 and soon after moved over to Wright State, where he still works. “We figured we’d probably be here five years. We just really developed roots and met amazing people. We’ve been in our house for 23 years now.”


“The day we had my graduation party there was an ad in the paper for Adult Arts Coordinator at Rosewood Arts Center. And my ‘jack of all trades’ finally paid off. I could hire teachers, talk to them about their mediums, create classes. Then the Gallery Coordinator position opened up and I did that for over 10 years. I loved it. I could use my graphic design skills and talk with the artists, help them hang their shows.”


“Somewhere around 35, I started getting anxious. And, by 40, my husband got a promotion, we paid off the house, so I put in my notice and started doing (art) full time. There was a lot of shifting, figuring out the priority. Was it making money? Was it making whatever my soul desired? Was it something in between?” Eventually Kollar Anderson found the balance and has been working as a full-time artist for nearly a decade.


“We don’t really use an alarm anymore. Since COVID, we naturally wake up between 6:30 and 7:30. I will go downstairs and make Mark’s breakfast. I do all the cat stuff.” They have three: Joon (“my shadow, he follows me all day long”), Toben (“our old lady, queen of the house”), and Boo (“our ginormic Maine Coon”).


“In the summertime, mornings will often be yardwork. I’ll put on what Mark calls my ‘Farmer Amy Pants’ — these crazy overalls. I go out there and mow the lawn, pull weeds, pick raspberries, until it gets too hot.” Kollar Anderson’s gothic sensibility reaches out to her garden, with an array of plants in purple black hues: peppers, tomatoes and even sunflowers. “I do chaos gardening; I could put five seeds, or I could put FIFTY!”

Credit: Hannah Kasper Levinson

Credit: Hannah Kasper Levinson


“Tea is a big part of my ritual. Caffeine just doesn’t click with me, it makes me a nervous wreck. Earl Grey decaf is my favorite, followed by any sort of ginger tea. I have all these mugs that are made by local artists.”

Credit: Hannah Kasper Levinson

Credit: Hannah Kasper Levinson


She takes her breakfast, a trail mix with nuts, to her studio for computer work — grant and show applications, and design jobs she takes on to supplement her artist career. Kollar Anderson taught herself graphic design in the ‘90s. She designs all the decor and swag for Nowhere in Particular Cabinet of Curiosities, a brewery and taproom in Kettering.


By 10:30 she is working out on the elliptical, or boxing on VR, strengthening her back to combat a diagnosis of spinal stenosis. “I was in a car accident when I was in my 20s, and then I went to a chiropractor who was horrible. I am convinced that he did this.” Painting comfortably has taken some experimenting with special chairs and cushions to alleviate pain in her neck and back.


“Then I’ll either go and paint for a while, or depending on if I have something due, more computer stuff. At this time in my life, my ADHD and I get along really well. We bounce from project to project, but always circle back to complete what we start.” Moving between her painting studio, sewing room and desk work is how Kollar Anderson operates. “The ADHD helps with hyperfocus, which comes in handy to make my labor-intensive artworks.”


“Around 1 p.m., I take a lunch break. I have a little reading nook in the bedroom where I created this cushy little corner. I make some food and bring it upstairs and read my book. I’m reading ‘A Gathering of Shadows’ for enjoyment. This series takes place in London, but there’s different Londons, and magic has different qualities in each. I like the otherworldly escapism. The other book I’m reading is my friend’s book. It’s called ‘Inspiring Creativity Through Magick.’ She’s a local writer, Astrea Taylor.”


“The afternoon is painting, from 1:30 until Mark gets home. For my next series, I’m going to do a quilted tree-inspired thing. A friend of mine pointed out the Celtics have a tree (themed) Zodiac and got me this book (with) this whole Celtic tree language. I love making beautiful pieces but I love having more to it, a lot of symbolism.”


A couple of days a month are put aside for Big Brothers Big Sisters. “One of the things that we had talked on and off about through the years was kids. I kept agonizing over fostering or adopting. I did some therapy during COVID and realized that was not what I wanted.” She’s been with her current ‘Little’ for over two years. “We clicked almost instantly. She is not shy about expressing emotions and telling me all sorts of stuff. One of our favorite things to do is go to the library. She helped me get back into reading books. We go for hikes. We like to do art stuff. I’ve seen her come such a long way.”


When painting winds down, it’s dinner time. “Mark is the chef of the house. I really dislike cooking. When we first moved in together, he did all the yard work and I cooked. After a couple years, we realized we each hated our traditional roles and switched. Now we eat better, and the yard looks nice!”


“After dinner we relax in the TV Cave, formerly the dining room, and watch something together. It is our time to reconnect and unwind from the day.”


“By 9 p.m., Mark is usually in bed reading and I am feeding the cats, finishing up or prepping work in the studio, then doing stretches on the yoga mat. I am usually in bed by 10. We strive for at least eight hours a night, though the cats often have other ideas.”


“I am currently working toward my solo show called ‘Rule Makers/Rule Breakers.’ This series is based on the structure of the zodiac constellations, but it is also self-reflective about thoughts on being a woman at the mid-point of her life and artistic career. What rules do we make for ourselves, what rules are put on us by society, and what rules should we break?”


“Rule Makers/Rule Breakers” opens to the public on First Friday, Oct. 6, from 5-9 p.m. at the DIAD Studio and Gallery located in Front Street Studios at 1001 E. Second St., Building 100, Door A, 3rd Floor.

Catch Kollar Anderson’s artwork on display around town at Clash Dayton, Nowhere in Particular Cabinet of Curiosities, Beavercreek Pizza Dive, Val’s Bakery, and Agnes & Orson.

Find out more at and on Instagram at amykollaranderson.

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