Give Anthony Dozier a box of old decals or expired gift cards and you might get a work of art back in return.
“Some people take things for granted,” Dozier said. “I don’t.”
That goes for life in general. Dozier grew up with a severe stutter, an affliction that got him bullied and that he didn’t fully overcome until his mid ‘20s. “I got punched, slapped and paddled,” he said. “Education was not fun.”
But in a way, it also led to his initial interest in art. “I would make things to convey my message.”
A Wichita native and part of the first class of black teens to be bussed in the early 1970s, Dozier served a stint in the U.S. Air Force before returning home. He and his wife, LaDonna, have two grown daughters. One daughter also suffered from a speech impediment. While she was being helped by a speech therapist, he said, “I sat with her through the sessions and it helped me.”
After studying business administration, Dozier worked as an efficiency expert and also in security at the Wichita Art Museum, where he says he once “saved Mr. and Mrs. Otis” – a reference to two paintings by famed artist John Singleton Copley that are part of the museum’s permanent collection.
“I wrote a damage report so scathing that (the museum) took them off the wall the next day to be restored in Italy.”
Taking an art class from Mary Werner, professor at Newman University, gave him the confidence to pursue his own art. Dozier says his talent lies not in drawing, but rather in the imaginative way he combines colors and geometric shapes, often incorporating items that others are ready to discard.
“She said, ‘Anthony, you’ve been a tiger caged up too long. I’m going to open the gate. Get out there.”
And so he has. Dozier’s work has been exhibited at Wichita State University, high schools, businesses and offices around town, including that of City Councilman Brandon Johnson.
Dozier calls his style “abstract art of a different kind.” Without the “immense joy” making art brings, he said, “I would have been ignoring a part of myself.”
“I may be 64 but we’ve only just begun. I feel like a child in a candy store.”