What do you do to relax after spending the day tracking down breaking news, reading a hundred stories and hitting stressful deadlines? If you’re Ron Rollins, senior editor of the Dayton Daily News, you grab a canvas and some paint, skip the brushes and make some art.

For nearly 30 years, Rollins has written, edited and made news for Dayton’s daily paper. At the same time, he was working on his art in his son’s old room and garage.

“I didn’t do anything with it because my job was covering the arts community in Dayton,” Rollins says. When he was no longer covering arts and entertainment, “My best friend and artist Terry Welker encouraged me to get my ‘other’ work out there," he says.

Rollins and Welker recently rented studio space behind the Town & Country Shopping Center. With simple décor and wide-open space, both have the ability to work on their own projects, while commenting on and interacting with each other’s art.

“Terry has been my Obi-Wan for years. I value his opinion and sharing this space seemed like a natural transition,” adds Rollins. “He has encouraged me to show publicly, and, so far, things have gone well.”

Welker, a well-known local sculptor who has spectacular mobile art hanging in Dayton Children’s Hospital and CareSource, says Rollins’ art is “alive and vibrant” and he loves seeing his friend be successful.

“This space allows us both the freedom to really create without interruption,” says Welker. “It’s a beautiful thing.”

Like Mother Like Son

So far, Rollins has done shows at Circus Sideshow, Ghostlight Coffee and Olive, as well as a mom-and-son show in his hometown of Oberlin. His mother, Barbara Rollins, is a well-known water colorist and president of the Ohio Water Color Society.

While his mom paints realistic prints, Rollins says he spends more time looking for images in his abstract art after he paints them. With vivid colors and bright splashes of twisting paint, buyers are drawn to the paintings and have bought several of his pieces.

For New Artists

Rollins says one of his favorite parts of the Dayton arts community is its openness and generosity. In fact, he tells young artists to not be afraid to get involved.

“Artists are different and extremely gracious and giving. They are always interested in what you are doing.”

He adds that the scale and size of Dayton is one of the biggest reasons he and his wife, Amy, settled and stayed here. “It is easier to get connected in this community. Dayton is very non-competitive [and] very supportive. It’s what we’re known for—this collaborative spirit.”

Rollins and Welker encourage young artists to do their art daily and to keep refining. They are both members of several local artist groups like the Circus Creative Collective and DVAC and believe in the power of these groups to inspire new artists.

Up Next

While Rollins has had some success selling his paintings, he jokes that it’s not enough to live on. For now, he’ll keep his day job at the paper adding, “I’m still having fun.”

He and Welker will keep cranking the Tom Petty, a true artist’s muse, creating art on nights and weekends. Rollins has upcoming shows at Urban Nights, a piece in a members, show at the Dayton Visual Arts Center and in Yellow Springs. Rollins’ art can be seen at rollinsart.org. Welker’s work is at welkerstudio.com