From April 27th through May 27th, 2022, BoxHeart Gallery is honored to present George Kollar: A Tribute Exhibition on exhibit in our main gallery. A prominent figure in the Pittsburgh arts community, George Kollar (1948 – 2020) passed away suddenly at the age of 72. An artist and educator who was an active member of the Associated Artists, Pittsburgh Society of Artists, and Pittsburgh Filmmakers, Kollar also sang in the folk group at St. James in Wilkinsburg, PA. Active for four decades, Kollar’s photographic artwork includes black and white shots of industry, statuary, and life that reflect his personal experiences as well as his creative endeavors. Throughout his life, George created art and created memories. His jovial spirit, laughter, and kindness made him loved by all.
George Kollar's relationship with photography began in the '60s while in the military working on the Army unit's newspaper. While serving in Karlsruhe Germany, a friend invited him to watch some images being developed in the darkroom. He went on to graduate from the former Ivy School of Professional Art and participate in many solo and group exhibitions in both galleries and museums.
In the late '70s, Kollar recorded scenes from the Third Great Johnstown Flood. These photographs document a small part of the great devastation familiar to his hometown, Coopersdale the West End of Johnstown Proper and the place where he, and his wife Deborah, spent their childhood and adolescence. Kollar donated approximately 100 of these images to the Johnstown Flood Museum. These photographs were exhibited at the Frank and Sylvia Pasquerilla Heritage Discovery Center in 2002 after the flood's 25th anniversary and in 2017 after the 40th anniversary.
Before he was drafted, Kollar followed his father into employment in Johnstown's steel mills. He would later photograph the mills, documenting the fortunes and downturns of the steel industry. His exhibition, Steel Remembered, included 85 photos that were exhibited at the Johnstown Flood Museum and Bloomfield ArtWorks in 1998. He framed some of these photographs in industry artifacts originally used to cast steel molds.
In the '80s, Kollar began using his camera to study angels. "Not 'real' angels, mind you: but angelic forms as the appear in sculpture, stained glass, murals and mosaics". (Ivy Schroeder, Photographer captures angels, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 1995) Exhibited at Gallerie Chiz in 1996 and Bottle Works Ethnic Arts Center in 2002, Kollar's fascination with angels began after developing film taken at the burial site of his grandparents in St. Casimir's Roman Catholic Cemetery.
In his series, Mannequin Reflection, "reflection is used as a double entendre, referring to the world outside the window that's incorporated through the reflective quality of glass". (Mary Thomas, Kollar mannequins, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2004) Photographed between 1999 - 2004 in both Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and Palm Beach Florida, Kollar's exhibition Mannequin Reflection was exhibited at The Westmoreland Museum of Art alongside the Juried Biennial in 2004.
In his 1995 gelatin silver photo "In the Belly of Angel" Kollar captured himself in a commercial window. This self-portrait, exhibited in Self-Portrait: Silver Eye at 30 in 2009, "symbolized the exhibition: Visitors can distinguish the photography center's evolving identity at this noteworthy moment". (Savannah Guz, Silver Eye celebrates its 30th anniversary with the engaging Self-Portrait, The Pittsburgh City Paper, 2009) In 2010, Kollar exhibited Then and Now: 40 Years of Photography at Panza Gallery. Shooting with both film and digital over the years, his last endeavor was pursuing experimental photograms to create a chemically charged image. At the time of his death, plans were underway for a solo exhibition of his artwork without his camera, creating images on photographic paper by casting shadows and manipulating light, and by chemically treating the surface of the paper.
View images from the 2022 BoxHeart Exhibition, George Kollar: A Tribute Exhibition