Beyond the Bio is a series that takes you past the canvas and into the minds of the artists and curators who build the contemporary arts community.

Collectors Jay & Anastasia Colombo will be featured at grayDUCK Gallery’s upcoming exhibit, Collectors Show. Join Art Alliance Austin for an exclusive preview of this show, including conversation with the collectors moderated by gallery owner, Jill Schroeder, on May 17th as a part of our Austin Art Break series. RSVP to

Tell us about your collection.

Our primary interest is work by contemporary Texas artists, and it’s a small collection (around 100 works) compared to others, but pretty diverse in media and subject matter. It’s an extremely personal collection. Our primary motivation to collect work by artists in our own state is to support the abundance of local talent. (We never buy artwork at art fairs or galleries out of state.) But the lovely thing about that is that we know most of the artists whose work we own, which makes everything even more meaningful.

When (where) did you start collecting? Was there something specific that caught your eye about the piece that started it all?

The first piece that I bought was a painting in a doughnut shop when I was a teenager. It’s no longer my aesthetic and I gave it to my sister a long while back. However, I loved it, and I loved buying it and bringing it home. It was exhilarating to have an original painting. I was never the type to have band posters in my bedroom as a kid; I always had lots of art posters. But as soon as you have actual artwork, your interest in posters disappears immediately. I took down all the posters and had only the one painting for a long while until I could afford another.

How do you choose the artworks that you purchase?

Jay and I are very fortunate to have eerily similar taste in art, so usually it’s really easy to agree on things. There are only a couple pieces that one of us really liked but the other nixed. We have a mental wishlist of artists whose work we love and would like to have something by, and are trying to slowly acquire pieces we adore by those specific artists as we can. But we’re methodical like that only somewhat. Really, if we see and both love something, we talk about it and try to make it happen. If we can’t afford it at the time, we add the artist to our mental wishlist and circle back later. We generally consider all artworks and buy them together, but have bought artwork for each other a few times as presents.

Is it important for you to collect a body of work by an artist or are you only interested in singular pieces?

No; we select each piece individually. While we do have a few instances of pieces by the same artist within a specific body of work, generally (partly due to the size of our house and depth of our wallet) if we have multiple pieces by one artists, we’d prefer to have works from different bodies of work.

Is there a particular theme to your collection?

Our primary interest is work by contemporary Texas artists. We aren’t motivated intentionally by any kind of theme, and select each piece individually. However, I’m often particularly drawn to obsessively-created artworks. Jay often leans towards quieter works with more negative space. But even with that, we almost always agree.

Do you live with all of the artworks that you purchase?

Most of our artwork is in our home. A few smaller pieces are in Jay’s office, including a recently-acquired assemblage sculpture by Steve Wiman that I promised Jay that he could have in his office for a while, but I can’t wait to have in our house in the future! Not everything in our house is on the walls, though. We have a bunch of work wrapped and stored (until we rotate them in later), and several works on paper which are waiting for us to stop procrastinating about getting framed.

Jay is an architect (a partner at Michael Hsu Office of Architecture), and Anastasia has worked in the arts for years (associate director of d berman gallery; co-director of Big Medium; PR director of Landmarks, the public art program at the University of Texas at Austin; board member for Women & Their Work). Neither one of us are bionic. We both drink a lot of coffee. We have a three year old daughter with definite opinions about artwork we own and go out to see. Her favorite pieces in our collection are Alyssa Taylor Wendt’s photograph Undisclosed Gaze (which our daughter casually refers to as “kitty beach”) and Michael Sieben’s Flash Card Drawing Diptych 2.