SEARCY — Though Arni Anderson isn’t a Searcy native, he’s always been fascinated with the architecture in the city, and he’s found a way to share his interest with children in the area.
He recently released his Searcy Coloring Book of Historic Places, a coloring book about 12 historic buildings in Searcy.
“I went to a vo-tech high school and studied blueprints,” he said. “Being an architect was the thing I wanted to do, but I wasn’t good at math. I decided to paint and teach art someday.”
He grew up in Huntsville, Ala., and Chicago, and now lives in Edmond, Okla.
He went on to fulfill his dream of becoming an art teacher by way of Harding University in Searcy.
“I was [in Searcy] from 1972 to 1976,” Anderson said.
He went to school at Harding University in 1972 and graduated in August 1974 with a master’s degree in art education.
“I transferred in with nine hours,” he said. “I finished four years of school in 26 months.”
After graduation, he taught art at the school for two years.
“[While I was teaching], I really got interested in houses,” he said.
During his time in Searcy, a new McDonald’s restaurant was being built in the city.
“Back then, they were putting large paintings in the stores, or historic things in the area,” Anderson said.
After talks with the new restaurant manager, the artist was commissioned to do 30-to-40 paintings of historic homes and buildings in Searcy to hang in the restaurant.
“I really learned a lot about the history of Searcy,” Anderson said.
He thought a coloring book would be a good way to teach a younger generation about the city and its history.
“I want to leave my mark on those places I’ve lived,” Anderson said. “I want to save these buildings and teach young people the importance of them.”
He said the coloring book will show the importance of architecture and help today’s youth understand the necessity of preserving the history of the city; and in the future, if the fate of historic buildings are in their hands, they will do what they can to save them.
“[The coloring book] will get kids thinking, ‘I walked past those buildings all my life and never realized how important those places were,’” Anderson said. “I produce these books with the hope that young people will be inspired.”
More information about Anderson’s art is available at www.arnianderson.com.
Anderson’s goal is for every second-grader in the Searcy School District to get a copy of the coloring book.
Anderson said the books are available at the Searcy Art Gallery in the historic Benjamin Clayton Black House.
Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or firstname.lastname@example.org.