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Anita J. Day
Herron School of Art & Design

Last modified: Monday, October 31, 2005

Herron exhibits new paintings by John Mellencamp

Oct. 31, 2005

INDIANAPOLIS -- Nov. 18 will mark the public opening of never-before-seen paintings by renowned musician John Mellencamp. The exhibition, John Mellencamp/Paintings, will take place in the Herron Galleries at the Herron School of Art and Design, 735 W. New York St., Indianapolis. The opening reception will begin at 5 p.m. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Mellencamp's work will be on exhibit in the Eleanor Prest Reese and Robert B. Berkshire Galleries. These new paintings combine Mellencamp's interests in portraiture, expressive form, and the sociopolitical issues prevalent in his music and activism. An advocate for the American farmer, he co-founded Farm Aid in 1985 with Willie Nelson and Neil Young.

Whether it involves advocating for a certain group or mastering music or painting, Mellencamp credits his perseverance as the path to his success. "I'm not an artist. I'm just a guy with a lot of tenacity. I have the ability to not quit. Most people quit on everything too soon. Most people simply don't have the ability to get things done, and that's the difference between me and most people. I don't quit."

His never-quit nature is evidenced by the recognition he has received throughout his career. He is the recipient of the 2003 Woody Guthrie Award (for exemplifying the ideals of the legendary folksinger) and Billboard's highest accolade when he received the 2001 Century Award for distinguished creative achievement. He has received 11 Grammy nominations.

In preparation for the Herron exhibition, Mellencamp created 27 new paintings that are bold and expressive. They will be on view daily at the Herron Galleries, and Mellencamp has no preconceived ideas of what his audience should gain from his work.

"I don't have thoughts about trying to alter what people think," he said. "I learned a long time ago, you can't control what people think. I can't control what college students are going to think or what one person's going to write. To have a mission of what I hope to accomplish? I've already accomplished it. There it is. There's the song. There's the painting. That's the accomplishment, not what people think about it. If you do things because of what people think, man, you're crippled."

IU's Herron School of Art & Design will open an exhibit of never-before-seen paintings by renowned musician John Mellencamp on Nov. 18. The painting shown here, "Skeletons", is among those in the exhibit.

Print-Quality Photo

Herron's gallery director and curator, David Russick, commented on Mellencamp's exhibition:

"I think those who are familiar with the spirit of Mellencamp's music and social activism will be taken with his ability to combine the two in his most recent paintings," Russick said. "These are powerful and personal images, and I admire the way he has worked his convictions into his current work. It is refreshing to see someone with his celebrity take an unmitigated stand, regardless of how it might be received by his public."

John Mellencamp/Paintings will be on display from Nov. 18 through Jan. 7. The Herron Galleries are open daily from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and until 7 p.m. on Thursdays during exhibitions.

The 2005-06 Herron Galleries exhibitions are sponsored in part by WFYI/TV 20 FM 90.1 with the support of the Arts Council of Indianapolis and the City of Indianapolis. For more information, please contact the Herron Galleries at 317-278-9419.

The Indiana University Herron School of Art and Design is a 103-year-old professional institution that is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design. Herron engages the public through its gallery exhibitions, community classes for youth and adults, Visiting Artist Lecture Series, and professional projects with the business and non-profit communities. Herron also serves more than 800 degree-seeking students. The school is located on the campus of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis.

Media interested in downloading images of Mellencamp's work may do so at