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Nothing Like I Planned: The Art of John Mellencamp

Savannah GA, Painting by John Mellencamp
Savannah GA, Painting by John Mellencamp

Grammy award-winning songwriter, actor and musician John Mellencamp says that he started “messing around with oil paints” when he was about 10 years old, before he started playing music. John Mellencamp’s only formal training in art was a very short stint at the Art Students League of New York. He tells Nashville Arts Magazine “I studied for one week at the New York Art League with a guy named David Leffel. There was so much information from this guy that I’m still trying to learn and put into practice what he taught me.” About the people in his paintings Mellencamp says “They’re all me in one shape or another. They’re all just paintings of me. I don’t try to make it look like anybody. I don’t use models. I just look at myself.” In 1998 John Mellencamp published a book of his paintings titled Mellencamp: Paintings and Reflections.

Nashville Arts Magazine April 2012 Cover with Painting by John Mellencamp
Nashville Arts Magazine April 2012 Cover with Painting by John Mellencamp

John Mellencamp’s interest in the arts doesn’t end at creating his own paintings. He is also a supporter of the arts. In 1991, John Mellencamp established the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts. Located in Seymour, Indiana, John Mellencamp’s birthplace, the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts is a regional center for the fine, performing, culinary, architectural, literary and artisan arts. According to their website, “It is John’s desire that the Art Center not be a Mellencamp thing. He furnishes the house and property with the philosophy that if the region wants an art center, it will support it.” The center has one room reserved for John Mellencamp’s paintings.

The next exhibition of John Mellencamp’s paintings will be at the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville. Nothing Like I Planned: The Art of John Mellencamp, opens April 12, 2012 and continues through June 10th, 2012. Organized by curator Renee White, the exhibition contains 52 paintings, spanning four decades.

For more information about John Mellencamp and more images of his artwork visit http://www.mellencamp.com/.

Visit the Pop Life Art homepage for links to many more musicians that paint.

Related blog post: The Paintings of John Mellencamp (July 21, 2013)