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Art in a small town


Take a drive to John Mellencamp's hometown, and check out the Southern Indiana Center for the Arts.


Seymour stakes its claim as the birthplace of John Mellencamp, but there's more to this small town than that touch of fame. The Southern Indiana Center for the Arts is also located here, thanks to a little help from Mr. Mellencamp himself.

SICA sits atop a hill overlooking the White River in a two story Greek Revival-style brick house built in 1851. Mellencamp bought the house from childhood friend Mark Ripley's family, and the center began in 1991 as a partnership between Mellencamp and his parents. Although Mellencamp's mother Marilyn passed away in January 2012, her inspiration was the real reason behind SICA. She was a painter and felt the area needed a center to fill the art void.

"It was my mom who suggested that we use it for an art center," John Mellencamp says via email. "I'm glad that it was a good thing for my mom and has been beneficial for the community."

The Main, Front and John Mellencamp Galleries feature exhibits that rotate monthly. About 40 artists display their work, from stained glass to stoneware pottery, and everything is for sale. SICA is the only place where Mellencamp allows his paintings to be exhibited on a permanent basis, and artwork includes pieces Mellencamp did himself (signed and unsigned) as well as memorabilia donated his by fans, or "Mellenheads."

Another attraction at SICA is the Conner Museum of Antique Printing, which features a hands-on, working print shop. Visitors can ink up the presses, pull the levers and follow the history of the printed word along the hands-on timeline. Finally, the biggest Mellenheads can stop by the barn where the "Wild Night" video was filmed and release their inner rock star.

Today, SICA welcomes an average of 40 guests each month. "It's vital for communities to have exposure to art when art lessons are being cut from schools," says Jill Tasker, executive director at SICA. "Southern Indiana offers no other facility like ours, and we want to reach out beyond Seymour."

Classes

SICA offers a wide variety of classes for members and non-members. These include,

Pottery classes Thursdays 6:30-8:30 p.m., Saturdays 11:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. (guests under 14), 1:00-4:00 p.m. (guests 14 and over)

Preschool classes Last Friday and Saturday of each month

"Paint the Town" Participants head to a local restaurant where they eat, drink and create a painting that reflects each month's theme.

Special Events

If you don't have the artistic touch, don't worry. Check out SICA's live music events,
"Friday Night Live" Every Friday in June

"CityJam" A street festival every third Thursday from June to September. For more information, visit soinart.com.