Rock legend Mellencamp opens art exhibit at Butler Sunday


At age 20 and fresh out of junior college, John Mellencamp went to New York to pursue fame.

He just wasn’t sure which field it would be in.

“It was either going to be music, as a dancer on Broadway, or art,” he said, adding after a short pause, “or a street fighter.”

His first choice was to study at the Art Students League there, but a recording contract came along and superseded that plan.

“I had no money for art school, and they wanted to give me money, so I put art on hold ... I figured the rock thing would last a couple of years, and then I’d come back to art.”

The rock thing, of course, got pretty big. Mellencamp would grow to legend status and be inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame.

But his desire to paint never went away.

Prolific and steadily improving, Mellencamp at first shared his art only with family and friends. But eventually — at the urging of a famous friend — he began exhibiting his paintings.

The first exhibition of his works in an art museum opens Sunday at the Butler Institute of American Art’s Trumbull branch.

Read more about his journey and the exhibit in Sunday's Vindicator and on

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