Before John Mellencamp became a steward of heartland rock, he contemplated pursuing a career as a painter.
Though both were creative outlets for the Indiana native, music knocked a bit louder, leading him to become the acclaimed singer-songwriter we know today. Mellencamp never fully left his artistic side behind and is now set to give his large-scale oil portraits to the public.
John Mellencamp: American Painting and Assembledges is a self-curated book documenting “America’s heart and soul” with an “anti-establishment frown.” The book features 170 original works, essays from David L. Shirley and Bob Guccione Jr, and a forward written by Dr. Louis A. Zona.
A blurb from the forward reads, “The art of John Mellencamp stretches the American brand of expressionism…Free in spirit, his work punches out at us. His is not a work that dabbles along the edges; it is every bit as strong-willed as the best of the American expressionists no matter the period with which we might make a comparison.”
Among paintings of everyday people are a few well-known subjects, including Martin Luther King Jr., Marlon Brando, Johnny Cash, and Meg Ryan. Mellencamp also adds a few self-portraits to the mix.
The book will be on sale in October 2022 from Rizzoli New York. The work retails for $65.
Mellencamp is an award-winning singer-songwriter whose storied career spans over 45 years. His songwriting efforts landed him an induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and a John Steinbeck Award.
His latest studio album, Strictly A One-Eyed Jack, reached No. 1 on the album charts upon its release. Another heartland rock icon, Bruce Springsteen is featured on the LP, lending his guitar prowess to “Did You Say Such a Thing” and “A Life Full of Rain.” Listen below.
Photo by Marc Hauser / Sacks & Co