Heartland Rocker John Mellencamp Shows a New Series Paintings in New York—See Them Here

"Life, Death, Love, and Freedom" is open at ACA Galleries through June 2. 

John Mellencamp's Jack of Hearts (2017). Courtesy of the artist and ACA Gallery.

The opening for singer John Mellencamp’s new art show at ACA Galleries in Manhattan was, unsurprisingly, a who’s who of Hollywood and rock stardom. Lorraine Bracco, the actress who played Tony Soprano’s therapist, was there alongside veteran rock reporter Alan Light, Bungalow8 founder Amy Sacco, and Universal Music president Bruce Resnikoff.

Mellencamp’s show, “Life, Death, Love, and Freedom” is his second at the gallery, and like his musical career, his artwork is only getting better. The portraits, rendered in dark oranges and shadowy blacks, are reminiscent of the German artist Markus Schinwald’s work. Mellencamp himself cites influences as far ranging as Robert Rauschenberg and the German expressionists Max Beckmann and Otto Dix.

The titles of the work variously make reference to James Dean, the Marlboro Man, and a character from the movie Babydoll. But Mellencamp would prefer the work be read on its own terms. “These galleries want names on the paintings,” he told artnet News in an email. “I would prefer not to name any artwork. I find titles anywhere I can get them, more or less just for identification purposes.”

Lest viewers think that Mellencamp’s art is merely a vanity offshoot of his musical celebrity, in fact, the Jack and Diane crooner spent time at the Art Students League in New York in the 1970s, and always hoped to pursue a painting career.

Today, when he isn’t on a 50-concert tour, Mellencamp frequents galleries and museums, plus the occasional art fair. But he’s happiest making his own art, no matter what form it takes.

See more of Mellencamp’s work below.

John Mellencamp’s Aunt Rose Comfort (2016). Courtesy of the artist and ACA Gallery.

John Mellencamp’s Both Ends Burning (2017). Courtesy of the artist and ACA Gallery.

John Mellencamp’s Between a Laugh and a Tear (2017). Courtesy of the artist and ACA Gallery.

John Mellencamp’s Thomas Hyra (2018). Courtesy of the artist and ACA Gallery.

John Mellencamp’s The Hammerhead (2017). Courtesy of the artist and ACA Gallery.

John Mellencamp’s Grace (2017). Courtesy of the artist and ACA Gallery.

John Mellencamp’s American Boy (2017). Courtesy of the artist and ACA Gallery.

John Mellencamp’s Know Your Song Well (2017). Courtesy of the artist and ACA Gallery.

John Mellencamp’s Courage (2017). Courtesy of the artist and ACA Gallery.

John Mellencamp’s A Bed of Nails (2017). Courtesy of the artist and ACA Gallery.

John Mellencamp’s Fairmount (2017). Courtesy of the artist and ACA Gallery.

John Mellencamp’s Easy Target (2017). Courtesy of the artist and ACA Gallery.

John Mellencamp’s Gun Control (2013). Courtesy of the artist and ACA Gallery.

John Mellencamp’s The Truth of the Iguana (2017). Courtesy of the artist and ACA Gallery.

John Mellencamp’s Johnny Strabler (2017). Courtesy of the artist and ACA Gallery.

John Mellencamp’s A Drawer Full of Bullets (2017). Courtesy of the artist and ACA Gallery.

John Mellencamp’s Monstrosity. Courtesy of the artist and ACA Gallery.

 

John Mellencamp: Life, Death, Love, and Freedom is open at ACA Galleries through June 2. 


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