SICA offers Art Club, private lessons

Living near Southern Indiana Center for the Arts in Seymour, Valerie Eckert often makes her way to the historic building to let her creativity flow.

Since the beginning of the year, she has stopped by and found a quiet corner to relax and make art.

“There’s watercolor. There’s pastel. There’s pen and ink. There’s charcoal. You can do anything you want,” she said. “You can do mixed media.”

Sometimes, she comes during Art Club, which is between 2 and 7 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Sometimes, she takes a private lesson from Executive Director Speck Mellencamp that’s offered during the same time frame.

“Everyone has something to offer,” Eckert said. “We all learn from each other.”

It had been years since Eckert had visited SICA due to family and work, but now, she has more time to spare.

“I only live down the street, so I’m like, ‘Valerie, just stop in and see what’s going on.’ I didn’t know about the Art Club, and it was pretty exciting,” she said. “(The arts center) is kind of a little jewel right here, actually. There’s nothing quite like it.”

The Art Club and private lessons are for all ages, all levels and all talents. Both Eckert and Mellencamp encourage more people to get involved.

“People shouldn’t really be afraid to try to do it. It’s an outlet. It’s relaxing,” Eckert said of art.

“Even if you’ve never done any art and you’ve always wanted to, don’t let that stop you,” Mellencamp said.

“It’s for anyone. Anyone can do it. I just think art should be for everyone and that everyone should have that. … Everyone should have that outlet.”

One of the best parts of Art Club is there’s no cost. If you want to bring your own materials, that’s fine. If you want to use provided materials, that’s OK, too.

Also, any type of art is welcome.

“Somebody came in and they sewed and quilted one day, and I usually bring in pens for myself or oil paint because that’s what I’m interested in. It’s really whatever you’re interested in,” Mellencamp said. “The idea of the Art Club is more like community building and finding more art-savvy people or just people that want to get into it to just talk about whatever they are interested in and are doing, no matter what that is.”

It’s a lax environment, and you can show up at any time and leave at any time, he said.

The club also fits in with Mellencamp shifting the focus of the arts center.

“The focus of SICA, to me, has seemed like we do a lot of gallery openings and stuff like that, and I wanted to shift the focus because I love art, I love looking at art, but more than looking at art, I love making it,” he said. “I wanted to share that, build a community and I want the focus of the center to be a place to make art more than to see it. You come in and you make stuff and take classes. You meet people and you talk about art.”

The private lessons are flexible, too. You can do one session or you can do a series of lessons. You can do them once a week or once a month.

“We can be really flexible and work around whatever people want to do,” Mellencamp said. “So far, most people opted for once a week. If you want to do more or less, it’s up to you.”

The hourlong lessons do come at a cost: $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers.

During the first lesson, Mellencamp said he asks the person what they want to do. Then he can tailor the lesson just for them, conduct demonstrations and sharing knowledge along the way.

“I like doing the one-on-one because everyone wants to learn something different and is at a different place — wherever they are at in their journey, what they want to learn, what they are interested in,” he said.

On Wednesday, Marshall Steffey, 11, of Seymour was taking a private lesson with Mellencamp, something he has done once a week for about a month.

“He has enjoyed art things for a while and has done some different drawings and things at home, and we’re just trying to get him into an activity that he enjoys, basically,” his mother, Amy Steffey, said. “We had an instructor that he would meet with after school a couple years ago and she moved, and so we haven’t had anyone for a while, so I contacted SICA and asked if they had any art lessons available. Then here we are.”

Marshall said for one, the lessons help him learn how to do art. Plus, he’s no longer into taekwondo like his siblings are, and art is more up his alley.

“I think that was our goal, just trying to find our kids something that they really enjoy doing,” Amy said. “(Marshall) has tried a few things, but one thing that we never have to make him go to is art. He has always enjoyed doing it. He’ll draw at home for long periods of time. Everyone needs an outlet of some sort or multiple outlets that are positive outlets, and if art is going to be that for him, we just want to encourage it.”

Since taekwondo no longer piques his interest, Marshall has found his kicks with art.

“I think art is a great thing. It’s a way of expression, and he has fun doing it, which is great,” Amy said. “I want him to do something so that he has an activity, and this is what he has always liked. This is great he gets exposed to this.”

At a glance 

Southern Indiana Center for the Arts is at 2001 N. Ewing St., Seymour.

Hours are 2 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.

Art Club is free during that time, and people of all ages may bring their own materials or use provided materials.

Private lessons are available, too. The cost is $20 for members and $25 for nonmembers.

To sign up for lessons, call or text 812-522-2278, follow SICA on Facebook and Instagram or email [email protected].

Other information is available online at or