September 22, 2018
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Unconventional Art

Group helps beginning artists find an audience
Members of The Arts Council of Doom including its five leaders pose during one of their shows.

The five current leaders (or “Doomanati” as they joke in a whisper) of The Arts Council of Doom realize it’s important for an artist to have as many connections and avenues of exposure as possible.

“I was sitting around, trying to figure out something to do, and realized that I knew a lot of people in town who were also artists,” says Steve Freeman, who earned his bachelor of science degree in art with a studio emphasis from the University of Southern Indiana. “So I decided to start a Facebook page so all these different groups of people I knew could start intermingling ideas.”

The group’s name is something of an inside joke: a reference to the cartoon supervillain group The Legion of Doom. The Facebook page takes it a step further, lightheartedly abbreviating the name as TACO Doom. It started in 2010 as a way to help artists share ideas, organize shows, and find resources among one another in a casual way.

“One night, Gary and I were talking and decided we should get some of those people together to do a show,” says Freeman of fellow council member Gary Hobdy. “It was about seven or eight people, and Melissa was one of them and found us a venue.”

Melissa Erwin, who holds a bachelor of science degree in art with a graphic design emphasis from USI, is also on TACO Doom’s inner council and immediately saw which artists were taking the group seriously.

“As Master P would say, were ‘bout it’,” jokes Hobdy, who graduated with a bachelor’s of art degree in art with studio emphasis from USI.

TACO Doom eliminates the entry fees and commissions that can make it hard for beginning artists to establish themselves. The group is primarily composed of a younger demographic, which member Chris Wilke, who studied studio art at USI, says exposes them to the more edgy art styles of the coastal areas in the country.

Amanda Sibrel also is a council member of TACO Doom.

“What’s nice for me about being a part of the group and getting my work out there, it has made people in other cities ask if I want to put my work in their shows,” says Sibrel, who earned her bachelor of fine arts in printmaking from the Kansas City Art Institute.

Anne McKim, executive director of The Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana, says the group has opened up new talent to the area.

“I have a great amount of respect for them and their leadership,” says McKim. “We see artists come through our gallery who we would have never known about without them.”

The open Facebook group currently has more than 400 members and puts on shows at Tin Man, PG Café, Angel Mounds State Historic Site, the Arts Council’s Bower-Surheinrich Foundation Gallery, as well as several special events and projects.

For more information on The Arts Council of Doom, visit its Facebook page.

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