Artist Steven Newlin literally takes the lid off the muse when he feels the need to create.

The 34-year-old Columbus resident keeps sheets of magazine pages of sundry images and items in plastic storage tubs. And, when the impulse strikes, he takes the tubs and pours out the sheets onto the floor until creativity sparks.

“Slowly, those pages begin to speak to me,” Newlin said.

He and seven other local and regional artists will share some of their artistic conversation in the mixed-media exhibition, “We Are From Here,” opening this weekend at the Columbus Learning Center, 4555 Central Ave. A reception is scheduled from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday. The display runs through Sept. 8.

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Newlin works by day as a massage therapist at Columbus’ Exhale With Hope. He thought for a moment when asked which is more therapeutic, his art of his massage.

“They complement each other,” he said.

The show actually began taking shape in October 2013.

That’s when Columbus artist and art teacher Bobbie K Owens’ class, “The Art of Celebration,” began meeting at Broad Ripple’s Indiana Arts Center.

Weeks later, when the class was meant to end, members had developed such a rapport and bond that they decided to keep meeting at each others’ homes. Occasionally, Owens would join them. Those gatherings have continued.

“I can’t really teach anybody literally to be an artist,” said Owens, who has successfully exhibited nationwide since the 1980s. “So, I use the class as a foundation to build students’ confidence.”

Most in the class-turned-exhibit are 65-plus people employing art as a sideline. Several have exhibited and sold pieces before. One, a nurse by day, had produced more than 200 works before she dared show any efforts publicly.

Another is Lafayette’s Marie Henderson, 48, who retired as a school principal when diagnosed three years ago with Stage III ovarian cancer. The art class represented one of only a few activities she could tackle while she battled serious illness. She boasted no background in art.

“But this was my therapy,” Henderson said, adding that her cancer now is in remission.

She laughed when considering that her paintings, some of them in bright, colorful splashes, will carry pricetags along with the other artists.

“If someone had told me a while back that I would be displaying art in the same building (as internationally-noted glass artist) Dale Chihuly, I would not have believed it,” she said.

Another is an investment specialist who quit art school years ago. More than anything, Owens has shared tips and wisdom with them on topics ranging from promotion to pricing, since these pieces will be for sale.

“I’m telling them things that no one took the time to tell me,” Owens said.

The artist/teacher offered them one piece of direct advice for the future, just days ago.

“After today, try to forget about the show,” he said. “And start making new art. Keep your focus and intention in the right place.”

Framing an exhibit

What: Mixed media art exhibit of eight regional artists and more than 100 works, “We Are From Here.”

When: Opening reception 5 to 8 p.m. Friday with hors d’oeuvres and wine. Exhibition runs through Sept. 8.

Where: Throughout the Columbus Learning Center, 4555 Central Ave.

Artists: Curly Tom Brown, Aline Chevalier, Marie Henderson, Jennifer Jefferis, Steven Newlin, M. A. Rosenberg, Cathy Williams and Bobbie K Owens, teacher, mentor and adviser.

Admission: Free.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.