To the editor:

May I talk to you about a treasure that has been a part of our community since 1992 or thereabouts?

SICA (Southern Indiana Center for the Arts), or “The Art Center” as some affectionately call it, came into being like a welcome surprise gift.

Many had thought dreamily of such a place where visual art could be created, displayed and enjoyed while knowing such a reality was only a distant possibility.

Then suddenly, a local boy who had achieved fame handed us this gift of a place to fulfill our desires. It has been ours to use and enjoy for more than 25 years. Thank you, John Mellencamp and your organization.

This treasure offers much more than a physical building. The 166-year-old country manor setting just north of our city limits, the quaint little pottery barn with a natural amphitheater in the landscape, mature shade trees, space to breathe deeply — which you want to do when stepping onto the grounds. A haven away from concrete, asphalt and hurrying traffic.

Brides and grooms share their vows among God’s outdoor creations there. Graduates take a step forward with their family and friends on the hilltop.

The “Don Hill” print shop (The John H. and Thomas W. Conner Museum of Antique Printing) on the property is an additional gem gifted to the community by the Conner Family Foundation. Hill is curator of the museum, which houses a working print shop museum.

I have personally benefited from this contribution and am forever grateful to the individuals and business entities who have sown generously into the operation and maintenance of SICA.

We all need to be vigilant to see that this treasure is preserved. This means being willing to give time as well as resources to see that our precious gift is managed and maintained well.

Friends, I encourage you to drop in at SICA on North Ewing Street to participate in the free tours. The art exhibits change monthly, and the gift shop overflows with unique gifts of art made by local artists. On Wednesday afternoons, you can watch area artists at work in different mediums.

Hope to see you there soon.

Ruth Bateman

Seymour