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An unexpected loss for the Indy arts community

Friends of artist Doug Arnholter talk about what he means to them

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Doug Arnholter at work
  • Doug Arnholter at work

The Indianapolis arts community is mourning the loss of Doug Arnholter, 58, who died on February 23, as a result of a head injury.

Some might know Arnholter for what he termed his “contemporary frescoes” that consist of wood canvases that he burnt holes in and painted.  Some might also know him for channeling his artistic ability and restless energy into fundraising for various charitable organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Gleaners Food Kitchen, and Make a Wish Foundation.

Arnholter, who attended Lawrence Central High School, was also a graphic designer, photographer, and leader of art therapy sessions for corporate clients.


“He was a good friend,” fellow artist William Denton Ray wrote on the "Doug Arnholter's Friends"  Facebook page  on March 5. “He was not only a great human being but his passion for impacting society through art was great.”

Shannon Linker, Vice President of the Arts Council of Indianapolis and Director of Gallery 924, met Arnholter when he opened Broad Ripple Art & Design more than a decade ago with fellow artist Teri Barnett.

“They were artists who were ready to take on the role of gallery, but more importantly they really wanted to see other artists succeed,” she says. “Doug talked about his business credentials that could be helpful in building a corporate audience for our Indy based artists. That was something I was very involved in trying to accomplish at the time so I loved the idea of having others interested in the same goals.”

One project of Arnholter’s, not yet completed at the time of his death, was his "Mural of America," that invites participants from all 50 states and Washington D.C. to contribute their paint-strokes to two identical paint-by-numbers canvases. One was destined to stay
in the state in which it was completed: the other was to become part of a  completed mural, to be assembled at the National Mall in Washington D.C.

“He did his own personal work too but I would say that the majority of his work was definitely based in involving the community and as at large as possible,” says Harrison Center artist Quincy Owens. “For the Mural of the World, I think he’s had over 10,000 people attach that project. It slipped and caught traction and slipped and caught traction but he was in the process of getting it geared up and getting it bigger and better before he passed away.”


"Zygote," contemporary fresco on wood, by Doug Arnholter
  • "Zygote," contemporary fresco on wood, by Doug Arnholter

Linker agrees that Arnholder wasn't interested in restricting himself  to a strictly personal artistic vision.

“Over the years Doug and I talked through hundreds of ideas,” she says. “He seemed to always have a grand vision that sometimes involved his art and sometimes didn't. The baseline connection to all of his ideas was they were about pulling people together through art. They were about allowing artists and creative people create a more meaningful and beautiful world for everyone - especially those in need. I can't remember any idea that didn't involve helping fund children's projects, community growth initiatives, or independent artists in some way."

Arnholter is survived by his daughter Molly, in her mid-twenties.


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