Artistic director: SullivanMunce leader’s new passion for painting people leads to exhibit


By Mark Ambrogi

Cynthia Young might have been up for an artistic challenge, but she wasn’t optimistic.

To try and get out of that comfort zone of painting florals and animals, the SullivanMunce Cultural Center executive director took an eight-week class for portraits and figures at the center.

“I thought I was going to hate it,” Young said. “I thought this is going to be torture, but I made myself do it. I realized I loved doing it.”

Less than three years later, the Zionsville resident now has her art work on display at SullivanMunce, 225 W. Hawthorne St., Zionsville. The exhibit began Sept. 9 with a reception and continues to Nov. 2. Everything in the show is from 2014 to 2016. There are more than 100 pieces in the exhibit.

“There are 37 framed pieces, and the remainder are matted and sleeved,” Young said.

Some of the paintings have been sold already. All of the others are for sale, except for a portrait she did of her father, Grover Buckner, Anderson.

Young used to paint with acrylic and oil. She is now using charcoal, pastel and conte (a compressed charcoal).

“I love it, because it’s more immediate,” she said.

Young also uses sepia, white and black India ink in drawings.

“I still do a few things with floral, but mostly I focus on the people,” Young said. “I may get back to it. I don’t know what my next phase will be. I’ll keep doing people. I think drawing people improves your drawing skills for everything else. I don’t know why that is. I will probably start doing groups of people.”

Young said some of the artists that come are en plein air painters, which is French for open air.

“A lot of plein air painters do landscapes, but they are wanting to put figures in their landscapes,” Young said.

Young practices her craft during a three-hour class on three Thursday nights per month. The largest group attending the class has been 11. Class members pitch in to pay for the model.

“We start off with short, quick drawings, like three of those to start, about seven minutes long each, and then we go into long pose,” Young said. “Every 20 minutes we let the model take a 30-minute break.”

Young hasn’t tried to do portraits outside of live models, but said she could see doing it in the future. Young also schedules time to work on her portraits and figures on weekends.

Through the week, she is quite busy with SullivanMunce duties.

“We are a three-pronged center. We are a collecting history museum, genealogy library and art center,” Young said.  “The art center has a gallery where we do six to nine shows a year. Then we have classes and camps as well. We have the only actual bonafide clay studio in the area.”

Young became SullivanMunce art center director in 2007 and then became executive director in 2013. Prior to that, she was an interior designer for approximately 20 years. During that time, she was a SullivanMunce volunteer and taught summer art camp.

The exhibit is open during normal business hours, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. Admission is free.

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Personal: Young and her husband, Monty, have a 23-year-old son, Alex, who graduated from Zionsville Community High School and Indiana University’s School of Music. Young has a bachelor of fine arts degree from Ball State.

Favorite restaurants: The Friendly Tavern, Zionsville, and El Rodeo, Indianapolis. “We love all the restaurants here (in Zionsville),” Young said.

Favorite portrait in exhibit: “Peasant girl.”

Favorite part of job: “I like the job because it’s varied. It’s never the same thing. I like how we do all the different things. I’m never bored. We’re really busy.”

Favorite way to relax: “We’re moviegoers. We like having family over and having big family dinners.”

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