Opposites Attract


Two local artists are giving Butler University and Indianapolis community members two very different looks into the world of art.

Doug Arnholter and Cole Pierce are showcasing their dissimilar pieces in the Schrott Center.

On Friday, they opened their showcase with a gallery talk and tour throughout the building.

Arnholter, a self-described “opportunist artist,” has a concentration in a more abstract, conceptual style of artwork, utilizing mixed media.

His beginnings were not in line with the typical art lifestyle.


“I was living in a corporate world, and one day I just decided I wanted to be a better dad and go play,” Arnholter said.

He worked as a landscape architect, and only recently became interested in the fine arts.

He said he finds inspiration from his interior designer uncle, but not in the forms he makes—only the ambition.

“I try to avoid other artists because I’m so impressionable,” Arnholter said.

He does, however, listen to a variety of music while he works, which impacts the outcome of his pieces. He referenced many musicians but said, “Elvis Costello is my god.”

The process to make his work is equally as important as the works themselves.

“George and Martha,” the piece hanging in Schrott’s main lobby, was made through dancing.

“I had a party and threw paint down and asked people there to dance on it,” Arnholter said.

From there, he had his base and worked off what the partygoers had started. Like “George and Martha,” many of his pieces are made outside the studio.

“I work a lot outdoors and in public,” Arnholter said. “I like working with people.”

Videos of these relational art pieces—works made by getting others involved in the creating process—are on his website: www.dougarnholter.com.

His other pieces are made by mixing found and new materials, and his style is very free and loosely-based.

“Sometimes I’m making a piece and just don’t like what’s happening, so I’ll set it on fire or take an axe to it and just stumble upon what it’s suppose to be,” Arnholter said.

He said he knows a piece is finished “when something just really turns me on and I want to (expletive) it, I really know I’ve hit that ‘aesthetic g-spot.’”

Arnholter’s work differs heavily from the works of Cole Pierce that share the space in Schrott.

Pierce’s style is far more geometrical and premeditated. Although he has dabbled in many other styles, his current optical illusion-based paintings are his main focus.

“I’ve put other paintings aside to focus on these because those others just don’t seem pertinent right now,” Pierce said. “I realized what I liked best when talking about my works was the visceral, and that became my concentration.”


Pierce’s process involves a method of taping off triangular patterns onto canvases and choosing a color scheme. This is followed by the eventual tearing of the tape.

“Putting the tape on is a slow, meditative process,” said Pierce. “There is this element of chance, because I don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like until I’m completely finished.”

His said his favorite part about his work is the handmade aspects of things typically made in a digital design format.

“From far away, it seems symmetrical and everything, but if you look at it closer, you can see my brushstroke or a bit a tape that wasn’t put on in the right spot,” Pierce said.

Pierce said the optical illusion features of his paintings are meant to influence different responses.

During Pierce’s portion of his and Arnholter’s discussion Friday, he said he likes the idea of a limited comprehension.

He went on to discuss the difference between what people can understand mentally versus what the body understands.

“I think of an element of sound with these,” Arnholter said first.

“With a series of patterns, sound and vibrations can definitely be applied, absolutely,” Pierce responded.

Elizabeth Mix, professor of art history and Art + Design director, was in attendance and said she found Pierce’s works intriguing from all angles.

“It’s really interesting to look at them from the side as opposed to straight on,” Mix said. “It looks like an entirely different painting.”

This exhibit will be featured in the Schrott galleries for viewing until this Friday. After Friday, the pieces will be taken down to make room for the next show, featuring the works of Craig Yu.