Mark Messersmith has been painting florid Florida landscapes for 30 years. With a glinting kaleidoscope of color and form, he casts skepticism on our visions of pristine paradise to tell the narratives of nature’s fragility and resilience.
“My works build on stories (either real or conjectured), along with my own observations and concerns for all the creatures that move within the shrinking environs they inhabit – creatures moving between and over one another, hoping to survive the chaos of our self-concerned lives, in the darkening illuminations of their own fading wilderness.”
When Messersmith’s work appeared at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, arts writer Doug MacCash characterized the complicated canvases as crackling “with electric energy, like Audubon prints zapped with St. Elmo’s fire.” The Times Picayune reporter continued, “If a disconcerting sense of ecological collision was Messersmith’s goal, then he has succeeded in spades.”
In a philanthropic move that complements his concern for the Florida wilderness, the famed painter and his wife announced plans to endow the “Susan and Mark Messersmith Art Scholarship.”
Fundraising for the endowment will take place at “An Art Affair” on October 12 where attendees will have an opportunity to acquire a Messersmith masterpiece. Five major works and a series of ten smaller paintings will be available for sale and auction at the home of Steve and Su Ecenia.
Su counts Mark as one of the finest artists and humanitarians she knows. “I first met Mark when he was my professor at FSU and have worked on many community projects with him over the years. You cannot help but be awed by his ability as an artist and his incredible kindness and humility. When Steve and I heard what he was doing for art students, we immediately wanted to be involved and offered our home for “An Art Affair. In a time when the arts are marginalized, it is more important than ever to support and nurture young and talented artists.”
Once the endowment is created, the scholarship will be awarded to undergraduate students at Florida State University who exhibit excellence in painting and sculpture. It continues the Messersmith commitment to generosity that includes the influential participation in public murals and support of local galleries that benefit from the donation of his work to their annual fund-raising auctions.
“I want this scholarship to spur on the creativity of today’s emerging artists who sorely need funding to complete their studies,” remarks Susan Messersmith.
Mark concurs, saying that, “University training ensures a high caliber of art for the future and I want to make a difference in what we see for generations to come.”
The couple is committed to young artists and to Florida State University. Susan received her bachelors and master’s degrees from FSU and is now the Director of Graduate Admissions for the Department of Art Education. Mark has been an FSU Professor of Art since 1985. Both are enthusiastic advocates of the arts. They believe art can make meaningful impacts in the lives of people, positively influence our ideals, and make the natural and social world a better place.
Messersmith’s paintings are exhibited and collected throughout the U.S. and abroad. His works are part of the permanent collections of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Grace Museum, Art Museum of Southeast Texas, FSU Museum of Fine Arts, Vero Beach Center for the Arts, Jacksonville Museum of Modern Art, Tyler Museum of Art, Appleton Museum of Art, Huntsville Museum of Art, Art Museum of West Virginia University, Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, and the Musée du Haut-de-Cagnes-sur-Mer.
To view a gallery of the artwork that will be available at this event, please click the button below. (Password protected)
If interested in attending, please contact Bobbie Fernandez.