Allegory: The Illuminated Landscapes of Mark Messersmith

July 23, 2023 - September 24, 2023
Canvas of a wildlife scene, including pink, green and white flowers surrounding by birds and butterflies. Environment extends beyond the canvas with hand-carved mirrors, colored glass and glitter around the borders.


Apalachicola Bluff, 2021
Oil on canvas with carved wooden elements and mixed media predella boxes
87in. x 62in..

Mark Messersmith is an artist of remarkable skills with a vision that brings into focus the interplay of lifeforms on our planet. His art is both exciting in its visual complexity and classically beautiful in color choice and arrangement. Messersmith is a true master formalist with a deep knowledge of color and how color values work to build an overall dynamic that appeals on many levels. The Butler Insitute of American Art is pleased and honored to exhibit the outstanding work of this most talented of artists.

When Mr. Joseph Butler founded the Insitute in 1919, he envisioned the exhibiting of the best of the art produced by Americans. He would be pleased know that the work of Mark Messersmith is being presented in the museum of art that bears his name.

Dr. Louis Zona, Executive Director

The American landscape has often played as a source of inspiration for writers, poets and artists across many centuries—the lush environs and open wilderness filled with flora and fauna offered an unspoiled, exotic variety of muses. In the mid-19th century, scenic vistas welcomed explorers looking to escape urbanization amid the Industrial Revolution, who retreated to the idyllic landscapes that beckoned westward migrations. American landscape painting became the height of artistic expression as leading artists of the Hudson River School adopted a romantic, idealized, and inspiring style in which the American landscape appeared in epic proportion and biblical air, ultimately forging a renewed post-war ‘American’ identity.

Mark Messersmith builds on the historical traditions of American landscape painting with contemporary expressions of wildlife in times of change, through immersive narratives decoding allegorical themes of both salvation and destruction. Working with a combination of conventional and nontraditional materials, Messersmith constructs monumental environments that physically extend beyond the canvas with hand-carved ornamentations and sculpture—covered by broken mirrors, colored glass and even glitter.

Allegory: The Illuminated Landscapes of Mark Messersmith examines the romanticized mythology of the American landscape against the reality of human interference, bringing forth an awareness and appreciation for the preservation of the natural world.

Mark Messersmith is an artist based in Tallahassee, Florida, where he taught painting and drawing at Florida State University, earning the distinction of Professor Emeritus. He is a two-time Artist Fellow recipient from the Ford Foundation as well as the National Endowment for the Arts where he received the Regional Fellowship Awards for Emerging Visual Artists. He has been recognized by the Florida Department of State’s Division of Cultural Affairs, accepting Individual Artist Fellowship Awards over multiple years. In 2006, Mark was awarded the Joan Mitchell Foundation Painting Award. His work has been exhibited by numerous key galleries and represented in permanent collections of many major museums and private collections throughout the United States and abroad.

CATEGORIES: Exhibition

DATE: July 23, 2023 - September 24, 2023

LOCATION: FLAD A & B Galleries



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