Mark Messersmith: Long Summer

Next date: Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | 01:00 AM to Sunday, September 08, 2024 | 04:30 PM


Artist Mark Messersmith creates dense paintings of Florida’s untamed landscapes where black bears wade among lotuses, discarded bottles top tree branches, and herons devour their dinners under the high contrast light of the sun and moon.

Over the past four decades, Messersmith served as a professor and mentor inspiring and training young artists at Florida State University. His work has considered themes of struggle among people, flora, and fauna for dwindling natural resources in the region he calls home, North Florida.

Messersmith creates large-scale oil paintings teeming with vibrant life. The canvases are framed by carvings of the animals within, continuing the narrative. The carving and canvas share the base of an altar-like predella lined with vintage objects, carvings, smaller paintings, and other items that complement the main composition and add to one’s interpretation. Using the language of the Hudson River School and Tonalist landscape painters, Messersmith builds narrative scenes where the romanticism and exoticism infused by his predecessors meet the reality of habitat reduction and destruction.

The paintings selected for this exhibition complement the Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America series on display by John James Audubon, showcasing Florida’s mammals among their natural environments while introducing the exquisitely feathered birds in national and state-governed sanctuaries built to halt human encroachment. As we see in Messersmith’s vignettes, all living things compete for resources to survive and we have the opportunity to be better guardians to help the world around us thrive.


  • Friday, May 31, 2024 | 10:30 AM - Sunday, September 08, 2024 | 04:30 PM


Mennello Museum of American Art, 900 E. Princeton Street, Orlando, FL, 32803, View Map

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