Local Art Seen: Andy Messerschmidt’s Striking Iconography at the DAI
“Enjoyment of the work consists in participation in the creative state of the artist.” — Martin Heidegger on Nietzsche
The Duluth Depot is probably best known for its train museum, but there’s much more there to see. This past week I stopped in at the Corridor Gallery just outside the Duluth Art Institute offices to see the current display of Andy Messerschmidt’s work reflecting pop culture’s consumption and hoarding of images. It’s quite impressive.
The “Corridor Gallery” is really nothing more than the hallway that leads from the elevator to the board room and the other galleries, but by turning it into exhibit space the DAI gets some extra mileage out of it. There have been some really rewarding exhibitions here despite its limitations. (It’s not an ideal setting for a Motherwell, for example, or Dali’s 15-foot-tall Hallucinogenic Toreador.
The show’s description reads as follows:
Individuals are massing collections of photos online, images representing a life we wish to be living, maintaining facades that can bring personal conflict and stress. His kaleidoscopic realms layer assorted objects with backdrops of wrapping paper, hand drawn mazes and elaborate patterns. Messerschmidt likens the gallery to a temple, reasoning that artwork is elevated simply by appearing in the space. His paintings therefore become the alter, “Shrines to ornamental multiphrenia.”
Messerschmidt operates the Ornamental Hermit Studio in Ely, Minnesota where he creates and displays his artwork. Represented throughout the United States and abroad, he has appeared in multiple solo and group shows, including being awarded first place in the 2012 Arrowhead Regional Biennial. (I knew I’d seen his work somewhere.)
There’s a measured eccentricity about some of the work. (Example: The witch fingers atop the “Blistering Eyes of Gorgon.”) The titles are also delightfully enigmatic. (Example: “Eyes Are My Mouthpiece.”) Many of the larger pieces have a Rorschach inkblot aspect to the designs, leading one to explore one’s own psychological interpretations of what is there and what is only projected by the darker regions of our subconscious.
Fellow artists may want to go simply to see the material he is working on, for ideas regarding new potential surfaces to work with. His larger pieces are assembled on routered medium-density fiberboard (MDF). It provides a substantive surface for the effects he’s creating.
There are also small 12"x 12" images on paper that are totally diverse, the unifying theme being that each is original and complete in and of itself and nothing like another other than size and surface. It’s impressive how many varieties of creative expression can unfold from one individual mind.
I strongly encourage local art fans to make their way to the DAI sometime in March or April for this and the other shows currently being shown. It’s free, so why not?
A version of this was originally published yesterday at https://pioneerproductions.blogspot.com.
To see some of my own creative visual expressions visit The Many Faces of Ennyman or my Flickr page featuring 42 paintings and drawings of Bob Dylan. Some can be purchased as Giclee reproductions at CPL Imaging.