Ben Messick

(1891-1981)

Benjamin Newton Messick painted, drew, and lithographed Americana as he found it in his hometown of Los Angeles. A native of Missouri, Messick moved to Los Angeles after serving in France in World War I to pursue a career as an artist. With humor and compassion he recorded fragments of life as it was being lived in urban Southern California - robust and earthy subjects amidst, in is own words, “the streets, parks, Main Street cafes, polo fields, and beaches.”

In the 1940s, he was a sketch artist for Disney Studios and Metro-Goldwyn Mayer and he taught at the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles from 1943 to 1951. From 1948 to 1953, he also taught classes at the San Diego School of Arts and Crafts.

Messick’s vernacular observations are intended to bring to life the color and the spirit of his times. During the Depression years, he worked on a number of WPA murals in the Los Angeles area and did three murals for the United States Treasury Department in Washington DC. His work has been widely exhibited and is included in such collections as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Laguna Art Museum, and the Springfield Museum of Art in Missouri.

Source: Peter Falk, “Who Was Who in American Art”


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