Press Release

Benjamin Newton Messick was born on a farm near Stafford, Missouri in 1891. As a shy child, Messick developed the ability to observe and record a scene without disturbing it. In 1918, the artist was drafted to serve in France. When he got home, he enrolled at the Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles and later pursued studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In 1943, Ben Messick joined the faculty at Chouinard to teach life drawing, where he remained until 1951.

Having grown up depicting the rural communities of Missouri, Messick refocused his energies on recording the trials and triumphs of working class urbanites in Los Angeles. Ever-present in his prints, chracoals, watercolors, and oil paintings was his great empathy with his fellow Americans. The artist's tender view of "Everyday Joes" struggling through the Depression contrasted strongly with the harsher social commentary of many of Messick's contemporaries in the Social Realist and Ashcan schools. As a gifted painter, printmaker, and draftsman, Messick used his talents to celebrate commonalities and simple joys.

In recognition of his talent and artistic influence, Messick's works were exhibited across the country, including a show at the Smithsonian in 1944 and most recently at the Springfield Museum of Art in 2004.

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