Sunday, March 8, 2020

Local Art Seen: Andy Messerschmidt's Striking Iconography at the DAI

Messerschmidt show turns visual variation into a mystical experience.
"Blistering Eyes of Gorgon"
The Duluth Depot is probably best known for its train museum, but there's much more there to see including the Historical Society displays and the Ojibwa Museum. This past week I stopped in at the Corridor Gallery on the fourth floor 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.”


"Eyes Are My Mouthpiece"
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 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.

"Trickle Charge"
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 large 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. 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?

"Carpet Outlet -- Opening Day" Looks rather ordinary till you look closer... (below)
...and see the extraordinary detail.
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"Morecore"
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"Morecore" detail
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Highly recommended. Check it out!

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