ELY – Local artist Andy Messerschmidt recently hosted an open house at his Ornamental Hermit studio to present and exhibit paintings from his Agroccult series, “With or Without Spires.” The …
ELY – Local artist Andy Messerschmidt recently hosted an open house at his Ornamental Hermit studio to present and exhibit paintings from his Agroccult series, “With or Without Spires.” The event commemorated the 1,000th painting from the landscape series, started 20 years ago.
In his own words, Messerschmidt describes the series as “a muddle and mash-up of oil, acrylic and collage-based landscape paintings drawing from cartographic fetishization and totem consecration/desecrations on Earth. This is planetary terroir as a stage for culture clashes, globalized ideologies and utopian/dystopian vistas,” he said.
Messerschmidt went on to explain that the American landscape has sustained brutal changes, and its short history only underscores the brutality. “Seen by turns as an untouched paradise to control, a lush mystery to explore, a powerful force to be subdued, or a sanitized growing medium to produce, the land has been changed and changed again,” he said. “Westward expansion enabled land grabs and territory shaping. The draining of swamps, damming of rivers, and digging of canals produced towns. Slashing, burning, and tillage made way for monoculture.”
He noted that each individual piece, roughly 10 inches square, while completely unique fromeachg other, contains a horizon line. “The horizon may be real or perceived, but it is there to give each view stability or frame of reference,” he said.
The catalog of physical changes is matched by the spiritual scars: economy-building enslavements, unreckoned prodding and herding into reservations, willy-nilly desecrations of burial grounds, the detonations in Los Alamos, the staining by the Exxon Valdez, he added. “The utopia is indecipherable from the future dystopia it will come to be. Coming full circle, the land is a scuffed and battered pulpit for the new pilgrims, indeed.”
Messerschmidt’s Agroccult series does not depict these events in a way that is immediately recognizable. Rather, it focuses on the land itself as a stage for the series of tragedies enacted upon it. “Images of archetypal mysticism peek through the curtains of traditional landscapes, asking the viewer to question the ritual, the beliefs, the motives of its cultural totems and memorials now appearing on stage,” he said.
“Where do our land ideologies and geographic xenophobias come from?” he asked. “What is the burden? Can we be forgiven? It is these very spiritual wisps and abandoned glyphs of former utopias that make for the psychologically-loaded landscape. The desire to revere a traditional landscape scene becomes thwarted by an aberration, by painted orbs, auras, tracers and luminosities adorning the charismatic leaders or totems seen in this series,” he added
The Ornamental Hermit is located next to the former Music Outfitters, 132 N. First Avenue E. More than 200 paintings from this series are for sale. For more information, call 218-235-4288.