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BEN MESSICK (1891-1981) - Artists - Sullivan Goss - An American Gallery, Santa Barbara's Finest Art Gallery

Hoedown on James River #2 , c. 1930s

34 x 32 inches | pastel on paper

Born near Stafford, Missouri in 1891, Benjamin Newton Messick displayed remarkable artistic talent at a very young age. After serving in France during World War I, Messick moved to California to pursue his dream of becoming an artist. He received immediate praise and recognition for his art upon enrolling in the Chouinard School of Art in Los Angeles in the fall of 1925. Messick returned to Chouinard in the 1940s and 1950s as one of the school’s most popular instructors.

Messick’s work can be divided into two distinct periods: regionalist paintings from the 1930s and ‘40s, and modernist pieces that evolved from the 1950s onward. His scene paintings reflect his passion for human nature, depicting subjects from the streets, parks and beaches in a kind, honest manner. The modernist pieces explore fantastic landscapes in a bold, dark palette with vigorous, thick brushwork.

A talented draftsman, printmaker and painter, Messicks’s works were featured in countless exhibitions at important museums and galleries. He received numerous awards and was often considered to be one of the foremost members of the Los Angeles art community. Despite his fine reputation, just a few years after his death Messick’s works slipped into relative obscurity. Sullivan Goss is proud to represent the estate of the artist.


3:31 | Narrated by Jeremy Tessmer | Released for Ben Messick: Artist, 2015

More Information


1969 Diploma of Honor, Internationa Arts Guild, Monte Carlo, Monaco

1953 Second Award, Long Beach Art Association
Key Award, Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ

1953 Second Prize, Long Beach Art Association

1952 Grumbacher California State Award

1927 Watercolor Prize, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

1925 Special Award for Drawing, L.A. County Fair, 1925

American Federation of Arts
California Art Club
Cultuaral Art Center Association, Long Beach
Fine arts Society of San Diego
International Arts Guild, Monte Carlo, Monaco
Laguna Beach Art Association
Long Beach Art Association
Los Angeles Art Association
Royal Society of Arts, London
Southern State Arts League



Boca Raton Museum of Art, FL
Grumbacher Collection, New York, NY
Laguna Art Museum, Laguna Beach, CA
Long Beach Museum of Art, Long Beach, CA
Los Angeles County Art Museum, LA, CA
Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI
National Museum of American Art, Washington, DC (Jitterbugs, 1940)
Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA
San Francisco Musuem of Art, San Francisco, CA
Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ
Springfield Art Musuem, Springfield, MO



1. Hughes, Edan Milton. Artists in California, 1786-1940, p. 473. San Fran.: Hughes Pub., 1989.
2. U.S. Census, Birth Date, Marriage Dates, Children, Death Date. Accessed through RootsWeb.com
3. Falk, Peter. Who's Who In American Art1936-1966
4. Who's Who In the West
5. Perine, Robert, Chouinard: An Art Vision Betrayed; Artra Pub. Co.; 1985
6. Westphal, Ruth. American Scene Painting: California, 1930's & 1940's. Irvine, Westphal Pub., 1991.
7. McClelland, Gordan. The California Style, California Watercolor Artists 1925-1955. Beverly Hills, Hillcrest Press, 1985.
8. Lafferty, James R., Sr. Ben Messick Redlands, CA; Rifleman Pub., 1989.


The list below is extracted from James R. Lafferty, Sr.'s excellent monograph, Ben Messick by permission


2004 Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, MO

2000, 2001 Sullivan Goss, Ltd., Santa Barbara, CA

1993 Ben Messick Retrospective, Cline Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

1990 In The Vernacular: Ben Messick’s Paintings of the L.A. Scene, 1935-1950,Edward Dean Musuem, Cherry Valley Museum, CA

1987, 1988, 1989 Eclectic Gallery, Redlands, CA

1982 Memorial Exhibit, Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, MO

1967 An Annual Exhibition of Paintings, Prints, And Drawings, by Ben Messick, Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, MO

1964 Grand Central Art Galleries, New York, NY

1963 Frick Gallery, Palm Springs, CA

1961 Ben Messick Exhibition Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL

1957 Paintings & Graphics by Ben Messick, Long Beach Museum, Long Beach, CA

1957 Paintings by Ben Messick & Velma Hay, Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento, CA

1951 Paintings by Ben Messick, Illinois State Museum, Springfield, IL

1951 Exhbition of Paintings & Lithographs, San Diego School of Arts & Crafts, CA

1950 Exhibition of Works by Ben Messick, San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego, CA

1950 Exhibition of Works by Ben Messick, Crocker Art Gallery, Sacramento, CA

1950 Ben Messick Exhibition, Pacific Coast Club Galleria, Long Beach, CA

1950, 1963 Franz Eue Gallery, Long Beach, CA

1949 Presents Ben Messick, Los Angeles Artist, Ojai Art Center, Ojai, CA

1948 Ben Messick: Paintings, San Diego School of Arts & Crafts, La Jolla, CA

1947 Oil Paintings by Ben Messick De Young Museum, San Francisco, CA

1947 Ben Messick, An Exhibition of Oil Paintings, La Jolla Art Center, CA

1946 Exhibition of Lithographs & Drawings, Pasadena Art Institute, Pasadena, CA

1946 Francis Tayler Galleries, Beverly Hill, CA

1945 Exhibition of Lithographs & Drawings, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

1944 Exhibition of Drawings & Lithographs, Smithsonian Institution

1943 Springfield Art Museum, Springfield, MO

1941 Organic Art Forms, Chouinard Art Institute

1938, 1939, 1940 Stendahl Gallery

1938 Scripps College Library

1937 Stendahl Gallery (Catalog introduction by Loser Feitelson)

1935 Los Angeles County Museum

1933 Holmby Hills College

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