Fred Messersmith (1924-2009)

In 1964, while he was chairman of the Art Department at Stetson University in Deland, Florida, Fred Messersmith met Ruth Mead, founder of the Martha’s Vineyard Art Association. Francis Chapin, a summer Vineyard resident, was an artist-in-residence at Stetson at the time. Ruth urged Fred and his wife, Jane, to come to the lovely island for the summer, and so began the Messersmiths connection to the Vineyard and Fred’s 34-year history with the Association.

Fred and Jane began coming to Edgartown in the summer of 1964. Fred painted with Francis Chapin in the classroom above the gallery and started teaching watercolor classes in 1969. In 1986, he began a ten year term as gallery director, and of course, worked closely with Ruth Mead. Jane’s gracious touch was felt throughout the gallery as well as she welcomed first time visitors and returning artists each summer.

When one pictures Edgartown, very often one sees the white captains’ houses and the harbor as Fred has painted them in watercolor. There is probably not a picket fence or turreted tower that he has not captured on the island! However, his paintings in casein on rice paper capture a more atmospheric Vineyard with rich red skies over dunes or moonlit seascapes with the reflections of the harbor lights, moon and stars in the water.

Ohio Wesleyan University, BFA and MA

Stetson University
Martha’s Vineyard Art Association

Addison Gallery
Springfield Art Museum, Illinois
Stetson UniversityMEMBERSHIPS:
American Watercolor Society
Watercolor USA Honor Society
Florida Watercolor Society
Alabama Watercolor Society
Southern Watercolor Society