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Ivan Messenger [1895-1983]


[From the Community Collection, a public trust in Agincourt, Iowa]

MESSENGER, Ivan [1895–1983]

“Loading Chips”


soft-ground etching and aquatint / 6 1/16 inches by 7 1/4 inches (image) / edition of 35

Ivan Messenger, painter, printmaker, teacher and author, was born in Omaha Nebraska in 1895.  He came to California in 1916 to attend the Panama California Exposition held in San Diego.  In 1921 he graduated from Stanford University with an MA degree in romance languages, after which he taught linguistics at Stanford and the University of Texas until about 1925 when he moved to San Diego.

In San Diego he taught at the State University and held classes in life drawing at Balboa Parks Fine Art Gallery.  His most productive period was prior to 1945, and though he is best known for his watercolors, he was just as facile with pastels, gouache, oils and more.  He was a member of and exhibited with the Laguna Beach Art Association and the California Watercolor Society and his work was exhibited at the California-Pacific International Exposition.

In 1969 Messenger wrote Not For Tourists Only: An Early Portrait of San Diego and illustrated it with reproductions of his drawings, paintings, lithographs and aquatints.  He died in San Diego on September 6th, 1983. —Annex Galleries, Seattle, WA

Messenger must have seen the Benson Lumber Co., lumberyard in San Diego, California, during his visit to the Pan-Pacific Exposition or after moving there in the mid-1920s. The Benson company was established circa 1908 by lumbermen from Portland, Oregon. Messenger’s subject may have been the distant structure in the vintage photograph shown below:

Omaha-born artist Messenger was a cousin of Edward Weise, father of Ellen Weise, Northwest Iowa Normal School faculty member and keeper of the Community Collection. This was added to the collection in memory of her father.

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