Artist Detail

George Jo Mess (United States 1898 -1962)

Printmaker and painter, Mr. Mess was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1898 and died in 1962. Educated at the Tiffany Foundation Fellowship, Herron Art School, Butler University, Chicago’s Bauhaus, New York’s Columbia University and the Beaux Arts in Fontainebleau, France, he is represented in permanent collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art, Dayton Art Institute, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Library of Congress and Philadelphia Museum of Art. He has exhibited at the Carnegie International Exhibition of Paintings, the Metropolitan Museum, the International Art Exposition of Paris, the Exhibition of 100 American Prints in Rome, the National Museum of Stockholm, and the Chicago Art Institute. Mr. Mess was instrumental in the organization of the Brown County Art Gallery, as well as being a lifetime member.


George Jo Mess (1898-1962) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Joseph J. Mess (1871-1933) and Anna (Gleis) Mess (1875-1960). He had two brothers, Arthur G. (fl. 1899-1909) and Gordon B. (1900-1959). The Mess family moved to Indianapolis in 1899.

George Mess attended Manual Training High School and Butler and Columbia Universities. He received scholarships to study art at the John Herron Art School, where his teachers included Otto Stark (1859-1926, see also: Visual Collections for Stark drawing) and William Forsyth (1854-1935, see also: M 691, William Forsyth Papers), and at the Louis Tiffany Foundation in New York City. Mess also studied at the Modern School of Design in Chicago and at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in France.

In 1920, George and Gordon rented a studio in downtown Indianapolis and began the Circle Art Company, a commercial art business. Five years later, George married Evelynne Bernloehr (b. 1903), who had also been a student at Herron. Together they founded and taught at the Circle Art Academy (1927-1932). After the academy closed, George joined Gordon in organizing the Circle Engraving Company and headed the commercial art department there for five years. In 1937, George and Evelynne moved to Chicago, where George served on the staff of Esquire, Coronet, and Apparel Arts magazines. Due to George’s ill health, they returned to Indianapolis in 1940 and devoted their time to teaching and their creative talents. George was a professor at Indiana University’s Downtown Center from 1949 until his death in 1962. He also taught at Herron, his Brown County studio, and the Indianapolis Art League.

The art of George and Evelynne Mess was very much a combined effort; both acted as teacher and student to the other. They worked in a variety of media, but are best known for their printmaking. The Messes were members of many art-related organizations at the local, state, and national levels. George took part in national and international exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and Chicago Art Institute, as well as expositions in Paris, Rome, and Stockholm. After his death, Evelynne married Edward R. Daily (d. 1975) and continued to make a living as an artist.

Sources: DuBois, June. Indiana Artists George Jo and Evelynne Bernloehr Mess: A Story of Devotion. passim.

Indianapolis Star (June 25, 1962). p. 1

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Driftwood Driftwood


Aquatint etching

9 2/8” x 11”

Signed titled and numbered 7/100 in pencil


DSC01018 DSC01019

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