Evelynne Bernloehr (1903 – 2003) was born in Indianapolis, Indiana on January 8, 1903. Her parents were musicians and, although she had musical talent as well, Evelynne wanted to be an artist. Her parents encouraged her interest in art and at the age of twelve, she became a scholarship student at the John Herron Art Institute. Her teacher was Frederick Polley (1875-1957), an illustrator.
For one year, 1921, she studied at the Butler Institute, and then she returned to Herron where she became certified as an art teacher. She took a teaching position at the Manual Training High School in Indianapolis and she taught evening classes at the Herron Institute. In addition, she worked as a class assistant to William Forsyth, one of the most prominent Herron teachers, and in this capacity, she met George Mess.
Evelynne married George Mess in 1925. Together they founded and taught at the Circle Art Academy (1927-1932). After the academy closed, George joined his younger brother, 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, however, they returned to Indianapolis in 1940 and devoted their time to teaching and their creative talents. George taught at Herron, in his Brown County studio and at the Indianapolis Art League. In addition, he was a professor at Indiana University’s Downtown Center from 1949 until his death in 1962.
After her husband died on June 24, 1962, Evelynne fulfilled their dream of running an art school. By 1967 the school, called Oxbow Acres, was holding classes annually from May through October. Courses included painting, drawing, silk screening and metal enameling, but the emphasis was on printmaking. The school operated until 1980 when the property was sold. Evelynne also served as Director of the Brown County Art Gallery Association from 1962 to 1964 and again from 1969 to 1971.
After George died in 1962, Evelynne married Edward R. Daily. Mr. Daily passed away in 1975. Evelynne herself lived to see 100 years when she died in 2003.
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. Both George Jo and Evelynne Mess are considered to be among Indiana’s finest printmakers, and in recent years their oil paintings have gained greater recognition as well.
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