Conspiracy Artist

During the Hoover years, the feds tailed artist Arnold Mesches for what they considered to be subversive paintings casting President Eisenhower’s America in a corrosive light. When the painter obtained his FBI file in 1999 under the Freedom of Information Act, it contained close to 800 pages that further fueled Mesches’s activism and imagery. His haunting compositions are now on view in “Florida Artists Series: Selections From Anomie” at the Frost Art Museum, where nearly 50 arresting canvases and 150 collages offer Mesches’s stinging commentary on the shortcomings of contemporary society. The searing paintings combine references ranging from the Renaissance masters to political and religious figures, historical milestones, mythological creatures, and even traces of carnival life. The octogenarian’s surreal juxtapositions often appear in dark, brooding landscapes freighted with a Grand Guignol veneer that’s theatrical or brutally atmospheric. The show delves into the “condition of society marked by the absence of moral standards” and, adds Mesches, his views “on the world’s madness and inconsistencies, on beauty and ugliness, evil and injustice, on life over death.” “Selections From Anomie” will be up through December 5. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Admission is free. Call 305-348-2890 or visit
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Oct. 27. Continues through Dec. 5, 2010


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