Armin Mersmann was born in Remscheid, Germany, in 1955. Along with his parents, he immigrated to the United States in 1962. He grew up in an artistic environment and was greatly influenced and tutored by his father, Fritz, a successful oil painter. Mersmann feels his career as an artist was inevitable: “I never made the conscious choice to be an artist, it’s just what I did.” After six years of college, Mersmann began a very successful stint as a portrait artist in Chicago, IL. Although commission work was financially rewarding, he stopped doing it and soon found more interest in the fine arts—work that at times is controversial but more satisfying conceptually. “Art, my sanctuary, the very thing that gave me such pleasure, was now reduced to making a living. Art is too precious for me to make decisions based on finances.” This does not mean Mersmann will never do a commissioned portrait; rather, it has to interest him conceptually, and he insits on total control over the image.  

 Although Mersmann is mainly known for his intense naturalistic graphite drawings, he also works in photography and encaustic wax, which is much more abstract than his drawings. “My interests have become exceedingly experimental with more attention placed on the surfaces of the work itself. Discovering and rediscovering my chosen medium is the everlasting stimulus that keeps me interested and excited. Accidental process and meticulous planning co-mingle in all my work. Texture, either real or illusionary, and that one ever-elusive brushstroke, the one that says it all; this keeps me searching and exploring.”

Mersmann has taught drawing and the creative process at the American Academy of Art, Chicago, IL; the Colorado Academy of Art, Boulder CO; Northwood University, Midland, MI; the Midland Center for the Arts, Midland, MI; and countless workshops within the United States. He lives in Midland, MI, where he is the Artist in Residence and Art School Manger at the Midland Center for the Arts. He shares a studio with his wife, Valerie Allen, who is an accomplished artist in her own right. 
 

Major Awards

  • Muskegon Art Center Best in Graphite 2016, 2015, 2014
  • ArtPrize VIII Top 25, 5th Center City 2016
  • ArtPrize VI Fourth Place 2014
  • Grand Rapids Art Museum ArtPrize Encore II 2013
  • ArtPrize V Top 100 2013
  • Grand Rapids Art Museum ArtPrize Encore 2012
  • ArtPrize IV Top 100 2012
  • BBAC, MI, Second Place 2012
  • ArtPrize III Top 25 2011
  • ArtPrize II Top 50 2010
  • ArtPrize I Top 50 2009
  • 45TH Greater Michigan Excellence in Technique Award 2005
  • 45TH Greater Michigan Viewer’s Choice 2005
  • Left Bank Gallery, Second Place 2005
  • Saginaw Art Museum, MI Best of Show 2004, 1996
  • Studio 23, MI Viewer’s Choice 2003
  • Kline Gallery, NM Award of Excellence 2003
  • Saginaw Township Hall, MI Best of Show 2002
  • BBAC, MI, MI Award of Excellence 2002
  • Studio 23, MI Award of Merit 2001
  • Vermont Studio Center, IL Full Fellowship 1999
  • Wilmette Public Library, IL Solo Show Award 1996
  • Art Center of Arlington Heights Best of Show 1995, 1994
  • College of Lake County, IL Best of Show 1994
  • Saginaw Art Museum, MI First Place 1994, 1992, 1990
  • Crosscuts, MI First Place 1992
  • Trenton State College, NJ Award of Merit 1992
  • Art Center of Battle Creek, MI Second Place 1991
  • Krasel Art Center, MI Viewer’s Choice 1991
  • Flint Art Source, MI Best of Show 1990
  • Studio 23, MI First Place 1990, 1989, 1987
  • Artist Magazine Top 100 Portrait Artists 1990, 1994
  • Left Bank Gallery, MI First Place 1989, 1988, 1987
  • Central Michigan University, MI Best of Show 1988, 1987
  • Mt. Pleasant All Area, MI First Place 1988, 1987
  • Saginaw Art Museum, MI Second Place 1987
  • 25TH Mid-Michigan Art Exh. MI Second Place 1987
  • Saginaw Valley University, MI First Place 1987
  • Twenty-six honorable mentions in a variety of juried shows.

• Completed over 700 paintings and drawings
• Included in 350 private, corporate and public art collections.
• Completed over 250 portrait commissions.
• Have been included in over 150 juried exhibitions.
• Have had over 40 solo exhibitions.
• Have won over 50 awards in exhibitions
           Since 1985

 

Solo and Two Person Exhibits (after 2000)

• Manifest Gallery (A Walk in the Woods) Cincinnati OH. 2016
• Northwood Gallery Midland MI, 2016
• Prairie State College (Aspects of Realism) Highland Park IL. 2016
• Alma College with Valerie Allen Alma MI. 2016
• Studio 23 with Tim Ricketts (an Overview) Bay City MI, 2015
• Saginaw Art Museum (Gabriella) Saginaw MI, 2015
• Midland Center for the Arts (Gabriella) Midland MI, 2015
• Northwood Gallery with Valerie Allen Midland MI, 2013
• Mark Gallery, Englewood NJ, 2013
• Left Bank Gallery Flint MI, 2013
• Newago Art Center Solo Fremont MI. 2012
• Trenton State College, Trenton NJ, 2012
• St Francis University Solo Fort Wayne IN, 2010
• Richard App Gallery Solo Grand Rapids MI, 2010
• Eastern Illinois University Solo St. Charles IL. 2009
• Baylor University with Richard Ash Waco TX, 2008
• Central Michigan University Solo Mt Pleasant MI, 2008
• Southwestern Michigan College Solo Dowagiac MI, 2007
• Northwood Gallery with Valerie Allen Midland MI, 2005
• Saginaw Valley State U. with Valerie Allen Saginaw MI, 2004
• Kline Gallery, Santa Fe, NM 2003
• American Academy of Art Solo Chicago IL, 2000
• Northwood Gallery with B. B. Winslow Midland MI, 2000
 

Group Exhibits (after 2000)

  • Midland Center for the Arts, (faculty) Midland, MI 2000 - 2016
  • ArtPrize VIII, DeVos Place Grand Rapids, MI 2016
  • “Magnitude 7” Manifest Gallery Cincinnati OH 2016
  • “FOTOFOCUS” Manifest Gallery Cincinnati OH 2016
  • Michigan Regional Exhibition Muskegon, MI 2016
  • “Pink” Midland Center for the Arts Midland, MI 2016
  • ArtPrize VII, Calvin College Grand Rapids, MI 2015
  • Michigan Regional Exhibition Muskegon, MI 2015
  • “Neither There nor Here” Manifest Gallery Cincinnati OH 2016
  • Birmingham/Bloomfield Birmingham, MI 2015
  • “Drawn” Manifest Gallery Cincinnati OH 2014
  • ArtPrize VI, Amway Grand Grand Rapids, MI 2014
  • Michigan Regional Exhibition Muskegon, MI 2014
  • “Human Form” Midland Center for the Arts, Midland, MI 2014
  • ArtPrize V, The B.O.B. Grand Rapids, MI 2013
  • Birmingham/Bloomfield, Birmingham, MI 2013
  • ArtPrize IV, The Spot Grand Rapids, MI 2013
  • “Out of the Gray” Manifest Gallery Cincinnati OH 2012
  • Birmingham/Bloomfield, Birmingham, MI 2012
  • “Black and White Affair” Gallery 515 , Clare, MI 2011
  • ArtPrize III, Grand Rapids Art Museum Grand Rapids, MI 2011
  • “All Michigan” Birmingham/Bloomfield, Birmingham, MI 2010
  • “Tempo” Manifest Gallery Cincinnati OH 2010
  • ArtPrize II, Grand Rapids Public Museum Grand Rapids, MI 2010
  • ArtPrize I, WMCAT Grand Rapids, MI 2009
  • “Resistance to Vision Manifest Gallery Cincinnati OH 2012
  • “Artists form the Rust Belt” Buckhem Gallery Flint, MI 2007
  • Battle Creek, Battle Creek, MI 2007
  • Birmingham/Bloomfield, Birmingham, MI 2005
  • Saginaw Art Museum Saginaw, MI 2004
  • New American Drawings III, Santa Fe, NM 2004
  • Old Masters/New Masters Santa Fe, NM 2003
  • Studio 23, (juried, regional) Bay City, MI 2003
  • New American Drawings II, Santa Fe, NM 2003
  • General Motors Annual, Mt. Clements , MI 2003
  • Eastern Michigan U., Ypsilanti, MI 2003
  • Eclipsegroup Midland, MI 2003
  • Studio 23 Bay City, MI 2002
  • S.C. Johnson, Bay City, MI 2002
  • State of the Art Saginaw, MI 2002
  • Birmingham/Bloomfield, Birmingham, MI 2002
  • Northwood Gallery, Midland, MI 2002
  • Studio 23, Bay City, MI 2001
  • Eastern Michigan U., Ypsilanti, MI 2001
  • Gallery 212, Ann Arbor, MI 2001
  • Gallery 212, Ann Arbor, MI 2001
  • Gallery 212, Ann Arbor, MI 2000
  • Midland Center for the Arts Midland, MI 2000
  • Saginaw Art Museum, Saginaw, MI 2000
  • Colfax Cultural Center, South Bend, IN 2000
  • Elgin Community College, Elgin, IL 2000
  • Vermont Studio Center, Johnston, VT 2000
  • American Academy of Art, Chicago, IL 2000

  

Armin Mersmann Professional history  

 

Professional   Fine Artist          45 years

Artist in Residence                    8 years         Midland Center for the Arts,   Vermont Studio Center

Studio School Manager            18 years       Midland Center for the Arts                                       

Manger of Installation               12 years       Midland Center for the Arts   

Graphic Artist                            16 years       Midland Center for the Arts

Commission Portrait Artist        4 years         Portraits Chicago IL

Professional Picture Framer/Manager     8 years        Goods,  Evanston IL      3 years   Coopers,   Saginaw MI      

Art Instructor                             35 years       Midland Center for the Arts

                                                                         Birmingham Bloomfield Art Association

                                                                         American Academy of Art Chicago

                                                                          Evanston Art Center

                                                                          Baylor University

                                                                          University of Eastern Illinois

                                                                          Art Academy of Colorado

Education

1955 - Present     Self Taught
1999        Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, Vermont
        Residency
1981 - 1983    Mal Akademie Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany  
        Apprenticeship program    
1979 - 1981    Delta College University Center, Michigan