Barry Messer and Mary Jae featured at the Alliance Art Gallery in June

Hannibal's Alliance Art Gallery will host an opening reception Saturday, June 11 from 5 to 8 p.m. For the gallery's guest artist and featured member for June.

Barry Messer, the Alliance Art Gallery’s guest artist in June, finds his deepest inspiration in the work of Australian Aborigines, ancient art, and stories of Native Americans. He draws a connection to these cultures through his art — reminding us that we share the human experience regardless of time, place, race, or culture.

In 1977, he attended his first show of Aboriginal art.

"The dot paintings completely blew me away,” he recalls. "The surfaces of the paintings were so animated, so vibrant, I could not help but be affected by them. The dots, coupled with bright colors and fantastic compositions struck a deep chord.”

Messer seemed destined to be an artist. As his family moved from Illinois to New Orleans to Seattle, art became the one constant. Enlisting in the Army, he sold his first works to his buddies. Later he studied art seriously, working under excellent artists, including William Ivey, a recognized abstract expressionist.

Moving in 1993 to Hannibal to be closer to his wife’s grandparents, Messer has jumped into the local art scene, busy with commissions, competitions, group shows, and workshops. Today he does digital prints as well as original paintings.

Mary Jae, the featured member artist for June, always wears jewelry, especially the chunky bold kind. Not surprisingly, one day she saw a photo of a piece she liked, wondered if she could make it, hopped over to Hobby Lobby — and thus began her new career as jeweler.

A member of the Alliance Art Gallery for more than 11 years, she continues to expand her collections, going from the largest gems and beads to the very tiniest. Her latest intricately designed peyote seed bead bracelets and necklaces are a marvel to look at — the beads almost tinier that you can see — threaded into woven beauty.

She continually opens herself to new possibilities, even in hardware stores. When she went to purchase some bolts and nuts, she envisioned a whole new line of metallic jewelry using the peyote stitch on small hex nuts. Thus, a line of jewelry emerged, especially for Steampunk fans or male clientele.

It all began when fellow teachers and friends literally bought necklaces off her neck. Her passion has never diminished, and the Gallery is delighted to feature her as our 2nd Saturday member artist this June.

A piece of Mary Jae’s jewelry will be given away in a free drawing held at 6 p.m. This reception coincides with Hannibal’s Second Saturday Gallery Night.