By Michael Morse
The finale of the winter 2024 Sunday Afternoons at the Arts Center series was a presentation from Jeweler/Artist Éric Messin. The afternoon was a surrealistic journey from his birthplace in the French Alps to the high-end jewelry business of New York City, and continued on to the exacting study of religious Icon painting. His voyage of discovery of the natural and spiritual worlds continues at his home in Pembroke, Maine.

Images by Manuela Brice.


Messin started his career in this country working for several fashionable New York jewelers on 47th Street in the City. It was here he learned, in his words, “to follow the light” of both gems and the precious metals used in the craft. His city education included learning to view object from many angles, to experiment with designs and to master various production techniques.

The work was demanding and it was not a healthy environment for him. He would move on to more exclusive venues including VanCleef & Arpels, Bulgari and Tiffany. Messin truly had fate on his side when The Southampton Historical Museum on Long Island offered him an opportunity to take over the Museum’s Pelletreau Silver Shop that was established in 1750. Here he would develop his own unique style in this historic workshop and retail space. Many customers would bring him family heirlooms and unique gems. He would collaborate with the customer to reimagine the gems and precious metals into new, unique pieces.

While in Southampton, Messin discovered the beauty, mystery and spiritualism of religious Icons. Religious Icons are very exacting artworks, usually of Christian sacred images, depicting the life of Christ, the Saints, the Virgin Mary and other heavenly creatures. Icons are considered “windows to heaven”. Messin was concerned that this exquisite method of creating art could be lost and that it should be saved. He studied the method of what he referred to as “writing” rather than painting. Historically, religious Icons were intended to inspire the public, many who were nonreaders.
Messin freely admits that he is not a religious man but his work is clearly spiritual and meant
to inspire others. His jewelry, iconography and other artwork represents his beliefs in
spirituality and the unlimited potential of man in our universe. He is a Renaissance Man in
Downeast Maine.
—Michael Morse is an Eastport gallery owner and writer, for The Quoddy Tides, of the Quoddy Art Currents column.

Sunday Afternoons at the Arts Center programs are held in Eastport Arts Center’s cozy downstairs Washington Street Gallery, amidst rotating exhibitions. Admission is by voluntary donation; proceeds are shared equally between the presenters and EAC ongoing program The Concert Series, which offers year-round programming run by volunteers. No one is turned away for lack of funds. The full 2024 schedule and more posts about upcoming and past programs may be found at eastportartscenter.org/the-concert-series.

Thanks to volunteer Bug Davidson (right), who assisted with this presentation and is projectionist for EAC Films!