It was in Ocean Springs, MS, that we were introduced to the works of a local Gulf Coast artist, Walter Inglis Anderson (1903-1965). The Museum of Art bearing his name was set in a residential section of the city not far from the business district.
In his sixty-two years, Walter Anderson was stupendously productive. He created much of his art in obscurity, and only after his death in 1965 did the magnitude of his labors and genius come to light.
Anderson purchased surplus "battleship linoleum," thicker than ordinary linoleum with a burlap backing to work on the difficult technique of linoleum block printing.
His works teem in the thousands and take many forms—watercolors, oil paintings, drawings, block prints, figurines, pottery, and murals. He produced more than ten thousand pen-and-ink illustrations, as well as poems, stories, journals, and letters (amazon.com/The-Walter-Anderson-Patricia-Pinson/dp/1578066018).
In 1934, he received a Works Progress Administration commission to decorate the auditorium of the new Ocean Springs High School. Anderson created six panels to show life in Ocean Springs past and present. Two of the panels are shown below.
One of the three panels depicting the work of Native Americans is shown below and
one of the three panels depicting the work of the residents of Ocean Springs of the 1930s is shown below. These panels (above and below) are oil on canvas 55" x 168” for each panel.
The drawing above was among Anderson’s illustrations for Don Quixote. They had been stored with acid-free paper placed between the illustrations. It was discovered during the recovery process as the papers were being separated and laid out to dry that Katrina had “produced” art of her own. The acid-free paper bore mirror-images of the pen and ink drawings and were called “ghost prints.”
According to all accounts, his family was accepting of his need for solitude and his passion for creating art. (Or maybe they just realized they were better off living apart from him!) His wife Sissy wrote, “He was a painter always, a lover at times, and a husband and father never.”
Anderson chafed at the restrictions of “normal” life, resented that work interfered with his art, and suffered from intermittent depression and psychotic episodes (ravenandchickadee.com/tag/walter-anderson-museum-of-art).
Some of his work presented tomorrow will show this inner turmoil.