Walter Inglis Anderson and Christopher Stelby: Two Exhibitions
Walter Inglis Anderson, born in New Orleans in 1903, left his wife and children at the age of forty-three after a series of hospitalizations for mental illness. He moved into a small cottage on wooded land owned by his family in Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and lived there reclusively until his death nineteen years later. Often he paddled to Horn Island, an uninhabited barrier island twelve miles from the mainland, where he spent weeks at a time. He sketched the pelicans, blue crabs, grackles, and alligators that he encountered there, jotted his observations in voluminous journals, ate whatever washed ashore, and slept on the beach beneath his rowboat.
That rowboat, along with much of Anderson’s paintings, pottery, linoleum block prints, and sketches are exhibited in this gorgeous museum. So is his masterpiece: a panoramic mural, painted on the walls of a small room, depicting the passage of a single day on the Gulf Coast. The room, which Anderson kept padlocked, was only discovered after his death; it has been reassembled within the museum. Anderson’s work is a sublime tribute to the wonders of the natural world. His ecstatic use of color, particularly in his watercolors and murals, gives his art a mesmerizing, psychedelic quality. Though his primitivist approach has drawn comparisons to Gauguin and Van Gogh, a better point of reference are the Paleolithic cave paintings of Lascaux, which Anderson visited in his youth.
Two exhibitions this fall-–“The Wooten-Rosenberg Collection: Starting Young – A Lifelong Passion” and “Coastal Son: The Artwork of Christopher Inglis Stebly”–-will feature artwork and pottery by Anderson as well as his two brothers, Peter and Mac; his niece, Adele Anderson Lawton; and his grandson, Christopher Inglis Stelby. All worked in a variant of Anderson’s style. Ocean Springs is a ninety-minute drive from New Orleans. Visitors will be rewarded.
The Walter Anderson Museum is open every day of the week: Monday-Saturday 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM, and Sunday 12:30 PM-4:30 PM. For more information, visit walterandersonmuseum.org
510 Washington Avenue,
Ocean Springs, MS