Wednesday, March 11, 2009

American Masters of the MS Gulf Coast (copy)

The librarian called and I put on my running shoes! She was holding a new book for me and I could not wait to flip through the pages. Yes, I work at a library but this particular book was still on order. My book lust was too strong to let the copy sit one more minute on the public library’s shelf.

I am speaking of American Masters of the Mississippi Gulf Coast: George Ohr, Dusti Bongé, Walter Anderson, Richmond Barthé by Patti Carr Black. In book form, it is the catalog for the current exhibit traveling the state of Mississippi until 2010. The closest venue for the exhibit is Oxford at University of Mississippi Museum during the month of August 2009. Can you say road trip!

The Mississippi Gulf Coast is a magical, mystical place that feeds its artists’ passions. From a mad potter to an exclusive purveyor of African souls, Mississippians, whether art enthusiasts or not, will delight in the examples provided in this book. It is our coast’s natural beauty which flames the fires of imagination in our state’s inhabitants.

“’The Coast’ is abundantly gifted in arts and culture, has produced world-class visual artists, and boasts of a unique agua- and agri- culture that melds the rural simplicities of Mississippi lore with the rich eccentricities of New Orleans,” states the Director of Mississippi Arts Commission, Malcolm White, in the introduction.

The format of the book includes a brief history of the area by Patti Carr Black and then breaks into four parts for each artist. The four parts are separated further by a biography of the artist, the artist’s approach to his art and a brief sampling of works in the exhibit. Unfortunately, Richmond Barthé’s sampling of work is too brief. The artist has only four sculptures depicted on full pages where the others have over ten.

Flip through these pages and reacquaint yourself with fellow Mississippians: George Ohr, the mad potter of Biloxi who may have the honor of being the first American performance artist, Dusti Bongé, a woman of privilege who singlehandedly brought modernism to Mississippi, Walter Anderson, a recluse who rode his bike 200 miles for art supplies, and Richmond Barthé with his rags to riches then back to rags story who may be the first African-American to receive $100,000 for a single piece of art.

American Masters is well worth the run to the library, but I wish it included more art.


Lisa said...

Maggie, this book sounds wonderful. I love to find books like this that showcase the vast talent that is so prevalent in the South. I can't remember the exact title now, but there's a great book on North Carolina potters that is just gorgeous. I'm heading to the shelves...

maggie moran said...

I think it is so fun to get one of these books and sit with it open to a work and day dream, Lisa. Looking over the colors, the texture, the shape could take all day! :)

Tiffany Norris said...

Very cool! The exhibit sounds fascinating!

maggie moran said...

Oh, I cain't wait Tiffany! To see or possibly touch an Ohr sends shivers down my back! :)

Isabel said...

I recently read articles about Ohr and some of his pieces were on Antiques Roadshow. Beautiful.

Did their studios (if they are now museums) survive the Katrina?

California Girl said...

this does sound like a wonderful book. where else would i hear of a book like this in New England except by reading your blog!

maggie moran said...

Ohr and Anderson lost one-of-a-kind pieces in Katrina, WW100. How could they know? They moved a large portion of the work, but literally thought the hurricane would blow over. The Ohr museum lost a slew of mud babies (unglazed work) that were housed in a shed. Makes me wonder how long a piece of unglazed pottery will last in the ocean?

Cool, California Girl! I hope it will entice you to come see Mississippi sometime. :D I think we have a unique community set-up. Million dollar homes abut trailor parks is still evident in our neighborhoods, and we think that diversity is captured in our state's authors and artists. :D

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