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Walter Inglis Anderson Centennial Traveling Exhibition: Everything I See Is New and Strange

 

Ellen Nixon Dorn has announced that the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries (A&I) Building will host the Walter Inglis Anderson Centennial Traveling Exhibition: Everything I See Is New and Strange.  Dorn is Director of Exhibitions for A&I, where the exhibition will be on display September 30 through December 1, 2003, the centennial year of Anderson's birth.  According to Dorn, the exhibition is expected to be seen by 200,000 or more visitors. (left: [image pending] Walter Inglis Anderson, Chesty, circa 1935, earthenware, On loan from the Louise Lehman Collection, image © the Family of Walter Anderson)

Clayton Bass, Executive Director of the Walter Anderson Museum of Art (WAMA), allowed that the museum is pleased, but not surprised, that the Centennial Traveling Exhibition meets the criteria of the A&I mission "to present high caliber exhibitions to the diverse audience that visits . . . the National Mall."

Bass elaborated, "Few artists from any period of art history have ever communicated the essence of the natural world, literature, and mythology so vividly and with such passion as Walter Anderson.  His art easily captivates the imagination of audiences of all ages, from the art connoisseur to the casual observer."

Born in New Orleans and trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Walter Anderson (1903-1965) spent most of his life on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  The painter, watercolorist, and naturalist is recognized for his huge artistic output, the superb quality of his artistic efforts, and for the museum that is dedicated to collecting and exhibiting his work and that of his brothers, Peter and Mac.  In all of his work, Anderson is recognized for evoking a "sense of place" that is at once naturalistically accurate and yet universal in its poetic and artistic appeal.  This "sense of place" constitutes the heart of the Centennial Traveling Exhibition.

The Family of Walter Anderson and WAMA are collaborators in preparation for the 6,000 square foot exhibition which will include one hundred original pieces.  The works encompass some of the finest examples of Anderson's broad range of art: three large W.P.A. murals (Works Progress Administration, Federal Arts Program, of the thirties); oil on panel; watercolors; Shearwater pottery; drawings; linoleum block prints; sculpture in wood.  In addition, the exhibition will contain photomurals of Anderson's three major mural projects; the Family compound at Shearwater Pottery; and Horn Island, where he spent much of the last seventeen years of his life. (left: [image pending] Walter Inglis Anderson, Broken Pot, circa 1950, watercolor, From the WAMA Permanent Collection, image © the Family of Walter Anderson)

Quotations from the artist's journals will provide a strong literary component.  Anderson's famous Horn Island Logs are poetic and sensitive in their vivid descriptions of the barrier islands off the Mississippi Coast.  The Islander, a 28-minute video biography of Walter Anderson produced by Mississippi Educational Television, will accompany the exhibition.

Guest Curator Linda Crocker Simmons believes that the Centennial Traveling Exhibition "will provide an opportunity to present Anderson to a national audience who can appreciate his achievement as one of the most important individualists of the 20th century and acknowledge his work within the full context of American art."

Simmons, along with the other prominent scholars involved in the research, writing, and curation of the exhibition, bring great insight as well as experience to the project:

 

* Marcus Burke, Ph.D., Curator of Paintings/Drawings, The Hispanic Society, New York, NY
 
* Colin Eisler, Ph.D., Institute of the Arts, New York University, New York, NY
 
* Susan Larsen, Ph.D., former Curator of Collections at the Whitney Museum, NY, and the Farnsworth Museum, Rockland, ME
 
* Francis V. O'Connor, Ph.D., New York-based historian of American Art and specialist on New Deal Art Programs
 
* Patricia Pinson, Ph.D., Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, Walter Anderson Museum of Art, Ocean Springs, MS
 
* Linda Crocker Simmons, Curator Emeritus, the Corcoran Museum, Washington, D.C.

 

After debuting at the Smithsonian A&I, the exhibition will travel to Dixon Galleries and Gardens in Memphis.  In 2005, the Walter Inglis Anderson Centennial Traveling Exhibition: Everything I See Is New and Strange will "come home" to WAMA.

During WAMA's eleven-year history, the Museum has created over sixty exhibitions of work by the three Anderson brothers, Walter, Peter, and Mac.  Additional exhibitions have included works by their contemporaries such as Arthur Dove, Charles Burchfield, Will Henry Stevens, and Thomas Hart Benton; juried shows; and invitationals.  WAMA is traveling the exhibition Visions of Nature: The World of Walter Anderson, with venues scheduled in Minnesota and Texas.

The Centennial Traveling Exhibition is made possible through the generosity of the following sponsors: The Family of Walter Anderson; Northrup Grumman, Inc.; Mississippi Power Foundation; Mississippi Development Authority, Division of Tourism; Jackson County Economic Development Foundation; Chisholm Foundation; Bell South, Inc.; City of Ocean Springs; Community Foundation of Greater Jackson; Mississippi Arts Commission; Mississippi Humanities Council; Maria Mavar; Richard and Rosemary Furr; and Paul Ehrenfest.

 

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