I have loved the Walter Anderson Museum (WAMA) for years now. Anderson is one of my top art heroes, along with John Constable (for his life and work habits as well as for his gorgeous landscapes), Georgia O’Keefe (for her strong independence and her love of place as well as for her paintings), and a handful of others. Anderson, like both of those others, had a deep and strong connection to the landscape he lived in and an absolute need to share his vision of its loveliness with others through the art he relentlessly made. He is not well known outside the south, where he spent his life living in his boyhood home of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and painting the coast, wildlife, and barrier islands, but I think he’s one of the best artists America has produced, along with Sargent and O’Keefe.
WAMA is a magical place for me. They not only have a massive number of his free standing paintings, but they have his boat, his bicycle, and (most importantly) two different rooms covered in his murals. You can completely immerse yourself in color and form and pattern on all sides. The secret room he painted (solely his until his death, with no one else allowed to see it) brings me to tears every time I stand inside it. I’ve been trying to get down this spring, since it’s now been several years. I cancelled not one but two reservations due to sickness, but the universe gave me a gift this week. I had three pieces accepted into a group show at this museum that I love. The theme is water, which is perfect for me, since I’ve been doing waterscapes since last summer. Two of my oils and the above print will need delivering down next month.
I’ll get a delightful “mini-break” as the Brits say between art drop off and the opening two days later. I had originally planned use to shoot down overnight, and I’m excited to have such a marvelous reason to stay for three nights instead. I’ll immerse myself in the museum, visit Shearwater pottery (the family business Anderson grew up in, which remains in the hands of the current generation), and spend a little time at the beach. Careful readers will remember my glee a few months ago when I found a Shearwater teapot at a local antique mall. It’s gorgeous but also has several cracks. I may get myself a new one for daily use and to mark this special occasion.
The opening is April 18, 6-8pm, if anyone would like to join me for a mini break at a place that will stay with you for a long time.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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