I've only ever been able to go for one day, sandwiched in with other things, so that was a rare treat. All the folks who work there were warm and welcoming, and I got to have some great conversations as well as looking at art.
They also went above and beyond the day of the opening. It was a day of six hour tornado watches and a huge wave of bad weather coming across the state. It would have been supremely easy for them to simply push the opening back a day. But they knew several of us had come to town and stayed for the party, so they decided to work quite late two nights in a row and had a storm party on Thursday and the official opening on Friday, an evening later than originally planned. I was so grateful for this generosity because it was a huge marker for me to have art in what is essentially sacred art space for me. Those of us who were there got a marvelous tour of the collection with Mattie Coddling, the curator who has recently put up a comprehensive exhibit tracking the progression of Anderson's life and work (which are essentially the same thing).
The unexpected and amazing bonus was that John Anderson, one of Walter's children, generously came out on a terrible night to be present. It would have been even easier for him to simply stay home. Because of the smaller crowd, I ended up having a couple of long and delightful conversations with him. He was kind and remarkably generous with his family stories. I was halfway through his mother's memoir, Approaching the Magic Hour, which is marvelous. John talked to me about art in general, living as an artist, and how his father wanted to invite everyone into the process. It was a standout moment in my life, and I could not be more grateful to everyone involved in making it happen.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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