Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Walter Anderson's Wedding Gift

Shearwater Vase by Walter Inglis Anderson circa 1927
Collection of the Dusti Bonge Foundation
Photo by Richard McCabe
Walter Anderson (1903 - 1965) met Archie Bonge (1901 - 1936) while attending the Pennsylvania Acadamy of Fine Arts, where he graduated in 1928. Archie, a 6'7" cowboy from Nebraska, spent a single semester at the acadamy before moving to New York. There, he found some success as a painter (selling a nude for $1000) and fell in love with Dusti Swetman, a young actress from Biloxi, Mississippi. In 1927, Archie and Dusti were married. Walter Anderson was the best man at their wedding, wearing a suit and tie with sneakers. The Shearwater vase pictured above was created by Walter and given as a wedding gift to the young couple.

Archie and Dusti had one child, Lyle, in 1929, ending Dusti's theatre and film career. The couple moved to a cottage in Biloxi in 1934. Walter Anderson married his wife, Sissy, in 1933, and the two couples were close friends in those years. Archie died suddenly in 1936. Walter entered the mental hospital for the first time in 1937. After the death of her husband, Dusti began painting with his brushes, becoming Mississippi's first true modernist, exhibiting her work alongside the leading Abstract Expressionist painters of the 50s at the important Betty Parson's Gallery in New York.
Untitled oil on canvas by Dusti Bonge, 1938
Collection of Ogden Museum of Southern Art
Gift of the Dusti Bonge Foundation

The wedding vase is currently on display at the Ogden, along with 17 Walter Anderson watercolors from the collection of Wesley and Norman Galen. Also, Dusti Bonge's untitled 1938 abstract oil on canvas (pictured above) is on display on the 4th floor. For more on Walter Anderson and Shearwater pottery, read Dreaming in Clay on the Coast of Mississippi: Love and Art at Shearwater and Fortune's Favorite Child: The Uneasy Life of Walter Anderson, both by Chistopher Maurer, available in the Museum Store.

Friday, May 22, 2009

New Arrival: Edward Rice

Dormer with Missing Sash, New Orleans 2004-2005
Collection of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Edward Rice has donated this 2005 painting, Dormer with Missing Sash, New Orleans, to the Ogden Museum in memory of James R. "Jim" Gruber, father to our director, J. Richard Gruber. This is the third painting by Rice in the collection, and the second in this style. Based in Augusta, South Carolina, for the last three decades, Rice has used the vernacular architecture of the South as subject, not exclusively, but consistently. In Edward Rice: Recent Monotypes, David Houston writes of Rice's architectural paintings: "Rice's subtle illumination of his subjects made of them something that is both lyrical and literary. Painted on-site, these radient works resulted from a slow, precise, and complex process through which a sense of place, a season, and a time of day were captured in the accretion of telling detail. Viewed retrospectively, it seemed obvious that the element of time is critical to the success of these works from both the artist's and the viewer's separate perspectives. Rice's own understanding of time places his perceptions and the physicality of the canvas in a phenomenological stasis that represents meditation." This is a fine addition to the Ogden's permanent collection, and a fitting companion to Gable Window, 2000, Rice's earlier donation in honor of his mentor, Freeman Schoolcraft, and his wife, artist Cora Schoolcraft.
Gable Window, 1999-2000
Collection of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mario Petrirena

As part of our exhibition of works from the permenant collection on the fourth floor of Goldring Hall, Mario Petrirena's All Saints is currently on display. I first encountered Mario's work at the CAC during David Houston's temporary position as Curator at both the Ogden and the CAC. Immediately, I was intrigued by his intuitive assemblages, collages, installations and ceramics. The fascination has never left me.

Born in Cuba in 1953, Mario emigrated to America at 8, seperated from his his parents for months while they arranged to join him in the States. He now lives and works in Atlanta, Georgia. Much of his work deals with that seperation and his bifurcated identity.

Mario cites many artists as influences on his work, from Picasso and Velazquez, from the inner driven works of Kahlo to the process driven works of Anna Mendieta. Regionally, it was the art pottery of George Ohr of which Mario has said "shook me to the core." Fittingly, a small collection of Ohr's pottery (the Mad Potter of Biloxi) is on view just steps away from Mario's unglazed white earthenware All Saints.

For more on Mario Petrirena and his work, visit:

Also, the gift shop at the Ogden carries the catalogue, Mario Petrirena, Conversations: Past and Present (including the essay Speak(Again)Memory, by David Houston).

Black and white images of Mario Petrirena by David Houston.
All Saints 1997 by Mario Petrirena.
The Known World, 2005 from the cover of Mario Petrirena, Conversations: Past Present and Future.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Jose Torres Tama

Jose Torres Tama is multi-disciplinary artist based in New Orleans Louisiana. The Ogden is proud to have several of his works on paper in the permanent collection. Currently, a catalogue documenting his exhibition New Orleans' Free People of Color & Their Legacy is under construction through the Ogden for release this summer. It will include images of his pastel portraits of New Orleans' les gens de couleur libres, considered the first multiracial people in the United States, borne of a mixing between the African, French, Spanish, and native races of Louisiana. The text, written by Keith Weldon Medley, explains the accomplishments of the Free People of Color to the development of New Orleans and the nation.

Jose Torres Tama is currently touring the United Kingdom with two original performance works, The Cone of Uncertainty and Lower 9th Ward Ritual of Mourning. The Cone of Uncertainty debuted in London on Friday, May 8, as part of Tama's residency at Roehampton University. Jose and his work have found a rapt audience in London, and Jose has taken to signing his emails "El Juan Bond from her Majesty's Secret Salsa Service with a license to transport subversive performances across international waters."

For more details and a schedule of performances, visit
Top: Ode to Edmund Dede, 2002, Collection of Ogden Museum.
Bottom: Jose Performs in Goldring Hall, 2008. Photo by David Houston.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Meaders Face Jug

Returning to the Ogden's 4th floor craft cabinet this week is Lanier Meaders' Face Jug. The Meaders family has been producing pottery in Mossy Creek, Georgia since 1893 using locally dug clays, kick-wheels, and home made glazes. There are several theories about the origin of the face jug. One theory is that moonshine was stored in them to scare the grandchildren away from the sauce. Although much moonshine was surely stored in face jugs throughout northern Georgia and western Carolina, the more plausible origin of the face jug can be garnered from that area's African-American oral history. Slaves from West Africa brought with them a form of ancestor worship or reverence. When the dead were buried, personal belongings and ancestral totems were placed upon the grave. The conversion of the these slaves to Christianity and a belief in the devil transformed these objects into devil-faced vessels. The two schools of thought on the reason for the devil face are 1.) the face was meant to scare the devil away and 2.) the vessel was placed on the grave for one year, during which time a break in the jug meant that the deceased was wrestling with the devil. Lanier Meaders was mystified by the popularity of his face jugs. Of the people who purchased them he said, "They must be half-crazy to begin with."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Ambassador Pierre Vimont

Chief Curator, David Houston, explains the relevance of Lulu King Saxon's 1890 painting, Uptown Street to French Ambassador Pierre Vimont (red tie) and French Consul General Olivier Brochenin (far left) during a visit to the Ogden Museum in March. A landscape painter, writer, poet, actress, singer and musician, Lulu Saxon King was born in Louisiana around 1855. She travelled and painted in Russia prior to the first World War, and died in New Orleans in 1927. Painted in 1890 and measuring almost eight feet high, Uptown Street is not only the oldest, but one of the largest paintings currently on display. The Uptown street depicted is most likely Magazine Street in New Orleans. The subject closely resembles roads entering rural villages of Europe popularized by French Impressionist painters of the 1870s and 1880s. It is rendered in an atmospheric mood reminiscent of French landscape painting. Painted in a style descended from Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, the Barbizon School and Impressionism, Uptown Street exemplifies the lasting influence of Europe on the art of the South.