Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

The Walter Anderson Museum

Monday May 13, 2013
Site 19, Davis Bayou Campground
Ocean Springs, Mississippi




Another wish from last year come true.


Walter Anderson Museum 005


After getting a little taste of Shearwater Pottery yesterday, I am anxious to visit the Walter Anderson Museum.  This man was just incredibly prolific and the museum is full of things he created.  We arrive shortly after it opens and stay for over 5 hours. 


I am especially lucky in that they have a permanent collection of Anderson’s work which of course is always on display.  But often their current main exhibit is another southern artist being featured.  Lucky me,  today it is all  Walter all over the place.   The current main exhibit is entitled Visual Music.


Walter Anderson Museum 002




Inside are not only his works of visual art but also words from his writings.


Walter Anderson Museum 013



First thing of course is to see the film and this one is unique.

Walter Anderson’s eldest daughter Mary is the narrator.  There is an actor playing Walter and Mary plays her mother with other actors playing small parts.  The narration uses quotes from his journals to give background to his life and works.  It’s a very unique introductory film, a cross between and actual movie and a documentary.  Having read a great deal about Anderson and his work, I thought it did an excellent job of giving a flavor for this man and the idiosyncrasies that seem to go along with his genius.


There are art works all around in this room as there are in all of the other rooms in the museum and in all the corridors.  The museum has a lot of natural light, skylights, clear story lights and art gallery lights.  They do not allow flash so pictures are very tricky or at least for this serious amateur.  Many of the works are above my head.  I apologize for the angles and to Walter Anderson for these poor representations of his magnificent works.


One of the mediums Walter Anderson worked in was wood.


In the film room is a table he created in the early 1930’s for his family’s use and this large sculpture entitled “the swimmer”.


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Carved from an oak tree that fell in a 1947 hurricane 14” X 11” X 120”
It’s longer than David is tallWalter Anderson Museum 011


Anderson did most of his drawings for himself.  He had only one exhibition in his life time. 

His drawings and watercolors were largely done on typewriter paper both at home and when he went by boat to Horn Island to stay for increasing periods of time.   Drawings were found by the piles in drawers, trunks and on the floor of his room after he died.

Needless to say, typing paper is not the most permanent but over 50 years after his death those that were not lost or damaged in Hurricane Katrina are still magnificent.

His pencil and ink sketches of bird life were often the shapes and curves rather than a detailed realistic representation.  Clearly he was very capable of such detail.


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Watercolor and ink on paperWalter Anderson Museum 012



In the way that he sees things so differently, more vividly, from the rest of us, he reminds me of Van Gogh.


Autumn  - watercolor on paperWalter Anderson Museum 014



Red winged black birds.

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Horn Island watercolor on paper 1955Walter Anderson Museum 039



Snakes on Alert   watercolor on paperWalter Anderson Museum 050


Hawks at Sunrise ca 1960 watercolor on paperWalter Anderson Museum 054



Watercolor on PaperWalter Anderson Museum 079



Self Portrait 1960
Watercolor on paper 11” X 8.5” X 8.5”

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He listed his occupation as decorator although his overwhelming love was painting.  His pottery was his livelihood.


Harvesting the Sea Bowl c 1930’s thrown by Peter Anderson,
sgraffitto decoration by Walter Anderson.
Sgraffito is the technique of scratching an image through a colored slip to reveal the body beneath.

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Swimmer Bowl ca 1935 7.5” X 11” X 10.5”  Thrown by Peter Anderson
sgraffitto decoration by Walter Anderson.Walter Anderson Museum 024



Blackbirds and Vine Vase 1935  12.5” X 7.5” X 7.5”
Thrown by Peter Anderson, Decorated by Walter AndersonWalter Anderson Museum 036



Chesty Horse ca 1935 13.5” X 4.5” X 14”
Anderson designed and made the mold and painted the ceramic figurine.Walter Anderson Museum 055



Water fowl ceramics.  The pelican on the right is one of a pair of book ends.  These too were molds created by Walter Anderson.  Walter Anderson Museum 057 


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Anderson did some woodcuts but many more Linocuts.

Linocut is a printmaking technique, a variant of a woodcut in which a sheet of linoleum, sometimes mounted on a wood block, is used for the relief surface. A design is cut into the linoleum surface with a sharp knife with the raised (uncarved) areas representing a mirror image of the parts to show printed. The linoleum sheet is inked with a roller and then impressed onto paper or fabric.


Horizontal Pelican, Linocut on paper, 1945 21” X 61”Walter Anderson Museum 072A


Wind, Wave and Bird 76” X 16”
Linocut on Paper 1945 – shouldn’t it be wind, wave, bird and FISH? Walter Anderson Museum 048A



He created an entire linocut alphabet which has been printed in a book entitled An Alphabet by Walter Anderson.  His family has a shop in Ocean Springs called Realizations where they will silk screen any of his linocuts onto anything you like.  There is some absolutely gorgeous clothing, prints, scarves and throws there.


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I love looking for the sea life in this oneWalter Anderson Museum 017



A great deal of Walter Anderson’s reputation rests not only on the arts above but on his amazing murals. 

In 1934 he received a commission from the Public Works of Art Project to paint a series of six murals for the Ocean Springs High School  He entitled them Ocean Springs: Past and Present.  Here in the museum they are hung near the ceiling as you can see and WAY over my head.

Originally,  these oil on canvas murals were glued to the walls of of the 1927 high school auditorium. They were removed from the building by a professional in 1989 and placed on canvas stretchers for display in this museum.


These are oil on canvas 55X 168” for each panel.
I just can’t imagine painting things this large.


The ChaseWalter Anderson Museum 025


Bringing the deer home. Walter Anderson Museum 033A


This third mural was vertical and placed to the left side of the front stage wall.   The other two were on the left auditorium wall leading up to the horizontal one.   On the right side of the auditorium and stage were the panels depicting the present.  Also 3 in number.


Feast in camp.  132” X 72”Walter Anderson Museum 021


I’m saving the most mind boggling for last…..well for later actually.

He also did oil paintings although most of them are in private collections and I did not think to make sure I got pictures of the few in the exhibit.

But there are two other simply amazing murals in oil.   These are entire rooms one small and one huge.  They deserve a post all their own.


Walter Anderson Museum 042A


  1. Hmmm ... I wonder if what I found mind boggling is the same thing you found mind-boggling. But then again, perhaps something in the museum is what you're referring to and we didn't get to see any of that because the museum was closed to the public the day we stopped by. Thanks for showing me at least a portion of the other-than-murals art we missed.

  2. Thank you once again for introducing me to another amazing artist. I love the quotations that reveal his unique sensibilities. The Autumn watercolor and Blackbirds and Vines vase are my two favorites. He sure has eclectic styles. I would like to read more about him. The film sounded really interesting as well. It is simply amazing how many treasures there are to explore in one's travels around the United States. My list of places to go and things to do just keeps growing longer.

  3. I can see why you're so thrilled to see this museum. I think it's amazing that he worked with so many different mediums and each piece is magnificent.

    I must have been raised in a cabbage patch because I never heard of Walter Anderson before, now I HAVE to go and see his works in person.

    I'm learning all kinds of new things from you, Sherry! :c)

  4. Very interesting artist. I really like some of the murals that he did. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Interesting watercolors, I like the way he hides some of the smaller creatures in with the larger design.

  6. Visual Music so clearly describes his imagery using such diverse mediums. The linocuts make me thing of stitched work and his simple lines say so much. Very nice wish to fulfill.

  7. So glad you got to visit another place that is on your list of places to see. What a very unique and accomplished artist!! Thanks for taking us along on your visit:o))

  8. I'm so glad to see that you finally escaped Florida. Thanks for the tour of the museum. Very interesting.

  9. We didn't make it to the museum last time we were there so thanks for taking us along with you.

  10. Some people get all the talent! What a variety of works.

  11. Never heard of Walter Anderson! look at you imparting culture on this ol broad... yay

    beautiful museum

  12. WOW! Amazing talent. Lucky you!

  13. Anderson certainly had talent in so many mediums. Amazing that he did most of his work simply for himself because he enjoyed it. I liked Wind, Wave and Bird. I definitely see fish there too! Great virtual tour. Sounds like they did a great job with the museum - a lot to learn and see. :)


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