Sunday, May 8, 2011

Walter Inglis Anderson

Yesterday I took the boys to the McKissik Museum on the campus of the University of South Carolina and luckily walked into the last day of an exhibition devoted to the Southern painter Walter Inglis Anderson. And I do mean lucky. Largely self taught, and mentally ill, he had a special bond with nature that required increasing amounts of isolation on his part, from his family and the world, and from this exile of a sorts he produced startling beautiful watercolors. Early in his career he provided artwork for his brother's ceramics, lovely designs. He was heavily influenced by ancient art, but his really amazing creations, I think, were his small watercolors, produced apparently in the thousands while he walked about an island off the coast of Mississippi (I think). Some of his frescoes survive. I kept looking at his paitings and thinking that they easily could be ceramic tiles reproduced for the fanciest restaurants and homes. Maybe the family will one day let them be produced in such a manner, because they are really special.

In addition to Anderson's work, there was a really wonderful exhibition in the opposing hall that featured molas from the San Blas islands. Odd that both art works presented at this time would be island-related. These colorful sewn creations were originally used as the bodice panels on the women's dresses (or like a blouse work above a skirt), but they morphed into an industry aimed at gaining money from the tourist trade. I collect molas too, and I was stunned by the collection. I encourage people in Columbia to take a break and check them out.

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