It’s been awhile since we checked in on the progress of the George E. Ohr Museum in Biloxi, MS. As many know, there had been a significant amount of construction completed on the new building when Hurricane Katrina slammed the coast in 2005. There was nothing left. With Hurricane Isaac in the news this past week and with its landfall along the same area as Katrina, we were wondering how the museum was preparing and how the project as a whole was moving on.
George Ohr, also known as the Mad Potter of Biloxi, was eccentric in the way he lived and the way he created his art. I recently spoke with someone who is quite familiar with the legacy Ohr left behind, and while it’s not surprising, it was interesting to learn a bit more about the artist. One look at any of the available photos of him would surely have anyone think he was a bit…grumpy. Or as they say down here in the south, “an ol’ buzzard”. Of course, that’s not an insult, in fact, like many artists, he likely took pride in knowing others understood his eccentricities, no matter which adjectives were used. And it’s good for us because of the spectacular artistic bodies he left behind. Each piece is powerful, mature and quite influential, too.
Ohr died in 1918, and it wasn’t until the mid 1960s that the vast majority of his work was located. Much of it is at home in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, but there’s even more that defines the permanent collections in the Ohr O’Keefe Museum of Art.
The masterpiece – and truly, that’s the only way to describe it – is right at home among the massive Antebellum homes that remain after two massive hurricanes, Camille in 1969 and, of course, Katrina in 2005. With its ultra contemporary lines and interesting dimensions, it would do Ohr proud if he could see it now. There are many exhibits that rotate year round and there are also several different areas within the museum. While the many photos on the website are spectacular, you haven’t “felt” the art until you’re standing in the middle of the museum with the salt air coming in on the Gulf of Mexico. It’s an experience, no doubt.
Currently, there are three exhibits being shown and three permanent exhibits; including, of course, many of the beautiful American art pottery pieces created by none other than the Mad Potter. If you’ve not seen the website recently, now’s a great time since the directors have added much more to it. And if you’re along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, be sure and save an afternoon for this beautiful museum – it’s time well spent.