An Update on George E. Ohr Museum

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.

And if you plan on going or have your own art pottery story, we’d love to hear it. Be sure to let us know on our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter, too.

“Almost a Miracle” – The Highly Anticipated Ohr-O’Keefe Museum Opens

First it was politics that kept a damper on the plans, then, after those issues had been worked out between the City Council and landowners, the plans finally got underway to build a spectacular new museum in Biloxi, MS that would showcase The Mad Potter, George Ohr and his world renowned American art pottery. It was to be a spectacular creation; and why shouldn’t it be? The international architect and Pritzker Prize winner, Frank Gehry, was behind the awe-inspiring design. Then Hurricane Katrina happened and suddenly, all of the hard work by so many was washed out into the salty waters of the Gulf of Mexico. In a split second, it seemed the museum would never happen. But not for the resilient Gulf Coast residents and the collective determination to make it so, it might not have.

Now, though, and several years later than anyone could have every anticipated, the museum opened to all the fanfare and festivities that define the grand southern tradition. Gehry, whose work includes the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain as well as other famous designs around the world, said during the ribbon cutting ceremony last weekend, “There is a special feeling of the people here that I’ve never quite experienced before”.

And with that, the world was finally able to see what even a devastating hurricane could not prevent from happening. The doors were opened and the result? A collective sigh that was unmistakable and a very proud moment for Biloxi, American art pottery, and certainly George Ohr Pottery, and of course, all of those who worked so hard to make it happen.

If you’re ever in the Biloxi, Mississippi area, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice if you don’t take a tour. It is the epitome of a “labor of love”. Courtesy of the state’s efforts to inspire tourism following Katrina, a series of videos and pressers were put together. Below, you can see a brief tour of the museum from last week. And if you do visit us down here in the south, be sure to let us know – we want to know what you think!  Also, don’t forget to become a fan of Just Art Pottery on Facebook and follow us on Twitter, too!

The Ninth Annual George Ohr Gala

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Fans of the eclectic – and sometimes mysterious – George Ohr are making plans to hit the beautiful Mississippi Gulf Coast for the Ninth Annual George Ohr Gala. The event is hosted this year by the breathtaking and recently rebuilt Beau Rivage Casino in Biloxi, Miss. As many of you know, when Hurricane Katrina made landfall in August, 2005, it annihilated both the Beau Rivage and the considerable work that had already been completed to the new George Ohr museum. Since then, almost superhuman efforts have been made to get both restored to their original beauty. It’s been a fascinating journey and an impressive and newly produced video will chronicle the years of the Ohr Museum and the Mad Potter himself, George Ohr.

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