by Calvin Ishee
John Anderson, youngest son of Walter Anderson kept a packed house entranced and mesmerized at the Pass Christian Historical Society ‘s June Luncheon by telling intimate Anderson family stories, discussing his Dad’s art work, by offering incisive Anderson life quotes and sharing details of a man some referred to as the “Horn Island Hermit”.
As with many artists, Walter “Bob” Anderson’s art work was insufficiently appreciated during his life time. In fact, it was many years after his death before his art was recognized for it’s beauty and brilliance. Although Walter would spend weeks at a time away from his family on Horn Island and other coastal locations crafting priceless pieces of art work, his primary means of income was not selling his art but making pottery at five dollars a week. The idyllic life of the Anderson’s revolved around their homestead and work place, Shearwater Pottery. John stated that it was a place of beauty that was safe and full of opportunities to explore one’s imagination and to experience nature up close and personal.
Walter Anderson felt a closeness to nature and felt that being one with nature is the essence of art and to life. He stated, “It’s approaching the magic hour before sunset, when all things are related…light in everything…no lost places disappearing without definition…everything needing to be considered in relating the parts to the strange and and transient unity.” He recognized the beauty and importance of nature and not only loved being in nature, he also encouraged others to do the same.
John remembered his father as a very kind, loving and humble person that was willing to share his philosophy with others. One of Walter’s well known quotes included, “Fortune’s favorite child; indeed if man refuses to allow himself to be distracted….driven wild, mad, sick, raving…he would often realize that he was Fortune’s favorite child”. Other memorable quotes included, “Success goes to those who dare to dream”, “humility is the source of creativity” and “Focus on the solution and not the problem”. He was also a huge fan of the 104th Psalm, which praises God for his gift of nature.
Just as the audience yearned for more, I could write many more pages about Walter Anderson and his awe inspiring life. However, one must personally experience the writings, paintings, drawings and pottery of this amazing Mississippi Gulf Coast artisan, to appreciate his contributions to the world.
If you’re interested in learning more about this amazing man, visit the Pass Christian Library where they have books available for checkout, Pass Christian Books for purchase or visit the Walter Anderson Museum in Ocean Springs. John also mentioned that he’s almost completed his book titled “The Bicycle Logs” which tells his story of being a part of such a creative and amazing family.