In 1918, Annette McConnell Anderson purchased 24 acres of land on the shore of Ocean Springs, MS. Four years later she, her husband, and three sons (Walter, Peter and James McConnel "Mac) made a permanent move to Ocean Springs from New Orleans, LA. Walter Anderson and his two brothers, Mac and Peter, lived and worked in Ocean Springs for decades. Peter founded and operated the renowned Shearwater Pottery.
Mac and Walter formed the "Annex" onto Shearwater where they created widgets (figurines) to sell to tourists, they also carved and decorated pottery for Peter for $10 a week. The brothers' love of nature and art continues today in the work
of their children and grandchildren.
Walter Inglis Anderson
Walter Anderson was
born in New Orleans Louisiana in 1903. From his early years until his death in
1965 he spent the majority of his life on the Mississippi Gulf Coast observing,
drawing, and painting the flora and fauna of the region. The artist found the
undeveloped coastal region of Mississippi and the barrier islands, especially
Horn Island, to be ideal for close interaction with nature. There, Walter
Anderson would swim in the bubbles of alligators, dance with the terns at the
approach of a storm and crawl amongst the tall grasses of the marshes. Walter
Anderson’s block prints, watercolors, and ceramics have become iconic
representations of the Gulf Coast and an integral part of the Arts and Crafts
and American Contemporary Art movements.
From a young age Walter
Anderson was schooled in art, history and literature by his mother, Annette
McConnell Anderson. He attended both the Parsons School for Art and Design and
the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. He traveled abroad after his graduation,
visiting France and Spain. In France, Walter visited two seemingly disparate
locations that would have an impact on his work for the rest of his life. The
first was the cave complex of Les Eyzies and the enormous cave paintings that
covered the walls; the second location was Chartres Cathedral with its
magnificent stained glass windows. These two locations inspired the young
artist’s work and likely led to his lifelong love of mural painting. Murals
serve as a highly accessible medium, crossing the boundaries of language,
literacy and art, for these and many other reasons, Walter Anderson found mural
painting to be a particularly rewarding outlet.
Upon his return to
the United States, Walter Anderson went into business with his two brothers
Peter and James McConnell “Mac” at Shearwater Pottery, which Peter opened in
1928. Walter and Mac decorated pottery thrown by Peter and created figurines
called “widgets” to sell to visitors and locals of Ocean Springs. In 1933
Walter Married Agnes (Sissy) Grinstead and they moved into a small cottage on
the Shearwater Compound.
In 1937 Walter
Anderson was diagnosed with severe mental illness and he spent several periods
of time in hospitals in the Northeast United States and in Mississippi. His last
stay in a mental hospital culminated with his escape, exiting his room’s window
with the aid of torn bed sheets. In 1940 Walter Anderson moved with his wife
(Sissy) and children to Oldfields, Sissy’s family home in Gautier. There,
Walter was the primary caregiver to his children while his wife tended to her
ailing father. This period is known as the most prolific of his career as he
drew inspiration from his children and their love of fairy tales. It is during
his Oldfields period that Walter Anderson carved his blockprints, illustrated
some of his favorite novels, and recorded life as he experienced it in his
In 1947 Walter
Anderson and his family moved back to the Shearwater compound in Ocean Springs.
At this time, sissy and Walter separated, he in one cottage and she and the
children in another. The artist became more and more isolated and spent
increasing amounts of time in his “Little Room” and on the barrier islands of
the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Particularly Horn Island, a small “inhospitable”
strip of land twelve miles off the coast of Ocean Springs. It is on Horn Island
that Walter Anderson felt at peace and found a communion with nature. Walter
Anderson would set out on his boat in all types of weather, rowing up to twelve
miles to reach the island. There, he would observe, paint, draw and explore the
majesty of nature.
Walter Anderson made
his final trip to Horn Island in 1965. Upon his return he asked his wife Sissy
to take him to the hospital. He locked the door to his house and the Little
Room and never returned. For the majority of his life, Walter Anderson was
misunderstood and shunned by the community. Today, he is celebrated as a
visionary, a genius, and the favorite son of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Annette McConnell Anderson was Walter, Peter, and Mac Anderson's mother. She and Peter started Shearwater Pottery in 1928. Annette was the driving force behind her children's artistic inclinations. From a young age she encouraged them to paint, draw and read. Annette was an artist in her own right, having attended the Newcomb School of Fine Arts in New Orleans and was taught by Ellsworth Woodward. Article from Traditional Fine Arts of Line.
Leif Anderson is Walter Anderson's youngest daughter. Her joy in dance is expressed in her own dance form - Airth. In addition to her dancing, Leif sculpts, paints,
writes, and composes music.
Chris Stebly is a successful Ocean Springs artist and fisherman whose love for the Gulf
coast's natural beauty shines through in water colors, block prints, decorated pottery, and murals. Chris sells his work between fishing trips.
Jason Stelby works in music, as a guitarist and song writer. His first CD, Luna Sol, is popular on the coast and is available from Realizations.
A second CD of Jason's crisp, high-energy music has also been released.
Adele Anderson Lawton expresses her love of art in her beautiful water color work with Realization's silkscreen prints. Weekends often find
Adele sailing to Horn Island with her husband Tim.
Carolyn Anderson prints each of the beautiful silkscreen prints offered by Realizations. She also began printing off of the original linoleum block prints that were created by Walter Anderson in the 1940's.
Matthew Stebly escapes school by creating his own designs which he offers in a line of t-shirts. He has recently opened a Tattoo Parlor and Gallery in Ocean Springs called The Twisted Anchor.