Gehry meets museum donors

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - By Jeff Lawson – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Friday night, under a beautiful South Mississippi sunset, donors and benefactors of the Ohr-O'Keefe Museum gathered for a gala event. It was a preview party for the many who have supported the museum through the years.

This was an opportunity to say thanks before the official ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday.

"There is a lot of pride and sentimentality tonight," Jerry O'Keefe said.

O'Keefe is the former mayor of Biloxi who has been so instrumental in getting the museum built. O'Keefe has always been a big supporter of the arts, and his family donated $1 million to get the fund raising effort started years ago.

"It's a big, big moment for this community," a smiling O'Keefe said. "It is truly special when the careers and art products of Frank Gehry and George Ohr converge."

Frank Gehry is considered the world's leading architect. He chose to design this museum, a very small project by his standards, because of the passion he has for the pottery of the late George Ohr. The man who has always been known as "The Mad Potter of Biloxi."

On the eve of its grand opening, Gehry was there to see the place he created. The place he has always said, would dance with the trees.

"I had never done anything like this before," Gehry said. "The buildings do dance with the trees, and they dance with each other. It will not be completely apparent until it is all done; then they will get it."

Three of the buildings will open, but the other two won't be ready for about two years. Because of Katrina and the devastation it left behind, it has been a long tough road to get to this point.

Jerry O'Keefe said he never imagined it would take 10 years, but added he is so impressed by the scope and size of the project and its uniqueness.

We did ask the former mayor, what he thinks the reaction of the Mad Potter would be, if he were alive today. O'Keefe chuckled and said The Mad Potter, who was never known for his modesty, would probably say he deserved all this praise.

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