Documentary Depicts The Life Of Walter Anderson

Published: Feb. 2, 2006 at 8:52 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 2, 2006 at 10:01 PM CST
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The life and work of a coast artist is depicted in a new documentary film. 'Walter Anderson: Realizations of an Artist' debuts this Saturday night at the Mary C. O'Keefe Center in Ocean Springs.

On Thursday, independent New Orleans filmmakers Winston Riley and David Wolf talked about what drew them to the project.

"It's extremely difficult to put Anderson in a box and explain him definitely in a one hour film and I guess this room is a metaphor for that," said Riley.

Inside The Little Room, Riley and his partner David Wolf are intrigued by the beauty created by Walter Anderson's brushstroke. The challenge was how to capture that same feeling in a documentary about an artist they say was as complex as he was talented.

"For instance, he had a show at the Brooklyn Museum. An opening would have been the start of a career for many artists," said Riley. "Instead of going, he hopped on his bike and cycled off and got on a plane and went to China."

Walter Anderson: Realizations of an Artist is told through the eyes of scholars, art critics, and family members who comment on everything from Anderson's art masterpieces to his numerous escapes from mental hospitals.

"Was he a great genius? Was he an eccentric? Was he someone who was trying to raise his consciousness in a way people can't even imagine? He was on his own path and everybody gets to be their own judge listening to the stories people tell in the film," Wolf said.

The filmmakers want to introduce Anderson and his work to an audience beyond South Mississippi. They hope his story will inspire others as they have been inspired.

"That fearlessness of going against anything drew me to the project. Because it's the same type of thing. How do you start a project like this from scratch? Two guys and a camera," Wolf said.

If Anderson were alive today, Wolf and Riley say he'd probably skip the film.

"I seriously wonder if he would go to a premier of a movie about his life because he would have other things to do," said Wolf. "He was not into the pomp and circumstance of celebrity or fame. He was into fulfilling his destiny of making art. And I think he would have been happy and bemused, but he would have probably been on his way to Horn Island."

The two filmmakers started the documentary back in August of 2003. For ticket information call 228-872-3164.

by Danielle Thomas