A Community of Creativity

Local Artists of the Coast

There’s a tradition of outstanding artists on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The natural beauty, culture and history seem to foster creativity. The two most famous local artists are Walter Anderson and George Ohr, each of whom has an art museum to showcase their creations. While their legacy lives on, many living local artists continue to create in a number of media. We spotlight just a few but both museums continuously feature the works of local artists.

 “The purpose of our Gulf Coast Community Gallery is to highlight artists from, and often reflective of, the region, exposing them to our regular audience, as well as attracting a regional audience that comes especially for this gallery,” said David Houston, executive director of the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi.

  He says one example of a significant local artist is the long time Gulfport artist Michael Richardson. “He was a Fulbright Fellow to Indonesia and is an artist and a master puppeteer. He has exhibited widely and continues to teach and grow creatively.”

  Richardson came to the Coast 30 years ago and is proud to call it home. “I say I’m a retired puppeteer because I’m too old to do that now,” he says. “However, I’m very involved with print making and drawing on fabric.”

  He also enjoyed a fellowship in India and calls himself a graphic artist. “I make prints the real way with wood cuts and I make metal plates for printing,” he said. Starting this month he’s teaching print making at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg as an adjunct professor.

 Another artist cited by Houston is Paulette Dove, a former board member and current instructor with the museum. “She has taken the lead on the community gallery and is a talented artist herself,” he said.

  Active in the Mississippi Art Colony, of which many coastal artists are involved, Dove is a retired art educator in the Biloxi schools and says she’s been an artist all her life. “I like pottery and oil painting with maritime stories and animals as inspiration,” she said.

  Julian Rankin, executive director of the Walter Anderson Museum of Art, also has a long list of  talented local artists. He points out the creative spirit of the area. “For more than 100 years, members of the storied Anderson Family – including the famous brothers Walter, Peter, and Mac – have been creating art on the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” he says. “They were influenced by the region’s unique landscapes and histories.”

  This legacy of creativity and entrepreneurship, he adds, continues to inspire contemporary creators, who are adding their own chapters to Coastal Mississippi’s artistic story. “While Walter Anderson’s myth and style are inescapable, his lasting contribution is the belief that all people have the innate ability to create, explore, and chart their own creative paths – wherever they may lead.”

  Among the artists he notes are Julie Reyes and Marian Glaser. Coast native Reyes earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts with an emphasis in painting at Mississippi State University. “I have a passion for exploration and nature,” she says. “They’re often the catalyst for much of my work. I find ways of portraying new truths through abstraction.”

  Bay St. Louis resident Marian Glaser has a passion for art and creating. “Currently, I’m focusing on portraiture with the desire to incorporate a vintage feeling into my work,” she says. “I also do sculpture work and charcoal drawings.”

  Other artists named by Rankin include Ruth Miller, Ben Prisk, Carmen Lugo, Stephanie Dwyer, Erica and Mitchell Gaudet, Cali Rob, and Matt Stebly.

  Houston also lists Kat Fitzpatrick, Roseann McKenny, Carolyn Whitescarver, Mary Hardy, J.J. Foley, Jerry Mauldin, Carolyn Busenlener, Georgeann McCullough and Trinh Nguyen Garcia.

  These artists work in all media including textiles, animator/illustrator, painting, mixed media, metal, glass, portraits, murals and tattoo.

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