Two artists bolster Biloxi cultural identity
George Ohr, the 19th Century Mad Potter, and Frank Gehry, the most recognizable architect of modern time combine to bolster Biloxi cultural identity.
I spent a little more than a week road tripping around the South, from New Orleans to Vicksburg, to Fairhope, Alabama. I was driving back to New Orleans to catch a flight that evening and thought I would make a stop in Biloxi for lunch. I was driving along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi when something out of the corner of my eye caught my attention. I was almost certain I knew what it was, but thought…couldn’t be.
As an admirer of architecture, I’m a big fan of Frank Gehry, the most prolific and distinctive architect of our time. Gehry is to 21st Century architectural design what Frank Lloyd Wright was to the 20th. Gehry’s work is unmistakable, which is the key ingredient for any great artist to become well-known. I expect to see Frank Gehry’s work in L.A., Chicago, Prague and Paris, but not in Biloxi, Mississippi. I have actually only seen a handful of Frank Gehry buildings in person, so I was excited to check this one out.
At the first opportunity, I made a quick u-turn and headed back in the direction of what I would soon discover was the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art. I got out of my car and stood in the parking lot for a moment just taking in the sight…it was extraordinary! The museum is situated on a four acre campus, set within a grove of ancient Oak trees—Frank Gehry designed a series of six small pavilions woven among the trees and connected by an open brick plaza. This creates an inviting and lively arts campus that maintains a park-like setting that encourages pedestrian circulation throughout the site.
While I was at the Ohr-O’keefe Museum, I learned that the project was ten years in the making and took four years just to design. The museum was 80% complete in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina destroyed it and construction had to begin again. The museum was finally completed just a couple years ago in 2014.
I was so enamored by the grounds and the architecture of the Museum that I spent all of my time filming and didn’t even go inside to see the exhibit. I had wanted to, but just ran out of time. As a matter of fact, I didn’t even have time for the lunch I had planned and had to simply settle for take-out. After I left the museum I wondered if the architecture trumps the exhibit for other visitors.
If you’ve ever been to the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum in Biloxi, Mississippi, please leave a comment below and tell me what the inside and exhibits are like. I’m sorry I missed it!