American Artist Walter Anderson and his Secret Paradise – a Wild Island

In many books at the Sea Library, there are artists real and imagined who have dedicated their time, even lives, to express what they see; artists – immersed in nature. “There once was a man whose love of nature was as wide as the world,” starts a beautiful book for kids about “the most famous American artist you’ve never heard of” – Walter Anderson (1903–1965). He was an artist who needed to paint as much as he needed to breathe. He was “an islander who lived in a cottage at the edge of Mississippi, where the sea meets the earth and sky.”

His secret world was Horn Island. He went there before dawn. And sometimes would stay there “for weeks at a time, in all kinds of weather, using his boat as a shelter”. Horn was a wild island with no comfort, no safety. “There were biting flies, hungry mosquitoes, swarming gnats, fire ants, venomous snakes, blistering ants, blinding sun, freezing cold, stinging rain, and roaring wind. But for Walter, to paint on Horn Island was to be in paradise.”

He also kept journals that he called logs, writing and drawing about everything he experienced. His logs “reveal how deeply he wanted to harmonize with the symphony of nature”. Hester Bass writes that Walter didn’t rush and took the time to truly see what was around him. “He concentrated so intensely on his subjects that he felt he became that tree, that flower, or that bird.”

“Walter Anderson painted to realize his secret world, to bring himself and nature into one thing called art.”

At the end of the book is Author’s Note where you can get to know the amazing artist and the life that he led even better. I learned that he was a prolific artist, who created oil paintings, drawings, decorated ceramics, made wood sculptures, block prints, murals, wrote poetry, and prose. “He has been called a mad genius and a homegrown van Gogh.” I learned that since childhood he was an enthusiastic reader, favoring mythology, folklore, science, music, and art.

“In September 1965, Walter Anderson survived Hurricane Betsy by tying himself to his boat and experiencing the storm from the highest dune on Horn Island,” writes Hester Bass. Sadly, two months later he died from lung cancer.

The illustrator E. B. Lewis has dedicated this book to the victims of Hurricane Kathryn (August 29, 2005). One of the victims was much of the legacy of Anderson’s family, which was taken out to sea or flooded. Nevertheless, a lot has been repaired, rebuilt, and healed. “For many, Walter Anderson’s work speaks fo the hope and renewal to be found in nature,” writes Hester Bass, “the interconnectedness of all life, and the importance of art in our lives. Such a message is eternal and will survive any storm, just like Horn Island.”

“The Secret World of Walter Anderson” is written by Hester Bass and illustrated by E. B. Lewis. Published by Candlewick Press in 2009. Donated to the library by David Buege from Mississippi, USA. Thanks to David I have discovered this inspiring artist.

Borrow this and another book about Walter Anderson from the Sea Library.

“Art was an adventure, and Walter Anderson was an explorer, first class.”

“He packed apples and raisins and peanut butter and rice. He packed paints and brushes and 8 1/2 x 11 inch typing paper.”

“There were twelve miles of open water between Ocean Springs, Mississippi, and Horn Island. Sometimes Walter used an umbrella for a sail, but usually he rowed every stroke. Dolphins and pelicans escorted Walter on his journey.”

“Some people called him crazy for living like a hermit just to paint fish and animals and birds and plants. But Walter Anderson spent some of the happiest times of his life on Horn Island.”

Jūras bibliotēkas grāmatās ir gan īsti, gan iedomāti mākslinieki, kuri velta savu laiku, pat dzīvi, lai paustu redzēto; mākslinieki – iegrimuši dabā. “Reiz bija cilvēks, kura mīlestība pret dabu bija tikpat plaša kā pasaule,” tā sākas grāmata bērniem par “slavenāko amerikāņu mākslinieku, par kuru neko nebūsiet dzirdējuši” – Valteru Andersonu (1903–1965). Viņš bija mākslinieks, kuram gleznot vajadzēja tikpat ļoti kā elpot un kurš ar ģimeni dzīvoja kotedžā Misisipi štata krastā, kur jūra satiekas ar debesīm un zemi.

Valtera Andersona slepenā pasaule bija Horna sala Meksikas līcī. Viņš devās turp pirms rītausmas un mēdza palikt pat nedēļām ilgi “visos laikapstākļos, izmantojot savu laivu kā pajumti”. Horna ir mežonīga sala bez jelkādām ērtībām. “Bija kodīgas mušas, izsalkuši odi, knišļu spiets, ugunsskudras, indīgas čūskas, žilbinoša saule, stindzinošs aukstums, smeldzošs lietus un gaudojošs vējš. Bet Valteram gleznošana uz Horna salas nozīmēja paradīzi.”

Mākslinieks arī iekārtoja dienasgrāmatas, kurās viņš rakstīja un zīmēja visu, ko piedzīvoja. Tās atklāj, “cik dziļi viņš vēlējies būt saskaņā ar dabas simfoniju”. Grāmatas autore Hestere Basa raksta, ka Valters nesteidzās, veltīja laiku, lai patiesi redzētu, kas ir visapkārt. “Viņš tik intensīvi koncentrējās uz to, ko vēlējās gleznot, ka uz mirkli pats kļuva par koku, ziedu vai putnu.”

“Valters Andersons gleznoja, lai apzinātos savu slepeno pasauli, lai apvienotu sevi un dabu vienā veselumā, ko sauc par mākslu.”

Grāmatas beigās ir autores piezīmes, kuras ļauj vēl labāk iepazīt apbrīnojamo mākslinieku un viņa dzīvi. Es uzzināju, ka viņš ir bijis ražīgs mākslinieks, strādājot eļļā, zīmējot, apgleznojot keramiku, nodarbojoties ar koktēlniecību, sienas gleznojumiem, rakstījis dzeju un prozu. “Viņu sauca par trako ģēniju un pašmāju van Gogu.” Uzzināju, ka kopš bērnības viņš bija entuziastisks lasītājs, iecienījis mitoloģiju, folkloru, zinātni, mūziku un mākslu.

“1965. gada septembrī Valters Andersons izglābās no viesuļvētras Betsija, piesienoties pie savas laivas un piedzīvojot vētru no Horna salas augstākās kāpas,” raksta Hestere Basa. Diemžēl divus mēnešus vēlāk viņš slimnīcā nomira uzreiz pēc plaušu vēža operācijas. Valteram Andersonam bija 62 gadi.

Ilustrators E. B. Lūiss šo grāmatu ir veltījis 2005. gada 29. augusta viesuļvētras Katrīna upuriem. Viens no upuriem bija arī liela daļa no Andersona ģimenes mantojuma, kas tika aizskalots jūrā vai appludināts. Tomēr daudz kas nu ir salabots, pārbūvēts un dziedināts. “Daudziem Valtera Andersona darbi runā par cerību un atjaunotni, kas rodama dabā,” raksta Hestere Basa, “par visa savstarpējo saikni un mākslas nozīmi mūsu dzīvē. Šāds vēstījums ir mūžīgs un pārdzīvos jebkuru vētru tāpat kā Horna sala.”

Paldies David Beuge no Misisipi, ASV, kurš Jūras bibliotēkai uzdāvināja šo un vēl vienu grāmatu par Valteru Andersonu un tādējādi ļāva arī man atklāt šo radošo personību.

Foto: Anna Iltnere / Jūras bibliotēka

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s