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Walter Anderson and Friends

in collaboration with the Walter Anderson Museum of Art and the Dusti Bonge Foundation

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art is pleased to present the exhibition Walter Anderson and Friends. This is one of four (4) new exhibitions premeiring in the Museum on Saturday, October 2, 2004. The exhibition will remain on display through December, 2004.

The works from the 1930s and '40s of these artists and friends, including Walter Anderson (1903 - 1965), Archie Bongé (1901 - 1936), George Wiggins (1907 - 1982) and Paul Ninas (1903 - 1964), are being exhibited together for the first time, and shows their works from a formative period when they were exploring a variety of approaches in style.

The Beginnings of Friendships

Lives cross in many ways, and the lives of these four artists crossed during the 1920s when they were young men. Walter Anderson graduated from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in 1928, traveled to Europe, then returned home to Ocean Springs to spend most of the rest of his life. While at PAFA, Anderson met Archie Bongé and George Wiggins. Archie was a tall (6' 7") handsome young "cowboy" from Nebraska, who lived in Chicago until 1923 when he moved to New York and there began to gain fame (he sold one painting of a nude for $1000). After falling in love with a New York actress who had moved there from Biloxi, he married Dusti Swetman in 1927. Anderson was their best man. The Bongé's moved to Biloxi in 1934, forming a friendship with Walter and Sissy Anderson who had married in 1933.

In Biloxi, following the birth of the Bongé's only son, Lyle, Dusti became interested in painting largely influenced by her husband. Upon Archie's death in 1936, Dusti continued painting and developed a full-time career that spanned 50 years.

Archie first met the flamboyant Paul Ninas (1903-1964) in the early 1920s, when they were students at the University of Nebraska. Ninas had gone to sea at age 14. Later, he studied in Vienna and Paris, where Isadora Duncan sponsored his first one-man show. After living in the West Indies for six years, he settled in New Orleans in 1932 and lived there the rest of his life. Ninas was introduced to Anderson by Archie.

George Wiggins, from Arkansas, worked his way through the Pennsylvania Academy by stoking a boiler. He was awarded the Cresson scholarship for study abroad. Anderson also studied in Europe on a Cresson award. Both attended the summer sessions at the Country School of PAFA at Chester Springs in 1928. Wiggins fell in love with the area and settled there with his new wife in 1936. He worked as an illustrator for the Saturday Evening Post and freelanced for other publications. He traveled to Ocean Springs to visit the Andersons on several occasions.

The Exhibit

The works in the exhibit were created in the period from 1920 to 1937. Archie Bongé died in 1936. Anderson entered a Mississippi mental institution hospital in 1937. The death of Bongé and the hospitalization of Anderson ended this important early period of experimentation by these artists. These were years of friendship and exuberant living for these artists.

The exhibition was organized by the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in collaboration with the Walter Anderson Museum of Art and the Dusti Bongé Foundation.

This is one of four (4) new exhibitions premeiring in the Museum on Saturday, October 2, 2004. The exhibition will remain on display through December, 2004.