Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mad Potter of Biloxi and Frank Gehry 'Pods'

             Pods have landed on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and although they may resemble something from outer space, these buildings are the work of prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, known for the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, among so many other beautiful creations.
            Gehry designed the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, which celebrates the ceramic works of George Ohr, known as the “Mad Potter of Biloxi.” Ohr wasn’t as crazy as he was an excellent marketer; his reputation helped sell his innovative and experimental ceramics, according to museum curator Barbara Johnson Ross. In addition to Ohr’s unique works are buildings hosting visiting artists; the City of Biloxi Center for Ceramics, which offers art classes; the Mississippi Sound Welcome Center; the Pleasant Reed Interpretive Center in a reconstruction of a 19th century home (the original was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina) and the Creel House Neighborhood Center.
            But the complex of buildings, including the “Pods,” is an exhibit on to itself. Gehry believed the Ohr Museum should conform to its environment, merging with the century old live oaks. He called the museum complex, “Dancing with the Trees.” The Mississippi Sound Welcome Center, for instance, includes an overlook nestled within the oaks but with a stunning view of the Gulf of Mexico.
            What grabs visitors’ attention the most, however, is the Knight Gallery, otherwise known as the “Pods.” They are still under construction (and renovation due to Katrina) but one will open this July with a permanent exhibit of Ohr’s work.


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