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Family struggles to salvage artist's work

The family of a celebrated Mississippi artist struggles to save his paintings damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
/ Source: NBC News correspondent

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. — Scouring through the rubble of Hurricane Katrina, a family tries to save a lifetime of work by a celebrated Mississippi artist.

The artist was Walter Anderson.

Anderson, who died in 1965, is best known for his vibrant watercolors, some of them displayed in a museum in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

He spent much of his life exploring the essence of man and nature.

But, because of Hurricane Katrina...eighty to ninety percent of Anderson's work was soaked by floodwaters and mud--including this portrait of his wife.

Most of his paintings were kept inside this vault--where the storm-surge broke down the the horror of his son, John Anderson.

In addition, virtually all the family compound, known as Shearwater Pottery, was wiped out. For decades it was an oasis for artists.

Some of Anderson's work was dried out on the floor of the Ocean Springs cultural center--the same building where he painted the huge mural in the 1950's.

Other recovered pieces were catalogued and stored out of town.

Much has been lost for good...but, some of the damaged paintings still shine through.

By all counts, though, a cultural tragedy on the Gulf Coast.


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