Ohr’s descendants on hand for opening at museum

Biloxi — Two descendants of George Ohr attended the opening of the fifth building completed since Hurricane Katrina devastated the museum dedicated to the man once called “the mad potter of Biloxi.”

“My mother was George Ohr’s granddaughter. I like to come to anything that showcases George,” Phyllis Allen of Jackson told The Mississippi Press. She and her cousin Dottie Moran of Ocean Springs went together to Saturday’s opening of the new City of Biloxi Center for Ceramics.

The four-story building overlooking the Mississippi Sound was built around a 300-year-old oak tree. Architect Frank Gehry designed it and four other buildings including the museum that will hold most of Ohr’s work — four towering, twisted stainless-steel “pods” inspired by the twisting lines of Ohr’s pottery.

A light-filled ceramics studio for art classes makes up the first floor of the Center for Ceramics. The second through fourth floors are a meeting area, museum offices, and the board of directors meeting room.

Bids on The Pods will be let in November, and the building should be opened by the end of 2013, said Larry Clark, president of the museum’s board of directors.

Saturday’s ceremony was part of the museum’s 17th annual Art Fair ExtraOHRdinaire, which continued Sunday at the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art.

O’Keefe is museum benefactor Jerry O’Keefe, a former mayor of Biloxi who also was at Saturday’s ceremony.

“We had substantially begun the project when Hurricane Katrina hit and sustained a lot of damage and we had to start all over,” O’Keefe told WLOX-TV (http://bit.ly/SOnIhK).

Marlin Miller, known on the Mississippi Gulf Coast for his tree sculptures along U.S. 90, had a booth, a demonstration and a book signing at the festival.

“This is a neat place to have a show,” said Miller, who sports a wooden leg designed as a large bird’s leg with a ball held in the claws.

He told The Mississippi Press he was thrilled to see the man who carved his leg, Clive “Captin Chaos” Mutschler, demonstrating restoration of historic wooden vessels.

It was the first time they had met since the leg was finished.

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