The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art Receives Major Gift of 50 Artworks From Collector Gordon W. Bailey

  • May 19, 2021 13:17

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Wallace Nez (United States, 1972- ), Seed Pot, c. 1999, polychrome sgraffito, 3 x 4 in.
Purvis Young (United States, 1943-2010), There Are Angels In The City, c. 1990s, mixed media on wood, 55 1/2 x 48 x 1 in.

The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, Mississippi has received a major donation of 50 artworks by Los Angeles-based, advocate and collector Gordon W. Bailey.

The transformative gift features African American artists Leroy Almon, David Butler, Richard Dial, Thornton Dial, Minnie Evans, Roy Ferdinand, Sandy Hall, Clementine Hunter, Charlie Lucas, Juanita Rogers, Sulton Rogers, Welmon Sharlhorne, Herbert Singleton, Willie White, and Purvis Young; Native Americans, Silas and Bertha Claw, Betty Manygoats, Elizabeth Manygoats, Wallace Nez, and Lorraine Williams; and Southern potters, Burlon Craig, Cheever Meaders, and Lanier Meaders.

Betty Manygoats (United States, 1945- ), Horny Toad Wedding Vase, c. 1980s, glazed stoneware, 5 x 6 x 6 in.
“On behalf of the board and the O’Keefe family, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to Mr. Bailey for making this generous donation of important artworks,” said Jeffrey H. O’Keefe, “In addition to enriching the museum’s permanent collection by adding Native American and Southern pottery, his gift makes real an important part of our founding mission of documenting and celebrating African American art and culture.”
Highlights from Bailey’s gift include: large scale works by Almon, Dial, Lucas, and Young; one of a few extant whirligigs created by noted sculptor David Butler, still mounted on its original painted stand; a rare 1946 work by Minnie Evans; the poignant oil Melrose by the late Louisiana centenarian Clementine Hunter; Pretty Women a group of four lovely ladies carved by the well-known Sulton Rogers; and a superb collection of southern folk pottery that adds context and complement to the museum’s holdings of the brilliant George E. Ohr’s incomparable works.

“All of the artists are new additions to the museum. We are extending the reach of our exhibitions to include more national and international artists,” said Ohr-O’Keefe’s Executive Director David Houston, “Mr. Bailey’s carefully organized gift greatly enhances our collection, and will anchor a new direction for the museum over the coming decades.”

The Ohr-O’Keefe joins other institutions that have benefited from Bailey’s largesse including the California African American Museum, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, High Museum of Art Atlanta, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Pérez Art Museum Miami, Speed Art Museum and Smithsonian Museum of American Art.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to support the museum’s abiding commitment to honor the wishes of its progressive benefactor Jerry O’Keefe,” said Bailey, “who envisioned an inclusive museum that served the entirety of the region.”

The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art will showcase Bailey’s donation in the feature exhibition Changing Tides: Gifts from Gordon W. Bailey, opening July 12. 

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