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Decades before Salvador Dali began his self-aggrandizing antics, the eccentric Ohr was posing with his 18” mustache that wrapped around his cheeks and tied behind his head. He shattered the conventions of ceramics with rims on his vessels that are like the edges of a crumpled burlap bag--deliberately twisted with wafer thin walls as if melted in the kiln. During the time when Rookwood and other potteries tacked on decorations of stylized birds, flowers, and animals amidst the lifeless beiges of Victorian times, Ohr’s work boasted a kaleidoscope of color includingslashes of olive greens shot through with bright oranges and blues splattered across mustard yellows. In his “Pot-Ohr-E” studio, he turned out thousands (perhaps 20,000 “mud babies” as he called his pots) of flamboyant works with outrageous prices, none of which was accepted during his lifetime. Most of his mud babies collected dust.
George Ohr, the “Mad Potter of Biloxi,” proudly proclaimed to be the greatest potter on earth. He tried his hand at several trades including file cutter, tinker, blacksmith’s apprentice and sailor, but at 22 he became interested in ceramics. He found his passion when he apprenticed with ceramic artist Joseph Fortune Meyer in New Orleans. In the 1880s, Ohr traveled through sixteenstates to see ceramic studios, shows and museums. He was clear that he wanted to make art, but first he needed to make chimney flues, planters and pitchers to support his ten children in Biloxi.