From color to form, style and persona, Mississippi artist Walter Inglis Anderson stands out among his peers.
Anderson may have died in 1965, but his work continues to amaze, enthrall and engage viewers around the world.
It was the Ocean Springs artist’s colorful personality and prolific artwork that inspired Anthony Thaxton and Robert St. John to produce the documentary, “Walter Anderson: The Extraordinary Life and Art of The Islander,” which premiered in November 2021 on Mississippi Public Broadcasting.
Seven months later, the documentary received two Emmy Awards out of four nominations.
”I went over there and figured we’d win two of the four, one for Best Direction and Best Original Music Score,” St. John said. “I never thought we’d win Best Documentary — I thought it’s nice to be nominated but with the competition we’ve got, there’s no way.”
The 2022 Southeast Emmy Awards were presented June 18 in Atlanta.
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Thaxton and St. John received an Emmy for best historical documentary and Thaxton’s son, Bryant Thaxton, won an Emmy for best musical composition/ arrangement.
Bryant Thaxton, now 22, wrote and recorded the music when he was 19. Some of the musicians were teenagers when the documentary was produced.
”That was quite a Father’s Day treat,” Anthony Thaxton said.
Anthony Thaxton also was nominated in the best long-form director and editor categories.
Long before the documentary was conceived, Thaxton used to take a copy of Anderson’s “Horn Island Logs” to read while he worked on a shrimp boat. Shrimpers usually stay out at sea a few weeks at a time.
“I had no idea that we’d be doing our own book and our own film on this genius,” Thaxton said.
Anderson’s children, John Grinstead Anderson, Leif Anderson, Mary Anderson Pickard and William Walter Anderson, were interviewed for the documentary as well as staff at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art in Ocean Springs.
“We’re obviously thrilled. We’re humbled to have been a partner on that,” WAMA Director Julian Rankin said. “It was done in a really thoughtful way.”
It was a family affair for Thaxton as well, since his wife and daughter also helped with the documentary.
The idea for the documentary came to St. John and Thaxton in 2018, when they were filming an episode of “Palate to Palette” for Mississippi Public Broadcasting at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art.
St. John said he and Anthony Thaxton thought the artist and his work needed more than just a segment on the popular TV show.
”There’s a lot in the documentary that has never been seen before,” St. John said.
And so the documentary was born. A companion book to the documentary was released around the same time.
St. John and Anthony Thaxton aren’t resting on their laurels. They are already working on another documentary. This time Mississippi author Eudora Welty is the subject.
“That’s why the Emmy Award is so important is I think it gives the work credibility which will allow us to more easily do Welty and we can kinda keep going,” St. John said. “We feel like it will open doors to allow us to showcase more notable Mississippians and tell their story through documentaries and books.”
2022 Southeast Emmy Award winners from Mississippi
Click here to see a complete list of winners.
- Documentary – Historical: “Walter Anderson: The Extraordinary Life and Art of The Islander,” Anthony Thaxton, Robert St John, Mississippi Public Broadcasting
- Musical Composition/Arrangement: “Walter Anderson: The Extraordinary Life and Art of The Islander,” Bryant Thaxton, Mississippi Public Broadcasting
- Arts/Entertainment – Long Form Content: “A Mississippi Carol: Capitol City Lights – PART 3,” Walt Grayson, Opie Cooper, Marshall Ramsey, Justin Burks, WJTV-TV
- Morning Newscast Smaller Markets: 16 WAPT Morning News, Regina Thomas, WAPT-TV
- Weathercast: Tupelo Tornado 2021, Matthew Laubhan, Chelsea Simmons, Alvin Ivy, WTVA-TV
- Sports Program – Post-Produced or Edited – Series: “The Season: Ole Miss Baseball,” Scott Wyant, Merrick McCool, Micah Ginn, Ryan Cochran, Ole Miss Sports Productions
- Documentary – Topical
- “The Fisherfolk,” James Parker, David Garraway, Mississippi State University Television Center
- Magazine Program – Single Program: “The Domino Effect,” James Parker, David Garraway, Hal Teasler, Mississippi State University Television Center
- Public Affairs Program – Single Program: “Will Gilmer,” James Parker, David Garraway, Mississippi State University Television Center
- Public Affairs Program – Series: “Isolated on the Farm,” James Parker, David Garraway, Mississippi State University Television Center
- Children/Youth/Teen – Short Form Content: “Ed Said – The Roots,” Taiwo Gaynor, Keri Horn, Ezekiel Bandy, Ed Foose, Mississippi Public Broadcasting
- Sports Promotion: Ole Miss Football Hype Video vs Louisville, Will Day, Seth Austin, Emma Harrington, Ole Miss Sports Productions
- Director – Long Form Content: James Parker, Mississippi State University Television Center
- Editor – Short Form Content: Will Day, Ole Miss Sports Productions
- Editor – Long Form Content: Opie Cooper, WJTV-TV
- Photographer – Long Form Content: James Parker, Mississippi State University Television Center
- Video Essay: James Parker, Mississippi State University Television Center
- Graphic Arts – Motion Graphics: Hal Teasler, Mississippi State University Television Center
- Lighting – Location: David Garraway, Mississippi State University Television Center