Note: An award was incorrectly included in an earlier version of this story.
From color to shape, style and character, Mississippi artist Walter Inglis Anderson stands out among his peers.
Anderson may have died in 1965, but his work continues to amaze, fascinate and engage viewers around the world.
It was the colorful personality and prolific artwork of the Ocean Springs artist 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 there and thought we were going to win two of the four, one for Best Direction and Best Original Score,” said St. John. “I never thought we would win Best Documentary, I thought it was cool to be nominated, but with the competition we have, there’s no way.”
The 2022 Southeast Emmy Awards were presented on 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.
“It was a real Father’s Day gift,” said Anthony Thaxton.
Anthony Thaxton was also nominated in the categories of best long-running director and editor.
Long before the documentary was conceived, Thaxton used to grab a copy of Anderson’s “Horn Island Logs” to read while working on a shrimp boat. Shrimp usually stay in the sea a few weeks at a time.
“I had no idea we were going to do our book and film about this genius,” said Thaxton.
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 are obviously thrilled. We are honored to have been a partner in this,” said WAMA Director Julian Rankin. “It was done in a very thoughtful way.”
It was a family affair for Thaxton as well, as his wife and daughter also contributed to the documentary.
The idea for the documentary came to St. John and Thaxton in 2018, when they were shooting 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 is a lot in the documentary that has never been seen before,” said St. John.
And so the documentary was born. In the same period an accompanying book to the documentary was published.
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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, I think it gives credibility to the work that will allow us to make Welty easier and we can move forward,” said St. John. “We believe she will open the doors to allow us to showcase the most important Mississippians and tell their story through documentaries and books.”
Southeast Emmy Award 2022 winners from Mississippi
Click here to see a full list of winners.
- Documentary – Historical: “Walter Anderson: The Islander’s Extraordinary Life and Art,” Anthony Thaxton, Robert St John, Mississippi Public Broadcasting
- Composition / musical arrangement: “Walter Anderson: The Islander’s Extraordinary Life and Art,” Bryant Thaxton, Mississippi Public Broadcasting
- Art / Entertainment – Content in extended form: “In Mississippi Carol: Capitol City Lights – PART 3”, Walt Grayson, Opie Cooper, Marshall Ramsey, Justin Burks, WJTV-TV
- Morning news Minor markets: 16 WAPT Morning News, Regina Thomas, WAPT-TV
- Weather forecasts: Tupelo Tornado 2021, Matthew Laubhan, Chelsea Simmons, Alvin Ivy, WTVA-TV
- Sports Program – Post-Produced or Modified – 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: “Block on the Farm,” James Parker, David Garraway, Mississippi State University Television Center
- Children / Youth / Adolescents – Contents in abbreviated form: “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 – Content in long form: James Parker, Mississippi State University Television Center
- Editor – Content in short form: Will Day, Ole Miss Sports Productions
- Editor – Content in long format: Opie Cooper, WJTV-TV
- Photographer – Content in long form: James Parker, Mississippi State University Television Center
- Graphic Arts – Animated Graphics: Hal Teasler, Mississippi State University Television Center
- Lighting – Position: David Garraway, Mississippi State University Television Center