Dusti Bongé Biloxi street scene sketch

I love art which allows me to travel. I love paintings and drawings that “take me there.” Like this one, to Biloxi, MS from Dusti Bongé, an artist I first came across in New Orleans.

This week, we travel to Biloxi through the eyes of the native daughter and longtime resident. Analysis of the artwork, as always, comes from Dusti Bongé Art Foundation Executive Director Ligia Römer.

Dusti Bongé, National Sketchbook, Dusti Sketch #3, 1936-39. Charcoal on paper, 10” x 7 3/4”. 

Probably one of the first sketchbooks Dusti Bongé ever used, this one is actually signed on the cover by Arch Bongé with an old Biloxi address on it.  Inside this sketchbook we first find ten pages of drawings and sketches by Archie Bongé, including six pencil drawings of figures and nudes and four pen and ink drawings of waterfront scenes with boats in Biloxi.

Next, the sketchbook contains eight pages of drawings unmistakably by Dusti, depicting local scenes in Biloxi, a quick portrait sketch and two surrealist compositions. Then, after about two-thirds of the book remaining blank, there are several pages in the back upside down that depict somewhat oriental inspired scenes. They do not really look like they come from the hand of either Dusti or Archie.

Here we have one of Dusti’s Biloxi street scenes, most likely a view down a street near them. She sketched three different version of this unassuming view. Already here you see her unique way of observing and representing spatial dimensions. She does not make use of conventional perspective, instead opting to use the bird’s eye view she favored, with an early cubist twist.

The composition is very dynamic, with the street leading one into the scene, between the fenced in yards, and fire hydrant on the corner, bringing you to the main street, with the small cottage almost centered, Then the focus veers off to the left with the row of cottages disappearing into the background. The use of line drawing with just a few quick marks of shading add depth to the overall composition.

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