Dusti Bongé sleeping dog plate design

An achingly sweet image for dog lovers this week. This artwork connects to the death of Dusti Bongé’s husband and an artistic dynasty along the Gulf Coast.

Something totally new in See Great Art’s partnership with the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation in Biloxi, MS. Analysis comes from DBAF Executive Director Ligia M. Römer.

Dusti Bongé, Tiger & his Dream – Child’s Plate, c. 1939, pastel on paper, 14” x 12”

In a total pivot from the 1980s joss paper watercolors and the felt tip pen works, now we will look at some of Dusti Bongé’s earliest works.

When Dusti started pursuing art seriously, after the untimely passing of her husband Archie Bongé in 1936, she honed her skills by drawing and painting anything and everything: (self) portraits, still lifes, landscapes, cityscapes, cemeteries, boats, houses, flowers and animals. Perhaps most unusual and unexpected is a series of “Plate Designs” Dusti created. 

These designs are evidence of her and Archie’s close kinship with painter Walter Anderson and the extended Anderson family in Ocean Springs, MS. Archie became good friends with Walter when they met at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in the 1920s. That friendship continued when Dusti and Archie moved back to the coast in the early 1930s.

After Archie’s death, Dusti joined a group of artists who, on the invitation of Annette McConnell Anderson (the matriarch of the Andersons), would gather and come up with designs for the Anderson family’s famous ceramics business, Shearwater Pottery. And voilà, Dusti’s plate designs came about.

Dusti’s designs varied in both subject matter and compositional approach. In some cases, a central element is placed with a rim design around it. In other cases she used a completely radially inspired layout.

This plate is a lovely design that Dusti imagined would be for a child. At the center is a spotted pup, her dog Tiger, curled up in a comfortable position, sleeping. Along the rim of the plate is a group of apparently very happy bunnies hopping around in the grass. No doubt Tiger was chasing them in his dream.

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