Recent Books | May 1998

By Donna Tennant

Keith Carter Photographs: Twenty-Five Years
By Keith Carter

This book brings together 75 photographs selected by Keith Carter to represent the range of his work since the 1970s. Many of these images have never before been published, while others appeared in his five previous books. Carter describes his maturation as a self-taught photographer in his hometown of Beaumont, TX, and also writes about his working methods, philosophy, and choice of subject matter, which includes popular culture, religion, folklore, and his East Texas roots. An introduction by critic A.D. Coleman traces the development of Carter’s work and discusses his affinities with other artists and writers who are also influenced by a strong sense of place.

“I think there is an element of magic in photography … murmur the right words and you can conjure up proof of a dream,” Carter says. “I believe in wonder. I look for it in my life every day and I find it in the most ordinary things.”

November 1997, University of Texas Press, Austin (ISBN 0-292-71195-6), 168 pages, 75 duotones, $40 hardbound

Painting the Town, southwest art.

Painting the Towns: Murals of California
By Robin J. Dunitz and James Prigoff

California is the mural capital of the United States, according to authors Robin J. Dunitz and James Prigoff, who have located and had photographed 300 murals in more than 50 cities and towns around the state. Many of the murals in the book are accompanied by statements from the artists who painted them.

The heart of the book and of the mural movement in California are the political street murals created in the late 1960s and early ’70s. But there are also historic murals financed by the Public Works of Art Project and Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, dozens of community murals painted in the Mexican mural tradition, a series completed for the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles, and a few recent graffiti-inspired works. Several small towns are even using murals as a way to attract tourists, and a few muralists are finding steady work traveling from one mural town to another.

Murals in California also includes organizations that promote mural art as well as a bibliography of books, articles, videos, and web sites. The authors know their subject well—Dunitz wrote Street Gallery: Guide to 1,000 Los Angeles Murals [1993 RJD Enterprises] and Prigoff co-authored Spraycan Art [1987] and has been documenting street art throughout the United States since the early ’70s.

1997 RJD Enterprises, Los Angeles, CA, 304 pages, 300 color photographs, $49.95 hardbound (ISBN 0-9632862-5-0), $29.95 softbound (ISBN 0-9632862-4-2)

Atlas of the New West: Portrait of a Changing Region
William E. Riebsame, Editor
James J. Robb, Director of Cartography

“Do regions matter in a world homogenized by telephone, fax, the World Wide Web, and people who don’t stay put?” asks William Riebsame, associate professor of geology at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Yes, he says, pointing out that Americans still want the West in particular to be “a wild place of big spaces, national parks, and cowboys, with something left of the eroding ideal of limitless opportunity.”

In this book the authors focus on the “interior west,” which stretches from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to the crests of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges. Forty-six maps present a wealth of information including population growth, public lands, Native American reservations, water availability, and even nuclear sites. The book discusses the region’s resources, people, and lifestyles in great detail. It is a project of the Center of the American West at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

1997 W.W. Norton & Company, New York, NY (ISBN 0-393-04550-1), 192 pages, $35 hardbound

Featured in May 1998