Reference Point

August 30, 2009|By June Sawyers | June Sawyers,Tribune Newspapers

"Large Art in Small Places: Discovering the California Mural Towns"

Ten Speed Press, $24.95:

Murals often are overlooked as people either take them for granted or ignore them. In this handsome guide to 250 contemporary murals in California's small towns, author Kevin Bruce tries to make up for that oversight while featuring murals that are off the beaten track. Bruce defines a mural town as a place "where the town intends the murals to be all, or part, of a plan to attract tourism." Several of the towns have only one or two murals; others boast more than a dozen or even two dozen. Frequently the murals chronicle local history, and others go far beyond, such as "Tyrannosaurus Rex" in Arcata, which depicts a dinosaur emerging from a smoldering volcano. Some murals recall the Midwest regionalism style of Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton; others employ a trompe l'oeil effect. This is a regional guide that will appeal to anyone who loves and appreciates murals, no matter where the reader lives.

- June Sawyers, Tribune Newspapers

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