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  • CALIFORNIA ART & ARTIST HISTORY RUFFLES SOME FEATHERS
    COLLECTING CALIFORNIA PAINTINGS
    WESTERN AMERICAN WOMEN ARTISTS

    Nancy Dustin Wall Moure has been a fixture on the California art scene for nearly thirty years and was instrumental in reviving interest in early Southern California painting, art, and artists. Her 1975 Dictionary of Art and Artists in Southern California Before 1930 , was a must-have for every dealer and collector of California painting and painters. She also authored exhibit catalogues on painters like William Wendt, indexed all the exhibitions of the California Watercolor Society that were held between 1921-1954, and published a history and index of Los Angeles artists' clubs and exhibitions before 1930.

    Her most recent and unquestionably most ambitious publication to date is California Art: 450 Years of Painting & Other Media . This highly researched and documented volume covers virtually every aspect of the topic including a history of dealing and collecting California art, the renaissance in street murals, hippie art, tattoo art, and the impact of the Civil Rights Movement on the emergence of "minority" artists. Moure's extensive knowledge of Southern California art history is particularly evident throughout the book. The text is complemented by over 500 illustrations, most of which are in color.

    The controversial aspect of the book has to do with how Moure attempted to offset some of the substantial production costs. In addition to contributing a great deal of her own money, she asked dealers and private collectors whose art she selected for inclusion to pay to have it reproduced in color as opposed to black and white. In a separate solicitation, dealers of California art were asked to make modest cash donations in order to be included in an advertising flier entitled "Where to Buy California Art" that is loosely inserted at the rear of the book.

    At issue here is the crossing of that fine line between commerce and scholarship. Because that happened, art pictured in color is not necessarily better or more historically significant than art pictured in black and white; dealers on the dealer list are not necessarily more qualified to sell California art than those who aren't. Moure acknowledged in a phone interview that she had no idea such a ruckus would ensue and the whole flap appears to be pretty much of an innocent effort on her part to finance her book. It still happened, though, and it shouldn't have.

    All controversies aside, California Art: 450 Years of Painting & Other Media represents a considerable contribution to the documentation of California's rich art history. It's packed with valuable information, beautifully produced, and belongs in every serious California and regional American art reference library.

    California Art: 450 Years of Painting and Other Media by Nancy Dustin Wall Moure, Dustin Publications, Los Angeles, 1998, 560 pages, hardbound, dustjacket, 9 3/8 by 12 3/8 inches, $95.00. Available from Dustin Publications, 935 West Mountain Street, Glendale, CA 91202 or call 1-818-242-7000.

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    WOMEN ARTISTS OF THE AMERICAN WEST

    Since the opening of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in the early 1980's, American women artists have finally been receiving some the attention that they deserve. Before that time, few books and catalogues were available on the subject. The situation has improved considerably since then and now that An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West by Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick is available, it's even better. The couple has been researching and writing about women artists of the West since the 1970's and their book shows it.

    The 1000 biographies of artists active between the 1840's and the 1980's are concise, thoroughly researched, superbly written, packed with essential data, and include references where additional information can be located. An uncharacteristic plus of this biographical bonanza is that a number of the entries also contain illustrations. This is a terrific encyclopedia-- buy it!!

    An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West by Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1998, 405 pages, hardbound, dustjacket, 8 3/4 by 11 1/4 inches, $100.00. Available from University of Texas Press, P.O. Box 7819, Austin, TX 78713-7819 or call 1-800-252-3206.

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