Plano Reads: American Artists
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Plano Reads: American Artists

August is American Artists Appreciation Month, and to recognize notable American artists, this post lists some of Plano Public Library’s most interesting art-themed books of all kinds. Enjoy the exceptional lives and work of these gifted men and women.

Adult Fiction

Drawing Home by Jamie Brenner – A mysterious inheritance, a promise broken, a house filled with paintings, and four lives transformed . . . Artist Henry Tripp leaves Windsong, his art-filled Sag Harbor home, to a most unexpected person, teenage Penny, and provokes an immediate response from her mother Emma, and from his outraged former business partner Bea, who arrives from New York to sort things out. A poignant story, fascinating characters, and a lively look at the East Coast art world combine to make this a great summer read. Print| eBook

Georgia by Dawn Tripp – A dazzling historical novel that brings the iconic artist Georgia O’Keeffe to brilliant life. Publisher’s Weekly noted that Dawn Tripp “writes with veracity, heart and panache – O’Keeffe blazes across the pages as an indomitable woman and artist.” Print |eBook 

In Sunlight or in Shadow: Stories Inspired by the Paintings of Edward Hopper, edited by Lawrence Block – An anthology of seventeen stories inspired by the art of Edward Hopper, whose paintings “never tell a story so much as they invite viewers to find for themselves the untold stories within,” as novelist Lawrence Block notes in his introduction. Among the writers whose short stories appear here are Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, Michael Connelly, Megan Abbott, Joe R. Lansdale, Jeffery Deaver, and Lee Child. Each story includes a reproduction of the painting that inspired it. Print 

The Muralist by B. A. Shapiro – When Alizée Benoit, an American painter working for the Works Progress Administration (WPA), vanishes in New York City in 1940, no one knows what happened to her. Not her Jewish family living in German-occupied France. Not her artistic patron and political compatriot, Eleanor Roosevelt. Not her close-knit group of friends, including Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, and Lee Krasner. And, some seventy years later, not her great-niece, Danielle Abrams, who while working at Christie’s auction house uncovers enigmatic paintings hidden behind works by those now-famous Abstract Expressionist artists. Do they hold answers to the questions surrounding her missing aunt? Print |eBook 

The Painter by Peter Heller – One of the most admired painters in the Southwest, Jim Stegner leads a quiet life marked by personal loss, his love of fly-fishing, and his passion for his art, until the day a sudden act of violence forces him to confront the ghosts of his past. Dramatically written, suspenseful, and immensely satisfying fiction from the talented Peter Heller. Print |eBook |Audiobook 

A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline – This novel imagines the story of Christina Olson, the young woman from Maine who was the subject of Andrew Wyeth’s renowned painting, Christina’s World. It describes her relationship with her family, the lifelong illness which severely affected her, and her connection to the artistic Wyeths. Print |eBook |CD/Play 

Graphic Novel

Basquiat by Paolo Parisi – Cool, talented and transgressive, Jean-Michel Basquiat is just as fascinating as the work he produced. Delve into 1980s New York as this vivid graphic novel takes you on Basquiat’s journey from street-art legend SAMO to international art-scene darling, up until his sudden death. Told through cinematic scenes, this is Basquiat as seen through the eyes of those who knew him, including his father, Suzanne Mallouk, Larry Gagosian and, most importantly, the man himself. Basquiat is a moving depiction of a troubled artist’s life for those interested in both the art and the man who made it. Print 

Adult Nonfiction

Frida in America: The Creative Awakening of a Great Artist by Celia Stahr – In November 1930, at age 23, Frida Kahlo traveled to the United States with her husband to live and work in San Francisco, Detroit and New York. The three years she spent in America were pivotal to her transformation from Diego Rivera’s young wife into the great artist she became. She struggled to understand aspects of American life, but her stay here fueled her creativity and her artistic identity. A fascinating look at a unique time in the life on an extraordinary artist. Print 

Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, and Walt Disney by Bruce D. Kurtz – A “sunny, amusing, whimsical” volume filled with beautiful and captivating images from three of America’s greatest artists/illustrators.  Print 

Stan Lee: A Life in Comics by Liel Leibovitz – A fascinating portrait of Stan Lee, one of America’s best-known illustrators. This new biography examines Lee’s life and work, his famous characters, including Spider-Man, Iron Man, and the Fantastic Four, and the great influence they all have had on the American imagination. Print

The Texas Post Office Murals: Art for the People by Philip Parisi – In the midst of the Great Depression, a program was born that would not only give work to artists but also create beauty and optimism for a people worn down by hardship and discouragement. This New Deal program commissioned artists to create post office murals–the people’s art–to celebrate the lives, history, hopes, and dreams of ordinary Americans. In Texas alone, some of the best artists then at work in the state painted ninety-seven artworks for sixty-nine post offices and federal buildings around the state. Philip Parisi tells the story of these murals, the influence they had in their communities, and how they have been preserved today. Print

332 Magazine Covers by Norman Rockwell by Norman Rockwell (1894-1978) was not only a great American artist, but a storyteller. His works reflect the history of the American middle class from the interwar period to the postwar period. In a 47-year collaboration with The Saturday Evening Post, Rockwell created more than 300 covers in a realistic style that radiates a charming humor. This collection, bound in a book some 15 inches tall, includes not only the artworks but introductory texts on the artist’s growth. It presents a piece of American history through the eyes of this iconic visual storyteller. Print 

You Might Be an Artist If… by Lauren Purje – This is a collection of wry and honest comic strips from author-artist Lauren Purje, who has an MFA, has done solo exhibitions, and has worked as a gallerist. An amusing handbook for those interested in living the creative life. Print

And for Younger Adults

Augusta Savage: The Shape of a Sculptor’s Life by Marilyn Nelson – Augusta Savage was arguable the most influential American artist of the 1930s. A gifted sculptor, she flourished during the Harlem Renaissance and became a teacher to an entire generation of African American artists. Nelson’s poems are paired with photographs of Savage’s work, and photographs from her life. The result is an important portrait of an exceptional artist who, despite the limitations she faced, was compelled to forge a life through art and creativity. Print 

Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis by Jeannine Atkins – A biographical novel in verse of a half Native American, half African American female sculptor, Edmonia Lewis, working in the years right after the Civil War. Print 

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