Extraordinary Interpretations ~ book on Florida Self-Taught Artists for Art in Your Ear


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This is a gorgeous book, diving into some of the talent in our state. Here’s the info:

“A visual feast. Like the Highwaymen, Barnhill created his own version of the landscape, based on the real environment yet in a fantastic otherworldly palette.”–Rick Kilby, author of Finding the Fountain of Youth: Ponce de León and Florida’s Magical Waters

“These dramatic hand-painted photographs capture old Florida with color and light.”–Lu Vickers, coauthor of Remembering Paradise Park: Tourism and Segregation at Silver Springs

“Takes us on a historical voyage while we visit Florida landscapes as seen through Barnhill’s lens.”–Larry Roberts, author of Florida’s Golden Age of Souvenirs, 1890-1930

In the age of railroads and steamships, of frontier Florida and the tourism boom of the early 1900s, photographer E. G. Barnhill set up shop in the young city of St. Petersburg. He pioneered a popular new type of tourist art, colorizing black-and-white snapshots taken by himself and his customers. He sold many of his hand-colored photographs as postcards or home décor.

Barnhill applied watercolors to black-and-white prints according to his own sense of light and palette and his interpretation of consumer demand. Visitors wanted one-of-a-kind works of art to help them remember the experience of Florida. Unlike other colorists of the time whose landscapes were airbrushed to appear dreamy and ethereal, Barnhill captured the state’s clear, brisk colors with richness and intensity. He pushed aside conventions by using matte instead of glossy print paper to soak up colors better, and with radical experiments in gold toning and uranium dyes, which created unearthly hues.

Filled with vibrant images of Barnhill’s unique creations, precursors to the popular landscape art of the Highwaymen and others, this book showcases a little-known artist whose inventive techniques–particularly his uranium-dye coloring–merit a place in the story of American photography. A fascinating mix of photographic realism and individual artistic vision, his work reveals both the Florida that was and the Florida that tourists wanted to believe in.

Gary Monroe, professor of fine arts and photography at Daytona State College, is the author of numerous books, including Mary Ann Carroll: First Lady of the Highwaymen, Silver Springs: The Underwater Photography of Bruce Mozert, and The Highwaymen: Florida’s African-American Landscape Painters.


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