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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

August 08, 1993|Susan Reynolds.

DESERT DREAMS: The Art and Life of Maynard Dixon by Donald J. Hagerty. (Gibbs - Smith: $65.) Born in 1875 in the southern San Joaquin Valley, Dixon grew up among the rocky arroyos, cattle ranches, cottonwoods and wide open praries he later painted. His heroes were Kit Carson, Sitting Bull, Stonewall Jackson, Geronimo and Joaquin Murietta. By the age of 16 he decided to devote himself to "illustrating the old west," and sent two sketchbooks to Frederic Remington. Remington's encouragement began Dixon's career as an illustrator. This beautiful book shows the range of Dixon's work; from tender blurred watercolors to bold, graphic magazine covers for the Overland Monthly, and murals like the one at left ("The Legend of Earth and Sun," 1929, courtesy of the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, Ariz.). But most of the book is page after startling page of Dixon's oil paintings, of Mexico and the West, of Native Americans, mesas and mountains.

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