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March 06, 1994|CHARLES SOLOMON

A SENSE OF MISSION: Historic Churches of the Southwest text by Thomas A. Drain, photographs by David Wakely (Chronicle: $18.95; 132 pp., paperback original). Wakely's luminous photographs and Drain's thoughtful text stress that the missions in California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas represent a fusion of Spanish, Moorish and Pueblo traditions in architecture and decoration. The stark white facade of San Jose'??? De Laguna in New Mexico conceals flamboyant wall paintings that recall Pueblo pottery; Nuestra Senora de la Purisima Conception typifies the colonial baroque style--except for the traditional Mexican image of a mysterious face peering out of the rising sun. This emphasis on cultural cross-pollination makes "A Sense of Mission" an enriching guide book.

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