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Huntington's Colorful Past Goes Worldwide


When Boy Scouts from Huntington Beach attend the World Jamboree in Chile in December, they will have an unusual memento of their hometown to trade with other Scouts: a coloring book.

"The Huntington Beach Educational Coloring Book" by Gladys de Barcza ($10.95) is a 42-page, large-format book featuring full-page drawings of local cultural and historical landmarks.

One of the drawings is of a classic hammer-headed oil derrick, representing the city's past as an oil town. Other images include that of a Pacific Electric streetcar, a stained-glass window in St. Mary's by the Sea church (erected in 1923), the Victorian-era Newland House, the Bolsa Chica ecological reserve, the Main Street farmers market, Old World Village, the International Surfing Museum and a child building a sand castle.

Opposite each full-page drawing is a page of background information about the subject. The book also includes a brief history of the city, a one-page art lesson, an interdisciplinary list of topics and a points-of-interest map of Huntington Beach.

Deputy city administrator Richard Barnard was so impressed with De Barcza's coloring book that he ordered 100 copies to use as one of the city's promotional items to give to dignitaries, foreign exchange students and other city visitors.

Not to mention a group of Huntington Beach Boy Scouts bound for South America.

"It's one way to promote the community and give people a better understanding of what we're about," Barnard said. "The coloring book is very good. The thing that's nice about it is it's something [De Barcza] initiated on her own. It's not like we hired her. It was her idea."

An artist and author who moved to Huntington Beach in 1991, De Barcza said she was in part motivated to create the coloring book to show that Huntington Beach has much more to offer than its Surf City image would suggest.

"No matter how small a town is, there are significant individual characteristics that have to be dug up through the eyes of an artist and to make the commonplace become extraordinary," said De Barcza, who often takes art students to local points of interest.

De Barcza--who did the artwork, wrote the text and designed the self-published book--said that from an artistic point of view, "I wanted to stimulate creativity in the use of color to suggest mood as well as reality. Colors make people react. Blue can be calming; red, yellow, orange [generate] vibrant excitement. So the child of any age or the adult directing the child might want to stress this so it doesn't just become a mechanical colorization of each scene.

"People should interpret this; it's not just filling in spaces between lines."

De Barcza, who uses her coloring book in her work with at-risk teens for the Orange County Department of Education, said local educators have expressed an interest in using the book as an "enrichment text" in teaching local history.

De Barcza, who has a doctoral degree in art education, art criticism and cultural anthropology from the University of Georgia, has published two similar books.

"Colour Me Fiji: An Educational Art Gallery" (1989) continues to be sold in hotel gift shops, bookshops and duty-free tourist shops in Fiji. De Barcza said it was an outgrowth of her doctoral dissertation on the perpetuation of the art heritage in contemporary Fijian society.

"I thought, What a shame to waste this knowledge stored in a book that will collect dust on an administrator's shelf," she recalled. "So I extracted and popularized some of the customs and cultural research I had done."

"The San Diego Old Town Coloring Book" (1991) is sold on the grounds of Old Town.

"The Huntington Beach Educational Coloring Book" is available at the gift shop at the International Surfing Museum, the Huntington Beach Art Center or by calling De Barcza at (714) 969-6594.

This Week

* Charles Knief, author of "Sand Dollars," will sign at 2 p.m. today at Barnes & Noble, 13712 Jamboree Road, Irvine.

* Mark Bacon, author of "The California Escape Manual," will speak and sign at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Borders Books and Music, 25222 El Paseo, Mission Viejo.

* Political commentator Ariana Huffington, author of "Greetings From the Lincoln Bedroom," will speak at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Richard Nixon Library & Birthplace, 18001 Yorba Linda Blvd., Yorba Linda. Admission: $8. A public book signing will be held at 11:30 a.m.

* Richard Abanes, author of "End-Time Visions: The Road to Armageddon?," will speak and sign at 7 p.m. Thursday at Barnes & Noble in Metro Pointe, 901 South Coast Drive, Costa Mesa.

* J.A. Lance, author of "Rattlesnake Crossing," will sign at 5 p.m. Friday at Book Carnival, 348 S. Tustin Ave., Orange. Lance also will speak and sign at 7 p.m. Friday at Coffee, Tea & Mystery, 13232 Springdale St., Westminster.

* Kim Stanley Robinson, author of "Antarctica," and Sparkle Hayter, author of "The Last Manly Man," will sign at 4 p.m. Saturday at Book Carnival, 348 S. Tustin Ave., Orange.

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