I ran across Picturing America while cataloging government publications issued by The National Endowment for the Humanities. I was frequently delighted as I read this book about famous works of American art that express something about the American experience.
You see, my powers of observation suck. I miss things that are right smack in front of my face, let alone detail and nuance. Picturing America was a real discovery, a real treasure box full of pieces of art accompanied by modest but insightful text that pointed out both the large and the small in these pictures. As I worked my way through this book, I began to study the pieces first to see what they were trying to say, and what they were saying just to me. The book showed me how to read art, and I was genuinely excited by what each turn off the page brought.