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Painted Voices: An Artist's Journey Into the World of Black Writers by Gilbert Fletcher CNG Editions, $40.00, ISBN 0-971-65090-X

All of us book lovers have our own way of paying homage to the works of writers who have helped make us who we are. Some memorize favorite lines and are ready to recite them on demand. Others clip, frame and post beloved passages. Still, others reread tagged pages of old volumes until they are thumbed and fragile. Many journal their impressions, recording unforgettable lines in their own script. Gilbert Fletcher's way is to paint.

His self-published work Painted Voices: An Artist's Journey Into the World of Black Writers is the highly personal notebook of an avid, demanding reader expressing how the works of 28 black authors have affected him. Because Fletcher is a gifted painter, his notebook is a visual feast for those of us who share his love for these writers (complete listing at right). All are portraits, often spilling off the canvas. Fletcher's paintings are truly voices pictured on canvas. In rendering the faces of these authors, he has captured much more of their messages and portrayed those essences visually.

The book is a painted anthology of Fletcher's favorite black authors. Any important anthology hangs together as a whole, yet presents a variety that the reader, on his own, would never consume together. Painted Voices succeeds because each work is rendered in a graphic style determined by the writer's oeuvre. The color, tone, line and composition vary widely from portrait to portrait, and still comprise a satisfying whole because of Fletcher's gifts. His heavy, slathering brush stroke is a consistent signature from canvas to canvas, and brings a sensuous unity to the diverse literary assemblage. As we turn the pages we "read" these favorite writers in a fresh way.

Painted Voices is a book version of an exhibit by the same name that has toured to nearly a dozen dries since 1998, and been featured at several writer's conferences. The exhibit previously spawned a poster and cards (See BIBR, March-April 2000) and is served well, although not lavishly, by the book. Those who share Fletcher's passion for any of these writers will want to make Painted Voices part of their library.
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Title Annotation:Painted Voices: An Artist's Journey Into the World of Black Writers
Publication:Black Issues Book Review
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2003
Previous Article:Tajuana "TJ" Butler. (Authors on the Web).
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