cover image Beautiful for Spacious Skies

Beautiful for Spacious Skies

Katherine Lee Bates, Chronicle Books. Chronicle Books, $13.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8118-0832-3

Yoked together like a pair of contrary mules, Bates's 19th-century patriotic poem and Thiebaud's 20th-century irony-tinged art tug in opposite directions. At first, Thiebaud's bold, representational paintings complement ``America the Beautiful'' with reasonable artistic license: two trees against a fiery sunset represent ``spacious skies'' and ``amber waves of grain''; blue-black cliffs suggest the ``purple mountain majesties.'' But the struggle to match subsequent verses with appropriate imagery intensifies as RV's and semis zipping through a salt flat signify ``a thoroughfare for freedom beat across the wilderness'' and rather macabre women's masks illustrate ``God mend thine every flaw.'' The components here seem diminished, not enhanced, by their pairing. All ages. (Oct.)