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Ghost Signs of Arkansas
by Cynthia Haas
edited by Jeff Holder
University of Arkansas Press, 1997
Paper: 978-1-55728-480-8 | eISBN: 978-1-61075-169-8
Library of Congress Classification HF5841.H35 1997
Dewey Decimal Classification 659.1342

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ABOUT THIS BOOK

From the late 1800s to the early 1950s, painted wall signs were a major mode of advertisement for both national companies and local businesses across America. Many of these artistic messages, now faded, peeling, and partially covered, still peek out from the storefronts, barns, alleyways, warehouses, theaters, and even stagecoach stops they once decorated.

Photographer Jeff Holder and author Cynthia Haas explore this often overlooked art form in Arkansas and show us signs that appear mysteriously in the rain, signs that are curiously painted in remote places, images and words now only half decipherable. From Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, and Grapette Soda to Kis-Me-Gum, Uneeda Biscuit, and Snowdrift Flour, the logos and slogans are at once familiar and enigmatic. Archival photographs reference the time
when these brightly colored messages covered the facades of downtown buildings. Of particular interest in this book are the profiles of three “wall dogs,” or sign painters, who remember the difficulties and joys of their unusual profession.

Ghost Signs of Arkansas ties us to a gentler past, a time when Main Street was the center of a community’s life, before mass media forced grand-scale advertising from brick walls to the television screen. In documenting a fading but valuable traditional art form, this book fills a gap in both the cultural fabric of Arkansas towns and the history of American art.


See other books on: Advertising | Arkansas | Holder, Jeff | Photoessays & Documentaries | Street art
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