Florida's American Heritage River
Images from the St. Johns Region

Mallory M. O'Connor and Gary Monroe

Introduction by Bill Belleville
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"This north-flowing river has been used longer by Europeans than any other in North America, beginning with a French colony at Fort Caroline near Jacksonville in 1564. It is a river that still has lots of stories to tell. Some of those stores can be read and understood through the art left behind--and from the art still being created. . . . 'I do not know,' the author Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings once wrote, 'how one can live without some small place of enchantment to turn to.' We hope this collection will reveal the many variants of this enchantinment, and that, in the long haul, we will all be better for it."--from the Introduction by Bill Belleville

A visual journey, through time, along the St. Johns River

"Indispensable for anyone seeking to explore Florida beyond the brochures."--Herbert L. Hiller, author of Highway A1A: Florida at the Edge

"If you are looking for an elegant way to navigate up the St. Johns River without leaving your armchair, allow me to recommend spending time with this book. It is beautifully illustrated and a wonderful read."--John Delaney, president, University of North Florida

The mighty St. Johns River flows from its headwaters near Lake Okeechobee north through central Florida to Jacksonville. Its watershed covers an area nearly the size of New Hampshire. The river and its tributaries have been part of the cultural landscape of the peninsula for thousands of years. From the Native Americans who first settled along its banks to the French, Spanish, British, and American settlers who followed, it has been a source of food, water, transportation, industry, agriculture, and recreation.

In 1998 the St. Johns was declared an American Heritage River, the only one in Florida and one of only fourteen in the country to be so designated. Shortly thereafter, Mallory O'Connor and Gary Monroe began searching for and collecting paintings, sketches, sculptures, photographs, and material culture from the region.

Searching in antique shops and art galleries, nineteenth-century periodicals and twentieth-century fish camps, the authors found literally thousands of images. They selected the best two hundred for this volume, some from the fine art tradition as represented by Thomas Moran and Martin Johnson Heade; others by self-taught visionaries. The result is a broad survey that captures and celebrates the beauty, power, and impact of this unique landscape.

Mallory M. O'Connor is professor emerita of art history at Santa Fe College. Gary Monroe, a native of Miami Beach, has photographed throughout Brazil, Israel, Cuba, India, Trinidad, Poland, and Egypt, among other international destinations. He is best known for his long-term photographic involvements with the elderly’s old world culture of South Beach, Haiti during the end of the Duvalier regime and foray into democracy, and tourism as a rite of passage. He has received various honors and distinctions for his work, including two National Endowments for the Arts, four Florida Humanities Council Fellowships, a State of Florida arts fellowship, and two Fulbright Foundation fellowships. Monroe is the author of The Highwaymen: Florida’s African-American Landscape Painters and three other books on Florida’s Highwaymen artists. He has written nine books, most of which acknowledge unrecognized self-taught Florida artists. His most recent book, E. G. Barnhill: Florida Photographer, Adventurer, Entrepreneur, highlights the artist’s hand-colored photographs.

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"The primal thrill of existence pulses through these works, a reminder that meaning can be found outside the world of iPods, digital technology, and computer simulation. The ancient and the modern have a common ancestry, a heritage [this book] joyfully celebrates."
--Florida Historical Quarterly

"What comes through forcefully in this book is the authors' love of Florida and its rich history of the St. Johns River and of the art and photography they use as visual guides to both."
--The Journal of Southern History

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