The Big Work: About The Book



The Big Work

125 Years of Art, Journalism, and the American West

story by Kevin Wallace
editing and photography by Matt Berger

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The Big Work is a memoir four generations in the making that explores the untold story of the Wallace family, who lived and worked as artists and writers in Carmel, Calif., during America’s most important periods of literature, fine art, journalism, and the occult. Between father, daughter, and son — and the many collaborators between them — the Wallaces produced a vast body of work that brings important new context to the past 125 years of California and American art history.

The Artwork

Illuminating the family story is a 200-plus piece art collection of sketches, paintings, and newspaper illustrations created by Kevin Wallace (1918 - 1979), his father Grant, and his prodigy sister Moira, who took on the San Francisco and Los Angeles art worlds by storm in the 1920s and 30s, but struggled to catch on in the art history books, despite being considered one of the most talented women muralists, painters, and portrait artists of her time.

The Manuscript

Kevin is an American journalist, writer, and editorial cartoonist, who spent most of his career pairing his wit and artistic talents as an editorial cartoonist and city writer for the San Francisco Chronicle and rival Examiner newspapers. Kevin tells the unconventional story of his family, unfolding by way of a typewritten draft manuscript he last updated in 1979 just before his death.

In the 1940s, Kevin took a 10 year leave from the San Francisco newspaper scene to join the New Yorker Magazine as a staff writer for the "Talk of the Town" column, writing the occasional feature story on luminaries like Ansel Adams and Walt Disney. After 10 years in New York, Kevin returned to San Francisco to finish out his career at the Chronicle, sketching the people and places of his hometown.

Photography, Editing, and Book Design

Matt Berger is the grandson of Kevin and a writer and producer in Santa Cruz, Calif. 40 years after his grandfather's death, Matt set out to resurrect Kevin’s unpublished memoir, authenticate the stories, and compile it all with context alongside his family’s paintings, portraits, drawings, and historical records.


Table of Contents

311 pages, Color, available in hardcover and softcover 

by Matt Berger (1976—present)

Pleiades Roots
An unfinished memoir by Kevin Wallace (1918—1979)

Last of the Bohemians
The misadventures of Grant Wallace (1867—1954)

Carmel’s First Family
The California art colony welcomes Moira Wallace (1910—1979)

News Boy Wonder
Sketching history at the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner

The Ordinary World by Matt Berger

Featured Art Collections 
Art Order: SF Chronicle, by Kevin Wallace
Carmel Portraits by Moira Wallace
Carmel Blockprints by Moira Wallace
California Art and the New Deal by Moira Wallace
Drawing the World in Color by Kevin Wallace
Humorist, Humanist, Nudist by Kevin Wallace
The Berkeley Benefactor by Madeline Thomas Langworthy
West Indies, North Berkeley by Urania P. Cummings
The Langworthy Collection by Various Artists