I am the great-niece of California artist Ray Boynton. Although he played an important psychic role in my family’s life, I only met Boynton once in my childhood. Then, in 1975, diagnosed with breast cancer, believing I was going to die, I journeyed with my sister, Nancy Mae Maresh (d.), to Apache Junction, Arizona, where Beryl Wynnyk Boynton (d.), Boynton’s third wife, gave me the Boynton papers so I could, as my own last heart’s desire, “write a book” before I died. Well, I didn’t die—not yet. And for the last forty-some years, I have researched my great-uncle and his works, interviewed those who knew him, journeyed to view his murals, and wrestled with the idea and the reality of writing the book.

Ray Boynton has been called “a poet of the walls,” and the poetry part speaks to me. Sometimes I don’t want to write a biography of Ray...

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