The Life and Times of Jo Mora
OCTOBER 27, 2018 – APRIL 28, 2019
The Cartoon Art Museum is proud to present a new exhibition, The Life and Times of Jo Mora, that uses the works of category-defying artist Joseph Jacinto Mora (1876-1947) to illuminate an iconic era of American culture. Loaned through Peter Hiller and curated by Julie Davis and Andrew Farago, the exhibition includes original comic strips, illustrations, drawings and paintings, maps, photography and books.
“Jo Mora isn’t an easy artist to categorize,” says Peter Hiller. “His very versatility is perhaps one of the main reasons his name is not as familiar as other artists, even though his work is still widely visible, even today. Mora’s artistic accomplishments weave their way through American culture like a rattlesnake through sagebrush. Western artist Frederick Remington encouraged the young artist—and Mora later produced sculpted bronzes of iconic cowboys and Native Americans to rival Remington’s own. Zane Grey featured Mora’s drawings in Western Magazine, where his work sits perfectly alongside that of Ed Borein and Charles Russell. Mora’s cowboy artwork was even used by the Levi Strauss Company for a Levi’s jeans advertising campaign.”
One category of Jo Mora’s work that has remained largely unknown are his comics, specifically three cartoon series he created and pitched to Hearst Newspapers in the early 20th century: Twisty, t’was news then and Zip. All of these cartoons known to exist are included in this exhibition as its primary focus. This exhibition goes beyond Mora’s comics to take even more expansive look at his creative life, though still only scratching the surface of this amazing artist’s overall output. The exhibition is based on Hiller’s upcoming book, The Life and Times of Jo Mora, Iconic Artist of the American West, to be published in 2019 by the Book Club of California.
About Jo Mora
Joseph Jacinto Mora was born in Uruguay on October 22, 1876, to an artistic family. His father, Domingo, was a sculptor, his brother Luis, a classical painter. His family moved to the United States when Mora as a child, and took up residence in the Boston area, where he attended art school.
He began working as an illustrator and cartoonist in in 1897 with the Boston Herald on “general assignments and sporting pictures.” Over the next few years, he created comic strips for the Boston Herald, and covered the Boston area creating illustrations for news stories. In 1903, he traveled the Western United States including the California Mission Trail, and then lived among the Hopi and Navajo Native American tribes for several years.
In 1907, he married and moved to Mountain View, California, where he lived, started a family and worked before moving to the Carmel area for the rest of his adult life, where he continued to create art in a variety of media. In the San Francisco Bay area, he created decorative elements for many prominent buildings in the city which remain today. Mora’s work in public places also includes murals in Oakland and Pacific Grove, sculptures in San Rafael and Golden Gate Park and other building elements in Salinas, King City and Los Angeles to name a few.
About Peter Hiller and the Jo Mora Trust
Curator of the Jo Mora Trust, Peter Hiller has become one of the leading voices celebrating Mora’s work and legacy. He strives to enlighten and educate the public about Jo Mora, and to make the artist’s work available to a broader public. Hiller is author of the books Jo Mora, California Cowboy and Artist, From Dust to Granite: The Yosemite Art and Writing of Jo Mora and When I Get Wound Up Writing, I’m a Bad Article to Squelch: the Written Words of Jo Mora, as well as two finder’s maps to the locations of Mora’s work around the Bay Area and the Western United States.
The Jo Mora Trust collection currently is held privately in Monterey, California.
The Life and Times of Jo Mora is organized by the Cartoon Art Museum, from the collection of the Jo Mora Trust, and is curated by Julie Davis, and Andrew Farago with loan arrangements through Peter Hiller. Generous support provided by the Jo Mora Trust.