Jo Mora as seen with one of his Navajo blankets collected when he lived in Arizona with the Navajo and Hopi in the early 1900s. (Courtesy of Monterey History and Art Association)

MONTEREY COUNTY — The community is invited to celebrate Jo Mora, one of the most famous and respected artists from Monterey County, at a free, family-oriented event Saturday, April 15, in Monterey.

Monterey History and Art Association (MHAA) recently announced the acquisition of the Jo Mora archive, which is now part of the MHAA Jo Mora Collection, made possible by a gift from Susan and Dennis Mar of Monterey.

In celebration of this donation, MHAA, with a grant received from the Arts Council for Monterey County and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, is hosting the first Jo Mora Day Celebration to bring the artistic accomplishments of Joseph Jacinto “Jo” Mora (1876-1947) to a wider audience.

As an immigrant to the United States and migrant to California, the trail of Jo Mora’s artistic accomplishments is extensive. His art includes sculptures, paintings, drawings, book illustrations and more and has become part of local legend in the county.

Mora’s work is used for displays and visuals for the Monterey County Fair and was used for the well-known cover of The Byrds famous album, “Sweetheart of the Rodeo.” In 1939, he designed and created the facade of the Robert Stanton Theater at King City High School in King City.

The father of two children, Jo and his wife Grace raised Jo Jr. and Patty on the Monterey Peninsula. Saturday’s celebration provides families an opportunity to view many aspects of Mora’s engaging career.

“I am always delighted when people discover the incredible talent of Jo Mora through his sculpture, art, children’s books, building friezes and so much more,” according to Peter Hiller, curator of the Jo Mora Collection. “I am thrilled that there will be a Jo Mora Day Celebration this year to continue building an appreciation for his art and character.”

The event, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., includes a self-guided walking tour of four MHAA venues and Pacific House, a California State Park property, in Monterey, each of which will feature different aspects of Jo Mora’s life and art and an opportunity to have a map stamped at each location to form a special name in the guide. It also features a complimentary map brochure of sites on a self-guided driving tour to see Jo’s accomplishments throughout the rest of Monterey County.

The walking tour features Monterey History and Art at Stanton Center, 5 Custom House Plaza, to view two Jo Mora art exhibits, and engage in a children’s letterpress printing and coloring activity.

In addition, the other MHAA buildings will be open on April 15 to view Jo’s accomplishments found in MHAA’s nearby Mayo Hayes O’Donnell Library, up the hill at 155 Van Buren, to view examples of Jo Mora’s writing and book art. Doud House, at 177 Van Buren, will be on the tour for a children’s coloring book activity, and Casa Serrano, at 412 Pacific Ave., will feature Jo Mora’s work on display in that historic adobe. 

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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