Jo Mora

Joseph Jacinto “Jo” Mora (October 22, 1876 – October 10, 1947) was a polymath. He was a renowned illustrator, painter, muralist, sculptor, respected art historian, cowboy, and a pioneering ethnographic photographer.

Mora was born in Uruguay but emigrated with his parents to the United States when he was still a child. Settling on the East Coast, Mora went to art school in New York and later worked as a cartoonist for various newspapers in Boston. In 1903, Mora decided to leave the East Coast for California. He would not stay long, though, for the following year he moved again to Arizona, where Mora sought out Hopi and Navajo communities, with whom he settled for an extended period and learned about their languages and cultures.

As part of his work on Hopi and Navajo customs, Mora was one of the first outsiders to be allowed to document ceremonial events and specific individuals using a camera. His systematic effort to record the life and customs of these people is today one of the finest ethnographic collections on the Native tribes of Arizona.

In 1907, Mora was married and moved with his wife to California. Slowly building his career as an illustrator and graphic artist, he settled in Pebble Beach in 1922, where he established a large studio within his home. With his base now set, Mora illustrated a number of popular books, including Dawn and the Dons, The Romance of Monterey (1926), Benito and Loreta Delfin, Children of Alta California (1932), and Fifty Funny Animal Tales (1932). He also wrote three books himself: A Log of the Spanish Main (1933), Trail Dust and Saddle Leather (1946), and Californios (1949), which was published two years after his death.

Outside his work as an illustrator, Jo Mora is best known for his innovative approach to cartography. After moving to Pebble Beach, Mora began producing a range of attractive maps that drew audiences in with their combination of cartoons and reliable information. Among his more essential maps, we find Monterey Peninsula (1927), Seventeen Mile Drive (1927), California (1927 & 1945), San Diego (1928), Grand Canyon (1931), Yosemite (1931), Yellowstone (1936), Carmel-By-The-Sea (1942), and his Map of Los Angeles (1942).

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