Archive of Carmel Artist Jo Mora Sold to the Monterey History and Art Association

 Archive of Carmel Artist Jo Mora

Sold to the Monterey History and Art Association 

February 7, 2022. Monterey, CA. The Jo Mora Archive of beloved Carmel artist, Jo Mora (1876-1947), was sold to the Monterey History and Art Association (MHAA) on February 4, 2022. The Jo Mora Archive (part of and owned by the Jo Mora Trust) material has been under the watchful eyes of Peter Hiller since prior to and after Jo Mora Jr. (Jo Mora’s son) passed away in 2006. During that time, Peter has had the honored opportunity to work to bring the artistic reputation of Jo Mora (1876-1947) to the public by:

* exhibiting Jo’s art,

* publishing material from the archive for resale,

* selling duplicate material,

* writing about Jo Mora,

* growing the assets of the archive and

* contemplating the future of the collection.

In addition, he has written an extensive biography about Jo Mora recently republished by Gibbs-Smith – “The Life and Times of Jo Mora: Iconic Artist of the American West”.

According to Peter Hiller, Curator of the Jo Mora Trust Collection, "The acquisition of the Jo Mora Archive by the Monterey History and Art Association brings its full contents together with the Jo Mora art already owned by MHAA. As time permits, this will open the collection to the public for research and future exhibits."

As the archive is part of a private family trust, it has a built-in end point. It is clear that the greatest value to the future of the archive exists by keeping the material together as a whole, thus creating the opportunity and the potential for additional research about Jo Mora along with maintaining the material for future exhibitions and publications facilitated by the contents remaining together. Consequently, the future of the archive has been under consideration for many years including inquiring about its historic interest with renowned institutions.

Through this process, it has become apparent that the collection is comprised of two general categories – the ephemeral material – that is papers, journals, letters, books and documents and the art work – one-of-a-kind sketches, drawings, paintings, bronzes, etc.

After years of contemplation, reflection and research, it has also become clear that there are few venues that are interested in acquiring such a wide variety of material. Based on informal queries, it became clear that some places might be interested in the art, others the paper material but not both.

The resolution of this situation took a giant leap forward in the recent past when the Monterey History and Art Association (MHAA) was approached by Peter about acquiring the entire collection. The MHAA, a non-profit founded in 1931, has a long history with Jo Mora, Jr. and his sister, Patti Mora (Jo Mora’s daughter). Patti was a member for many years and Joey was always grateful to the organization, based on his past dealings with them.

Based on that past relationship, MHAA already has an excellent collection of original art by Jo Mora, through both purchases and donations, housed and on display in one of their historic properties – Casa Serrano in Monterey CA., which is open specific hours to the public. The Association also maintains a collection of local history ephemeral material in their Mayo Hayes O’Donnell Library building, and MHAA maintains another historic property - The Doud House – which is suitable for exhibiting art. Both are excellent sites in Monterey for accommodating the wide variety of material in the Jo Mora archive and eventually for enabling researchers and the general public to have access to the material.

With the Board of Directors of MHAA supporting the idea of acquiring the collection, long time members and donors have come forward to enable the organization to purchase the entire collection. MHAA extends its extreme gratitude for the generous gifts from Susan and Dennis Mar enabling the purchase of the collection and from Maxine Reneker for supporting archive development of the collection. These gifts open the doors for other private collections to be added to this MHAA collection in the future if interest and funds are available, thus further growing the collection.

As a result, the Jo Mora Archive transfers from a private collection, to a public one in terms of its access. This sale is an amazing opportunity to keep all of the material together, to have appropriate venues to accommodate the various components of the archive and to continue to pursue the goal of bringing Jo Mora’s achievements to the attention of the public, as Peter Hiller will continue to curate the archive and in doing so will also be reaching out to the extended Jo Mora community to actively participate in bringing Jo Mora to the attention of the public.

For more information, please email [email protected].