Jo Mora: The Arizona Trail and Beyond
Many thanks to author Peter Hiller, who delivered an excellent presentation on the life and art of Jo Mora on October 12th, 2023 in La Posada’s ballroom. Mora explored northern Arizona and lived among the Hopi and Navajo people for three years from 1904 to 1907. His artwork documented and celebrated their culture. His travels by train, horse, and foot across the Southwest are the stuff of legend. If you missed the talk and want to learn more about this colorful character, visit the La Posada bookstore and pick up a copy of Hiller’s book. We may even have a few with the author’s signature!
Who Was Jo Mora?
Jo Mora’s life was one of incredible fascination and creativity. A master of numerous artistic mediums, his art reflected his deep interest in all matters American beginning with his love of indigenous cultures – particularly the Hopi and Navajo. From childhood to the end of his life, Joseph Jacinto “Jo” Mora (1876-1947) lived the life of an artist with no other income other than from his artistic abilities. The three years he spent at Hopi and with the Diné reflect an outstanding chapter in his life and will be the focus of this presentation.
As an immigrant to the United States and eventual migrant to California, the trail of Jo Mora’s artistic accomplishments is extensive. From growing up on the east coast of the United States where he experienced his first professional employment, to living with the Hopi and Navajo before settling in California – Jo Mora’s life was one of adventure, creativity, and kindness. The father of two children, Jo and his wife Grace raised Jo Jr. and Patty on the Monterey Peninsula as he provided for them through his engaging artistic prowess.
This presentation provides attendees an opportunity to view many aspects of Mora’s fascinating career as an artist and author. Jo’s art includes sculptures, paintings, drawings, book illustrations, cartography and more, some of which has become part of western legend including the art for the well-known cover of The Byrd’s famous album ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo.’
According to Jo Mora consultant and the evenings presenter Peter Hiller, “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. I am thrilled to be bringing his life and artistic career to the greater Santa Fe community and to continue building an appreciation for his art and character.”
Peter Hiller bio: Living a life engrossed in the visual arts has allowed presenter and author Peter Hiller to express his creativity through his own art, and to share that experience with students during a teaching career of almost forty years. His discovery of the world of Jo Mora opened new doors of interest as he endeavored to uncover Mora’s seemingly endless creative abilities and accomplishments. Peter speaks here after almost thirty years of striving to understand and appreciate this important artist. Since 1981, Hiller has been fortunate to live on the Monterey Peninsula with his wife of fifty-two years. He is the proud father of two grown sons.
Peter Hiller has curated numerous exhibitions of Jo Mora’s work, presented public talks about Jo more times than Hiller can remember and written extensively about Jo including the biography The Life and Times of Jo Mora: Iconic Artist of the American West published first as a limited-edition release by the Book Club of California and then by Gibbs Smith as a trade edition, all to bring Jo Mora’s genius to a wider audience.