The cartouche contains the following dedication:
lt’s now far past forty years since first I sifted into this glorious El Dorado of the West, forking the hurricane deck of a sorrel pony. I had come a long trail and here was the promised land! It’s been my home range ever since. I’ve known here plenty grass– I’ve known it mighty short. That’s life. My wife and kids are native son and daughters and I feel I may sing in all truth and sincerity ‘I love you, California.’ … Well, I’m strong for those souls who smile at their devotions: So, you see, I’ve tried to make this in a manner to help you keep the corners of your mouth on the up and up during the perusal of my California.’ A Devoted Adopted Son —Jo Mora.
Joseph Jacinto “Jo” Mora was one of the foremost pictorial mapmakers of the 20th century. According to art historian Mary Murray, it is in the pictorial maps that he created “an art form uniquely his own” that “exemplify the popular, entertaining, direct, and informative art at which Mora excelled.” His maps are characterized by humor — often with portrayals of whimsical cartoonish characters and pun-related references — simultaneously combined with detailed geography and historical references. The intent, as described by geography historian Stephen J. Hornsby, was to use “humor to make other content more interesting.”
The year after he was born in Uruguay, Mora’s family moved to the United States, eventually settling in Boston. He attended the Art Students League in New York, and by his early 20s was working as a cartoonist and illustrator for Boston newspapers and children’s book publishers. He began taking trips to the American west and Mexico in the 1890s and relocated permanently to the West in 1903, spending three years living in Arizona, drawing and studying the Hopi and the Navajo cultures. In 1920 he moved to the Monterey Peninsula of California, where he spent the rest of his life in Pebble Beach and Carmel. Like many pictorial mapmakers, Mora had wide-ranging interests and a combination of talents as an artist proficient in many media, a cartographer, a historian and an author. Over a career spanning almost 50 years, Mora illustrated several books for children as well as books on California history, completed commissioned realist sculpture and murals, and made paintings in oil and watercolor. His most original and best-known works, however, are his distinctive pictorial maps and chartswhich he referred to as “cartes.” These were mainly of places in California and include California’s Playground (1926), Monterey Peninsula (1927), The Seventeen Mile Drive (1927), California (1927), Grand Canyon (1931), Yosemite (1931) Yellowstone (1931), Ye Old Spanish Main (1933), Carmel-By-The-Sea (1942), Map of Los Angeles (1942) and a later version of California (1945). He also designed and illustrated the posters Indians of North America (1936) and The Evolution of the Cowboy (1933).
“About.” Jo Mora Trust. 2021. https://jomoratrust.com/about/ (7 June 2021).
Burton-Carvajal, Julianne. “Back to the Drawing Board with Artist Jo Mora: Illustrated Chronologies of his Life, Works, and Exhibitions.” Noticias del Puerto del Puerto de Monterey, Quarterly Bulletin of the Monterey History and Art Association. Vol. 52: 3. Fall 2003. p. 15. https://www.mayohayeslibrary.org/uploads/2/5/3/9/25392173/vol_52_num_3_fall_2009.pdf (25 March 2022).
Hiller, Peter. The Life and Times of Jo Mora: Iconic Artist of the American West. Kaysville, Utah: Gibbs Smith, 2021.
Holmes, Nigel. Pictorial Maps. New York: Watson-Guptill, 1991. p. 45
Hornsby, Stephen J. Picturing America: The Golden Age of Pictorial Maps. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. pp. 28-31, 57.
Pilchen, Lloyd. “Exhibition of Jo Mora’s Whimsical Map Delights.” 29 January 2022. The American Surveyor. https://amerisurv.com/2022/01/29/exhibition-of-jo-moras-whimsical-map-delights/ (22 March 2022).