Although she owned a gallery in La Jolla Shores, artist Mary Moore (now Mary Little) never showed her own work. It wasn’t for lack of materials – the 91-year-old creates a floral painting every day and has hundreds in her collection.
To give Mary the opportunity to have an exhibition in her lifetime, her daughter Pamela Little seeks a space in La Jolla to showcase her work.
“My mother’s paintings have always reflected her beautiful soul,” Pamela told the La Jolla Light. “I don’t want an exhibition of her work to be a memorial service after she’s gone, when she’s not there. It seems so unfair to me that she didn’t show her own work when it was so good. I understand that she does not want to sell her work, but showing it is of great value to recognize her talent.
The Mary Moore Gallery was next to the Cheese Shop on Avenida de la Playa in La Jolla Shores in the 1970s. At the time, it showed works by artists such as Françoise Gilot and hosted events attended by attended by Gilot’s husband, scientist Jonas Salk, actors Richard Dreyfuss and Dustin Hoffman and artists Rufino Tamayo, Channing Peake and Benjamin Serrano.
“I had a wonderful time. I focused on artists who weren’t known,” said Mary, who wanted to open the gallery under her maiden name because she didn’t want to call it the “little gallery”. “I felt very lucky. La Jolla was just beginning to develop culturally.
Always inspired by artistic creation, Mary has been painting since the age of 9. “I went to architecture school to study rendering; I thought that was what I would do,” she said. “I developed an eye for what was remarkable in the art world at the time. And my instructors said I had an eye for color, so I turned to watercolor so I could use all kinds of colors in different shades.
She painted while traveling through Europe with her family, the memories of which are etched in her daughter’s mind. “My mom is mostly herself when she paints, and she always has been, so she wanted to paint everywhere we went,” said La Jolla High School graduate Pamela.
A painting of Greece hangs in Pamela’s house in Redlands.
Now, in her retirement years, Mary paints watercolors and flower scenes.
“Flower paintings last forever, and it’s hard to find anything you can do in a nightgown,” Mary joked. “Every painting you do is like a puzzle. My son brings me bouquets every day and I piece together the locations, color style and what to include. It’s wonderful to do at my advanced age.
“I don’t want an exhibition of her work to be a memorial service after she’s gone, when she’s not there. … To show it is of great value to recognize one’s talent.
— Pamela Little
Mary said it took her about five hours to complete each painting because they were done “in a realistic style”. Some are framed and others are stored in cupboards.
“The news is scary right now, and painting flowers is a fun experience for me,” she said. “It’s so easy to do when you can’t get too physical. It is a blessing if you can take advantage of it. It has allowed me to enjoy life in the sense that I can do something and not think about how much the world is changing.
“I’ve always been sensitive to sight, so flowers are perfect for that. It gives you a sense of accomplishment. I enjoy watercolor. They have a certain light that I appreciate. Colors may be more variable. It is the most pleasant medium.
Mary said she had no plan for her paintings, although she intended to sell them during her lifetime.
But Pamela says she wants to have a gallery in La Jolla to honor her mother’s work.
“It must be La Jolla because that’s where she lived and worked, and it must be a gallery because that’s what she operated,” Pamela said.
But she acknowledged that it might be difficult to find such a space as no paintings will be sold.
As an alternative, Pamela said she would be willing to partner with an organization to make the exhibit part of a fundraiser.
“The gallery is alive in her,” Pamela said. “I wish she were there so she could see it. And she deserves this recognition.
Any gallery interested in showing Mary’s work or getting more information can email Pamela at [email protected]. ◆