What is cowboy artist Jo Mora’s backstory?


Jan Ruysschaert

Brugge, Belgium

Joseph Jacinto “Jo” Mora was born in Uruguay in 1876 and immigrated to the U.S. as a child.  He studied art in New York and worked for a Boston newspaper as a cartoonist. Mora’s many skills included sculpting, painting, photography, drawing murals and writing.

He moved to California in 1903, and a year later, lived among the Hopi Indians in Arizona. He learned their language and photographed, sketched and painted their Kachina ceremonial dances. He later returned to California, where he primarily illustrated children’s books. He wrote the 1946 classic Trail Dust and Saddle Leather.  It includes his most famous work, “Sweetheart of the Rodeo,” which was later used as cover art for the same-titled album by the rock band The Byrds.  Mora died in 1947.

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