The digital gallery

Featured Exhibits

Panoramic Minnesota
Panoramic Minnesota

During the 19th and 20th centuries, cities’ local chambers of commerce and other civic organizations prepared and sponsored their own maps as ways to advertise the existing commercial activity.

"Somewhat like the websites of their time, every town sought to have one [panoramic map] to remain competitive in attracting industry and the immigrant trade. Sometimes artistic exaggeration bordered on the fraudulent, as some travelers were drawn by images of idyllic, bustling towns with humming factories only to find a sad little bunch of mud-soaked shacks when they got there." Wikipedia

Five main artists/cartographers created over 55% of the Library of Congress’ panoramic map collection, likely due to the long process of creating each map. Artists would walk city streets, sketching notable trees, buildings, and landmarks, later combining the sketches and raising the visual angle to accurately depict the landscape.

Advancements in artistic technologies (lithography, engraving, etc.) allowed for expedited pictorial map recreation. Popular, and heavily detailed, city maps functioned in local homes as wall decor, promoting personal civic pride. Hosts were able to point out to visitors exactly where they lived, worked, and socialized, heightening the relationship between identity and locale. While production occurred throughout the country, the demand for city promotion was higher north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Many of these maps (both originals and modern recreations) are still popular today for their detail and visual appeal. Panoramic pictorial maps serve as the main way that the “vitality of America’s urban centers” was graphically documented.

Library of Congress, Panoramic Mapping

Jo Mora's Carte of Los Angeles - 1942
Jo Mora's Carte of Los Angeles - 1942

This exhibit has been created by Peter Hiller, Curator of The Jo Mora Trust and Nancy Grossman. Here by author and researcher Nancy W. Grossman shares with Digital Gallery viewers her introduction to Jo Mora as found in her book Jo Mora's Carte of Los Angeles: A Trail Guide published in December 2019.

Further in the digital exhibit, the dots found on the map correspond to a few of the sections in her book each of which articulates the significance of those vignettes found on Jo Mora's carte...

"Joseph Jacinto “Jo” Mora. How does one begin to summarize such an enormous life?

Jo Mora, Renaissance Man of the West, is the phrase I come upon most, that and Jo Mora, cowboy cartographer. This man is also a writer, a painter, illustrator and muralist, sculptor and photographer, and a cartoonist and comic artist, which will come as no surprise to fans of his cartes. He even designs a 1925 half dollar coin for the US Mint commemorating the state of California’s 75th anniversary.

During an insurgency in 1877, the Mora family flees Uruguay. Jo is a year old at the time; his brother Luis is three. They go first to Barcelona, finally arriving in the US in 1880, where they settle in the greater New York area. Both boys are already deep into the making of art; at the ages of eight and ten respectively, they consider creating a twenty- foot mural of the Iroquois Indian wars, though there’s no record of them actually doing so.

Their father Domingo is an accomplished sculptor. Jo and Luis attend primary school in Perth Amboy and grammar school in Allston, Massachusetts. At 15, Jo completes the Boston Latin School, and graduates from the Pingry Academy in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1894. Both study sculpture under their father, who teaches art in Perth Amboy, Boston and New York City.

By 1895 Jo’s studying at the Art Students League, the Chase School of Art in New York and the Cowles Art School in Boston – and, at 19, has already produced poster murals for the Clermont Skating Rink in Brooklyn. Returning to Boston, Jo goes to work first for the Boston Traveler and then becomes a member of the Boston Herald art staff for the next four years, illustrating articles plus various books.

In 1903, he takes a trip west, working as a cowpuncher on a ranch in Solvang near the Mission Santa Ines, which inspires him to travel the entire Camino Real and sketch the Missions he saw. In 1904 he travels by mule-drawn wagon across Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia National Park and the Mojave Desert to Needles on his way to the Hopi mesas in Arizona. In Arizona, he is permitted to witness the Hopi Snake Dance, then sets to both photographing and producing detailed artwork of the ceremonies of the Hopi and Navaho tribes he’s gotten to know over two years of living among them.

Upon settling back in California he will marry Grace Needham, of San Jose, CA., at the Mission San Gabriel in 1907 and start to raise his soon to be born children Jo, Jr. and patty.

Mora publishes twelve of his iconic cartes over his lifetime. The first, Monterey Peninsula, his second, The 17 Mile Drive, and the first version of California all come out in 1927. San Diego appears in 1928. The three national parks, Yosemite, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon, all come out in 1931. Grace Line Fleet to the Old Spanish Main and Evolution of the Cowboy: Levi’s Round-Up of Cowboy Lore are published in 1933; the latter is a poster rather than a map, as is his Indians of North America in 1936. Carmel-by- the-Sea and Los Angeles are both issued in 1942. A second, smaller version of California will be his last, in 1945. An unfinished pencil rendering of a map of Catalina is found after his death.

But cartes are hardly all Jo Mora does. This man’s work is as varied as it is prolific. Starting out collaborating with his father, he finds himself working on huge architectural projects. In Los Angeles, at least four buildings include his work, including the Palace Theatre; he is assisting his father on four sculpted allegorical panels representing song, dance, music and drama when his father dies while this commission is still in progress. Mora completes it.

In San Jose, Mora creates two heroic male sphinx figures for the Scottish Rite Temple [today the San Jose Athletic Club], plus bas-reliefs over its entrance and throughout the building. He provides decorative elements for the Monterey County Courthouse, as well as numerous detailed panels for the King City High School auditorium. In Carmel, he sculpts Father Junipero Serra’s cenotaph, an altar and a cross.

He creates pediments and bas-relief panels for four buildings in San Francisco; his Miguel de Cervantes looks down on his Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in the Golden Gate Park. A marble bench with sculpted bears by Mora sits in front of the Sather Tower on the UC Berkeley campus. He creates the main entrance doorway and sculptures of bears to support fountains for the Union Wool Building in Boston. He designs a number of homes himself.

Architectural work is just one facet of Mora’s endless creativity. He designs everything from ordinary scale sculptures, many of cowboys breaking broncs, to “heroic” (larger than life) sculptures, to bronze plaques and vast murals. He creates fifteen or more dioramas, thirteen for the Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, Oklahoma.

One diorama, exhibited at the California State Building at the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition, is a one-hundred-foot-long depiction of the 1769 Portolá Expedition. Tragically, it is destroyed in a fire six months after the opening of the fair.

Mora illustrates countless books, both his own and for those of others. He designs bookends, trophies, coins and scrip certificates for use in Carmel during the Depression. He sculpts his son Jo Jr. at three years of age, reata in hand, breaking a hobby horse."

Nancy's book is an annotated look at all of the details seen on Jo Mora's carte of Los Angeles. To purchase the book:https://jomoratrailguides.com/https://www.nancygrossmanbooks.com/my-publicationsNancy Grossman's emailPeter Hiller's email

Levi Walter Yaggy - 1887 & 1893
Levi Walter Yaggy - 1887 & 1893

Welcome to The Digital Gallery’s exhibit on Levi Walter Yaggy, comprising 30+ images from the late 1800's used to teach kids about geography. When I first saw his maps and images, I imagined that the creator of these fantastic and creative images must have someone like van Gogh, Warhol or Basquiat, because of my notion of what is a creative personality. Well, it turns out, I was significantly wrong. Levi Walter Yaggy, was an entrepreneur, an investor, an inventor and a farmer. He was born in 1848, the tenth of eleven children. His main business was the Western Publishing House, a company he founded when he was 26 and which grew to have over one thousand employees. His inventiveness may explain why his maps and images have flaps, dials, sliders and other mechanical elements.

As a publisher, Yaggy’s company specialized in materials for teachers. His maps came in a kit and were each substantial in size, about 2 feet x 3 feet. Our Yaggy exhibit is composed of two sub-exhibits. The first, from 1893, has nine images that represent geographic terms and climate zones of the world, as well as a relief map of the United States. An unfortunate part of his work is the propagation of the racist idea that temperate zones and their people favor superior cultural development over tropical zones and their people. However, from an information design perspective, his maps and images are exquisitely done because they are "BAZIC" (see Google Slide below). They of their simplicity, their use of color and the overall engagement they foster.

Sources:* Boston Rare Maps* Open Culture article 2019* National Geographic 2018* Collossal 2019* Yaggy Obituary* Image of Yaggy and ancestry info* Yaggy Plantation for Sale 2016. Also here.* Books by L.W. Yaggy eBay* Google Slide document about Yaggy and "View of Nature in Ascending Regions". Also describes BAZIC criteria for judging quality of a map.