Watercolor Magic Son discovers mother’s passion for art — and his father — after her passing

By Diane Y. Welch

“Wuthering Heights” had Catherine and Heathcliff, “Casablanca” had Ilsa and Rick, “The Einhorns” had Mae and Harold — all great love stories that transcend time.

This is the story of the latter pair and it has ties to La Jolla …

After her childhood sweetheart husband, Harold, died suddenly in 1960, Mae Einhorn coped with her profound loss by writing an intimate daily journal and learning how to paint. Both works carried her through life until her own passing at age 103 in La Jolla. The art she left behind inspired her son to share her story.

When Bill Einhorn’s mother passed away five years ago, he was stunned to discover among her personal keepsakes, Mae Einhorn’s six volumes of journals that she began writing in 1985. Within those pages flowed memories of her love for her husband, Harold, a great romantic love that never faded.

“She wrote in a meticulous hand about daily life, about her art, the people she knew, about her past, and always about her love for dad,” said Einhorn.

These simple handwritten accounts of daily life and past unspoken memories moved him to tears.

“Sunday, October 31, 2004. Yes, it’s that wonderful day when Harold and Mae tied the knot. I married the boy I fell in love with at the age of 12 and even though he’s gone these many years, he’s the one I still love,” wrote Mae on her wedding anniversary date, when she was 101 years old.

Along with the journals, Einhorn retrieved hundreds of watercolor paintings stacked in Mae’s closet. The realization of an innate talent came late in life for Mae L. Einhorn who moved with her son to La Jolla in 1985. She was 82 when she enrolled in classes at La Jolla’s Athenaeum and discovered the joys of painting.

Einhorn has now gathered his mother’s vast collection of watercolors and turned them into high-quality reproductions (greeting cards and prints) featuring much of the work that is on display at Leaping Lotus in Solana Beach. The watercolors were completed during a 15-year period, the last piece painted when Mae was age 97.

Einhorn’s ‘Poppies’ shine through a sun-drenched afternoon in this work.

Several of the pieces are of colorful botanicals, and impressions of favorite La Jolla scenes, the coastal community she called home for eight years, said Einhorn. There are also landscapes from Hawaii and modernist abstractions, which dominated her later work done in her 90s.

To memorialize his mother, Einhorn has had each page of Mae’s handwritten journals captured digitally with the thought of producing a combined memoir/art book, which is still in the works.

“Mother’s story is a testament to a life spent in a state of innocence combined with the heightened insight one gets from one’s culture,” said Einhorn. “She never stopped being young.”

Mae and Harold met as school children in New Jersey. Harold lent Mae, then 12, a pencil and she was smitten. It would be another 14 years until their marriage on Halloween in 1929, just days after the Wall Street crash.

They came to Los Angeles and opened a restaurant, Harold’s Tavern, but the business did not survive the Stock Market collapse and they returned to New Jersey to start afresh, said Einhorn.

When Harold died suddenly in 1960 from a brain hemorrhage, Mae moved to Florida. When business brought her son Bill, a Realtor, to La Jolla 25 years ago, Mae came, too.

“To me this is a Grandma Moses story and it’s also a story of a great love. Mom’s romance for my dad is what she writes about constantly, right to the last day, 46 years after he died,” said Einhorn.

That love gave Mae the light for her talent; and that’s what kept her going. “Why reach for the moon when you have the stars? She couldn’t even consider going out with other men … she couldn’t relate to anyone else except him,” said Einhorn.

How Mae Einhorn saw a ‘Sunset’ in 1962.

At age 103, Mae Einhorn passed away.

“She was never sick, then one day she announced that she was tired and signing off,” said Einhorn. “She put her head down and in three days she was gone.”

Where to Find Watercolors By Mae

• Second floor of Leaping Lotus, 240 South Cedros Ave. Solana Beach

• Bill Einhorn at pacifprop@aol.com

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Posted by Staff on Mar 16, 2011. Filed under La Jolla Life, Life. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

2 Comments for “Watercolor Magic Son discovers mother’s passion for art — and his father — after her passing”

  1. fmbriscoe

    deeply moving and inspirational tribute. noteworthy

  2. David Nogaki

    As a friend of Bill's in Hawaii in the late 90's, I had the pleasure of knowing Mae. She was truly one of the most passionate and positive people I have ever met. As most seniors grow grumpy and bitter as they age, Mae was inspiring to us all with her positive energy and outlook on life. She thought everything was "wonderful!". Seeing these watercolors is a great reminder for me of how Mae saw the world… full of beauty and vibrant colors. She was an excellent role model for all of us.

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