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‘Where’s Mae?’ Bill Einhorn memorializes his mother’s artful legacy in La Jolla in book form

Bill Einhorn published a book featuring his mother's watercolor artworks — many of them painted in La Jolla.
Bill Einhorn published a book featuring his mother’s watercolor artworks — many of them painted in La Jolla and discovered after she died — along with snippets from her journals.
(Courtesy of Bill Einhorn)

To remember and share his mother’s creativity, Bill Einhorn, a past and future resident of La Jolla, compiled a book featuring her writings and more than 100 watercolor paintings that he discovered only after she died.

“She was very interesting, very amazing,” Einhorn said of his mother, Mae. The two lived in La Jolla from 1984 to 1994, before they moved to Honolulu, where Mae died in 2006 at age 103.

After she passed, Einhorn said, he found the watercolor paintings stored in her apartment, along with journals she had kept for 20 years “about her life and our family and how she felt and everything else — very revealing.”

He assembled copies of the paintings, snippets from the journals and text he wrote about her life into a book, “Where’s Mae? 103 Years of Art, Love and Good Health.”

While in La Jolla, Mae took painting lessons at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, starting when she was 85. “She always wanted to take watercolor lessons,” Einhorn said.

He had no idea how prolific she was, however. “I was very surprised,” both at the number of paintings he found and “at her talent,” he said.

The watercolors, most of which were 5-by-7 inches or 8-by-10 inches, represented “different periods,” Einhorn said. The La Jolla paintings featured botanicals from her lessons, and then landscapes viewed from her windows, first on Coast Boulevard and later on Genter Street.

Bill Einhorn and his mother, Mae, are pictured in the late 1980s at her home on Coast Boulevard in La Jolla.
Bill Einhorn hopes to share the legacy of his mother, Mae, pictured in the late 1980s at her home on Coast Boulevard in La Jolla.
(Courtesy of Bill Einhorn)

When she went to Hawaii, “everything changed,” Einhorn said. “She went to abstract and wild colors, and that evolved to what I call dreamscapes, which are just fancy things ... patterns and all kinds of stuff.”

The journals also came as a surprise, Einhorn said, as he didn’t know she had written them, despite living near her for decades following the death of his father, Harold, in 1960.

As he began to read Mae’s writings, he said, he realized “the theme is that she was grateful. And she wasn’t afraid of dying. In 2004, she [wrote], ‘This is the last part of my life.’ Why was she unafraid?”

He said the book’s title, “Where’s Mae?” refers to one of her last journal entries: “Don’t cry for me. I’ll be up in the blue sky, laughing with you.”

Mae Einhorn, pictured in the early 1990s, created more than 100 watercolor paintings in her later years.
Mae Einhorn, pictured in the early 1990s near the Children’s Pool in La Jolla, created more than 100 watercolor paintings in her later years.
(Bill Einhorn)

Einhorn, who is moving back to La Jolla from Tucson, Ariz., said he learned from going through his mother’s paintings and writings “that when you lose people in your life, instead of saying goodbye, you re-create them. And in doing that, they almost are still around.”

The book also is a way for him to share his lessons with others.

“I’m leaving this for other people whose parents are getting old. There are things that you want to know about them, there are things you want to do for them,” he said. “There are a lot of lessons in what she’s talking about, in helping your aging parents get through those difficulties.”

The book was first published nearly two years ago, when Einhorn didn’t know much about publicizing it. He said he hopes now that “people enjoy it.”

“It’s a 1930s love story, it’s about aging gracefully, it’s about mental health,” he said. “Art is a therapy for aging.”

To buy “Where’s Mae: 103 Years of Art, Love and Good Health,” visit bit.ly/WheresMae.