Former La Jolla gallery owner’s first exhibit of her own work will carry on following her death at 91

Artist and former La Jolla gallery owner Mary MacLaren
An exhibit of works by artist and former La Jolla gallery owner Mary MacLaren will open Tuesday, Sept. 27, at BFree Studio in La Jolla. MacLaren died Sept. 12 at age 91.
(Courtesy of Pamela Little)

An exhibit in La Jolla featuring the first public display of artworks by former La Jolla Shores gallery owner Mary MacLaren will go on this month following her death Sept. 12, according to her daughter, Pamela Little.

Little’s effort to arrange the exhibit in honor of her mother’s 92nd birthday Oct. 1 was chronicled earlier this year in the La Jolla Light.

Despite having owned a gallery in La Jolla Shores, artist Mary Moore (now Mary Little) never showed her own work.

“My mother’s paintings have always reflected her beautiful soul,” Little said in June. “I don’t want an exhibition of her work to be a memorial service after she’s gone, when she doesn’t get to be there. It seems so unfair to me that she didn’t show her own work when it was so good. I understand her not wanting to sell her work, but showing it is of great value to recognize her talent.”

MacLaren’s art exhibit Sept. 27-30 at BFree Studio will feature 50 pieces from her floral watercolor collection.

She ran the Mary Moore Gallery under her maiden name in the 1970s on Avenida de la Playa in La Jolla Shores, showing works by artists such as Francoise Gilot and hosting events attended by Gilot’s husband, scientist Jonas Salk, along with actors Richard Dreyfuss and Dustin Hoffman and artists Rufino Tamayo, Channing Peake and Benjamin Serrano.

Given her history in the area, her daughter wanted the show to be in La Jolla and called every place she could think of, from libraries to museums, seeking space for it.

“I wanted to show Mary’s work because I’m interested in the history of art galleries and artists that have worked here in La Jolla,” Barbara Freeman, owner of BFree Studio, told the Light. “I also thought it was a wonderful opportunity for us to give back to the community.”

After a lifetime of painting and months of outreach by her family, 91-year-old artist Mary Little will get an exhibition of her work.

The exhibit also will feature a live reading from 3 to 5 p.m. Sept. 27-29 of Little’s memoir, “The Resting Place — A Graveside Diary,” art by MacLaren’s granddaughter, Aislin Henry, 15, and a photo display of the artist’s gallery history in La Jolla.

In addition, “we are accepting donations to the new Mary Moore Young Artist Scholarship Fund through BFree Studio,” Little said Sept. 18.

For more information about the exhibit, the scholarship or services for MacLaren, email Little at

MacLaren started painting when she was 9 and gravitated to watercolor “so I could use all kinds of color in different shades,” she told the Light in August. She continued to paint watercolors of flower scenes into her later years.

“Paintings of flowers last forever, and it’s hard to find something you can do in a nightgown,” she joked. “Every painting you do is like a puzzle. My son brings me bouquets every day and I piece together the placements, color style and what to include. It’s wonderful to do in my older age.”

Mary Moore MacLaren Memorial Art Exhibit

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 27, through Friday, Sept. 30. Public grand-opening event from 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 27.

Where: BFree Studio, 7857 Girard Ave., La Jolla

Cost: Free