Artist Profile: Moira Wallace (1910-1979)

Moira Wallace

Carmel's First Daughter of the Arts

Moira Wallace was an American artist born in Carmel, Calif., in 1910, who studied art from an early age in her home town and up and down the California coast. By the early 1920s Moira was winning praise as a prodigal young artist for her block prints, water colors, and pencil and crayon portraits. She presented her first solo exhibit at age 16 at Gump's in San Francisco. That show earned her a lead creative job as an "Idea Man" for the Los Angeles billboard advertising firm Foster & Kleiser.

One of her best known commissions was to decorate the ballroom of the Del Monte Hotel in Monterey, Calif., in a 360 degree wrapped mural of Balinese dancers. It transformed the extravagant party space into what later became known as the "Bali Room." It's proximity to nearby Pebble Beach drew guests from the top of the world's Who's Who list, including Pablo Picasso and Bob Hope.

After the Great Depression hit, Moira joined the ranks of working artists employed by the Federal Government decorating America with public murals, art, architecture, and the like. She produced a variety of art for public and private markets, and vied for a number of large public works projects including the San Pedro Post Office mural (her runner up mural study below).

Just before the war, Moira married a San Francisco Gallery owner Guthrie Courvoisier, who was a successful business man who took over his father's gallery. When the war begun, the gallery was shuttered. Moira continued to practice her art until the couple went on to launch the Courac of Monterey company producing decorative trays and plate-ware from Guthrie's trademark heat-resistant black plastic resin material that he had developed for the war effort. The platters featured Moira's hand inlayed artwork from found natural materials like abalone shell and wood veneer that she found around the Monterey Bay. Moira died in 1979, a decade after her late husband. 

Exhibits and Public Works:

Exhibit, Carmel Art Associates 95th Anniversary Show, 2022
Exhibit, Carmel Museum 1967
Exhibit, San Francisco Museum of Art, N/A
"Fiesta" Monterey Union High School Mural, FAP c. 1937
Mark Hopkins Hotel Mural, c. 1934
Solo Exhibit, Gump's San Francisco, 1933
"Bali Room" Mural, Del Monte Hotel, c. 1932
Illustrator, "Po-ho-no and the Legends of Yosemite" by Elinor Shane Smith, 1927
Blanding Sloan Student Show, City of Paris Galleries, San Francisco, c. 1924
Member of the Carmel Art Association

Art Studies:

Age 11, Studied with Fred Gray at the Carmel Arts & Crafts Club
Age 14, Studied wood block print under Mildred and Blanding Sloan in San Francisco
Age 16, Private studies with Armin Hansen in San Francisco
Age 18, Student of Maurice Sterne at the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco