Mat in studio

Artist of the Pines: Tsuyoshi "Mat" Matsumoto

Mat was a self-taught artist. He began drawing pine trees in 1968 when he was nearing retirement from the U.S. Civil Service.  Pine trees held a special significance for him: “Matsumoto” means root of a pine tree in Japanese. When Mat visited La Jolla looking for the right place to retire, his visit to Torrey Pines State Reserve left an indelible impression.

In 1973, Mat moved with his family to La Jolla. He spent the last decade of his life frequently visiting Torrey Pines State Reserve to sketch the magnificent trees. About half of the approximately 800 drawings he made were of Torrey pines, one of the rarest species of pine.  These trees only grow in La Jolla and nearby areas.

This exhibit showcases the increasingly fragile eco-system of the Torrey pines, which suffered much damage in the past ten years from drought and an infestation of bark beetles. Mat meticulously documented dozens of trees from 1973 to 1981. His sketches show the Reserve when it was more lush and verdant than it is today. Many of the trees that Mat drew are no longer alive, and most of the trails are more sparsely populated with trees compared to when Mat was sketching at the park.

Mat’s journey from his early encounters with Torrey pines are captured in his many sketchbooks. The UC San Diego Library is honored to exhibit a selection of Mat’s sketchbooks, as this is the first time they’ve been publicly displayed.

The sunset tree, Del Mar on a rainy day in April, 1981

Mary, the 1585 tree at High Point with her neighbors, (from L. to R.) Matthew, Mark and Luke, Torrey Pines State Reserve, La Jolla, December 2, 1981.

The Jeffrey Pine, Sentinel Dome, Yosemite, 1976 & 1978

Trees in the east of the Torrey Pines State Reserve, La Jolla, June 1976

Young Pine Cone

Sketchbook 20, June 15, 1973

At Balboa Park

Sketchbook 22, July 21, 1973

Canyon Below High Point Trail

Sketchbook 23, August 1973

Study of a Pine

Sketchbook 24, May 1, 1974

Mary Whitaker Memorial Garden

Sketchbook 25, August 11, 1974

In memory of Lindbergh

Sketchbook 26, August 27, 1974

Athenaeum Pines

Sketchbook 27, September 7, 1974

The Lone Captain

Sketchbook 28, December 15, 1974

From North Torrey Pines Road

Sketchbook 30, April 20, 1975

Cold Spring, White Mountains

Sketchbook 31, July 8, 1975

Torrey Pines from the 101

Sketchbook 34, July 5, 1976

At White Mountains, California

Sketchbook 35

Where the Guy Fleming trail begins

Sketchbook 36, June, 18 1977

From the bench near Marker 18, Guy Fleming Trail

Sketchbook 37, July 4, 1977

East of the Guy Fleming Trail between Markers 16 and 17

Sketchbook 38, July 5 1977

Parry Grove trail

Sketchbook 39, January 2, 1978

Parry Grove trail

Sketchbook 41, June 18, 1978

Interlude between the rains

Sketchbook 43, March 11, 1978

From the High Point

Sketchbook 44, July 25 1981

View from High Point to Red Butte

Sketchbook 45, September 25, 1981