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.
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
Sketchbook 20, June 15, 1973
Sketchbook 22, July 21, 1973
Sketchbook 23, August 1973
Sketchbook 24, May 1, 1974
Sketchbook 25, August 11, 1974
Sketchbook 26, August 27, 1974
Sketchbook 27, September 7, 1974
Sketchbook 28, December 15, 1974
Sketchbook 30, April 20, 1975
Sketchbook 31, July 8, 1975
Sketchbook 34, July 5, 1976
Sketchbook 36, June, 18 1977
Sketchbook 37, July 4, 1977
Sketchbook 38, July 5 1977
Sketchbook 39, January 2, 1978
Sketchbook 41, June 18, 1978
Sketchbook 43, March 11, 1978
Sketchbook 44, July 25 1981
Sketchbook 45, September 25, 1981