(1928 - 2017)
Leslie Mayer was born in the Hawaiian Islands and later moved to Santa Barbara, California with her mother and brother. She attended Woodbury College in Los Angeles, modeled at Brooks Institute in Santa Barbara and in the Army, and was a commercial and fine artist all her life, teaching Adult Education art classes wherever she lived. While living in Lompoc, California she was well known for her detailed brown toned watercolor and acrylic paintings of local historical barns and buildings, as well as her commercial paintings for NASA and murals for McDonald’s in Lompoc and Santa Maria.
Leslie and her husband of 64 years, Eugene Mayer, moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico where Gene owned and operated Photographic Repair camera repair shop and Leslie became immersed in the rich arts culture, selling her paintings through local galleries as well as the weekend outdoor art shows, and teaching classes. She and Gene later moved to Arkansas, and then to Kentucky,
In her later years, Macular Degeneration seriously hampered her ability to paint the detailed watercolors and acrylics that she was noted for all of her life. Totally blind in her left eye and partially in her right, she was legally classed as "blind" but her drive to create continued until she could no longer see at all.
Her indomitable spirit remained until she died in August of 2017.
Leslie Mayer spent her earliest years at the Leper Settlement at Kalaupapa on Molokai, Hawaii where her father was the Superintendent. Ernie Pyle wrote about his visit there in his book "Home Country", mentioning a baby Leslie crawling beneath the feet of a horse. You can read about this fascinating story at RememberingKalaupapa.com, as well as the story of Leslie's journey back to her childhood home in 2003 ("The Footprint Girl") and the loving reception she received from the remaining residents of Kalaupapa.