Michael Ríos


Michael Ríos (born 1947) is a Chicano visual artist, guitarist, and muralist. While in his sophomore year at Oakland’s Fremont High School, his teachers noticed his artistic talents. He received a scholarship to San Francisco Academy of Art College, attending from 1964 to 1966. In the sixties, Ríos lived in San Francisco, worked for Roos Atkins, opened a studio in North Beach, became a partner of Union Street’s Winston, Rios & Brown, and went on formative trips to Europe and Cuba, which also influenced his political and personal focus on muralismo. His first mural in 1970 in San Francisco depicted police officers with pig faces harassing citizens with the heads of rats. News anchor Walter Cronkite mentioned the mural, bringing Ríos national attention. Between 1972 and 1974, he played in the band Graza and painted murals at the Bank of America, Twenty-Fourth Street Mini Park, Twenty-Fourth Street BART Station, and Galería de la Raza. He collaborated with artists Anthony “Tony” Machado, Richard Montez, Jésus "Chuy" Campusano, Luis Cortazar, and the Mujeres Muralistas. In 1987, on South Van Ness and Twenty-Second Streets, Ríos, Carlos “Kookie” Gonzalez, and Johnny Mayorga created the mural Inspire to Aspire, as a tribute to Carlos Santana, at the start of his decades-long artistic relationship with the musician. In 1999, Santana commissioned him to create a piece entitled Mumbo Jumbo, and Ríos used an alternate version to create the album cover art for the 1999 Grammy Award–winning full-length album Supernatural. In the oral history conducted by the Proyecto Mission Murals, Ríos revealed how his art piece even influenced some of the songwriting on the album.

Camilo Garzón

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Works by Michael Ríos

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