Category Archives: Muralist

Hilaire Hiler (American, 1898-1966)

Hilaire Hiler is a charismatic artist and color theoretician with psychoanalytical training born in St. Paul, Minnesota. He  sailed to France in 1919, studied at the University of Paris and ran a jazz club, where he painted interior and exterior murals. “The Jockey Club” was a hangout for artists and literary figures, including Henry Miller, Ernest Hemingway and Anais Nin.

American Indian figure painted outside the Jockey Club in Paris
American Indian figure painted outside the Jockey Club in Paris

He moved to San Francisco in the 1930s, and executed murals for the WPA at the location which is now the San Francisco Maritime Museum. Originally designed to be a public beach bathing house, due to a dispute about a casino that would take over the building, Hilaire organized a walk out before the project was completed, however it was nearly finished.

WPA murals, SF Maritime Museum Exhibit, photo by M. Jones
Another view, SF Maritime Museum, Photo by M. Jones

He became interested in “structuralism” in art, and a balance of form and color in the latter part of his career. He created a room at the SF Maritime Museum building called the “prismatarium,” which was recently restored by conservators to its original glory as a full spectrum rainbow color wheel covering the ceiling with grayscale gradients covering the walls.

Prismatarium, photo by M. Jones
Prismatarium, photo by M. Jones
Waterfront 1939
Waterfront 1939
Orange, Blue, Green Split Complement, 1944
Orange, Blue, Green
Split Complement, 1944

He wrote several books on color, painting techniques and paint recipes including:

From Nudity to Raiment: An Introduction to the Study of Costume, 1929

Notes on the technique of painting, 1934

The Painter’s Pocket-book of Methods and Materials, 1937

Why Expressionism? 1946

Hiler Hilaire
Hiler Hilaire


“A painting must satisfy man’s geometrical instinct. ”

-Hilaire Hiler



Mario Martinez (American 1977)

Mars-1 at Work
Mars-1 at work on Afterthought

Artist Mario Martinez, who also goes by Mars-1,  was born in Boulder, Colorado and grew up in Fresno, California where he was inspired by graffiti art, comics, and science fiction. Through his visual art, murals and sculptures he creates worlds of material and etheric atmosphere in complex acrylic paintings swirling with colorful geometric forms and strangely familiar organic shapes. His paintings depict visions of transcendent and universal subjects like worm holes, nuclear physics and celestial phantoms. Martinez often collaborates with other artists such as Alex Grey, Brendan Monroe and Doze.  Guests of the Symbiosis Gathering at Pyramid Lake were able to watch a collaboration take place between Mario Martinez, David Choong Lee, Damon Soule, and Oliver Vernon.

Check out Mars-1’s website to see more of his work:

Acrylic on linen
84 x 108 inches
Strange Cargo, 2008




Mario Martinez (Mars-1) x Brendan Monroe Acrylic on paper, 2012.
Mario Martinez (Mars-1) x Brendan Monroe
Acrylic on paper, 2012.
Bicycle Day  Collaboration with Alex Grey San Francisco April 20, 2012
Bicycle Day
Collaboration with Alex Grey
San Francisco
April 20, 2012


Mario Martinez Photo by Mairead O'Connor
Mario Martinez
Photo by
Mairead O’Connor



Judy Baca – Muralist (American 1946)

Muralist Judy Baca is a Chicana artist working in the mural style of many artists from Mexico before her. She is also a political activist who started the community arts organization Social Public Art Resource Center in Los Angeles.

She is most well know for “The Great Wall of Los Angeles,” the largest mural of its time in Los Angeles started in 1974. Taking over 4 years to complete, this mural is half a mile in length and receives regular restoration treatments.



Judy Baca’s mural work was recently the subject of political debate in the city of Los Angeles where the fine line between art and other stuff (advertising, signage, graffiti) was challenged.

Baca’s work continues to push the boundaries to help continue to evolve the definition of art to include all useful methods, rather than the narrow definition allowed by city governments. In the past, only murals created in fresco were allowed to fit the definition of a public art mural because other types of applications are seen as ephemeral.  Several cases have been to court over this issue and the unfortunate removal of murals in California. Previously murals painted in acrylic or aerosol were in danger of being removed based on definitions that did not recognize advancements in technology and conservation methods, sometimes murals would be removed if they had not been painted with a brush!


Baca and her group SPARC have defended art in many mediums with many styles of application. The debate has now moved to the technological arena, some debate whether the use of digital projection, printing and painting on panels can be considered art. The question comes down to what is intended to be permanent and what classifies a work of art as being valuable to a community historically.



Under the Visual Artist Rights Act (VARA) and California Art Preservation Act (CAPA) there are many rights that Artist’s have but are typically not aware of. Judy Baca and SPARC have defended artists in these rights and art has been able to proliferate in ways that might have been smashed down without the guidance and support that Baca has provided and fought as an artist herself.