A retrospective look at 49 years of artwork by Mission artist Michael Rios is a fascinating journey that touches the heart and soul of a community considered one of San Francisco’s cultural jewels.
The exhibit at the Lush Life Gallery and hosted by the Jazz Heritage Center features more than 85 pieces that represents Rios’ diverse talent in acrylics, pen and silkscreen.
But what is particularly noteworthy is the array of brilliant colors and themes that embrace his Indigenous and African influences, as well as his love of music.
The exhibit, which runs through August 22, is also a tribute to musical legends Miles Davis and Carlos Santana.
Calling his art “windows to my mind,” the 62-year-old Rios often time pays tribute to other performing artists like Bob Marley, John Coltrane, Jimmy Hendrix, John Lee Hooker and Bunny Lualke.
This is particularly evident in a striking 36-inch by 48-inch canvas piece titled “Seven Masters.” This rainbow-colored fresco is a collage of faces representing some of the most beloved cultural icons of our time. He clearly captures their distinct characteristic expression.
A second piece titled “Mayan Garden” is distinctly colorful with a touch of humor. The scene depicts a band of Mayan warriors touting an array of musical instruments and enjoying a good pachanga right in the heart of a lush tropical garden. The predominate rich blue and green colors makes for its earthly appeal.
Although a native of Oakland, Rios is best known for creating some of the early murals in the Mission, particularly his three-building tribute to Santana on 22nd and South Van Ness, which has since been whitewashed. He is also responsible for various Santana album covers, concert backdrops and t-shirts. Fortunately, you will also see some of these works in the exhibit.
If you get a chance take the opportunity to see this bold and extremely creative exhibit.
“The Art of Michael Rios” runs through August 22 at the Lush Life Gallery, located at 1320 Filmore Street. Gallery hours are Wednesday-Saturday, 6-11 p.m. and Sunday, 3-9 p.m. For more information, call (415) 255-7745.