The Man Who Painted San Quentin

It’s the last place you would expect to find serious art. But inside the dining hall at San Quentin State Prison in California sit “four epic murals… depicting California history from the building of the railroads to the post-World War II industrial boom… The astonishing sophistication of the work — imbued with leftist political imagery extolling working-class virtues at a time when McCarthyism was rampant — has for years been a source of intrigue to the few art historians and others familiar with the murals.” This month, the single ex-convict responsible for the murals will be welcomed back to San Quentin as an invited guest. His name is Alfredo Santos. He hasn’t seen his work in nearly fifty years.