"Inspire To Aspire"
South Van Ness Avenue & 22nd Street, San Francisco, CA
June 1987

Painting by Michael V. Rios of the street mural "Inspire To Aspire". Michael Rios was born in Oakland, California on December 10, 1947. While in his sophomore year at Oakland's Fremont High School, Michael's artistic talents caught the attention of his teachers, and he received a scholarship to the prestigious San Francisco Academy of Art College, which he attended from 1964 to 1966. Upon graduation from the Academy, Michael worked as an illustrator for the famous San Francisco men's clothier, Roos Atkins. Rios then opened his own commercial art and graphics studio in North Beach (the Italian neighborhood of San Francisco). He also created children's books, billboards, Fuller/O'Brien paint ads and other "high end" commercial art. It wasn't long before this thriving young commercial artist became one of the hottest prospects in San Francisco's advertising world. This next period of his life found Michael as the creative partner in Union Street's "Winston, Rios & Brown". In the seventies, Michael became proficient in numerous mediums from acrylics to watercolors. After returning from an extensive trip to Europe, he found his way to the Mission District (the Hispanic neighborhood of San Francisco). Rios began taking an active interest in his new environment. His years of creating billboards were natural transition for his new "mission in the Mission". Rios created some of the first huge murals that made the Mission District famous. His effort to "beautify the place I live in" brought him national attention, including a report from Walter Kronkite.
It was inevitable that Michael Rios and Carlos Santana would come together, but it wasn't until 1987 that these two supreme artists really took notice of each other. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Santana, Rios created the mural "Inspire To Aspire", located on South Van Ness Avenue & 22nd Street. Musical heroes, icons and symbols common to those who lived in the Mission, are represented in this creation that covers three buildings. It was the inspiration for what has become a beautiful friendship, and artistic collaboration between the musician and the painter. Today, Rios' enlightened art can be seen on Santana's most recent CD covers ("Sacred Fire" 1993, "Dance Of The Rainbow Serpent" 1995, "Supernatural" 1999, "Ultimate Santana" 2007), and stage backdrops such as "Harmonious Convergence", "Embrace Your Absoluteness", and the last one "Mumbo Jumbo" precisely used for the CD "Supernatural". Carlos Santana as well as many other artists, also wears Rios images on shirts. This wearable art represents rock, jazz and blues greats such as Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker, John Coltrane and Miles Davis, among others. Today, Michael Rios' work has crossed all boundaries and is highly regarded for its power, vision and color.
Michael Rios

Carlos Santana & Michael Rios

© Howard Nussdorf

Sacred Fire


Sacred Sources 1

Live Forever


Dance Of The

Rainbow Serpent




Ultimate Santana


Fillmore Re-Opening Poster

Concert Poster F 105

Concert Poster F 188

Concert Poster F 374

1994 Fillmore Corp. 122

December 31, 1994

May 17/18/19, 1995

April 16/17/18, 1999

© Michael Rios/Tony Machado

© Michael Rios/Tony Machado

© Michael Rios/Tony Machado

© Michael Rios

Inspire To Aspire Poster 1987

Inspire To Aspire Mural (full view) 1987

Inspire To Aspire Mural (detail) 1987

Seven Masters Poster 1995 © Michael Rios

Mumbo Jumbo Stage Backdrop

Shoreline Amphitheatre, Mountain View, CA August 22, 1998

© 1999-Now Santanamigos