The Greatest Muralist You’ve Never Heard Of

The Work of One of L.A.’s Best Chicano Folk Artists Has Largely Been Forgotten

Manuel G. Cruz has produced the best folk art I have encountered in Los Angeles. Through his religious and historical murals, he proves himself a good storyteller and colorist, with figures inhabiting dry, treeless California landscapes of brown hills, cacti, agave plants, and lakes. He also decorates the exterior walls of shops with scenes displaying their products, purveyors, and customers.

Cruz is an octogenarian who, in his heyday (the ’70s to the ’90s), was a leader among Chicano muralists. He was also the most Mexican in terms of his choice …