quote: He has the squint and the smile of a sonofabitch. A Washington critic.

The Artist

In 1974, a sixteen year old (ADHD and gifted) boy successfully answered his father's dare by making a copy of a professional's landscape painting. When the copy was seen by a local pastor (who mistook John for an artist), he was immediately asked to do a major commission. Not withstanding the fact that he had never painted before, had no art training or artistic aspirations, he accepted the offer. Six months later, the result was a 2,275 square-feet tapestry-like mural inside one of the largest temples in the island of Puerto Rico. With this daring move, John Rivera-Resto was hurled into the world of art.

Mural de Lijas

"El jardín del Eden" (the Garden of Eden), John's first mural painting (2,275 square-feet), at age 16. Iglesia Fuente de Salvación Misionera, Barrio Lijas de Las Piedras, Puerto Rico, 1974. Acrylic paint on smooth concrete. The photograph shows only half.

Since, John has used his forty-five years of artistic training and experience working in the fields of fine arts, dramatic arts, art education, film making, creative writing and visual design. While mostly known to the Cleveland public as a master-muralist, a designer or a lecturer, his works have actually made him a favorite with private collectors and the public at large. But it comes as a surprise to many that, in spite of John's remarkable expertise with the paintbrush, this reluctant artist actually prefers the writing pen as his creative instrument of choice. As a matter of fact, all his major works begin with a written description of what the finished art will look like to the smallest detail.

Being an artist born of two cultures, two languages, and two very distinct times, and, being an individual experienced in the many and unexpected twists of life since his early youth, make John an explosive combination of pragmatism and romantic idealism that expresses itself in a variety of creative ways. Browsing through the pages of this website will introduce you to John's art in a candid and entertaining manner. The fact that his ecletic and prodigious body of work appear to have been done by several completely different individuals add a new level of interest to both the reading and the viewing. For a quick glance at a chronology of his work, take a look at the 'Artwork by Year' page on the menu.

Defining John's particular art style is an exercise in futility. He doesn't seem to follow any predetermined path in a life that appears to be steered by unpredictable twists of fate. He actually never really tried to build an artistic career. Even more intriguing is the fact that he never ever paints unless someone hires him to do so. But contradictions aside, his creative output provide ample evidence of great control, practice, knowledge and discipline in both thoughts and actions. His mind never rests. When not occupied with painting commissions, doing drama (writing, acting, directing, designing), designing for entertainment venues or doing community work, John hopes to return one day to his lifelong attempts at teaching Spanish to his children -John Alexander and Selina Marie (and possibly to his grand kids Samuel Andrés, William, Lyla, and Salomon John) -and the art of cooking a decent meal.

John has earned a B.A. in Art Education from Cleveland State University, an M.F.A. in Studio Arts from Vermont College of Norwich University and is an alumnus from the prestigious Washington Centre Leaders Fellowship Program at our Nation's capital. He gave up pursuing a PhD because "life's too short -and so is money". He also has served in boards at the following institutions: The Cleveland Public Theater, The RTA's Arts onTransit Committee, and (Cleveland) Mayor White's Commission on Public Art. Presently, he sits on the board of the LatinUS Theater Company, and volunteers as competitions judge and guest lecturer at the Cleveland Photographic Society.


Enjoying life with Happy and Charlie. Lakewood, Ohio, 2019

Scene Magazine featured John as one of Cleveland's most interesting people in their 'The Best of Cleveland' 2015 Issue, and coined the moniker "The People's Artist". In 2014 John was honored with a Neighborhood Improvement Award by the Cleveland City Council. His monumental work, 'It's up to us', has become a Cleveland Landmark. In 2019 John return to acting in the challenging role of Dr. Roberto Miranda in "La muerte y la doncella" -Death and the Maiden, and make his directorial debut at Cleveland's Playhouse Square Helen Theater, were he crafted and directed the award-winning comedy 'The Unsual Case of Miss Piña Colada', by Carlos Ferrari.

To date, John is considered to be one of the top muralists in the United States as well as one of the most gifted and dynamic art lecturers anywhere. But he considers the greatest fortune of his "mature years" marrying a professional chef -the lovely Nancy Anne Lewis. As of 2020, John is busy researching and writing a historical play about the Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León, titled: "It happened in 1510", and doing pre-production work for his artistic interpretation of "La Casa de Bernarda Alba", by Federico García Lorca, which he plans to re-design and direct in 2021.

In his spare time, John spoils his two Cavalier King Charles Spaniel pups, Happy and Charlie, plays computer strategy games, tries to practice at perfecting his fencing skills (el arte de la esgrima), and tries really, really hard to stay out of trouble.

Mural de Lijas Personal Trivia
Only for the curious.
Click on the picture to find out.

About Muralmaster.org

Muralmaster® is ‘an educational site’ privately sponsored and maintained. It contains no pop-ups, sales banners or advertisements. People from over thirty countries routinely visit Muralmaster to enjoy the articles and admire the art. This website is also a great learning tool for artists and young students wanting to know more about the inner workings of this artistic profession. In Muralmaster they get what they can’t get elsewhere: an intimate and sobering look into the struggles of an artistic mind and the difficult career-realities of being an artist.