Jon’s Gallery

Jon’s Gallery


Artist Jon


Jon, 42 years old

Incarcerated: 7 years

I  found Christ and my spiritual life has grown along with my faith and hope. I am sharing with Humans of San Quentin to give back and hopefully share some smiles, positivity, and inspire others. I love volunteering and giving back. I never sell any of my work. The rewards come with smiles, laughter, and the possibility you could change the direction of someone’s difficult day. The painting I created started with a project that went from the walls of my cell to canvas. I have always been good with my hands fixing and innovating. When I find something that makes me happy I share it in hopes it will bring joy to others. With patience and peace good things will find you. You are worth it, never give up! My family wanted to see my paintings so I had to put them on canvas so I could mail them home. HoSQ gives me the opportunity to share my work with not only my family but anyone that wants to see. Thank you for the wonderful opportunity to rediscover a little HUMANITY.

Gerardo’s Gallery

Gerardo’s Gallery


Artist Gerardo “Jerry” “Junebug”

Gerardo “Jerry” “Junebug”, 39
Incarcerated: 16 years
Housed: Centinela State Prison, Imperial, California

Prior to prison I was a college athlete running track and playing baseball. I had a full time job as a fitness counselor and had a beautiful, kind loving pitbull named Eva. My life was tied together by sports. I always felt it was my ticket to a brighter future. I constantly found myself surrounded by friends having a good time. Today I realize I never had any real friends because every one of them has turned their backs on me. Being alone has been the hardest adjustment I’ve had to make, now I understand the true meaning of family and friendship. I truly value those who have stood by me during these hard times. It’s easy to take things for granted, but I can’t do that. I embrace the things I don’t have and honor the things I do. I’ve spent many days and nights searching deep inside myself to find where I went wrong and why things turned out this way. I’ve made a lot of changes for the better to become the best version of myself and to praise those who walk this journey by my side and if I’m ever given an opportunity to regain my life, the first thing on my list is to show people how much I appreciate them. We all make mistakes in our lives and sometimes there are consequences for our poor choices. It’s what we do in our efforts to change and learn from our actions.

Even though I am locked up, I’d like to think I can do some good and lend my voice to someone out there in hopes my story can make a difference. My new voice is spoken through my art. It is also the sole reason Humans of San Quentin came to hear of me, through my platform on, Art For Redemption. I came into prison scared and confused and only worthy of drawing stick figures. I was sitting in isolation and my neighbor came to check on me and saw I wasn’t doing well. He suggested I try drawing, but I had no skills. He continued to visit me and each day he gave me tips and showed me his techniques enough to where I could fly on my own; that was 16 years ago. Today, my art has touched every corner of the globe and it’s how I’ve become inspired to continue with people out there in the real world picking me up with praise, letting me know I matter and I’ve done something to draw their interest. My passion lies in the emotions I put on paper, sometimes sad and sometimes happy. It all translates to the same language when a piece is complete.

Eric’s Gallery

Eric’s Gallery


Artist Eric, 62

I’ve been in prison for nearly 35 of my 62 years on earth. Though I certainly regretted my role in the crime that took an innocent life, remorse didn’t fully begin to develop until I lost two of my own family members to gun violence in 2008.

Another significant factor in my overall rehabilitation came in 2015 when I was invited to paint murals at Avenal State Prison. I felt like I was doing what I was born to do. Painting became so therapeutic for me that I was moved to co-found a self-sustaining art group a year later in order to offer other inmates the opportunity to realize the same benefits I derived through this creative outlet.

Aspiring to produce more expressive works, my submissions to Humans of San Quentin depart somewhat from the photorealism I generally aim for. The abstract paintings “Peccani” and “Nil Desperandum” are expressions of contrition and hope, respectively. Nearly a decade ago I read an article about an abstractionist from the 1980s who found inspiration for his masterpieces by squeezing his eyes shut and observing the images captured there. Years later as I contemplated the impact of my crime while staring into middle space across the dayroom, I closed my eyes tightly against the tears that threatened there. The bright overhead lights and sunlight spilling in from the high windows burned their impressions into the dark red field of my eyelids. Influenced by this unorthodox technique, as well as “Light Red Over Dark Red” by Mark Rotuko, “Peccari” is both an abstraction of prison and an acknowledgment of my crime.

“Nil Desperandum” is not as solemn in its imagery or color scheme, but it lacks no depth in mood. Its inspiration came from a photograph by a well known Bay Area photographer, Amy Ho. About six years ago while flipping through pages of a photography magazine, I came across an ad for an art exhibit in San Francisco. A picture of “Wall Space II” was featured in the ad, and though it was no more than an inch in size, I was instantly captivated by the warm-toned image. It possessed for me both mystery and promise. Although my interpretation of Amy’s stunning photograph is rendered in cooler colors for a more ethereal effect, I hope it does not deviate too far from the emotions evoked in the original.


When did you start painting?

Evidently, I’ve been drawing since before I can remember. Literally. For far too long I had thought that my twin brother, William, and I started drawing when we were about five or six years old. This mistaken belief was dispelled when my mom came to visit in 2016. The conversation turned to a mural I had painted. My mom reached for my hand and told me an adorable story of when William and I were two and three years old. Our dad had taken her out for the evening, leaving us and our younger sister, Sheri, with the babysitter. When my mom and dad returned, the sitter met them in tears. Panicked, she pleaded, “I was with the baby, so I didn’t know what they were doing in there.” Instantly alarmed, my mom pressed the girl for answers. “You’ve got to see this for yourself,” as she led the way to our room. When she opened the door, my mom’s jaw dropped. William and I had used our crayons to draw on the walls of our bedroom. She said,”There were planes taxiing, taking off, in flight, and landing in a colorful panorama that spanned two of the walls your dad had painted earlier that day.” The cuteness of that story notwithstanding, I grew up in a dysfunctional household. Drawing became a means to escape the violence and neglect. I continued to draw throughout my life, but I felt like my work lacked emotion. I had been searching for years to find an outlet to express myself in more meaningful ways. Seven years ago, I was given the opportunity to paint murals. Although I had never painted before, I possessed an unflappable belief that I could. My very first painting was a 17’ x 81’ wide mural. It was so well received that other painting opportunities arose immediately. I began to notice self-confidence had gotten a bit of a boost from the adulation too. Coming from a broken home in disadvantaged neighborhoods, I had long struggled with low self-esteem and worthlessness. When I began to realize how transformative art had been for me, I co-founded Artistic Rehabilitative Therapy (ART), a group designed to offer incarcerated individuals the rehabilitative benefits I derived from painting. That’s when I really became mindful about what I painted. I wanted my work to represent where I am in my recovery. ART was so successful that we became self-sufficient in short order. With the invaluable support of Warden Ndoh and Dr. Hughes from Fresno State University’s criminology department, we became involved in community projects, had our work exhibited at their graduate gallery and at a year-long installation at Alcatraz Island. We also received local television news coverage. All of these accomplishments were character-building experiences for the men involved, and a reminder to me why painting is so important. 

What is art to you?

A nineteenth century American painter once observed that the purpose of art is not to teach, but to evoke an emotion. I hope the works that I present to the world today evoke emotions and express who I am today. It is liberating to be seen in my authenticity.

What made you want to share your work with Humans of San Quentin?

My answer is three-fold. First, I am pro-socially driven. Donating my artwork to worthy causes in the past have been rewarding experiences for me. I fully embrace the HoSQ ethos and was moved to offer what I could in support of their cause. Second, I have learned that the need to paint is an integral part of my rehabilitation. It helps me stay balanced and to express things that are too big for words. Like, remorse, for instance. Each of the paintings I submitted to HoSQ was accompanied by a brief explanation of the emotion that drives the piece, as well as its inspiration. But my motivation reaches further still. Recently, I was inspired by Zhenga Gershman, a Los Angeles-based artist who started a movement called “Brushes Over Bullets.” She paints portraits of people affected by war. Her current series features victims of Putin’s war in Ukraine. I was literally moved to tears by one of her paintings. It depicted a little girl crying and was aptly titled “Tears.” Notwithstanding my concern for the innocent lives lost and those who remain in peril from Russian aggression, the image of that little girl could have easily been culled from news stock of a child grieving the loss of a parent, sibling, or friend to gun violence in any American city. Gershman said she wants her viewers “to feel so much empathy that they’d rise up and do something.” She succeeded. I hope to emulate her movement in slightly different terms. I strongly believe a movement, perhaps “Canvases Over Crime,” depicting people impacted by crime, could dovetail into the victim impact pathos currently taught to offenders in prisons nationwide. I envision evoking empathy with indelible images that compel others to action, just as Gershman’s paintings moved me. If incarcerated people painted the images, they could develop empathy through the creative process. The idea is still in its embryonic stage, but I hope by sharing it on a social media platform through HoSQ, I may attract collaborators to help me see it through. Third, I have a voice of reformation that I believe can be heard through the HOSQ venue.”

Kit’s Gallery

Kit’s Gallery


Artist Kit

I began painting with acrylics and oils on the “Honor Yard,” a facility at California State Prison, Los Angeles County. I usually approach most paint projects by first learning the required size of the canvas. When I saw the 6”x6” mini stretched canvas, I was tickled to the core of my being, thinking it was some type of joke! I’ve never painted on such a small surface like this before and I thought, “NO BIG DEAL!” Well, trying to paint on a tiny canvas was a lot more challenging than I arrogantly thought. I literally sat there for hours trying to conjure up various ideas, but to no avail. So, as I slowly sipped on a hot tea, “chillaxing,” I asked the mini-size canvases, “YOU TELL ME WHAT YOU DESIRE TO BE!?” And out of the blue, I telepathically received a selfie from Da Paco Tica showing off its cool smile. Then a patriotic eagle with its glamorous profile followed by a Lonerwolf and a cool fox. Thank you Lord for the wisdom of the fox; had I continued on the destructive path of an angry wolf, I would have never discovered the narrow path which leads me home – FREEDOM!!! I was found suitable for parole on July 8, 2022. In closing, the portraits of J. Lo and Ariana Grande represent what I truly love and enjoy about painting and also what inspires me most – the feminine beauty and their divine aura ni the colors of hope and love ❤️ Kit’s paintings will be available for sale soon – keep an eye out or drop by our office to view them!

Shelley’s Gallery

Shelley’s Gallery


Artist Shelley

A Place of Peace

I hope I inspire love, hope, joy, and peace.

Shelley, 48
Incarcerated: 36 years
Housed: San Quentin State Prison

I was born in 1974, in Los Angeles. I was  raised by my single mom, Wanda Holloway. I spent most of his life incarcerated as a juvenile. I took all my anger and frustration out on drawing and painting when I was young. I had an unstable childhood built on violence, abuse, PTSD and lack of education. It led me to a recurring situation of being damned by incarceration since I was 12. I haven’t spent a year out in society. I  started educating myself and took off. I joined Arts in Correction and started painting small murals on a prison wall in Lancaster State Prison. Struggling with the fact of having to serve 36 yrs to life, I found myself getting my GED. I continued to strive for a better future.

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