Short Bio

Ricky Mujica

Loss - Self portrait by Ricky Mujica

Ricky Mujica, born in NYC, is an award winning figurative painter, husband and father. Among his awards are, 1rst place (the Cadmium Award) TRAC2019, 1rst place Lore Degenstein Ninth Annual Figure Competition, 1rst place April Round TRAC 2015, The Florence and Ernest Thompson Memorial Award, Finalist several times in the Portrait Society of America, Oil Painters of America, NOAPS, Salmagundi Club, Allied Artists, and an Honorable Mention in Figurativas Barcelona. His paintings have been exhibited and are in collections all over the world. He has been named a “Living Master” by The Art Renewal Center, has a Signature Status with the Portrait Society of America, is a member of the Poets and Artists Collective. He proudly teaches painting at the Art Students League of New York and is on the faculty of the Florence Academy MA program where he teaches academic drawing and painting. His paintings are a main component and featured in the movie, “Insidious 5 The Red Door”.

Ricky Mujica as well as being an artist and illustrator, has also been a boxer (Golden Glove Semi-Finalist), a break dancer (one of the first breakers to tour northern Europe and Africa), a singer/actor (was cast in three major Andrew Lloyd Weber productions), a roller skater (traveled the world with Starlight Express as actor and skate coach), played Guiro and sung back up in Los Salseros (a salsa band in Germany in the 90’s) and was an original Zoo York skateboarder.

Long Bio in the first person

War Zone

War Zone - by Ricky Mujica

I was born in New York City and raised on the Upper West Side. I am of Dominican/Cuban descent. My mother was a single mom who raised my brother George and me, by herself.

I always think about how hard it must have been for her.She worked two jobs and with occasional help from public assistence programs, we somehow got along. I was always getting into trouble and my brother was involved with gang life. We were two wild boys growing up in New york at a time when the city was a war zone.

Mercedes Morillo El Guitarista

El Guitarista - by Mercedes de las Marias Morillo Lopez

My mother was an amateur artist. She learned to paint from a local artist who had studied abroad and had set up shop in her small town in Dominican Republic. He gave the local kids painting lessons in exchange for some chores around his studio. When my mom was 21, he sent her artwork to an art school in post war Europe, where she received a full scholarship to study art. Sadly, her mother would not let her go. She had antiquated ideas about a "woman's place" and believed that my mother would be better off learning to cook and clean in order to be able to get a better husband. Funny, my mother never did learn to cook well, and sadly, never did have much luck in the man department. My father, who left before I was born, was no exception.

Tia Ana

Tia Ana - by Ricky Mujica

Things got incredibly tough for us when I was 12 and so I moved in with my mother's older sister Tia Ana. She lived in Harlem and I would commute to Junior High School.

police arrest papers

Arrest report for writing graffiti on the trains. I was 13 years old.

I got into trouble frequently and was arrested on 125th street for writing on the trains. Tia Ana picked me up from the police station and my mother never found out.

George Sen On Morillo

Untitled painting - by George SenOne Morillo

That experience made my mother extremely supportive of my little brother, (George “Sen One” Morillo), and me (even though I wasn't living with her anymore).. She was very supportive of our art and my little brother has become a fine artist in his own right, with paintings that hang in a gallery alongside such luminaries as Picasso, Miro, Frankenthaler, Chagall, Motherwell, Lichenstein, and many others.

At the age of 15, I entered the High School of Art and Design. It was there that I began to paint from life. While in the eleventh grade, my best friend Mark Texiera of Marvel Comics fame. He was the best artist in my school and introduced me to the legendary “Old Hat Painting Club”.

Max Ginsburg

Painting by Max Ginsburg

Irwin Greenberg

This was an early morning painting group run by two modern masters, Irwin Greenberg and Max Ginsburg. The students were a mix of Art and Design graduates, and undergraduates, We would arrive at school before 6AM, to wait for the janitor to open the school, and then run up to room 416 to paint from life. There were no credits for this class and no pay for the teachers. It was solely a labor of love, both on the teacher’s part and on our part.

I continued to paint at the High School of Art and Design “Old Hat Club” even after graduation, until the powers that be didn’t understand what a special thing this was, cut the class to a half hour before classes, and banned graduate students from the coming to the class. Fortunately, former students Art and Design who went to the Old Hat Club and now teach at Art and Design, have managed to somehow keep the Old Hat Club going.

In the summer between my 11th and 12th grade, a group of Old Hat Clubbers led by Steven Assael, continued the Old Hat Club. We gathered on summer mornings, in a dance studio on 56st and 8th ave to paint from life. I learned a lot from Steve.

While in 12th grade, the great Harvey Dinnerstein, after seeing my High School senior work, invited me to attend his college Senior drawing class at School of Visual Arts. That was an amazing experience and for the rest of the year, Mark, my friend Darrel, and me, continued to go to Harvey Dinnerstein’s class, once a week, after school. That was great, and I feel very fortunately to have been invited to paritcipate in that incredible opportunity.

Ricky Mujica A&D Mural

HS of Art and Design Mural by Ricky Mujica

Also in the 12th grade, I became part of a mural class that was taught by Max Ginsburg afterschool. This class of 8 students met everyday, after school, to work on 4 feet by 4 feet murals. Each student had their own mural, they had their own concepts based on the idea of “A day in the life of a student”, they designed, painted, and composed them themselves, and did all the work from life. Max Ginsburg received no extra compensation and the students received no credits. But the Board of Education gave Max Ginsburg the Teacher of the Year Award, and most of the students including me, got full scholarships.

I graduated from High School on the honor roll at the top of the class, and after high school, I continued his art education at Parsons School of Design /New School for Social Research where he received a full scholarship and graduated on the Dean’s list. Notable teachers at Parsons were Kes Zapkus, David Passalacqua, Robert Levering, Randall Enos, and Keith Long.

While at Parsons School of Design, I received a Dean’s Scholarship to study at Parsons in Paris, where I was lucky enough to have Keith Long as a teacher once again.

The Corpse Wore Pasties

The Corpse Wore Pasties - Illustration by Ricky Mujica

Upon graduating from Parsons, I pursued my dream to be a fine artist. I began by supporting himself with illustration assignments from major publishing companies. Soon he was doing illustrations for every major publishing company including Harlequin, Bantam, Dell/DoubleDay, Simon and Schuster, Little Brown and Company, Harper Collins, and others.

Cherry 7-up Illustration

Cherry 7up TV commercial Illustration by Ricky Mujica

I have also created illustrations for New York Times Magazine, Ebony Magazine, and Cherry 7-UP to name a few. I've has painted murals for Sony and Leows theaters, and have made paintings used on clothes for fashion designers Rachel Roy and Diane Von Furstenberg. My artwork has been presented at the Museum of American Illustration on several occasions.In the early 90’s, I was involved in the now legendary Whitney Protest. Dozens of American Realist Painters picketed the Whitney Museum, protesting the Museum’s bias against representational work in their Whitney Biennial. I wrote one of the speeches delivered to the media by one of the artists.

Due to his frustration with negative attitudes to realism in the 80’s and 90’s, I frequently took detours into the world of performance art. Break Dancing took me to Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Holland, France, and Africa. Musical Theater took me to Germany, Japan, Australia, Mexico, Canada, and on a US tour highlighted by performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, (one of which was attended by the President of the United States). I was a member of the cast of several companies of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Starlight Express. I traveled to Canada as a boxer and was a semi-finalist in the New York State Golden Gloves where I won “Fighter of the Night”, and was a quarter-finalist in the Metropolitan Games.

In 1999, I quit art all together and made my living, for the next couple of years, as the stand-up comic also known as Mookie.

In 2004, I returned to illustration and had immediate success. In 2008, I began to make my way back to my first love, Fine Art. In 2014, I completely left the world of illustration in order to focus completely on traditional painting. Since my return to Fine Art, I have received many awards, including a first place at the April round of The Representational Art Conference 2015 competition (TRAC2015), where my work was exhibited. I have been a finalist and a certificate of merit recipient in the Portrait Society of America International competition. I have placed on several occasions in it’s members competitions. He has been a finalist in the OPA National, Regional and members competitions, the Salmagundi Club members and non-members competitions, the Allied Artists Competitions, the National Oil and Acrylic Painters National competitions, the Richeson Competitions, the Artist Magazine figurative art competitions, and the ARC International Salon Competitions, I won an Art Expo Solo Award, and have received an Honorable Mention in the Figurativas competition in Barcelona (and had my painting printed in the Figurativas catalog). Most recently, I won the Florence and Ernest Thompson Memorial Award at the 103 Allied Artists Exhibition.

I have a Masters of Art degree and I currently teach painting at the Art Student’s League of New York, I teach the MA program at the Florence Academy of Art. I have also taught drawing with the Guggenheim's Summer in the City Program for underpriviliged inner city kids. I have penned painting how-tos for International Artist Magazine and several online forums. I am an ambassador for Michael Harding paints. A Signature Status member of the Portrait Society of America, a designated Living Master at the The Art Renewal Center.

My painting titled “Multitasking” has several million shares on social media, and has become the subject of countless blog articles. It remains very popular as a giclee.

I am proud to have been one of the artists selected to create a post-humus portrait of one of the Emanuel Nine in Charleston. The portrait was unveiled for the family members and the public at the prestigious Principle Gallery.

I am proud that my paintings and my artwork are a character in the hit horror movie, Insidious 5 - the Red Door.

When not painting, I prefer to spend his time with my beautiful wife Heather Harlan, my beautiful daughter Violet Mujica, and my handsome son Julian Mujica. They are my muses, and my favorite subjects.

The Artist's Statement


Ricky Mujica Artist Statement As a contemporary realist painter, I am deeply influenced by the work of masters such as Rembrandt, Velasquez, and Kathe Kollwitz, and I strive to bring a sense of timelessness and craftsmanship to my own work. My paintings focus on the matriarch, and I approach each piece with a sense of empathy and respect for the strength and complexity of these figures. Light and color are crucial elements in my work, and I use them to highlight the subtle nuances and emotions of my subjects. Whether portraying the soft glow of a mother's face or the hard shadows cast by the lines of experience, I aim to use light to bring depth and meaning to my paintings. I have a deep love of color, and I use it to create compositions that are rich and vibrant, conveying the full range of human emotions and experiences. In my work, I seek to capture the sublime - the ineffable and transcendent aspects of the human experience that are at once awe-inspiring and deeply moving. Whether depicting the quiet strength of a grandmother or the fierce determination of a mother, I hope to convey the profound beauty and dignity of the matriarch in all of her many forms. Through my art, I aim to honor and celebrate the strength, resilience, and love of these remarkable women.

I work from life whenever I can. I want the subject’s emotional life to contribute to the work. When it isn’t possible, I work from photos. But I never copy them mindlessly, nor do I make use of projection, tracing, or other mechanical methods. I always draw freehand because it allows the work to have my handwriting, my individuality, my humanity.

When I do work from photos, I work hard not to be shackled by the seductive, mechanical pseudo-perfection of the camera. I want imperfections. I want mistakes. I want people to know that a human did this.

I currently live and work in Montclair.

Ricky Mujica

Curriculum Vitae

Ricardo Jose Mujica (b. 1961, NYC)

ricky@rickymujica.com | www.rickymujica.com 917-620-3220


  • Parsons School of Design New School BFA

  • Presidential Scholarship winner, Dean’s List (1979 - 1983)

  • Parsons in Paris, Dean’s special scholarship winner (1982)

  • The Old Hat Club, with Max Ginsburg and Irwin Greenberg (1976- 1979)

  • High School of Art and Design, honor roll (1976 - 1979)

Selected Exhibitions

  • 2019 Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art, Wausau Wisconsin

  • 2019 Off-Screen Art Show , Brooklyn, NY

  • 2019 Richeson Award 89th Annual Juried Show National Art League, NY

  • 2019 Lawrence & Lydia Miniter Award , Ridgewood Art Institute, NY

  • 2019 First Place (the Cadmium Award) in the October round of the TRAC2019, LA

  • 2018 Family – A Journey – One Man Show , Montclair NJ

  • 2018 Art Students League Instructors Exhibition , Phyllis Harriman Mason Gallery, NYC, NY

  • 2018 Academy of Realist Arts Figure Competition , Guild of Boston Artists Gallery, Boston, MA

  • 2018 Botanical Gardens Plein Air Invitational , Bronx NY

  • 2018 Portrait Society of America - Certicate of Merit, Washington DC

  • 2018 Visual Arts Center 11th Biennial National Art Exhibition - Punta Gorda, Florida

  • 2017 Lore Degenstein Ninth Annual Figurative Competition - 1rst Place, Selinsgrove, PA

  • 2017 Poets and Artists Exhibition - Arcadia Gallery, Culver City, CA

  • 2017 Allied Artists 103rd Exhibition - Florence and Ernest Thompson Memorial Award, NYC, NY

  • 2017 Botanical Gardens Plein Air Invitational , Bronx, NY

  • 2017 Art and Design Alumni Show - NYC, NY

  • 2017 Salmagundi Club Members Show - NYC, NY

  • 2016 Oil Painters of America Eastern Regional Exhibition – Eisele Gallery - Cincinatti

  • 2016 Portrait Society of America International Competition – Certificate of Merit – Washington DC

  • 2016 Parsons School of Design 6 th Annual Alumni Exhibition – New School for Social Research – NYC, NY

  • 2016 Allied Artists of America 103 rd Annual Exhibition - Salmagundi Club – NYC, NY

  • 2016 The Emanuel Nine - Principle Gallery – Charleston, SC

  • 2016 Plein Aire Invitational - Botanical Gardens – NYC, NY

  • 2016 Portraits of My Friends (15 commissioned portraits) - Rachel Roy – NYC, NY

  • 2015 International Portrait Society of America - Annual Conference Finalist – Atlanta, GA

  • 2015 TRAC Winners - The Representational Art Conference – Ventura, CA

  • 2015 Solo Show, Ricky Mujica - Palacio – Des Moines, IA

  • 2014 Allied Artists of America - Salmagundi Club – NYC, NY

  • 2014 23rd Ann. Nat. Jur. Exhib. OPA - Bennington Center for the Arts – Bennington, VT

  • 2014 International Portrait Society of America - Annual Conference Finalist – Washington, DC

  • 2014 Eastern Regional Juried Exhibition OPA - Eisele Gallery – Cincinnati, OH

  • 2014 Salmagundi Annual Members Competition Show - Salmagundi Club – NYC, NY

  • 2013 Group show - Roger Smith Hotel - Lexington Ave – NYC, NY

  • 2012 Group Show Jason Samuel Gallery - Red Dot Fair – Miami, FL

  • 2013 Salmagundi New Members Show - Salmagundi Club – NYC, NY

  • 2012 Salmagundi Non-Members Show - Salmagundi Club – NYC, NY

  • 2009 Work Period - Ginko Gallery – NYC, NY

  • 2006 48th Ann. Soc. of Illustrators Exhib. - Museum of American Illustration – NYC, NY

  • 2000 Permanent Collection - Leows Cinema – Chicago, IL

  • 1999 Permanent Collection - Magic Johnson Theater – Atlanta, GA

  • 1994 Starlighters - Sparkasse Gallery – Bochum, Germany

  • 1992 Un Filet D’or - Cloitre de la Collegial – Villeneuve-Lez-Avignon, France

  • 1992 Ricky Mujica - Forte Saint Andre – Villeneuve-Lez-Avignon, France

  • 1992 American Artists Prof. League Grand Nat. Exhibition - Salmagundi Club – NYC, NY

  • 1991 Group Show - Award winner - Art Students League – NYC, NY

  • 1990 Group Show - O’keefe Center – Toronto, Canada

  • 1990 Group Exhibition - Art Gallery of Ontario – Ontario, Canada

  • 1992 Paintings for La Boheme - Brooklyn Conservatory of Music – Brooklyn, NY

  • 1991 Painting for Handel’s Messiah - Brooklyn Conservatory of Music – Brooklyn, NY

  • 1989 Society of Illustrators Annual Exhib. - Museum of American Illustration – NYC, NY

  • 1988 Group Show - Grand Central Art Galleries – NYC, NY

  • 1987 Solo Show - Oval Gallery, World Trade Center – NYC, NY

  • 1987 New York Convention Center - Department of Cultural Affairs – NYC, NY

  • 1987 American Artists Professional League Grand National Exhibition – NYC, NY

  • 1987 Watercolors Solo Show – Takanawa Prince – Tokyo, Japan

  • 1987 Paperback: The 4x7 Image - Museum of American Illustration – NYC, NY

  • 1986 Solo Show - Studio 26 – Oslo, Norway

  • 1985 All the Comforts of Home, cur. by Paul Smith & Stacie Teele – Kamikaze – NYC, NY

  • 1985 Watercolor Landscapes solo exhib. - Civic Center – Empangeni, South Africa

  • 1985 Watercolor Landscapes solo exhib. - Veldenvlei Com. Hall – Veldenvlei, South Africa

  • 1985 Watercolor Landscapes solo exhib. - Jewel Centre – Johannesburg, South Africa

  • 1985 Hispanic Heritage Week of Cultural Arts - Oval Gallery, World Trade Center – NYC, NY

  • 1984 Dominican Artists of New York - Dep. of Cultural Affairs - City Gallery – NYC, NY

  • 1988 Celebration of Unity - Group show (including Keith Haring) - Palladium – NYC, NY

  • 1983 Soc. of Illustrators Student Exhib. - Museum of American Illustration – NYC, NY

  • 1982 Landscapes - Les Eyzies – Dordogne, Southern France

  • 1979 Industrial Arts Teachers Assoc. - Youth Comm. - Walt Whitman Hall – NYC, NY

  • 1979 Center for the Humanities Show of scholarship winners – NYC, NY

  • 1979 Group Show - VAGA - One World Trade Center – NYC, NY

Illustration (1983 - 1992, 2002 - 2015)

Harlequin, Avon Books, Harper Collins, Bantam, Dell/Doubleday, Simon and Schuster, Little Brown Books, New York Times Magazine, New York Times, Daily News , El Diario, Ebony Magazine, Leo Burnett Advertising Agency, Alfred A. Knopf, Scholastic Books, E.P. Dutton, Atheneum Books, Simon and Schuster, Cherry 7-up


National Art League Richeson Award | 2019 First Place (the Cadmium Award) the October round of the TRAC2019 | Lore Degenstein Ninth Annual Figure Competition (Best in Show) | The Florence and Ernest Thompson Memorial Award | Allied Artists Exhibition | TRAC2015 April 2015 Cadmium Award winner | The Artist's Magazine 33rd Annual Art Competition finalist | ARC (Art Renewal Center) finalist several times | National Portraits Society Members Competition 2nd place (twice) | National Portraits Society Members Competition 4th place | National Portraits Society Members Competition 7th place | Oil Painters of America - Certificate of Merit (three times) | The Richeson Art Competition finalist | Allied Artist Competition finalist (twice) | Salmagundi National Competition finalist (twice) | Portraits Society of America International Competition finalist (three times) | Portraits Society of America exceptional merit winner (twice) | Figurativas, Barcelona (special mention) | 48th annual Society of Illustrators certificate of merit | National Oil and Acrylic Painters Competition best narrative and narrative excellence | Industrial Arts teachers Association Youth Commission - achievement incentive award | Center for the Humanities - scholarship in the arts | Presidential Scholarship | Art Expo 2012 - solo award | American Watercolor Society Competition - honorable mention | Portrait Society of America Signature Status


International Artist magazine | Artists Magazine | Art Business News - top 50 emerging artists | Daily News | El Diarrio | Paperback Parade | WNEW - Dominican Artists of New York | Underpaintings Magazine | Artists Magazine, New York Magazine | Fine Art Connoisseur | Artists, Showcase Magazine “Meet 50 Fascinating Artists” | Art Renewal Center Blog (“The Power of Representational Art Conference 2015”) | Cosmopolitan | Women Daily Magazine


UPS | Sony Theaters | Magic Johnson Theaters | Starlighthalle Germany | High School of Art and Design | Teatro Polanco | Mexico City | Rachel by Rachel Roy | State Theater | Chicago | Fox Theater - St. Loius


Art Student’s League Faculty | Chelsea Art Studios | Portrait Society of America Faculty | Altos de Chavon at Parsons School of Design