Created and Sold by Stefan Salinas

Stefan Salinas
Murals by Stefan Salinas seen at St Stephen's Catholic School, San Francisco - Baptistry Mural
Murals by Stefan Salinas seen at St Stephen's Catholic School, San Francisco - Baptistry Mural
Image credit: Painting & Design: Stefan Salinas. Paints: Precita Eyes. Gold leaf: Golden Leaf Products.

Baptistry Mural

Item details

Acrylic and gold leaf. 2019.
The request from Rev. Tony Latorre, the pastor, was to bring to our mind the baptism of Jesus.

The elements to work with included the natural world that makes up the Bay Area, the modern design of the baptismal font, and finally the 1960’s chunk rock stained glass window of St. Francis. A baptism being performed recalls the baptisms of the family and friends present, as well as the Baptism of the Lord. Thus this mural is set in more than one time period - in a sense, it is a timeless room. Christ and St. John the Baptist are depicted in a style lifted from Medieval and Renaissance paintings (with composition inspired by a work by the Baroque painter Bartolomé Esteban Murillo). In contrast, the environment is like one out of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries impressionist and Fauvist paintings, bringing it closer to the present. The disciples of St. John the Baptist, to the right, and the villagers on the left, are even more expressively depicted, as a nod to the style of the stained glass window. It is as if the people walked out of this very church’s windows = the parishioners, past and present, of this very parish. Yes they are standing beside the Jordan River, but then there is local flora and fauna, and even the Pacific Ocean in the distance! And so we are standing in the Holy Land, and at the same time where we are right here in San Francisco. The styles, bright colors and gold sky are not a realistic environment, but a heightened spiritual landscape. Historically, paintings in churches, especially early icons, were meant to make us feel as if we are not on Earth, but almost in a heavenly plane.

Some details:

The tradition of the time of Christ, The baptizer would also be standing in the water. I took cues from several historic paintings of the scene, in which St. John is standing on the bank, as it adds more visual drama. Two of Christ’s disciples were fishermen, and so two fishermen are featured, dragging a net ashore, and two more are o a fishing boat, in the ocean. The Holy Spirit is coming from the sky, but down at an angle from, and on the same wall, as St. Francis (who spoke to the birds). The pastor asked that his terrier be included, hence the little white dog present. The Rabbi standing next to him is loosely a stand-in for the pastor. I figured he would have been a rabbi (the Pharisees), rather than the more political high priests (Sadducees). His attire, not that far off from today’s Orthodox rabbis, is a quick visual reminder of Christ’s earthly Jewish Lineage. The river emerges from a vanishing point on the horizon, and the hills on either side help dramatically emphasize the final place where the golden sky (heaven) dips down to meet the water, which flows forward, down, and spreads out in both directions. Standing in the room, it is as if we are also standing in the water. Another reminder of our baptism.

This commission has been both an honor and a true blessing to work on.

Context & Credits

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Stefan Salinas

Meet the Creator

"I've spent the last three years writing, illustrating, self-publishing and promoting two children's books. Along the way I have worked with carpenters, tile printers and stained glass craftsmen to make installations in churches. A mural here, a logo there, some Photoshop employed to design brochures and banners. Illustrated for a Jesuit's book, and contributed graphics and logos for the Blind Vietnamese Children Foundation (their art director for ten years) and other non-profits. Let my hands help your project come to life!

I was born and reared in that great cosmopolitan cow-town known as Houston, Texas, then moved over to San Francisco, California. I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Houston in 1997 and have since busied myself with public commissions, painting and working on books."

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