(1883 - 1942)
Walter Mruk attended the Art Students League in New York. In 1920, Mruk along with his childhood friend Jozef Bakos, joined artist John E. Thompson on a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico. During that trip Mruk decided to move to Santa Fe and started to painting with the other artists he met in Santa Fe. At that time, the Taos Art Colony and its traditional style was the predominant type of art being produced in New Mexico. However, Mruk and the other artists considered themselves to be Modernists and were working in a much different style from the Taos painters.
In the fall of 1921, five painters, Mruk, Will Shuster, Willard Nash, Fremont Ellis and Jozef Bakos, formed the avant-garde group, Los Cinco Pintores (The Five Painters). This was the beginning of Santa Fe's history as a famous art colony. Los Cinco Pintores, seeking freedom from the constraints of traditional academic art, were strongly influenced by the work of Robert Henri and John Sloan, also known as the Ashcan School. Their first exhibition of Los Cinco Pintores was held at the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe in December of 1921, an art critic commented, "These men believe in color and are not afraid to use it. Upon entering the galleries, visitors are greeted with a great shout of color that is almost stimulating."
Having limited money, Los Cinco Pintores helped each other build small houses on land among Camino del Monte Sol in the Canyon Road area of Santa Fe. Later, in 1923, a group formed that was called the New Mexico painters, and by 1924, Mruk, John Sloan, Randall Davey and Andrew Dasburg had joined the group. Though his work received favorable reviews, in 1926 Mruk left Santa Fe and Los Cinco Pintores dissolved. Due to a fire of his early work, and the destruction of his later works by his family, little of his artwork has survived.