Muralist Isaac Caruso brings art and inspiration to Winslow | Navajo-Hopi Observer


Muralist Isaac Caruso believes in the power of daydreaming. Anything is possible when you step through this mystical portal into the world of fiction. For most of us, these daydreams stay deep in our minds. This is not the case for Isaac. He unleashes the wonders of his imagination in the form of public art and transforms walls across the state of Arizona, including Winslow.

At first, however, he struggled to find the right way to express himself. The self-proclaimed “Dream Alchemist” was a classic ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) kid who struggled with traditional teaching methods. He eventually turned to graffiti as a way to get lost in the imagination.

Children are known to write on walls because they want to project their imaginations. We see the same behavior in graffiti artists. In this sense, muralists and graffiti artists are just people who have never lost this desire to visually transform their surroundings.

Caruso’s Moment of Change

Transforming the environment is one thing; breaking the law is another. Then in his twenties, the 23-year-old was caught. At the time, he was working on a grant from the city of Tempe. The city’s art director gave him a choice: “You can either try to be Banksy or do public art, but you can’t do both.”

Isaac (smartly) chose public art, murals, to be exact. He has painted murals for APS, United Way, University of Arizona, and more. He won competitions and even received an NEA scholarship. His current project, however, is closest to his heart.

sam and sara

For over 10 years, Isaac has been formulating the plan for a children’s book called “Sam & Sara” exploring the challenges of having ADHD and functioning in a linear society.

People were sighing,

“She Can’t Care”

but really his thoughts

just had more dimension.

– Excerpt from “Sam and Sara”

It’s not just any ordinary book, however. Isaac’s innovative concept is to create history through a series of 50 murals painted across Arizona. He will then photograph the murals and compile them into a book following Sara as she glides through a texture-rich fantasy world with her adventure partner, Sam.

It’s history

of a girl who would dream

worlds to her

under the moonbeam.

– Excerpt from “Sam and Sara”

Live an adventurous life

Like Isaac, the main character is a dreamer. Sara doesn’t let her attention issues stop her from pursuing a life of adventure, nor does the man who created her. After getting frustrated with college, Isaac hit the road. The travel virus has been a bit harsh. Since then, he has traveled from the frozen fjords of Svalbard to the barrios of Uruguay, creating art along the way.

“I feel compelled to remind people that they are capable of managing their own human experience,” Isaac said.

To Winslow

And now Winslow will also have his work, in the form of two pages of “Sam & Sara”, including the epilogue, featuring Sam who must continue his adventure alone after Sara returns to his own world. The mural is visually appropriate for Winslow showing a dark desert road, an adventurer with his thumbs up, and a hawk.

“I hope this mural conveys the romantic ideas of the open road and adventure,” Isaac said. “I also hope it inspires them to pursue their personal pursuits of happiness and satisfaction in life.”

Winslow will also have the last page of the book, a gloriously colorful mural full of “fiction” (you know, those things in our imagination). This mural incorporates Issac’s two “Sam & Sara” styles: the more caricatural style of the imaginary world and the more representative style of the real world.

This is the only mural showing both on the same page. (I especially like Isaac’s “Vanna White” van fiction with Gustavo hanging his head out the window)

The two murals add a nice splash of color and intrigue to Kinsley Avenue near the famous corner of Winslow, adding yet another interesting element for tourists and locals alike.

Progress of the mural project

To date, Isaac has done 30 murals, starting in 2019 at Camp Verde. He hopes to complete the project within a year, and we plan to transport the book to the Motor Palace Mercantile, across from the murals on Kinsley Avenue.

Many thanks to Isaac and his charming sidekick Gustavo the bull terrier (who even served as mayor for a day)…

We appreciate your kindness, your humor, your passion and, of course, your beautiful work that lights up a little piece of Winslow’s historic entertainment district.

If he inspires people to affect their environment in a positive, creative way (starting a business, making an extra delicious sandwich, sharing an anecdotal story with a friend, etc.), then he has achieved his goal.

Follow Isaac

You can see the murals on Kinsley Ave at Third Street, on the southeast wall of the Wild Styles building.

To keep up with Isaac’s progress, follow him on his website, Sam & Sara’s website, Instagram, and YouTube.

Until next time…

take it easy

Lori Bentley Law is a retired NBC Los Angeles press photographer who now lives in the historic entertainment district of Winslow, Arizona. Visit her website at or follow her at


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