To Top

Meet Ruben Chato Hinojosa, Artist in Point Loma

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ruben Chato Hinojosa.

Ruben, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I have been expressing my artwork since childhood. Both my grandfather and father encouraged my creativity by giving me pencils and paper to draw on. The first painting I created was 5 feet by 10 feet wide. It was an ocean scene with sea life that covered the entire wall in my bedroom like a mural. I created it with colored pencils.

After high school, I went to work on offshore platforms off the coast of Louisiana. My life was permanently altered when I saved a drowning welder just after I witnessed his scaffolding collapse. The owner of the offshore platform suggested I should find a more significant challenge in my life that would make use of my talents. I then joined the United States Navy.

I served honorably in the US Navy for almost 10 years, which allowed me to travel to over 18 different countries and share my Apache heritage with other cultures. I am a Veteran of Foreign Wars with an Honorable Medical Discharge. I am currently the Director of Public Relations for the Naval Special Warfare – Combatant-Craft Crewman Association, a nationally recognized charitable organization.

After my military career, I studied Fine Art, Acting, Foreign Language and earned Honors World Music and Honors Art History at Mesa College and SDSU. As a SAG-AFTRA member, I have worked on over 18 films actor roles. I am known for my eagle paintings and sculptures which are titled “Nalwodi” which means strength in Apache.

I am blessed to be the current Official Awards sculpture artist for the San Diego International Film Festival 2014-18. My hand-painted award sculptures are in the collections of actors Annette Bening, Alan Arkin, Kate Beckinsale, Gina Davis, Sir Patrick Stewart, Heather Graham, Adrian Brody, John Boyega, Saginaw Grant, Eli Roth, Jason Mitchell, and many others. My mentor in sculpture is nature and its wildlife. My visions in sculpture come from a power from above. I am a very spiritual person; it brings me calmness in my life.
Much of my fine art is inspired by nature. I often hand build my own art wooden panels before creating my wildlife and warrior art. My artistic style can be characterized by the dazzling spiritual colors of modern mixed media naturalistic Expressionism. I love using at times heavy texture with acrylics on my wood panels. My professional arts include Sculpture, Fine Art, Furniture art, and my limited edition Apache Warrior Bone Knives which are in many notable art collections across the United States, Europe, and Canada.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Serving in our military as a Naval Special Warfare Special Boat Units Operator, both in peacetime, and wartime with my military brothers and sisters is the most humbling path of life for anyone who has served our country.
Surviving a 4 hour intracranial right cerebral artery brain aneurysm surgery from military head trauma in 2012, this adversity gave me an eagle story “vision” for a novel, I’m writing about an eagle and a warrior. Everyone goes through something in life that will become your transformation, not something that defines you, but something that will give you a gift you can share with the world. Blessings come in many messages to all of us. The question is “Are you paying attention?”

We’d love to hear more about your business.
I only sell original art, which is only painted on wood panels. I do not paint on canvas. In 2018, I will be making limited edition prints available for sale. There will only be 111, Limited edition prints available to the public. My birthday is November 1. Collectors will know that there will only be 111 prints available which are the combination of my birthday digits.

One of the most powerful sculptures I created was my 9/11 Tribute Eagle in 2002 which is in a private collection. When the San Diego Film Foundation selected me to be the Awards Artist in 2014, many ideas came to life inside my mind. I’m well-known for my wildlife, nature, and eagle sculptures, so I wanted to incorporate an eagle feather with the Pacific Ocean since the eagle is known for both land and sea.

Inspired by someone very special in 2017, I created a new painting series titled the” Happiness Series” which is calm, peaceful, beautiful, and full of vibrant colors.

My military art is a fulfilling way for me to heal my personal “wounds” when creating art as an artist. Military Veterans experience life on a different path, this creativity allows me to restore my inner warrior and give back to those who served our country.

What were you like growing up?
I only dreamed of California as a child. I never foresaw my future as an artist, actor, and soon to be published, author. I am an enrolled tribal member of the Lipan Apache Tribe of Texas as well as a direct decedent of Lipan Apache Chief Pocca Roppa, Chief Flacco, and Geronimo. My childhood was spent in the outdoors hunting, fishing and roadside of freeways selling fruits, jewelry and also, handmade knives with my storytelling grandfather. I am an animal lover, especially dogs! I truly love the outdoors and socializing in many diverse surroundings. Life is so very precious, with that said, I love a smile!


  • Original Art $500.00 – $15,000.00
  • Limited Edition prints $100.00 – $2,000.00

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Main picture- Artist Ruben Chato with Saginaw Grant- Picture by Jeffery Trout, Military Art- In collection Combatant Craft Crewman Association, “Joyfulness”- Happiness Series in Collection of Werling Family- Photo by Artist Ruben Chato, Nalwodi Eagle Sculpture- Picture by Joe Luna, “9/11” Eagle Sculpture Nalwodi Series- By Artist Ruben Chato, “White Horse” Nalwodi Series art- By Artist Ruben Chato, Eagle Award with Heather Graham – Photo submitted by the San Diego International Film Festival- Amanda, St. Martin, “Red Eagle Warrior” Nalwodi Series- By Artist Ruben Chato, Film set “Sierra Nevada Gunfight” – Photo submitted by Director Vernon Mortensen, “Boy Dancer” By Artist Ruben Chato

Getting in touch: SDVoyager is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. James Gray

    May 3, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    A Inspirational artist of the finest degree.. He will go far in Life..Take notice People.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in