Herman Sillas is a native of Los Angeles, and when he was 12, his mother enrolled him in a neighborhood Saturday morning painting class. Three years later his art instructor referred Sillas to the renown Otis Art Institute. Two years later he was awarded a scholarship there. After graduating from high school, he put his art career on hold to attend UCLA’s undergraduate and law school. He opened his Los Angeles law office in 1960. As a young Mexican American lawyer in the turbulent ‘60s, he represented young Chicano activists. His paintings reflected the frustration and anger of his clients. Sillas’ involvement in the Chicano Movement led him to politics where he served as California’s Director of the Department of Motor Vehicles under Governor Jerry Brown from 1975-1978. He was subsequently appointed United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California by President Jimmy Carter and served in that capacity from 1978-1980.
Following his stint in government, Sillas returned to Los Angeles and private practice. Encouraged by Mexican muralist Armando Campero, Sillas began painting with new vigor. His work reflected his Mexican heritage and love for people. He also began writing. Sillas and his wife moved to San Clemente in 1988, after their five children had married and left home. It was here that he was introduced to the San Clemente pier. The openness and freedom he experienced on the pier motivated him to write a monthly column called “View from the Pier.”
Today, he continues practicing law, explores through his art and writings, his cultural roots making use of an inquisitive mind, experienced eyes, a master’s brush and pen using color and words that convey emotion. As an award winning artist, Sillas’ art work has been described as “pictorialmemories of a witness to social change.” His writings convey more than that. He loves the pier and its gift of peacefulness. He doesn’t view a pier as a boardwalk above the waves. In the mind of this old fisherman a pier is a pathway for inspiration to write what he sees and thinks. Both his art and writings may be seen at his website www.hermansillas.com. He may be reached at email@example.com
View From The Pier, Stories from San Clemente
Author: Herman Sillas
WPR Books: 2014
Book Size: 8.5″ x 9″