Muralist brightens holidays for patients and staff at SSM Health’s Madison East clinic

MADISON, Wis. — The waiting room windows at SSM Health’s Madison East clinic will look extra festive again this holiday season thanks to a former custodian who is also a muralist.

For the third year in a row, Artemio Huerta is painting a holiday scene on the windows for visitors and employees alike to enjoy. The display depicts a variety of holiday images ranging from a Christmas tree to snow-capped mountains and a horse-drawn carriage.

He’s expected to finish work on the display this weekend.

It’s a significant draw, even attracting people who don’t have appointments at the clinic, patient access representative Torri Grow said.

“Every day, patients are coming up to us and they’re just in awe,” she said. “The minute they get off the elevator and walk down, they’re just like, ‘Oh my goodness,’ you can hear them talking to their friends or their loved ones talking about it and just how astonished and amazed they are.”

Huerta, who first began painting more than a decade ago, asks clinic staff members for their suggestions and then decides what to paint.

Each display looks slightly different, and Huerta hopes to improve every year.

“I watch some photos online, and obviously in Madison and the whole area of the United States it’s snowy, so you get inspired by pretty much anywhere you go here in Wisconsin and you can see the scenes,” he said.

With the impact Huerta’s work has had, SSM Health is having him come back in the spring to paint another mural on the windows to celebrate springtime.

“It’s his imagination and his creativity that brings this place to life,” Grow said, “and the people around it just, their eyes just open up and they’re just astonished and in awe, and it’s just beautiful.”