Escape Artist: Memoir of A Visionary Artist on Death Row


William A. Noguera has spent 34 years at the notorious San Quentin Prison, home to the nation’s largest and deadliest death row. Each day, men plot against you and your life rests on a razor’s edge. In Escape Artist: Memoir of A Visionary Artist on Death Row, he describes his personal growth as a man and artist and shares his insights into daily life and the fight to survive in the underworld of prison culture.

After being sentenced to death, he arrived at San Quentin Prison and was thrown into a rat- infested cell—it was there that he discovered the key to his escape: art. Over the next three decades, Noguera rebelled against conventional prison behavior, and instead forged the code he lives by today—accepting responsibility for his actions, and a self-imposed discipline of rehabilitation. In the process, he has explored his capacity to bring focus and clarity to his artistic vision. An unexpected transcendent moment occurred while Noguera lay face down in the prison yard as guards fired shots at two men locked in battle. He realized the prisoners around him, their lives and experiences behind these walls, possessed significant worth.

Escape Artist exposes the violence, politics and everyday existence within the underbelly of society that is prison life. Noguera’s story includes having been an abused child and a victim of racial discrimination and bullying. Ultimately, these challenges led him to the martial arts —and the lethal unknown side effects of Roid-Rage Syndrome caused by steroid use. In an unprecedented narrative, Noguera reveals the emotional and heart-wrenching loss that landed him on death row and the journey he has taken to become an award-winning artist, speaker, and author, a tale of one man’s transformation through tragedy.

  • HARDCOVER:        January 16th 2018
  • eBook:                    January 30th 2018
  • FORMATS:             Hardcover | eBook
  • PAGES:                448
  • DIMENSIONS:       5.75 x 8.75 inches
  • ISBN 10 (print):    1609807979
  • ISBN 13 (print):     978-1609807979
  • GTIN:                      09781609807979
  • ISBN eBOOK:         9781609807986
  • ASIN (Amazon):    B071D2F4VX
  • PUBLISHER:           Seven Stories Press, NY

William A. Noguera —is an award-winning artist, author and speaker, William A. Noguera has gained international attention and received accolades for his photographic hyper-realistic ink compositions, profound mixed-media paintings, hybridized abstract expressionism and neo- constructivist wall sculptures—exhibiting in Paris, New York and San Francisco. Noguera has been the subject of over 35 articles in such publications as Forbes, The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and BOOM! A Journal of California. Besides being an artist and lecturer, Noguera is a former Hapkido Middle-Weight Champion. Since writing his memoir, Noguera has aspired to help others through lectures at MBA programs and as a radio guest speaker, concentrating on prevention and intervention. Noguera’s inspiration is simple: pay his debt to society by creating art for charitable causes and encouraging others, and writing and speaking about what it takes to make progressive self-change and the continuous effort that is required for someone to have a positive influence on others. Noguera’s talks share an eye- opening, thought-provoking narrative on the realities of wrongdoing, prison life, ethical responsibility, prison gangs, their culture, the ramifications of destructive behavior, and the rewards of constructive rehabilitation.

Walter A. Pavlo Jr. —is the co-author of Stolen Without A Gun: Contributions from Inside History’s Biggest Accounting Fraud, and a contributor to—Pavlo is also a business professor and a professional-speaker who has addressed the FBI, top-ranked business schools and universities, accounting firms, law enforcement agencies, professional societies, and corporations on the subject of white collar crime. He is a frequent contributor to CNBC and Fox Business, and he has made television and radio appearances, and public speaking.

Seven Stories Press, NY – P U B L I S H E R

Founded in 1995, Seven Stories Press publishes works of the imagination and political titles by voices of conscience.
Distributed by Penguin RandomHouse the world’s largest trade book company.


COVER DESIGN: Stewart Cauley

American Booksellers Association, NY

A. B. A., NY

Founded in 1900, American Booksellers Association as a national not-for-profit trade organization who works to help independently owned bookstores grow and succeed. Core members are key participants in their communities’ local economy and culture, and provides education, information, business products, and services; creates relevant programs; and engages in public policy and industry advocacy. The A.B.A. actively supports and defends free speech and the First Amendment rights of all Americans. A volunteer board of eleven booksellers governs the Association.


September 2017 Indies Intro, Non-Fiction


January 2018 Indie Next Great Reads List


Chris Morrow, Northshire Bookstore (VT)

“Escape Artist is a gripping, sad, inspirational, and amazing story of being on death row in America’s worst prison and, more interestingly, the emotional journey that got Mr. Noguera into prison and how he evolved into a world-class artist and rehabilitated human being.”

Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore (WA)

“William Noguera’s road from ‘the world’ to San Quentin prison was a hard one. Even harder was life in the confines of the prison for 34 years, on death row, awaiting his end. But that life brought him to a realization about the value of life and he turned to art to express his new-found ideas, insights, and feelings. An award-winning artist and speaker—and now an author as well—he wants to share the story of his move from roid-rage, caused by his use of steroids, to a new life—found where he expected his physical life to end. This is an insightful, encouraging autobiography that explains much and asks some hard questions about our system of justice and what it means to be a criminal.”

Alyson Turner, Source Booksellers (MI)

“This memoir is rich with sincere storytelling. It is inspiring to know that even in a harsh and unforgiving place like prison, it is possible for someone to produce such a creative expression. Noguera’s art goes beyond the physical bars to express themes that represent his experiences and ideas. Readers will find that Noguera is not only an award-winning visual artist, but he is also a model of compassion and generosity.”


Kirkus, NY

Founded in 1933, KIRKUS MAGAZINE AND REVIEWS an authoritative voice in book discovery giving industry professionals a sneak peek at the most notable books being published weeks before they’re released; serving consumers and readers an unbiased, critical recommendation they can trust, with a full suite of author services —Indie for self-publishers; Editorial services for unpublished and self-published authors; and Marketing services helping authors get discovered by consumers, publishers, agents and film executives.


Memoirs & Biographies, Non-Fiction
How a death row inmate acquired solace and inner penance through education and art.


Kirkus Magazine (NY)

“Currently serving a death sentence at San Quentin State Prison, Noguera writes candidly and unrelentingly about his abusive childhood and his irreversible brushes with trouble as a youth. The bulk of the book details the vicious, unpredictable culture, survival tactics, and tangled hierarchy within the prison where he has spent the past 34 years. Through his fascinating and frequently shocking jailhouse memoir of San Quentin life (with its ironically coveted “million-dollar view of San Francisco”), readers will learn the art of “keistering,” the hazards of integrated prison yards and segregated gang affiliations, and how books on distinguished poets, artists, and philosophers at the prison library awakened in the author the “passion, love, hate, fury, and all of the human emotions that would later be the basis for my own work.” Noguera discusses his past as a primal, animalistic young man who became a targeted prisoner in Orange County Jail and his present struggles reconciling a dark, inescapable fate with the production of painted artwork, his “vehicle of escape” (liberally displayed throughout the book), offering a creative outlet for his frustration and inner angst. The author’s reflections focus primarily on his time in jail, leavened with guidepost life principles that he learned and adopted while behind bars. In the final chapters of the book he shares the intimate details of the vengeful 1983 homicide of his then-girlfriend’s abusive mother when he was 18. This event’s description is as lucid as the passionate tone Noguera adopts when describing his ongoing efforts of atonement, including the formation of a charitable foundation that donates art sale proceeds and remote speaking engagements on professional ethics and corporate responsibility. The author’s obvious remorse and firm commitment to self-rehabilitation are honorable and very much apparent throughout a moody, divergent memoir in which his impressive artistic oeuvre invariably wrestles with a murderous past and an irreversible death sentence. A provocative and sure-to-be-controversial portrayal of repentance through art.” (2017-DEC)

Distinguished Readers

Luis J. Rodriguez, author

Always Running: La Vida Loca, Gang Days in L.A., It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions, and Healing.

“William A. Noguera is proof that the arts transcend the worst hells on earth. I’ve been saying this all my life. And I’m not the only one. This book begs the question—can we become more humane, more human, in face of the humanity around us? Noguera did, confronting his traumas and the pain he caused others, facing death and choosing life.” (2017-DEC)

Walter Pavlo,

Prisonology and Author: Stolen Without A Gun

“Noguera writes about his journey of being condemned to death by an Orange County jury for murder in 1983 and reflections on his life, his art, and the role it played in his repentance from a teenage boy to the man he is today. The book is a chilling look through his eyes with nothing to lose in this life except going to his grave without being understood. Noguera is a gifted storyteller whose story is not only valuable, but must be told. Each chapter catapults readers through his teen years into his life in prison, leading to the deeper meaning he discovered within himself, his rehabilitation and the importance of sharing this ascension to help others. Noguera’s story is one of reflection, discipline, creativity and, above all, hope.” (2018-JAN)

Lou Fancher, correspondent

East Bay News, Mercury News

“… An inmate in a brutal, violent climate for more than 30 years and never formally trained as a painter or writer, Artist William A. Noguera, nonetheless produces expressive, award-winning art that is astonishing, as is the clarity and well-crafted technique of his literary voice.” (2018-JAN)

Peter B. Collins, radio host

News/Politics Talk Radio Host and Podcaster at

“Escape Artist is a riveting self-portrait of a man with tremendous talent as a writer and artist, who takes us into the dark, and darker realms of American prisons. His candid, colorful, and often chilling description of the life that led to San Quentin’s infamous death row is one of the most compelling accounts I’ve seen.” (2018-JAN)

  • ORIGINAL DATE:   January 09th 2018
  • HARDCOVER:        January 16th 2018
  • eBook:                    January 30th 2018
  • eBook:                    June 12th 2018




Over 2-million individuals are behind bars in U.S. prisons, living in isolation from their families and their communities.

Prison|Culture investigates the culture of incarceration as an integral part of the American experience through a compilation of stunning and often heartrending art by inmates, as well as artists on the outside.


  • RELEASE:              December 16th 2009
  • FORMATS:            Paperback
  • PAGES:               96
  • DIMENSIONS:      9.2 x 11.00 inches
  • ISBN 10:            1934404119
  • ISBN 13 (GTIN):   978-1934404119
  • PUBLISHER:         City Lights Foundation Books



San Francisco Chronicle

The San Francisco Chronicle is the largest newspaper in Northern California and the second largest on the West Coast —founded in 1865 by Charles and Michael de Young, having been awarded six Pulitzer Prizes for journalistic excellence. Its sister-site, SFGATE, launched in 1993 —wildly reflective of right now, provocative, energetic, unapologetic, the GATE is in constant conversation with the world’s most eclectic city. Combined, the San Francisco Chronicle and SFGATE reach over 30 million readers each month.


Editorial Review

“The City Lights Foundation has published Prison|Culture, a thought-provoking collection of art- everything from paintings to poems to plays-that explores the experience of incarceration. Produced in collaboration with San Francisco State and Intersection for the Arts, the book features essays by and interviews with prominent artists, scholars and activists.”