John Thompson, the respected art teacher who studied in Paris under the influence of the impressionists, took Bakos and Mruk under his wing and opened up their world to the modernist. art movements in Europe.
Mruk and Bakos followed Thompson to Denver in 1918. They entered their work in the Denver Art Association Annual Exhibition. Their modernist paintings were not well received by much of the general public. Mruk struggled to make a living in Colorado and went to New Mexico and became a forest ranger for the $2.00 a day. Bakos joined him a year later. Santa Fe was so pivotal for Mruk. He joined “[CAT:14:Los Cinco Pintores]” with the four other young artists. This group had a playful camaraderie that led them to be highly desired guests at parties. Mruk, being a cartoonist among other things, would do on the spot impressions of the Santa Fe establishment.
His work along with the rest of the Pintores was exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe. He had a one man show during this time at the Denver’s Chappell House and co-exhibited with Olive Rush at the University of Oklahoma. In 1924 he, John Sloan, Randall Davey, Andrew Dasburg and Theodore Van Soelen joined a new group called “New Mexico Painters”. Though his work received favorable reviews, Santa Fe did not provide a living for him. Opportunity and enough recognition that would lead to a flourishing artistic career did not take place. In 1926 he left. Santa Fe. Los Cinco Pintores dissolved. Mruk lived in Denver briefly and permanently returned to Buffalo. Outside of Santa Fe, he exhibited only once in Buffalo.
Due to a fire of his early work and the destruction of his later works by his family, little of his artwork has survived.