Flying Under the Radar with the Royal Chicano Air Force: Mapping a Chicano/a Art History 9781477312414

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F ly i ng u n der t h e R a da r w i t h t h e R oya l Ch ic a no A i r F or ce

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F ly i ng u n der the Radar with the

Royal Chicano Air force Mapping a Chicano/a Art History

Ella Maria Diaz

Un i v e r si ty of Texas Pres s Aust in

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Copyright © 2017 by the University of Texas Press All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America First edition, 2017 Publication of this book has been aided by a grant from the Wyeth Foundation for American Art Publication Fund of the College Art Association. Requests for permission to reproduce material from this work should be sent to:      Permissions      University of Texas Press      P.O. Box 7819      Austin, TX 78713-7819      http://utpress.utexas.edu/index.php/rp-form The paper used in this book meets the minimum requirements of ANSI/ NISO Z39.48-1992 (R1997) (Permanence of Paper). Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Names: Diaz, Ella Maria, author. Title: Flying under the radar with the Royal Chicano Air Force : mapping a Chicano/a art history / Ella Maria Diaz. Description: First edition. | Austin : University of Texas Press, 2017. | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2016039539| ISBN 978-1-4773-1203-2 (cloth : alk. paper) | ISBN 978-1-4773-1230-8 (pbk. : alk. paper) | ISBN 978-1-47731241-4 (library e-book) | ISBN 978-1-4773-1242-1 (nonlibrary e-book) Subjects: LCSH: Royal Chicano Air Force. | Mexican American arts— California—History. | Mexican American artists—California. | Social movements in art—History. | Chicano movement—California—History. Classification: LCC NX512.3.M4 D53 2017 | DDC 704.03/6872073—dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2016039539

doi:10.7560/312032

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To students who want to make our world better

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Conten ts A c k now l e d g m e n t s  ix P r e fa c e :

A Flight Formation xi

I n t r oduc t ion:

Mapping the Chicano/a Art History of the Royal Chicano Air Force 1

C h ap t e r 1 .

Building a Verbal-Visual Architecture: The RCAF’s New World Mestizo/a Art 37

C h ap t e r 2 .

Performing La Mujer Nueva: Chicana “Art Work” in the RCAF 84

C h ap t e r 3 .

Heroic Foundations: Chicano/a Heroes in Family, Farmwork, and War 139

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C h ap t e r 4 .

Between the Aesthetic and the Instrumental: Free Association, Collectivism, and Making Space for Chicano/a Art 182

C h ap t e r 5 .

From Front to Force: The RCAF’s Air Force Persona and the Performance of an Archive 232

No t e s  27 7 B ib l io g r ap h y   30 7 I n de x  3 2 3

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Acknow ledgments

T

 is book has taken a long time to complete, and I have many people h to thank. I am grateful to the RCAF members who shared their stories, memories, and art with me for over a decade. Esteban Villa and Juanishi Orosco, my project began with you on December 23, 2000. Irma Lerma Barbosa, thank you for your time, photographs, and records that have enriched the book. I am grateful to Lorraine García-Nakata for sharing her photographs and memories with me. Thank you to Juan Carrillo, Stan Padilla, Sam Rios Jr. and Christina Ramírez-Rios, Josephine Talamantez, Clara Favela, Malaquias Montoya and Lezlie Salkowitz-Montoya, Tomás Montoya, Nalii Padilla-Delap, Elicia Cervantes-Powell, Terezita Romo, and Rudy Cuellar. To Juan Cervantes, Ricardo Favela, Armando Cid, Sam Quiñones, José Montoya, Jennie Baca, and all RCAF members who have passed, I write in your memory. I would like to thank the staff at the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives at UC Santa Barbara, especially Salvador Güereña, Callie Bowdish, and Mari Khasmanyan. I would like to thank Sheila O’Neill, Chris Rockwell, and Julie Thomas at the Department of Special Collections and University Archives at CSU Sacramento. My thanks to Leisa D. Meyer, Charles McGovern, Alan Wallach, and Susan V. Webster, who served on my dissertation committee at the College of William and Mary, along with Salvador Güereña. To my colleagues both near and far, including Mary Pat Brady, Margo Crawford, Karen Mary Davalos, Colin Gunckel, Carlos Jackson, Tiffany Ana López, and Eliza Rodriguez y Gibson, I thank you for your support. It has been an honor and my good fortune to work with Ananda Cohen-Aponte at Cornell. I am indebted to professors C. Ondine Chavoya and Rafael Pérez-Torres, who reviewed my manuscript early on and helped me conceptualize a stronger book. My sincere gratitude ix

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to Kevin Cruz for his hard work and passion for archives and Chicano/a art history. To the English Department and Latino Studies Program at Cornell, thank you for the support and research funds to help me realize my project. I am indebted to the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and the Career Enhancement Fellowship for Junior Faculty. I would like to thank my friends Stephanie Sauer and Janell Lacayo for their encouragement as I descended into rewrites. Last, but not least, my dear parents, David and Cristine Diaz, you have always had my back and have made everything I wanted to pursue possible. Thanks to you, I have finally finished the book. c/s

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Preface A Flight Formation

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first read the phrase “In the Royal Chicano Air Force, we fly below the radar” in the summer of 2000, when I picked up the local newspaper, the Sacramento Bee, and boarded a plane from Sacramento, California, to Williamsburg, Virginia. Having earned my bachelor’s degree in American literature, I was moving to the US Southeast to begin my graduate education in the American Studies Program at the College of William and Mary. I planned to study dialect literature and its relationship to African American voices in film. Preparing for liftoff, I turned to a favorite columnist who commented on various happenings in Sacramento. In an article entitled “Murals Pack a Hidden Punch,” the columnist praised the “restoration of the wall murals lining the K Street tunnel between the Downtown Plaza and Old Sacramento” (Graswich 2000). I had never considered the origins of these massive murals, but I learned that Chicano artist Esteban Villa had created one of the murals, and his colleague Juanishi Orosco had created the other one. Villa was mentioned in the column as saying, “Pedestrians will be rewarded if they look deep inside the designs for farm laborers and a farm truck. ‘In the Royal Chicano Air Force, we fly below the radar’” (Graswich 2000). Having passed the murals for years, I wondered about the hidden images. I also wondered who or what was the Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF). High above the ground, flying toward someplace else, I recalled the moment in José David Saldívar’s (1997) Border Matters when he reflects on his education in South Texas. While very much the center of Saldívar’s universe, his hometown was also a place “where history began and ended with the master periodizing narratives of the Alamo.” Saldívar writes, “I learned all the hard facts about regional hegemony and global colonialism’s cultures, for culture, my teachers believed, always lived somewhere else—never in xi

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our own backyard” (160). In my case, or rather, on my plane, I realized I too believed American culture lived somewhere else. Much like Saldívar, who left South Texas to study American literature at Yale in 1973, I headed to Virginia in 2000 to learn about American culture because I thought “I knew hardly anything about America” (Saldívar 1997, 159). Flying away from the center of my universe, reading an intriguing blurb about hometown murals, I entered a state of Nepantla in the Anzaldúan sense. “Nepantla” is a Nahuatl word for a “space between two bodies of water, the space between two worlds” (Anzaldúa 1999, 237).1 Physically it is a limited space, but according to Gloria Anzaldúa, Nepantla is also conceptually infinite; it is a “space where you are not this or that but where you are changing” (237). A physically confining yet theoretically expansive space, Nepantla perfectly described my in-flight experience. I was deeply engrossed in thought about the RCAF murals—from their narrative potential to the politics of encoded messages in public art. But none of the possibilities excited me. I started time-traveling against the direction of my plane, returning to my adolescence and searching my memory for moments when I had failed to really see the murals (Acconci 1990). I felt uneasy sitting inside a vessel and fastened to a seat that was headed east, then south, while thinking beyond the physical space of the cabin. My discomfort did not stem from a fear that I had made the wrong decision to move away to learn about American culture. Rather, I was in the midst of realizing I had moved away to learn about Chicano/a culture. The RCAF’s art history—when the artwork was made and who and what it responded to—began for me in the twenty-first century. The principal question I ask with my anecdote is why I had not heard of the Royal Chicano Air Force, a historic Chicano/a art collective that was native to my region of California. After all, I had obtained all my education, up through my bachelor’s degree, in Northern California’s public schools. Saldívar’s passage about his education in South Texas echoes in the “regional hegemony” that shaped my monocultural vision of America. While I had access to culture, history, and language at home through my family, Chicano/a art, literature, and history were not taught in my public school classrooms, where a particular cultural vision of American art, literature, and history was definitely taught.2 My lack of Chicano/a consciousness in 2000 mirrors its absence from the historical consciousness of the United States to date.

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Introduction Mapping the Chicano/a Art History of the Royal Chicano Air Force

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he Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF) Chicano/a art collective produced major works of art, poetry, prose, music, and performance in the United States during the second half of the twentieth century and the first decades of the twenty-first. Merging the hegemonic signs, symbols, and texts of two nations with particular but often fragmented knowledge of their indigenous ancestries, members of the RCAF were among a generation of Chicano/a artists in the 1960s and 1970s who revolutionized traditional genres of art through fusions of content and form in ways that continue to influence artistic practices in the twenty-first century. Encompassing artists, students, military veterans, community and labor activists, professors, poets, and musicians (and many members who identified with more than one of these terms), the RCAF redefined the meaning of artistic production and artwork to account for their expansive repertoire, which was inseparable from the community-based orientation of the group. The RCAF emerged in Sacramento, California, in 1969 and became established between 1970 and 1972.1 The group’s work ranged from poster making, muralism, poetry, music, and performance, to a breakfast program, community art classes, and political and labor activism. Subsequently, the RCAF anticipated areas of new genre art that rely on community engagement and relational aesthetics, despite exclusions of Chicano/a artists from these categories of art in the United States (Bourriaud 2002). Because the RCAF pushed definitions of art to include modes of production beyond traditional definitions and Eurocentric values, women factored significantly in the collective’s output, navigating and challenging the overarching patriarchal cultural norms of the Chicano movement and its manifestations in the RCAF. Women painted murals, “pulled” posters, made paintings, and 1

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designed flyers, but they also planned and staged neo-indigenous ceremonies and directed and implemented the collective’s political and community infrastructure. While the RCAF’s contributions to Chicano/a and American art histories are prolific, no full-length scholarly study of the group exists to date. Further, references to the RCAF in books, articles, and major exhibitions about Chicano/a art frame the collective within one historical period—that of the 1960s and 1970s Chicano movement and, specifically, the advent of the United Farm Workers (UFW) union. The role of the UFW in the RCAF was paramount to the collective’s artwork and ethos. Many members of the RCAF grew up in farmworking families amid the larger historical context of the Bracero Program, a binational policy that contracted Mexicans and Mexican Americans to work in agricultural fields in the United States between 1942 and 1964. If they were not from farmworking backgrounds, members were drawn to the farmworkers’ cause as a common experience of hard work and sacrifice in a nation that benefited from Mexican and Mexican American labor but did not recognize it as an important contribution to the country. RCAF members were also influenced by historical and sociopolitical events that coincided with the farmworkers’ strike or occurred before 1965, the year observed as a starting point for Chicano/a art in the foundational exhibition Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation, 1965–1985 (CARA). They served in the US armed forces during twentieth-century wars or came from families with military veterans. Several members attended art schools and universities on the GI Bill, a point of access that was further augmented by federal policies and state programs aimed at increasing the enrollment of underrepresented students. Once in school, RCAF members were exposed to systems of knowledge, professional training, and intellectual ideas that influenced the doctrine of the Chicano movement.2 Their political and intellectual awakening during the Chicano movement shaped their interdisciplinarity as artists and cultural producers. They relied on a fusion of formal choices that developed at the crossroads of institutional access; movements for political, labor, and educational reform; and calls to end the Vietnam War. Still, there were other spheres of influence on the RCAF. From the sitins and marches of African Americans in the early 1960s to the rise of the Black Power movement, RCAF members experienced calls for global solidarity with indigenous peoples, a campaign that originated in the Third World Liberation Front. Older RCAF artists encountered the working-class

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and populist imagery of the 1930s and 1940s cultural front, a term Michael Denning (1998) uses to bring together labor movements, the politics of the Popular Front, and the interracial and multiethnic efforts of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). From collaborations between artists and labor leaders to art classes held “in union halls, and exhibitions of work about or by CIO union members,” the cultural front created “a pluralistic visual culture exceptional for the time” (Ott 2014, 883, 886). The RCAF advanced this visual culture of labor, both in content and form, signaling the continuation of the democratization of the arts in the United States. Like numerous Chicano/a artists in the 1960s and 1970s, RCAF members also participated in self-directed studies of Mexican muralism and the graphic arts of the 1910 Mexican Revolution, adopting the visual vocabulary of an earlier era of politicized art tied to populist uprising. Reconnecting with Mexican history, the RCAF recovered border ballads and folk heroes from the nineteenth-century annexation of northern Mexico by the United States. They also privileged pre-Columbian imagery and spiritual concepts in their art as a cultural foundation for a shared Chicano/a identity. PreColumbian imagery in RCAF art reflected political solidarity with indigenous peoples who had been historically colonized or were enduring civil wars in the mid and late twentieth century. Crossing multiple borders, from the intellectual and historical to the geopolitical, the RCAF made art that catalyzed the decolonization of the Chicano/a mind. The RCAF remained committed to decolonial thought and collectivist values in the content and form of their art throughout the late twentieth century and well into the twenty-first. But their art did not stall or stagnate; rather, it evolved due to the diversity of their biographical experiences. RCAF members came together as an art collective not through a desire for aesthetic uniformity based on one political cause. Each member freely associated with diverse political ideas and racial-equality movements and pursued a range of educational and professional interests. A central example of the free association that informed the group’s interdisciplinarity concerns the origin of the RCAF’s name. Frequently bypassed in scholarship—either spelled out to clarify the collective’s acronym or listed side by side with the “Rebel Chicano Art Front,” which was the first name of the Royal Chicano Air Force—the RCAF’s name has never been a major point of scholarly inquiry. But it reflects the complexity and diversity of experiences that members brought to the collective in tandem with a shared commitment to the Chicano movement. In what follows, I historically

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analyze the RCAF’s name to signal the breadth of events and sociopolitical factors under which members not only created art but created a Chicano/a art collective.

Who, What, Where, When, and Why: How a Rebel Chicano Art Front Became the Royal Chicano Air Force My analysis of the RCAF’s name is a conceptual mapping of the collective’s founding, as opposed to a chronological account. It is also not the first attempt to explain the diverse milieu that shaped Chicano/a art through a mapping paradigm. In fact, the title of this section echoes Shifra Goldman’s (1993) essay “How, Why, Where, and When It All Happened: Chicano Murals of California,” in which she uses frank language to lay bare the diverse elements that influenced Chicano/a art in California (Cockcroft and BarnetSanchez 1993, 16). Recognizing a range of political, aesthetic, and cultural influences that shaped different types of Chicano/a art collectives, Goldman moves in and out of historical events, political movements, and regions of California to tie together a multifaceted overview of Chicano/a art. Goldman’s impulse to map rather than chronologically order Chicano/a art history resounds in my mapping of the RCAF’s name, because both draw on a theoretical tradition in Chicano/a art of reconfiguring signs, symbols, and texts from several epochs to rethink the geopolitical borders that had bifurcated Mexican Americans’ historical consciousness and social reality. It is also a theoretical tradition that RCAF artists helped create. Aerial and terrestrial views of land are important metaphors in RCAF art, articulating a call for the decolonization of the Chicano/a mind by reimagining colonial histories implicit in geopolitical boundaries. In 1975, for example, RCAF artist Rudy Cuellar reimagined the Western Hemisphere in Announcement Poster for Día de la Raza. Foregrounding a table setting in yellow, with a plate, a saltshaker, a knife, a bottle, and an overturned shot glass, Cuellar uses blue paint to depict the oceans that surround the North and South American continents. Blurring the distinction between water and the cosmos with white specks made during the printing process, he gives an impression of a night sky replete with stars. The poster literally rethinks the traditional image of the Western Hemisphere through the space of imagination, inviting viewers to sit at the table, imbibe, and envision the world beyond the colonial mapping (see plate 1).

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A similar reconfiguration of the Western Hemisphere is present in RCAF artist Juanishi Orosco’s L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. south wall mural, originally created in 1984 and renovated in 1999. L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M., which stands for Light Art in Sacramento, Energy Resources In Unlimited Movement, comprises two murals that take up the length of a pedestrian tunnel in downtown Sacramento.3 Following a series of images that visualize geological, spiritual, and political change over time, Orosco depicts an indigenous woman giving birth behind a setting sun. Her hair cascades below her, transforming into the North American continent and connecting to South and Central America as well as to Cuba. Upon the viewer’s discovery of the map within her hair, the image of the hemisphere becomes less of an aerial view of land and water and more of an allegory about the people to whom Mother Earth gives birth (see plate 2). Cuellar’s poster and Orosco’s mural demonstrate two of the mediums the RCAF used to communicate an alternative history of the Western Hemisphere. Disrupting the discursive traces of colonial history in our everyday lives through murals and posters (as well as through songs and poems, which I explore later), the RCAF established the conditions for the theories and words we currently use to interpret and articulate the complexities of the human experience within geopolitical borders based on colonial rule. Members worked and produced on multiple front lines, from farmworker protests and community centers to prisons and university classrooms. Subsequently, the collective comprised multilingual members engaged in a diverse discourse of ideas that included institutional terminologies for artistic production, the colloquial speech of disenfranchised communities, and the terms and slogans of intersecting civil rights movements. Crafting a verbal and visual vocabulary for Chicano/a audiences and, over time, a broader and more bilingual audience for Chicano/a art, the RCAF added words and text to their posters and murals that reflected the spellings of oral pronunciations. In doing so, they played with the duality of meanings between words in English, Spanish, and caló—from “Aztlán,” “Califas,” and “Sacra,” to the uniquely Chicano/a word for all three, “Sacraztlan,” which refers to Sacramento. “Sacra” is Chicano/a shorthand for “Sacramento,” a Spanish word that translates to “sacrament” in English. It is not coincidental that Rudy Cuellar’s poster Lowrider Carrucha Show (1979), an advertisement for a car show, depicts a lowrider lifting off into celestial space. A caption reads “hecho en Aztlán” and announces the location as “Sacra Califas.” The poster became something more than advertisement when it

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declared the event was located in a sacred place, reframing Sacramento as Aztlán—a Chicano/a homeland (see fig. 0.1). The theoretical choices RCAF artists made in their art further explain Goldman’s impulse to map Chicano/a art history. In order to concretize the intellectual complexity of the signs, symbols, and images that abound in Chicano/a art, Goldman draws on the basic questions of journalism, which are formulaic but intended to gather and disseminate the facts of a news story. In doing so, she replicates the philosophy of the RCAF, whose members wanted to communicate information to viewers who were disenfranchised and excluded from US society and, secondarily, to express a Chicano/a positionality to audiences with power and privilege. This is the unassimilable element of Chicano/a art, whose practitioners in the RCAF were institutionally trained but used such training to cultivate a specifically Chicano/a worldview. The aesthetics of their message continues in the twenty-first century in both artistic intervention and scholarship (Romo 2001, 2010). One need only glimpse Jesus Barraza’s poster Indian Land (2004), which he designed with Nancy Hernandez, to see a connection with RCAF artwork. Barraza presents a map of the Western Hemisphere in red block color, with the poster’s title following the contours of the landmass. The simple image and bold title interrupt the geopolitical borders that guide our understanding of the Western Hemisphere, continuing the RCAF’s decolonial message in a new century (see fig. 0.2). The artistic remapping of geopolitical space also extends to scholarship on Chicano/a art in the twenty-first century. Chon Noriega and Pilar Tompkins Rivas (2011) conceptually remap “Chicano Art in the City of Dreams,” offering a “History in Nine Movements” to account for Mexican American and Chicano/a artists in Los Angeles from 1945 to the present.4 Noriega and Tompkins Rivas address the impact of political thought like Marxism and psychological methods like free association on Chicano/a artists to reveal the “space between the aesthetic and the instrumental” in which they produced art (2011, 75). By accounting for the local and the global, Noriega and Tompkins Rivas position Los Angeles’s Chicano/a art history at the center of American art history, foregrounding its powers of aesthetic absorption and political and cultural synthesis. Their conceptual mapping reveals that while Chicano/a art was and is always happening within dominant culture, it also disrupts the dominant culture’s assimilative forces and

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Figure 0.1. Rodolfo “Rudy” Cuellar, Announcement Poster for Lowrider Carrucha Show (1979). Screenprint. Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

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Figure 0.2. Jesus Barraza and Nancy Hernandez, Indian Land (2004). Screenprint. Courtesy of Jesus Barraza.

reconfigures its codes of citizenship, laws, and cultural norms by exposing margins, contradictions, and uncredited appropriations. The mappings of Chicano/a art history that Goldman and Noriega and Tompkins Rivas provide textually echo the visualizations of the Western Hemisphere in RCAF art and twenty-first-century depictions like Barraza and Hernandez’s Indian Land. Seeing and thinking differently about the spaces and times in which history is ordered and historical consciousness is arranged allows for different perspectives of the world from the sky and ground. From aerial views to terrestrial ones, Chicano/a art is both hemispheric and regional, global and local. The story of the RCAF’s name makes this point especially clear.

Who the RCAF Was: MAEP-ing the RCAF’s Membership In 1969, a critical mass of Chicano/a students and teachers arrived on the campus of California State University, Sacramento (CSUS). Several of them formed the RCAF, which from its inception was an intergenerational organization. The biographical experiences of the RCAF’s members factored into the collective’s original name, the Rebel Chicano Art Front, and the

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eventual one. Many of the Chicano/a students at CSUS were aware of an earlier Chicano art collective called the Mexican American Liberation Art Front (MALA-F), founded in Oakland, California, by four Chicano artists, including Esteban Villa and José Montoya’s brother, Malaquias Montoya (Romo 2011, 40–50). The Sacramento students decided on the name Rebel Chicano Art Front (RCAF) because of its resonance with the MALA-F and the larger sociopolitical milieu. Esteban Villa and José Montoya were older than most of the students who arrived at CSUS and constituted the RCAF. To make their arts education possible, both men served in the Korean War, along with RCAF member Sam Rios Jr., who pursued an anthropology degree at CSUS followed by a master’s degree. Military service created more life opportunities for Mexican Americans in the mid to late twentieth century; sometimes it was not a choice at all due to drafts during the Korean and Vietnam Wars. While older RCAF members experienced service in the Korean War, younger members, including Armando Cid, Juanishi Orosco, and Hector González, served during the Vietnam War.5 Like their older colleagues, each of those who served in the armed forces in Vietnam used the GI Bill to pursue higher education. In addition to the GI Bill, an innovative program for Mexican American college students developed by faculty at CSUS in the late 1960s also made higher education possible. Funded through a grant from the US Department of Education in 1967, the Mexican American Education Project (MAEP) began in 1968 (Morris 1973, 1). The largest program of its kind in the nation, the MAEP aimed to improve education for Mexican American children by training teachers and administrators in public schools serving Mexican Americans (“General Description,” n.d., 1). The Experienced Teacher Fellowship Program earned graduate fellows an MA in social science, and in the MAEP’s second year, a Prospective Teachers Fellowship Program culminated in a bachelor’s degree in education for undergraduate fellows (1). Both programs subsidized students who otherwise would not have been able to attend college without the grant (5). At the time of the MAEP’s founding, “the CSU system only had 30 Mexican American graduate students in the entire system” (Campbell 2005–2006, 7). Every year of the MAEP’s existence, from 1968 to 1973, it “produced 25 graduate students . . . in Sacramento alone” (Campbell 2010).6 In 1969, José Montoya met MAEP director Clark Taylor, an anthropology professor who, according to Montoya, was “the brains that put the program together [to] train us on how to become agents of change. That was the

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word, ‘agents.’ The notion that wherever we came from, once we got our MA degrees, we were to go back and begin advocating for change” (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). Introduced to terms like “agents of change” in an academic setting, future RCAF members absorbed these concepts into their political desires to transform social reality for Chicanos/as through art, education, and infrastructural support. As agents of change, the RCAF artists used several categories of art to streamline their collective identity as a Chicano/a art front and later as a Chicano/a air force, a name that added humor to their community operations in the midst of the Chicano movement’s denouncement of foreign wars, educational exclusions, and labor injustice. The graduate cohort of MAEP fellows was full once Montoya was accepted, but he spoke to Taylor about his colleague Esteban Villa, who was teaching art at a Northern California high school. MAEP administrators hired Villa as an art consultant. Sam Rios Jr. pursued his undergraduate degree in 1969 at CSUS before taking courses with MAEP students toward a master’s degree.7 Future RCAF member Juan Carrillo entered the MAEP in the same year as Montoya. Like Rios Jr., Carrillo grew up in San Francisco, earning his bachelor’s degree at the University of California, Berkeley, and participating in the Third World Liberation Front that began at San Francisco State University and spread to the Berkeley campus. After graduating from CSUS in 1966, Joe Serna Jr. served in the Peace Corps in Guatemala, returning to Sacramento in 1969. He began teaching courses for the MAEP and the university’s government department while pursuing doctoral studies at neighboring University of California, Davis. When the MAEP launched its undergraduate fellows program in 1969, Sacramento Brown Beret Irma Lerma Barbosa was recruited by MAEP instructors, becoming an agent of change who worked on a breakfast service for Chicano/a children modeled after the Black Panther Party’s free breakfast program. The centrality of government support for educational initiatives like the MAEP coincided with grassroots efforts for change during the US civil rights era. The relationship between top-down and bottom-up strategies for sociopolitical and educational reform is an important point to make in regard to RCAF history because it counters nostalgic notions of “the sixties” that romanticize white student activism against the Vietnam War while maintaining the American mythos of exceptionalism. Government support of equal opportunity programs and allied professionals created real

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pathways to higher education for a Chicano/a generation in Sacramento that, in addition to contributing to a distinctly American field of art, participated in structural changes to education and public art policy. MAEP graduates like José Montoya and Olivia Castellano became faculty at CSUS. Esteban Villa transitioned from the MAEP’s art consultant to an instructor in the Art Department. Sam Rios Jr. became the director of Chicano studies at CSUS in 1972, teaching in the Department of Anthropology and serving as a longtime professor of ethnic studies. Juan Carrillo became an official at the California Arts Council, retiring in 2005 from his position as the council’s director. Joe Serna Jr. served on Sacramento’s city council for eleven years and then as Sacramento’s mayor from 1992 until his death in 1999. The MAEP catalyzed a generation of Chicano/a educational and political leaders in Sacramento who impacted local governance, educational policy, and public art protocol. Amid the arrival of MAEP students and instructors, a handful of Chicano/a undergraduate students, like Ricardo Favela, enrolled at CSUS between 1969 and 1972. Luis González began studying poetry in the English Department in the early 1970s, taking courses with MAEP graduate Olivia Castellano (Romo 1993, 1). Originally from Sacramento, Celia He​rrera Rodríguez studied art and ethnic studies at CSUS in the early 1970s (L. Pérez 2007, 150–159). Juan Cervantes and Rudy Cuellar gained access to CSUS through the Equal Opportunity Program, which was initiated in 1968 through the Harmer Bill, legislation that “gave rise to the EOP Program at ‘Sac State’ and in all of the CSU in 1969” (Student Academic Success and Equal Opportunity Program, n.d.). Future RCAF members were also enrolled in nearby junior colleges; Luis González’s brother, Hector González, enrolled nearby and then transferred to CSUS, while Juanishi Orosco studied at local junior colleges after military service. The RCAF was also joined by trained artists pursuing graduate degrees or returning home from graduate and undergraduate programs in the arts. Armando Cid trained at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, following his active duty in Vietnam and received his master’s degree in art and printmaking at CSUS (“Armando Cid: Just Having Fun” 2002). Max Garcia took courses at the Art Center in Pasadena, along with film classes at UCLA and the University of Southern California, before joining the RCAF in Sacramento in the 1970s (Juan Carrillo, conversation with author, January 31, 2015). Lorraine García-Nakata first studied sculpture in 1974 at CSUS, leaving Northern California between 1976 and 1977 to pursue sculpture as a major at the University of Washington. Likewise, Stan Padilla

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joined the collective around 1972 after earning his BFA and MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and teaching at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, California (Stan Padilla, conversation with author, January 12, 2016). In addition to artists, the RCAF was joined at its inception and over the years by numerous organizational members. Many were students and activists in Sacramento’s Chicano/a community. These members were central to the cultural, educational, and community programs for which the RCAF is largely credited and remembered. They included Jennie Baca, Clara Cid (Favela), Gina Montoya, Lupe Portillo, Rosemary Rasul, David Rasul, Freddy Rodriguez, Terezita Romo, Juanita Polendo (Ontiveros), Sam Quiñones, Josephine Talamantez, Melinda Santana (Rasul), and many others.8 Thus a diverse body of Chicano/a students, teachers, artists, and organizers came together to form an art collective. As the Rebel Chicano Art Front, the RCAF began staging art shows in which they brought together their work as students and professors and also displayed art by their students from the Chicano/a community. Withholding individual names, members discovered that the acronym confused their growing audience. People thought they were the Royal Canadian Air Force and not the Rebel Chicano Art Front. The mistaken identity was rephrased as the Royal Chicano Air Force and embraced by the group for several reasons. Since a large contingent of the RCAF were military veterans, their previous experience with military protocol and jargon led to innumerable wordplays and puns as well as quasimilitant performances of a Chicano/a air force, which RCAF artists also reproduced in photographs, posters, and murals. In addition to military experience, the inspiring but often volatile environment of the 1960s and 1970s informed the group’s enthusiasm over its unintended name. In the late 1960s, Americans of color faced intolerable levels of social, political, and educational exclusion, sparking demands for revisions to US history and curriculum changes in public schools to include the unacknowledged contributions of marginalized communities (Cockcroft and Barnet-Sanchez 1993, 9). Chicano/a communities in California, Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico became major sites of the Chicano movement, organizing around political campaigns for labor rights, equal access to education, land rights, and an end to the Vietnam War, which reflected a disproportionate death toll of Chicano soldiers. Chicanos/as implemented tactics similar to those of African Americans and other marginalized communities through their awareness or involvement in the broader civil rights movement.

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Within the diverse milieu of civil rights and political protests, the RCAF fit somewhere between calls to action amongst a generation of disenfranchised Americans and mainstream perceptions of dangerous activism exploding in US cities. The air force identity helped the group respond with a sense of duty to the urgent needs of Sacramento’s Chicana/o community. But, as an art form in itself, the air force identity was creatively ambiguous, or a space for the collective to visualize and articulate a counternarrative to the militarized wars of nation-states and the assumptions of racial-ethnic militancy in the media (Ontiveros 2010). Infusing it with humor, the RCAF performed the air force persona as something beyond colonial power and violence, offering the Chicano/a community a grassroots means of survival, visibility, and inspiration.

What the RCAF Made: “The colectiva versus the individual” Chicano/a artists in the 1960s and 1970s approached art in a way that differed from the status quo of the art world, particularly in regard to the idea of the art collective. The RCAF destabilized belief in individual genius and in the value of art made by a single artist, instead choosing to make art for people’s sake. Exemplified by the collective’s early art shows at CSUS, their collapse of professional hierarchy in university exhibitions reveals one of the ways in which RCAF members redefined military protocol and illuminates a facet of the collective that is often misunderstood. Because of their community focus and support of the United Farm Workers (UFW) through labor activism, poster production, and other union materials, like UFW flags and pamphlets, the RCAF is typically regarded as a Chicano/a art collective that worked outside official art channels.9 But members of the RCAF were very much institutional insiders, as their education and training reflects. The decision to circumvent individual authorship and institutional hierarchy in art shows and university-related projects was an informed choice by the RCAF. By doing so, the group confronted structural inequality by proposing an alternative approach to art education within the university that centered on building Chicano/a community infrastructure. As a major producer of community murals and silkscreen posters, two principal visual mediums during the Chicano movement (S. Goldman 1984, 50), the RCAF employed methods that innovated a key concept for academic fields in Chicano/a studies through their practice of real inclusion. Taking what they learned at the

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university, like becoming agents of change, the RCAF immediately gave it to others, teaching barrio youth, the elderly, the incarcerated, and each other. In regard to muralism, the RCAF was part of a visual campaign to symbolically reconfigure barrio space using words, images, and symbols of a collective consciousness (Cockcroft and Barnet-Sanchez 1993, 9). Many RCAF members worked directly with each other and with community residents on murals and had no government support in the late 1960s and early 1970s. In a local context, RCAF muralism reflected the tenets of the Chicano movement, unfolding as part of a national civil rights campaign with international influences. Members learned about 1930s and 1940s murals sponsored by the US Works Progress Administration (WPA) during art school and at universities, for example. They recall learning to a lesser extent about early twentieth-century Mexican muralism, but they pursued the subject on their own, studying the artistic processes of transforming the political, cultural, and social ideals of the 1910 Mexican Revolution into images on the walls of Mexico’s seats of power. Although RCAF muralists simultaneously studied and developed a transnational art history to support the intellectual and political grounding of their artwork, RCAF murals in the late 1960s and 1970s nevertheless differed greatly from state-sponsored murals in Mexico and WPA murals in the United States. The United States had never before witnessed a mural movement like that of the 1960s and 1970s, catalyzed not as a top-down political campaign for national cohesion or as an employment opportunity in response to a national economic crisis (Barnet-Sanchez 2012, 243–244). Community murals of the 1960s and 1970s were the creative outbursts of people who had reached the threshold of marginalization in the cities and towns of the nation-state. Often facilitated, but not individually created, by trained artists, community murals were the street art of disenfranchised people making themselves visible on their walls as they protested in their streets. The community mural movement was also multifaceted, bringing together people who were institutionally separated by class privilege and societal inequalities. White and middle-class university students who were active in New Left organizations that mobilized against the Vietnam War participated in mural making during the 1960s and 1970s (Cockcroft, Weber, and Cockcroft 1998). The RCAF represented all demographics of community muralism, including students and professors, UFW members and community advocates, and antiwar activists and veterans of war; the RCAF also

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extended the art of making community murals to university students who were not Chicanos/as. They did so by developing curricula and community spaces in the early 1970s, which provided training and support to local people and incentivized community art making for non-Chicano/a students. As early as 1969, the RCAF began painting with local youth, untrained artists, college students, and each other using resources that were available to them through their jobs or from the university. Their murals in Sacramento were numerous and include Emergence of the Chicano Social Struggle in a Bi-Cultural Society (1969–1970), painted by Esteban Villa, RCAF members, and students in the gymnasium of the Washington Neighborhood Center. Armando Cid and students painted Para la Raza del Barrio and Reno’s Mural (ca. 1976) on the walls of a popular bar that hosted an inaugural Chicano/a poetry series. RCAF artists also created Chicano/a murals on CSUS’s campus in the 1970s, the majority of which were removed by university officials. They responded to the administration’s censorship by spontaneously making murals as a form of protest, as well as by negotiating access to public walls through official channels. The RCAF was able to do so, once again, because of the diversity of the group’s membership. The RCAF created the groundwork for public art in Sacramento as the community mural movement exploded across the United States. While mural making as a public art form eventually benefitted from the establishment of the National Endowment for the Arts, following the termination of WPA mural programs, government funding came only after communities mobilized and artists of color painted murals without official sanction.10 Community murals, then, were a preexisting path or a phantom infrastructure in cities like Los Angeles during the 1980s and 1990s, when public art projects like Biddy Mason’s Place: A Passage of Time were installed in the downtown district. The Biddy Mason memorial recovered the forgotten history of an enslaved African American woman who successfully petitioned for her freedom.11 But decades before, and on a much larger scale, The Great Wall of Los Angeles offered “a panorama of the social struggle and disenfranchisement of diverse racial and ethnic groups” (Mesa-Bains 1991, 133). Located in the Tujunga Wash drainage canal in the San Fernando Valley, The Great Wall set a precedent for a diverse public art tradition in Los Angeles. Chicana artist Judy Baca directed The Great Wall, managing the enormous undertaking through the Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), which she founded in 1976 (133). While the grassroots origins of community murals cannot be overemphasized, the public art infrastructure they

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created—including design negotiations, fund-raising, and the coordination of mural teams—informed the municipal channels that came later. In Sacramento, the RCAF paved the way for government sponsorship of public art. In 1977, the RCAF’s collaborative approach to murals in Chicano/a neighborhoods led to municipal support through the Art in Public Places ordinance that coincided with the founding of the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission (SMAC). Prior to the municipal entity and ordinance, the RCAF founded an organization to preside over their murals and other programs called El Centro de Artistas Chicanos, incorporated by 1972.12 Like SPARC, El Centro de Artistas Chicanos was a nonprofit organization through which the RCAF received and allocated funds and worked with SMAC and the Art in Public Places ordinance. The RCAF created massive public artworks in the late 1970s and 1980s, an era during which scholars claim the political and culturally nationalist imagery of earlier murals had ended due to government funding and oversight (Cockcroft and BarnetSanchez 1993; Harris 2000). But for the RCAF, a collective that had developed between the university and the Chicano/a community, government subsidy did not alter the political or cultural intentions of their murals. The RCAF continued to collapse institutional hierarchy and individualism in their officially sponsored murals. They were able to maintain a collaborative process for mural making because the RCAF never enforced aesthetic uniformity in their group. Esteban Villa remarked on the RCAF’s creative diversity over decades of production, asserting that it was a collective of like-minded people who expressed themselves in diverse ways. “The colectiva versus the individual,” he explained, “was okay because even though we’re a collective, you can identify my style of art against José’s, Juanishi’s, Cid’s, Cervantes, Max Garcia. . . . We’re all the same, but different, and it works. It’s like the word ‘Chicano.’ . . . They want to use ‘Hispanic,’ but there’s no need to do that. You have to keep the word and start reshaping history” (Esteban Villa, interview, January 7, 2004). Using the Spanish word for “collective” in conjunction with the English phrasing “versus the individual,” Villa code-switched to express an alternative space for Chicano/a art, one based on political and cultural values that encompass artistic differences as processes of fusion and diffusion. He also positioned this space against individualism, which he perceived as a Eurocentric value in American art as well as in contemporary nomenclature like “Hispanic.” Villa’s claim that there was room for different styles in the RCAF reflects the staying power of the original goals of the Chicano movement for RCAF

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members. Guiding documents like “El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán” (1969) called for a united cultural arts community that was in service to the Chicano movement, but it did not profess a unified aesthetic. Making art accessible, educational, and occupational for the Chicano/a community was a point on which the RCAF artists came together and stayed together in a multifaceted collective as they built alternative structures that were necessary to fulfill community needs and their artistic goals (Martínez 1997, 229).

Where the RCAF Made Art: The Art of Building Relationships In addition to making murals, the RCAF was a prolific producer of silkscreen posters. Poster art also pertains to where they made art, if RCAF history is mapped relationally. Making art for people’s sake, the RCAF developed a primary audience that was simultaneously local, regional, and international, as members of the collective made art in relation to each other, Sacramento’s Chicano/a community, and the tenets of the Chicano movement. But they also made art in relation to American art, poetry, literature, and history. From university classrooms and campus walls to the front lines of UFW protests and the windows of barrio bookstores, RCAF art exemplified a world of relations. Aware of mainstream trends, institutional traditions, and canons, members of the RCAF pushed genres and mediums beyond conventions and established definitions. RCAF artists used Pop Art techniques in murals and posters, for example, but they did so not to critique the social alienation provoked by mass production and consumption in popular culture.13 Instead, they adapted color-blocking, repetition, and cropping as formal elements of Chicano/a art rooted in a political desire for societal transformation. RCAF artists retooled the American advertisement culture with which they had grown up in the 1940s and 1950s, and from which Pop Art emerged, to communicate a culturally nationalist Chicano/a worldview and a working-class aesthetic centered on labor activism. Color was (and is) very much a choice in Chicano/a art, aligning with the political positions of the Chicano movement. Like the red, white, and black colors of the UFW flag, RCAF artists fused similar political messages asserted in color with the aesthetic formalism and color theory they learned in college; they redefined the meaning of national and international symbols through color to visually allegorize the Chicano/a origin story in the Western Hemisphere.

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Further, like the locations of their early murals, the RCAF’s posters were made outside traditional spaces of art production. The RCAF “pulled” posters in Volkswagen vans and donated spaces and operated art and cultural programs where they not only taught people how to silk-screen and create murals but also served breakfast to children. RCAF artists didn’t use canvas or expensive acrylic paints in the early 1970s. Instead, they made posters with squeegees and cut stencils from linoleum. They produced work on scrap paper left over from UFW campaigns or materials “borrowed” from CSUS’s Art Department. While stock photographs were cropped and reconfigured by Chicano/a artists like Rupert Garcia in the San Francisco Bay Area, RCAF artists rarely used preexisting pictures, but drew most of their images by hand (Ramón Favela 1986, 12–13). When they did use photographs for silkscreen work, they were photographs taken by RCAF member Hector González. Hector documented the collective as they worked on behalf of the UFW, painted murals, and performed the air force persona. His brother, Luis González, along with Ricardo Favela, Rudy Cuellar, Armando Cid, and Max Garcia, developed a photograph-to-serigraph technique that pushed the aesthetic boundaries of silk-screening, using the form to document the history of the Chicano movement alongside RCAF history. In doing all of these things, the RCAF anticipated the pop-up artists of the twenty-first century, practicing a do-it-yourself philosophy on the front lines of labor protests and events concerned with community engagement and social responsibility. RCAF posters announced the location of real meals for children, as opposed to depicting accessible foods as debased objects, like a soup can repeated ad nauseam. They iconicized Chicano movement leaders through portraits of César Chávez and Ruben Salazar, as well as images of leaders in Sacramento’s manifestation of the Chicano movement. Yet in their advertisement posters for community access to meals and events, as well as in their politically inspiring portraits of Chicano movement leaders, they innovated design concepts that fused the verbal with the visual, building an architecture of Chicano/a identity through a collection of images that are now as recognizable as a Campbell Soup can. From Posada-inspired calaveras (skeletons) to the face of Cesár Chávez, the angular eagle of the UFW, and the power fist, the RCAF created a visual culture that abounds in the twenty-first century. The relationship between words and images in RCAF art is an important component of the architecture they built for Chicano/a identity, and

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Figure 0.3. L: Armando Cid, it speaks to the oral and aural environment Sunburst (ca. 1976) on posterior in which Chicano/a culture experienced a facade of Washington Square renaissance. While the fusion of text and Apartments before removal image in RCAF art pertains to the fact that in 2008. R: Armando Cid, Olin many members were musicians and poets, it (ca.1976) on anterior facade of apartments and in disrepair in also suggests a theoretical location for their 2007. Author’s photograph. art because it resonates in scholarly remappings in the 1990s that proposed a south-tonorth trajectory for American cultural studies as opposed to the standard east-to-west orientation (Saldívar 1997). José Montoya and Luis González merged their knowledge of Mexican corridos, nineteenth- and early twentieth-century story songs, with the modernist poetry they encountered in college (Saldívar 1997; Limón 1992). The modern long poem in the United States explored the world drawn closer after two world wars through references to other languages and graphic allusions to desolate landscapes and individual alienation (Villanueva 2000, 705). José Montoya’s “El Sol y los de Abajo” (1972) fused elements of the corrido with the long poem, laying bare the bicultural reality and mental landscape of Chicanos/as through its epic structure and length. Along with Rodolfo Gonzáles’s “Yo Soy Joaquín” (1967) and Luis Valdez’s “Pensamiento Serpentino” (1971), Montoya innovated a poetic tradition in the United States by foregrounding how bilingual people speak. Chicano/a poets did not merely reference languages amid a century of war in the United States; rather, they embodied their bilingual voices that had been shaped by war and diaspora. The “third world” experience that Chicano/a poets like Montoya poeticized broke with the Mexican American tradition of military service as a pathway to national belonging or recognition of citizenship. Instead,

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Figure 0.4. “Fiesta de Maíz.” Chicano/a poets adapted pre-Columbian First Annual Celebration ideas like “tú eres mi otro yo” (Valdez 1994, of Chicano Cultural 173) and reframed the Chicano/a generation as Ceremonies. Pyramid made “branches of the same tree” with indigenous by Rodolfo “Rudy” Cuellar. peoples like the Vietnamese.14 References to Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California pre-Columbian civilizations, cultures, and Ethnic and Multicultural languages in RCAF art were ways of talking Archives. Special Collections about political, intellectual, spiritual, and Department, the University cultural decolonization amid the Chicano of California, Santa Barbara movement, which was marked by battles over Library. access to public space and native land rights. Emblazoning a mural with pre-Columbian symbols was more than an act of cultural affirmation; it transformed space, underscoring real and figurative locations where RCAF art happened. Through pre-Columbian imagery, RCAF artists connected local experiences of spatial encroachment and invisibility to historical forces of colonization. The Chicano/a community in Sacramento’s Alkali Flat, for example, a dense Chicano/a neighborhood in the 1970s, confronted the second phase of a multidecade redevelopment plan.15 In response to the city’s rezoning of their neighborhood, Chicano/a activists and residents formed the Alkali Flat Project Area Committee and secured an existent public park, renamed Zapata Park, a new residential building called the Washington

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Square Apartments, and an elementary school that emphasized community involvement and cultural activities (R. Villa 2000, 192–193). Residents in the Alkali Flat included RCAF members like Armando Cid, who worked with local Chicano/a youth to create murals on the posterior and anterior facades of the Washington Square Apartments. The murals were vivid tile mosaics entitled Olin (ca. 1976) and Sunburst (ca. 1976).16 “Olin” (which is also spelled “Ollin”) means “movement” in Nahuatl, an indigenous language from Mexico known in the United States as the language of the Aztecs. The symbols and names were selected by Cid to honor the Aztec sun deity Ollin Tonatiuh, or “Movement of the Sun.”17 But Cid’s adaptation of pre-Columbian symbols commemorated real changes brought about by the movement of people against larger political and economic forces of urban redevelopment. The murals visualized a connection for Chicanos/as to a pre-Columbian past while also expressing Chicano/a “nativeness” to a neighborhood (see fig. 0.3). Olin and Sunburst made an appropriate backdrop for the Fiesta de Maíz, a Chicana/o reenactment of a pre-Columbian ritual at Zapata Park. The performance was a political gesture, responding to socialspatial injustices by visibly celebrating the Chicana/o community’s victory over gentrification (see fig. 0.4). Cid’s murals and the Fiesta de Maíz offer context for José Montoya’s poem “El Padre Nuestro and the Park” (1975). Offering a quiet glimpse of a park that he discovers in his barrio, Montoya proclaims, And here it’s been, This park—so near My house—casi kitty-corner, Como quien dice— This simple, yet Majestic park! . . . On a cold December Morning, I witnessed that sun Ahí en el parque Engaged in a battle For dominion with The fog! (1992, 112)

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Figure 0.5. L: Former site The Chicano/a community’s struggle for of Sunburst on posterior dominion over its neighborhood is playfully facade of Washington Square implied in Montoya’s observation of the mornApartments and before ing fog’s transition into a warm, sunny day. reinstallation of Cid’s design The verse suggests that the transformation to by Josephine Talamantez in 2009. Photo by Stephanie which he bears witness is literally the dawning Sauer. R: Reinstallation of of a new day for Chicano/a residents who proSunburst following August tected green space in their barrio. The visual, 2010 rededication ceremony. poetic, and performative work of the RCAF Photo by Janell Lacayo. attests to a literal and figurative mapping of Chicano/a space in Sacramento. The RCAF’s cognizance of spatial issues, expressed through multiple modes of art, had far-reaching implications for Chicano/a history, both near to and far from the group’s location in the Western Hemisphere. The murals, ceremony, and poem dealt with access to public space as a need for visibility in the historical consciousness of the nation and would echo in the theoretical paradigms of the 1990s. As the new millennium approached, and in the shadow of the five-hundredth anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s discovery of the “new world,” scholars proposed cultural remappings, “alter-Native” perspectives, and decolonial imaginaries for US history and cultural studies (Saldívar 1997; Gaspar de Alba 1998; E. Pérez 1999). I argue that the scholarly trend began in the artistic creativity of 1960s and 1970s Chicano/a artists who visualized, poeticized, and performed alternate mappings of space, memory, and nativity to disrupt aerial views of “the West” and “the frontier” through on-the-ground interventions on regional hegemony (see fig. 0.5).

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When the RCAF Made Art: 1969 and Counting The RCAF was active between 1969 and the first decades of the twenty-first century, completing mural renovations and new works in 2001 and 2003 and holding a retrospective exhibition at CSUS in 2007. In 2012, RCAF members restored their murals at Chicano Park in San Diego, California, that they had originally created in 1975. Still, many members continue to collaborate, produce, and identify as RCAF artists. Deciding when the RCAF ended is as slippery as determining when it began. Accounting for nearly five decades of art and cultural production is a daunting task, particularly with regard to a Chicano/a art collective that responded to multiple historical events, including the 1960s and 1970s civil rights era, foreign wars following World War II, and political and institutional setbacks for Chicanos/as and US Latinos/as in the 1980s and 1990s. Another obstacle to overcome in deciding when RCAF art history begins and ends pertains to the periodization of Chicano/a art established by scholars and inaugural exhibitions. While there have been national Chicano/a art shows and regionally important ones in the twenty-first century, the conversation started by Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation, 1965–1985 (CARA) in the 1990s and the periodization reflected in its title continues to frame and, indeed, reify Chicano/a art as a thing of the past. Certainly, the periodization of Chicano/a art gives larger audiences the necessary contexts to appreciate the origins of a uniquely American art; but the periods are also problematic because of the distinctions they pose between the political, the instrumental, and the aesthetic. In 1984, Shifra Goldman observed that as the Chicano movement evolved, Chicano/o artists became more conscious of “the changing perception of the Chicano role in the United States, and in the international arena” (50), which shaped the periodization of Chicano/a art history. The “history of Chicano poster making, like that of street muralism,” Goldman wrote, “can be divided into two periods: from 1968 to 1975; and from 1975 to the present” (50). She restated the periods with Tomás Ybarra-Frausto (1985) in Arte Chicano: A Comprehensive Annotated Bibliography of Chicano Art, 1965–1981.18 The primary distinction between the periods concerns the political content of artwork, or lack thereof. The “latter period,” Karen Mary Davalos (2008, 118–119) comments, is typically “described as

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less political or confrontational than the former.” Davalos takes issue with the periodization because it does not account for the political consciousness that Chicana/o artists embodied throughout their lives, and instead homogenizes a Chicano/a artistic worldview and blurs different beliefs, values, and commitments of the artists. She cites Yolanda López’s 1978 poster Who’s the Illegal Alien, Pilgrim? as an example of political Chicana art made after 1975 (2008, 34–35). Who’s the Illegal Alien, Pilgrim? is a satirical rebuttal to nativist movements in the United States and continues to talk back to racism in the twenty-first century. But the periodization of Chicano/a art responded to institutional recognition in the 1980s, which affected the production of Chicano/a art and, particularly, silkscreen posters (Romo 2001). In the early 1970s, RCAF serigraphs were signed with the collective’s acronym. Entrenched in a working-class perspective of production, RCAF members divided the labor of the silk-screening process to such a degree that it is difficult to determine in the twenty-first century who designed letters, drew images, or printed a series of posters (Juan Carrillo, Rudy Cuellar, and Esteban Villa, conversation with author, February 3, 2013). Names of individual artists began to appear on RCAF posters around 1975 and widely by the 1980s. Yet, alongside the appearance of posters signed by individual RCAF artists, the group continued working collectively on posters for community events, political campaigns, and grassroots art shows into the twenty-first century. Like the complexity of assigning periods to RCAF posters, early RCAF murals were political in content as well as in execution because the artists merged the aesthetic with the instrumental. Manifesting a political choice ingrained in the collectivist philosophy of the group, the RCAF created murals with an array of people from the university and the Chicano/a community. Early RCAF murals often included the names of individual artists along with the RCAF signature, reflecting the diversity of the collective’s artistic styles and a pedagogical choice to recognize the contributions of students and community members. Para la Raza del Barrio (ca. 1976), for example, a mural created by Armando Cid and his students, features their names written around a power fist and UFW eagle. Para la Raza del Barrio also demonstrates that the RCAF continued to create political murals after 1975. Nevertheless, the idea that Chicano/a art was less political by the mid-1970s seems to apply to RCAF murals created with municipal funds because of their seemingly neutral content. By the late 1970s, the RCAF was negotiating sanctioned public art in Sacramento

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through the city’s official channels, first with Metamorphosis, a large butterfly mural completed by 1980 and funded through the Art in Public Places ordinance managed by SMAC. But the RCAF was involved in the creation of both of these official channels, which makes the periodization of their public art, according to what is political and what is not, more complex. While the RCAF upheld the doctrine of the Chicano movement from the collective’s inception and long after the 1970s, members interacted with civic, academic, and political administrations before and after 1975; sometimes, they were the actual officials or part of administrative bodies that presided over Sacramento’s public art. Armando Cid’s Olin and Sunburst murals, for example, created at the Washington Square Apartments, were funded with redevelopment money secured by the Alkali Flat Project Area Committee and the Sacramento Concilio, Inc. Cid’s murals are colorful tile mosaics, but they were readable pre-Columbian symbols for Chicano/a viewers in the 1970s, communicating a political victory for residents of an endangered neighborhood. The problem the RCAF poses for Chicano/a art history is how to talk about a vanguard Chicano/a art collective in a way that accounts for all of their art over time, noting the historical and sociopolitical events to which the group immediately and theoretically responded. Perhaps a more accurate way to map when the RCAF made art is to consider when Chicano/a art started for RCAF members. For many of them, it began before 1965 and in the histories of their families. RCAF members also conveyed that their Chicano/a identities are rooted in indigenous ancestries in the Western Hemisphere and in migration stories that disrupt geopolitical and intellectual borders between the United States and Mexico. The Chicano movement’s connection to an indigenous past was, and continues to be, an intellectual and political claim for Chicanos/as; but it is also a real part of RCAF members’ ancestry. The disconnect between indigenous heritage before Spanish conquest and after the Mexican-American War (1846–1848) is the lament of Luis González’s poem “When Your Mother Asks You Who You Are” (1975–1976). Painted directly onto a mural of the same name inside a Chicano/a and farmworker service center, González’s poem was unconcerned with the colonial histories of nation-states. Instead, the poem spoke directly to the people who ate in the dining hall. He reminded them that despite disruptions to their family histories and cultural knowledge in the aftermath of wars, annexation, and colonialism, “The sun is still your father,” and “The land is still your mother.”19

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Together with indigenous ancestries that transgress geopolitical and academic borders, RCAF members shared family histories that precede or coincide with the Bracero Program in the United States. Most RCAF members were born and raised in California or were born elsewhere but arrived in California with their families, who migrated for work or because of military drafts and wars. Armando Cid, for example, was born in Zacatecas, Mexico, in 1943 and journeyed with his mother to Sacramento, California, by way of El Paso, Texas, and Fresno, California (Josephine Talamantez, conversation with author, January 11, 2016). Juan Carrillo and brothers Hector and Luis González were also born in Mexico.20 José Montoya, who was born in New Mexico, resettled with his family in California’s San Joaquin Valley during the 1940s. Irma Lerma Barbosa was born in Nevada and moved as a child to Northern California. Some members recall childhoods spent working in agricultural fields or canneries in rural towns, while others grew up around the railroad yards of Roseville, California. Still other members were raised in Southern California or the San Francisco Bay Area. Working-class realities, shaped by early and mid-twentieth-century migrations between Mexico and the United States, informed the RCAF’s development of visual and poetic themes of family, migration, and war, all of which shaped a Chicano/a consciousness. In the twenty-first century, RCAF art documents the evolution of that process—from fragmented encounters with pre-Columbian and Mexican histories to more complex adaptations of imageries over time and fusions of the artistic methods that members learned in college. Returning to the story of the RCAF’s name, firsthand accounts of the group’s air force identity are continually present throughout decades of artistic production. The RCAF not only visualized the air force persona in posters and murals, but also in drawings, impromptu performances, and photographs. They built a vocabulary and collection of air force–inspired refrains that mythologized the group during the Chicano movement and avoided overly determined understandings of the air force identity by mainstream media and non-Chicano/a audiences. In the telling and retelling of air force stories, RCAF members participated in a collective consciousness in which they now “autopilot” memories of standing guard at UFW events or winning a float competition in a small-town parade after they accidentally drove into it. The RCAF’s desire to preserve their history through an air force mythology reflects an archive of memory that they embodied and performed in the absence of institutional recognition (Taylor 2003). But, in addition to

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an embodied archive, members also intellectualized RCAF history through institutional channels and traditions. Several members earned master’s degrees that focused on historical relationships between Mexican and Chicano/a art. They infused Chicano/a art concepts into the classes they taught at the university, in community centers, and for prison programs, underscoring the connection between art and activism.21 In the late twentieth century, RCAF members deposited an extensive collection of art and historical records at UC Santa Barbara’s California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives and, in the twenty-first century, donated smaller collections to California State University campuses in Sacramento and San Jose. Despite these academic records, the RCAF continues to fly under our radar.

Why It Matters: The Importance of RCAF History in the Twenty-First Century The institutional absence of RCAF art history directly relates to Chicano/a art’s absence in American culture writ large. In 2003, the Chicano Studies Research Center at UCLA commissioned Rita González (2003) to produce a survey of index citations for ninety-three midcareer US Latina/o artists. The survey reveals what the absence of ninety-three artists in American art history means, because it connects the void of institutional knowledge and scholarship on US Latino/a artists to the lack of awareness in mainstream American consciousness. Many of the artists González recovered identify as or were Chicanos/as, and she titled the study an “undocumented history” because “despite significant accomplishments, Latino artists have yet to be adequately integrated into art historical scholarship” (2003, 2). Canvassing standard art history texts and art historical finding tools,22 González found few artists on her list “had more than one article published about their work; and more often than not the few articles published consisted of brief exhibition reviews. In comparison, searching for one hundred of the most exhibited non-Hispanic artists would yield thousands of entries” (2). The general lack of awareness of the RCAF’s contributions to US culture, art, and history is significant because the art they made and taught characterizes the art of the twenty-first century. From posters of civil rights leaders with slogans like “Si se puede” and symbols of the power fist, to the militant fashion of student and youth organizations, Chicano/a art has never been more popular than in the twenty-first century. In many ways, social media has further democratized the arts, from modes of production to

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dissemination. In the best of circumstances, art cooperatives like Jesus Barraza and Melanie Cervantes’s Dignidad Rebelde in Oakland, California, produce downloadable posters of people killed by the police in the United States and of state suppressions, like the kidnapping and murder of forty-three students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural Teachers’ College of Ayotzinapa in Guerrero, Mexico. In the 1960s and 1970s Chicano/a artists, among other artists of color working for the Black Panther Party, the American Indian Movement, the Young Lords Party, and the Third World Liberation Front, created posters of political prisoners and slain civil rights activists. Portraits of Los Angeles Times journalist Ruben Salazar, for example, who was killed by law enforcement during the 1970 Chicano Moratorium march, were exhibited in the Ruben Salazar Memorial Group Show at San Francisco’s Galería de la Raza shortly after his murder (Ramón Favela 1986, 22). In other circumstances, 1960s and 1970s civil rights art is appropriated without credit or knowledge of the artwork’s original context. In 2007, contemporary street artist Frank Shepard Fairey was criticized by Mark Vallen for his appropriation of 1960s and 1970s posters, including Rupert Garcia’s Down with the Whiteness (1969), which reappears as Power to the Posse in Fairey’s 2006 retrospective book, Obey: Supply and Demand: The Art of Shepard Fairey. No credit was given to Rupert Garcia for his original work (Vallen 2007). Fairey also used an unsigned poster, Liberate Puerto Rico Now!, created by the Young Lords Party in 1971, for Wage Peace: Obey with no mention of its source (Vallen 2007). Down with the Whiteness and Liberate Puerto Rico Now! reveal interracial, multiethnic, and cross-cultural influences among artists during the 1960s and 1970s civil rights movement, despite persistent mainstream portrayals that it was exclusively an African American experience. The power fist, for example, is predominantly perceived as a Black Power icon, and it most definitely was, but the power fist and adaptations of hands with chains were disseminated through posters and underground press and were colored brown and yellow. They were also depicted as skeletal, and sometimes the closed fist was opened with its fingers extended. While the differences may seem trivial, they reflect interracial alliances and exchanges of political, intellectual, and aesthetic ideas between disenfranchised peoples in the United States who are continually positioned as being at odds with each other. Debating the integrity of a twenty-first-century street artist turned commercial brand in contemporary consumer culture is not why I mention

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Fairey’s artistic appropriations. Rather, who made what, when, where, and why is quickly disappearing from US mainstream culture, and history is repeating itself. While Chicano/a art scholars and historians may know of the individual artists and the contexts of their work, Chicano/a art was made for people’s sake. Fortunately, it has been collected by librarians and archivists in the late twentieth century; but it is largely underused by academics who teach the students with whom the art continues to resonate. When Chicano/a art is taught, posters like Malaquias Montoya’s Murió Una Muerte Natural (1969–1970) surprise viewers with their relevance to contemporary human crises. Montoya’s image of an upright, silhouetted body resembles a chalk outline of a recently killed man. An American flag pierces the man’s shoulder, and his gaping mouth suggests an inaudible cry. The poster protests the Vietnam War but resonates in ongoing tragedies in communities of color across the United States. The title, written in Spanish, is bitterly ironic: to die a natural death. 23 Montoya’s poster testifies to the horrific reality of social injustices, and reveals the game-changing power of the pioneering images and hybrid forms of art that characterized the verbal-visual vocabulary of the Chicano movement. The creative forces unleashed during an era of mass mobilizations against war and for civil rights offer a “narrative of how a society arrives at its present” (Ontiveros 2014, 2); in the case of Malaquias Montoya’s poster, the work reveals a history of institutional oppression and a history of resistance to that oppression (see plate 3). Some argue that despite a lack of historical context for Chicano/a art, it continues to inspire audiences through the feelings it conjures. The sensory experience of art is an essential part of its ability to resonate with intergenerational audiences over time. Randy Ontiveros (2014, 2) contends that regardless of the invisibility of the Chicano movement as a major event in US history, Chicano/a art overcomes the absence because it is not governed “by linear time,” but rather it “possesses a different chronology.” Shaped by imagination and “more attuned to the subtle ways in which the past shapes the present,” Chicano/a art, Ontiveros writes, “revolves around the senses, it allows individuals and collectives to feel their relationship to the past more intimately” (2; emphasis in original). But Chicano/a art can only do so when it is taught—and not only in universities and specialized courses, but in public schools and at the elementary and secondary levels. It must also be part of museums’ permanent displays—and not shown once every five to ten years in national and special exhibitions.

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Moreover, the history of Chicano/a art and the people it places at the center of American art, history, and culture, quite simply, should be known. The biographies of 1960s and 1970s Chicano/a artists matter because the genres and mediums they entered and expanded pushed the creative and intellectual boundaries of what it means to be American. Much like jazz, hip-hop, and street art, Chicano/a art happens here because of here—that is, in a nation of peripheries where music, styles, and languages converge, where hegemonic tastes mix and fuse with peripheral ones, and where the exclusions of the nation-state force cultural innovation. This is a process that Lucy Lippard (2000, 5) deems a “mixed blessing” for artists of color, who historically have been “drawn to the illusory warmth of the melting pot, and then rejected from it.”24 Despite institutional exclusions and academic segregations, artists of color “developed or offered sanctuary to ideas, images, and values that otherwise would have been swept away in the mainstream” (5). Moving the periphery of American art history to its center asks audiences to consider the paradox of being both at the center and margins of a mainstream culture. By learning about art that has not been central to American art scholarship but is central to the art happening in the United States, viewers reconsider notions of quality as they learn how cultural margins take shape and how artistic peripheries are constructed. RCAF artwork contributes to the story of how the United States arrived at its present and, hopefully, how it continues to work toward a more perfect union; but without historical knowledge of the collective, the full impact of RCAF art is not possible. In 1975, for example, Rudy Cuellar and Enrique Ortíz created Bilingual Education Says Twice As Much (Rudy Cuellar, conversation with author, February 3, 2015). A clever witticism for Chicano/a viewers, the poster’s message certainly resonates with contemporary language rights issues amid campaigns to end ethnic studies programs. Cuellar and Ortíz combined pre-Columbian speech scrolls with a caption in English.25 The speech scrolls float up between the profiles of two indigenous people (see fig. 0.6). A major claim of Chicano/a students during the Chicano movement was the right to reclaim the languages that had been native to them before the Spanish conquest, colonial rule, and the US annexation of northern Mexico. But in the historical moment of the poster, the demand for bilingual education does not pertain to indigenous languages; it pertains to the right to speak Spanish. The institutional denial of Spanish is interpreted by Cuellar and Ortiz as part of a longer removal of people’s native languages through centuries of competing colonial orders. The poster’s call

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Figure 0.6. Rodolfo “Rudy” Cuellar and Enrique Ortíz, Bilingual Education Says Twice as Much (1975). Screenprint. Galería de la Raza Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

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for bilingual education reflects the Chicano/a development of a self and group consciousness in the 1960s and 1970s that embraced all fragments of an indigenous, European, and US heritage—and with no apology. Reflecting on the historical and cultural mixtures that Chicano/a art comprises, José Montoya remarks, “We have taken our indigenismo, and we have taken everything that makes us a mestizo, everything that makes us a Mexicano, and went with Chicano” (LaRosa 1994). Boldly claiming the mixtures that compose Chicanidad, Bilingual Education Says Twice As Much conveys that Chicano/a self-determination was a decolonial act. In the twenty-first century, Cuellar and Ortíz’s poster serves as a record of Chicano movement history in Sacramento. As I have outlined in this introduction, several RCAF members were educated through the Mexican American Education Project (MAEP) at CSUS, which concluded in the spring semester of 1974. Former MAEP curriculum developer and codirector Dr. Duane Campbell explains that in 1976, “when bilingualism [became] law in California,” the MAEP moved to the School of Education. Between 1972 and 1975, he continues, “bilingualism and bilingual education in the MAEP was nebulous.” After 1976, it was taught in the School of Education, and bilingual education became “a department in 1994 at CSU Sacramento, one of three in the state at that time” (Campbell 2010). Thus, the poster chronicles the moment in which the MAEP ended and bilingual education began, becoming institutionalized prior to English-only legislation in California that dismantled important gains of the US civil rights movement.

A Map Key By coming full circle in my introduction, or starting with the MAEP and returning to it through an interpretation of an RCAF poster, I demonstrate my approach to RCAF history, which considers historical contexts of the group alongside biographies of its members. Throughout the book, I foreground analyses of RCAF artwork and move in and out of a linear sequencing of the collective’s history because RCAF art tells stories that reflect multiple fusions of cultural and political content and aesthetic forms. I refer to historical events and personal reflections by members not to essentialize RCAF art or limit its potential for meaning. Instead, I seek to enrich the experience of looking at RCAF artwork in the twenty-first century. Moreover, by “RCAF artwork,” I mean all of it—posters, murals, poetry, photography, and

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performances. By “RCAF art work,” I detach the art object from the creative process to refer to the labor of all members who taught, planned, directed, and coordinated community operations and programs. In chapter 1, “Building a Verbal-Visual Architecture: The RCAF’s New World Mestizo/a Art,” I begin with an analysis of a poster made by RCAF artist Luis González that depicts José Montoya standing in an agricultural field in Northern California. The chapter asks how González constructed an image that includes elements of third world consciousness, UFW activism, music, slogans, and heroic allegory. I answer by offering multiple and intersecting historical contexts that led to the poster’s production. The building of a verbal-visual architecture for Chicano/a artists in the 1960s and 1970s involved the creation of identities formed in protest and poetry alongside the creation of community arts infrastructure, or the spaces in which they made and displayed new ideas through artwork that reflected a wide range of traditions and techniques. In addition to alliances between Native American and Chicano/a artists, I suggest an aesthetic of Afro-Chicanidad to characterize collaborations between black and Chicano/a artists, which are part of the history of political and intellectual exchanges that took place throughout the entire twentieth century. The chapter builds the theoretical and historical groundwork for the verbal-visual architecture that the RCAF erected in the 1960s and 1970s, resonating in the decolonial methods by which artists of color, scholars, activists, and students continue to push back against the status quo. Chapter 2, “Performing La Mujer Nueva: Chicana ‘Art Work’ in the RCAF,” begins where chapter 1 leaves off, addressing the patriarchal structure of the Chicano movement’s call for decolonization. The controversy that RCAF murals caused at Chicano Park in 1975 is presented in Marilyn Mulford’s documentary, Chicano Park (1988). The film offers insight into the implicit carnalismo of the Chicano movement (Arrizón 2000), and within the RCAF in particular, by focusing on José Montoya’s disapproval of his female colleagues’ “solo flight” to Chicano Park to create a mural. Especially important to RCAF history are the interviews in the film with Josephine Talamantez, a longtime Chicano Park advocate and an RCAF member. While not made clear in the film, Talamantez exemplifies the Chicanas who worked in the RCAF toward a Chicano/a decolonial consciousness. To document both the visual art and what I call the “art work” of Chicanas in the RCAF, I turn to the experiences of Irma Lerma Barbosa, a foundational Chicana

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RCAF artist. The chapter transitions in and out of her story, through her art and art work, to examine the labor and contributions of other Chicana RCAF artists, like Lorraine García-Nakata. By rethinking definitions of art and art work, as well as what counts as evidence in historical analyses of the Chicano movement, I remix the RCAF’s historical record, discerning the Chicana voices in the group (Blackwell 2011). Doing so counters interpretations of the RCAF as an all-male collective, which I explore through the exhibition Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation, 1965–1985 (CARA). While historical interpretations of the RCAF typically omit Chicana participation in the RCAF, Chicana “art work” was directly at the center of all RCAF production and, in the twenty-first century, exemplifies the conceptual turn toward community arts practices. After recovering histories of Chicana art work in the RCAF, I revisit hero construction in Chicano/a art in chapter 3, “Heroic Foundations: Chicano/a Heroes in Family, Farmwork, and War.” The chapter begins with a close reading of a poster by Ricardo Favela to rethink the role and relevance of heroes in Chicano/a art in light of the absence of Chicano/a history from the historical consciousness of the United States. Following the inaugural decades of the Chicano movement, scholarship in the 1990s returned to the periodization of Chicano/a history and its major figures, critiquing the patriarchal structure that excluded women and queer people of color who participated in the creative and political activism of the era. But heroization in RCAF artwork reveals a far more complex theoretical framework for understandings of the Chicano/a family, military service, and political claims to indigeneity that informed academic paradigms in the 1990s. The breadth of RCAF artistic production over four decades also poses art historical connections between Chicano/a murals and contemporary public art controversies in the United States. Chapter 4, “Between the Aesthetic and the Instrumental: Free Association, Collectivism, and Making Space for Chicano/a Art,” explores the RCAF’s theory and praxis of the Chicano/a art collective as they moved between Chicano/a neighborhoods, a university campus, and commercial and official spaces. The chapter begins with two archived letters written by RCAF members serving in professional capacities and acting on behalf of an RCAF colleague who had painted a mural in the city illegally. The letters foreground the free association of members and the role those associations had in the RCAF’s navigation of Chicano/a art production over four decades and amid larger changes to public art

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protocol in the United States. The tensions the RCAF posed for the status quo through the Chicano/a art collective pertained to the political milieu of the Chicano movement, which drew upon Marxist ideology, the New Left, and Chicano/a cultural nationalism. The RCAF’s art history reveals the role of Chicano/a artists, and all civil rights–era artists, in shaping a national public art culture. The final chapter, “From Front to Force: The RCAF’s Air Force Persona and the Performance of an Archive,” begins with the story of one of the RCAF’s most familiar images, Huelga! Strike!—Support the U.F.W.A. (1976). Created by Ricardo Favela, the central image is based on a photograph that shows RCAF members acting out the group’s air force persona. Adapted several times for different events, the poster and its reincarnations document the air force persona’s evolution, including the political urgency of the 1960s and 1970s to which it immediately responded, and its anticipation of Chicano/a performance art and other theatrical modes. Comparing the RCAF’s air force performances with those of Asco, a Chicano/a art collective in Los Angeles, I also explore a theatrical production by the RCAF Band in conjunction with El Teatro Campesino to foreground the local milieu in which the RCAF developed the air force persona. As the conclusion, this chapter poses the RCAF’s articulation and, really, reiteration of the air force persona over several decades as the origins of the group’s embodied archive (Taylor 2003). Members had to carry their history with them and perform it for many years in the absence of a collection at CSUS, the university at which the RCAF took shape. The chapter, then, explores the RCAF’s transition from a self-contained archive to an institutional collection at UC Santa Barbara’s California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. The collection of posters, murals, and photographs of various RCAF activities—available online through Calisphere, the Online Archive of California, and partnering institutions—is still unfolding in its potential as students and scholars begin to examine and interpret the art. The online accessibility of the RCAF’s collections makes possible in the twenty-first century a virtual Chicano/a art environment, extending, once again, the reach of the group’s posters and performances and allowing for comparative analyses of Chicano/a murals previously separated by regions and different publications. Finally, I want to make a point about the absence of several artworks to which I refer in the book. Receiving artist permissions to reprint art is

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complex and difficult in the twenty-first century. The art represented here, and the work analyzed but not represented, reflects the blood, sweat, and tears of real people’s lives, a point that often gets forgotten in scholarship, mine included, that seeks to celebrate, interrogate, and reconsider the ideas that Chicano/a artists presented to the world. But the accessibility of RCAF images online is an opportunity to learn how to use online tools that can further disseminate and democratize the viewing experience of Chicano/a art.

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C h ap t e r 1

Building a V erbal-V isual Architecture The RCAF’s New World Mestizo/a Art Again, there was no nada—no cultura that we could identify with. Nothing to identify with and no teachers, and no interest by other professors. So it was kind of like being in the middle of the desert again. There was nothing there. Chicano art didn’t exist. Esteban Villa, interview, January 7, 2004

I

n 1975, Luis González created Hasta La Victoria Siempre, c/s (Until Victory, Always), a silkscreen poster based on a photograph of José Montoya, his Royal Chicano Air Force colleague and an art professor at California State University, Sacramento (CSUS).1 The photograph was taken by Luis’s brother, Hector, who recalled that when he “worked with José in his Barrio Art Program . . . he would always ask me to document the farmworkers movement” (Hector González, e-mail to author, September 7, 2011). On the day the photograph was taken, Hector González and José Montoya were in Yuba City, California, assisting a strike for the United Farm Workers (UFW) union. Taking several shots of Montoya and the workers who walked out of the fields, Hector González captured Montoya in a militant pose, one hand holding a large UFW flag and the other holding a bullhorn. Luis González transferred the photograph onto a poster and constructed a background made up of two phrases, “viva la huelga” and “viva la manana” (mañana). The phrases, which mean “long live the strike” and “long live tomorrow,” run into each other, building the environment in which Montoya 37

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Flying under the Radar with the RCAF

stands. In contrast with the background, Luis González rendered Montoya in a red block of color that monumentalizes him, but also abstracts him into a heroic idea—or a call for sustained political action based on the historical resolve of the farmworker movement. In relation to Montoya’s epic stature in the poster, the huelga eagle on the flag he holds is constructed out of the slogans that create the background. Such sayings were part of the verbal-visual architecture of the Chicano movement because, like the poster, they transformed the space in which Chicanos/as lived, worked, and moved into a shared political vision for the future. Hung on barrio walls, adhered to windows and doors of buildings, RCAF art announced the farmworkers’ strike as it was demanded, as it was performed into being, and as it gave voice to long-felt injustices (PérezTorres 2006, 115). But while the farmworkers’ strike shapes the landscape of González’s poster, it also aligns with an international call for third world liberation. The poster’s title, Hasta La Victoria Siempre, c/s, echoes the song “Hasta Siempre, Comandante” (1965), written by Cuban songwriter Carlos Puebla in response to Che Guevara’s parting words to Cuba when he left the country to participate in revolutionary efforts in Congo and Bolivia (Chomsky 2010, 121). Built into the verbal-visual architecture of González’s poster is an awareness of the Chicano/a farmworking experience as a global one. The slogan “viva la huelga” (long live the strike) narrativizes Chicano/a consciousness-raising; it visually and verbally communicates the story of the farmworkers’ strike as the spreading of international ideas in the physical and mental landscape of the Chicano movement. Fusing with the poster’s call to live for tomorrow, the slogan creates a utopic space of ideas for Chicanos/as, one that led to critical theories on race and ethnicity in the late twentieth and twenty-first centuries. But how did Luis González arrive in the space of a poster in which he constructed a verbal and visual fusion of UFW slogans, international politics, and future possibilities? In this chapter, I approach this question by exploring the RCAF’s construction of a Chicano/a verbal-visual architecture through the signs, symbols, and words they absorbed, articulated, and reproduced over time. Chicano/a expressions of power and solidarity in the 1960s and 1970s were conveyed through the concept of Aztlán, or a homeland within the nation. “Chicano/a artists,” Guisela Latorre (2008) writes, “took to the streets not to search for Aztlán, but instead to re-create it with the aid of the public mural” (146; emphasis in original). Along with murals,

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Building a Verbal-Visual Architecture

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Chicano/a artists visualized Aztlán in posters as a decolonial idea based on the location of an ancient, native land with which Chicanos/as could ancestrally identify and claim their rights to US citizenship. Aztlán was also a new idea for Chicanos/as because it proposed a different way of being Mexican American in the United States—as a united sociopolitical body. RCAF members were on the front lines of producing Aztlán in Sacramento in the late 1960s and 1970s because their art literally remapped the built environment for Chicanos/as. But they also transformed the abstract spaces of US history through the ideas imbued in their work. RCAF art charted Chicano/a history and culture along a south-to-north trajectory, confronting and converging with an east-to-west ordering of the world that was (and is) central to the dominant cultural narrative of the nation. In doing so, RCAF artists redressed representations of Mexican America that had been defined for them—from nineteenth-century literature and press, to characterizations in twentieth-century media and popular culture.2 Generating a vocabulary to talk about Chicanismo—Chicano/a identity, language, history, and culture—in decolonial terms, the RCAF produced what Patssi Valdez calls an “image vocabulary,” a term she used following her decade of artistic collaboration with Asco, a foundational Chicano/a art collective in Los Angeles in the 1970s (Romo 1999, 25). I move in and out of a linear sequence of history to track the origins of the RCAF’s “image vocabulary” because their art builds on multiple political, cultural, and artistic encounters, irrespective of historical periodization. This means that as I analyze RCAF art, I refer to larger contexts as well as personal reflections of the art makers before and during the Chicano movement. The 1960s and 1970s witnessed a “rejuvenated jolt of ethnic and racial consciousness,” writes Rafael Pérez-Torres (2006, 116), which spread across the nation and engaged international political movements. It provided a language that the RCAF honed once their lives coincided in Sacramento. But prior to the RCAF’s founding, members experienced other worlds through military service during the Vietnam War and the Korean War. These encounters extended their political consciousness, connecting the farmworkers’ strike to earlier calls for sociopolitical change. College enrollment in different cities and at different times also shaped their exposure to racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity in the United States, which in turn influenced their artwork. The RCAF encountered transnational ideas that never stopped—before or after conquest and colonization, and particularly with regard to the arts.

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Founding members of the RCAF who were a generation older than many Chicano/a activists in the 1960s and 1970s underwent a politicization process before 1965, the date proposed as the beginning of Chicano/a art by Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation (CARA), a retrospective exhibition in the 1990s that framed Chicano/a art as taking place between 1965 and 1985. While they were not the only older members in the RCAF, Esteban Villa and José Montoya entered California State University, Sacramento, under different circumstances than the majority of members. Montoya enrolled as a graduate student in the Mexican American Education Project (MAEP) at CSUS, and Villa became the program’s art consultant. Shortly thereafter, they became university professors. While they were impacted by university policies that transformed student demographics in the 1960s and 1970s, they were affected differently by institutional measures aimed at inclusion. This is an important detail in the RCAF’s formation because the collective comprised men and women who had varied encounters with war, labor unionization, and civil rights activism that coalesced into a uniquely structured Chicano/a art collective. The RCAF’s verbal-visual architecture was part of a larger poetics of protest and imagery infused with liberationist thought and politics. Accordingly, I explore overlapping articulations of empowerment that erected verbal-visual architectures for all underrepresented Americans. For example, many Chicano/a artists were politically aligned with the work of Native American and African American artists; but these alliances are not well known beyond the artists who forged them. Part of the work of this chapter is to broach connections between international and US artists of color that occurred throughout the twentieth century and in critical mass during the 1960s and 1970s. I use the idea of a “truly New World mestizo/a art” (Gaspar de Alba 1998, 41) as the foundation for the verbal-visual architecture that the RCAF created during the 1960s and 1970s and in dialogue with mainstream culture and dominant art world traditions. Alicia Gaspar de Alba uses the phrase to talk about Chicano/a art as an ongoing syncretic process in addition to being a historical period of art as it was presented in the CARA exhibition. Aware of its political edge and potential for controversy, Gaspar de Alba’s notion of a New World mestizo/a art appropriates the experience of conquest and racial mixture from dominant cultural narratives in the United States and Mexico to speak back to power. This was precisely what Chicano/a artists

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were doing in the 1960s and 1970s when they reconfigured the mixtures the term implies. Chicano/a art draws on “New World” mestizaje, a concept of racial miscegenation in Mexico, but one that begins before Spanish conquest and also because of it, through indigenous, European, and African cultural mixtures. Chicano/a artists claimed precolonial indigeneity alongside the colonial origins of Afro-Chicanidad in their art as part of their liberation from historical and contemporary oppressions. Through the study of pre-Columbian texts and imagery, colonial art histories, and, most importantly, through conversation, many Chicano/a artists learned just “how ‘black’ the New World really was” prior to twenty-first century scholarly “discoveries” of being Black in Latin America (Gates 2011, 1–4). Exposure to the art of the 1910 Mexican Revolution as well as to US government–sponsored art of the 1930s and 1940s was also an important building block for New World mestizo/a art that RCAF members and other artists of color used to express common struggles in their contemporary moment. Like Aztlán, a “New World mestizo/a art” is old and new because it allows for intergenerational influences between artists of different eras, nationalities, and races. It reveals a much older transnational art history that accounts for important encounters between Mexican, African American, indigenous, and Chicano/a artists before, during, and after the twentieth century. While economic changes and wars, as well as foreign and domestic policies, created opportunities for transnational artistic exposures, such opportunities occurred on the ground—in colleges and art schools, amidst the painting and witnessing of murals, through the production of underground newspapers and posters, in the assembly and publication of vanguard anthologies, and within student-led, collective forums for discussions on art and identity.

Wetbacks and Dominos: A Split Existence in the Absence of Chicano/a Art When Esteban Villa arrived at the California College of the Arts in Oakland, California, in 1955, his exposure to leading trends in American art broadened his worldview.3 But the institutional atmosphere in which the trends were shaped created new frustrations for him. Eva Cockcroft, John Pitman Weber, and James Cockcroft (1998, 19) claim that before the 1960s and 1970s explosion of community murals in the United States, “much of the avant-

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garde felt a need to expand the ever-shrinking audience for visual art and to regain a sense of relevant interaction with society.” Yet a central taboo remained regarding “the insertion of social content into an artwork” (21). Certainly, the historical avant-garde movements, including the Dadaists and Surrealists, were interested in changing social reality; but this dimension of avant-garde practice was discouraged or avoided in art schools in the 1950s (20). A division between political activism and artistic trends created what Cockcroft, Weber, and Cockcroft deem a “split existence” for artists who attempted a critical distance from politics in their artwork but were politically active in their lives (21). To some extent, Chicano/a art was part of a broader rediscovery of the older avant-garde movements, both in terms of their social dimension and their fusion of mediums. Ironically, the term “avant-garde” directly applied to Asco and their street performances in the 1970s, which merged elements of theater, visual art, and political protest. Asco’s guerilla-style art responded to the fact that “Chicanos accounted for less than 1 percent of the University of California’s total student population [and] suffered the highest death rate of all US military personnel” in the Vietnam War (Chavoya 2000, 241). Asco’s street performances also occurred in the aftermath of violent clashes between Los Angeles police and the Chicano Moratorium activists who organized a series of protests in response to the disproportionate death toll of Chicano GIs (241). Asco remained absent from US art history until the early twenty-first century because of enduring institutional beliefs that avant-garde art is meant to change the art world and not social reality (264). Amid the Vietnam War, urban crises, and social alienation, American artists of color were called to the front lines of image production in the 1960s and 1970s; but, as Marcos Sanchez-Tranquilino (1993, 92–93) writes, US museums, galleries, and universities maintained an assumption that “Mexicans (like other ethnic minorities in the United States) could not produce fine art or a fine art culture.” This assumption eclipsed the economic reality that access to art school and professional training had everything to do with class background and nothing to do with talent or ability (91– 92). In the 1970s, for example, Asco was informed by a curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art that “Chicanos made graffiti not art, hence their absence from the gallery walls” (Noriega 2010). In other words, Chon Noriega remarks, “‘Chicano art’ was a categorical impossibility.” Nearly two decades before Asco’s street performances, Esteban Villa entered the California College of the Arts (CCA) as a “categorical

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impossibility.” Villa was among a cohort of Chicano students from workingclass backgrounds with military service in the Korean War. Having served from 1949 to 1953 in the US Army’s transportation department, he used the GI Bill to attend CCA. He arrived at art school a year after the implementation of “Operation Wetback,” a derogatory slur for Mexicans and Mexican Americans used as the name of an immigration policy that deported large numbers of Mexicans and Mexican Americans more for ideological and politicized reasons than for economic ones. (Urquijo-Ruiz 2004, 64). A year prior to Villa’s enrollment at CCA, the United States became increasingly involved in the escalating Indochina Wars. President Eisenhower used “domino theory” to characterize the Vietnamese independence movement as “a row of dominoes set up. You knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly” (Willbanks 2013, 49).4 It was in the midst of these two terms for domestic and foreign people of color—wetbacks and dominos—that Villa, a Korean War veteran, began to study vanguard styles such as Abstraction, Minimalism, Pop, and Conceptual art, while also becoming estranged from the CCA’s avant-garde ideology and practices (Cockcroft, Weber, and Cockcroft 1998, 20). A child of farmworkers, Villa spent his adolescence working in the agricultural fields of California’s San Joaquin valley. His sense of alienation at CCA felt eerily similar to what he experienced growing up in Bakersfield, California, where he recalls feeling “hungry for art.” Comparing his hometown to “a desert,” Villa elaborated that “it’s a metaphor for the lack of art and culture. I didn’t have it inside my house.” He assumed CCA would provide the opportunity to grow as an artist in relation to the social context under which he enrolled in school; but he quickly discovered that the curriculum did not reflect any aspect of his experiences. In fact, Villa left CCA after one year, returning in 1958: “I went in there in 1955 as a freshman. . . . And then I dropped out for one year out of college” (Esteban Villa, interview, January 7, 2004). While Villa did not directly relate his departure to the school’s lack of socially relevant curriculum, he alluded to it when he recalled meeting José Montoya once he returned to CCA. Montoya transferred to CCA from San Diego City College in 1958, and Villa mused, “There was only two Mexicans on the whole campus—me and José. A gang! They said, ‘Oh my God, there’s two of them now.’” Aside from befriending Montoya, Villa found that not much else had changed: “Again, there was no nada—no cultura that we

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could identify with. Nothing to identify with and no teachers, and no interest by the other professors. So it was kind of like being in the middle of the desert again. There was nothing there. Chicano art didn’t exist” (Esteban Villa, interview, January 7, 2004). Comparing the scarcity of educational opportunities for farmworkers in Bakersfield to the Eurocentric focus of the academy—ironically, the symbol of all such opportunities—Villa poignantly conveyed that his desire for education was infused with a budding labor and class consciousness alongside a growing interest in his cultural and racialethnic identity. After José Montoya transferred to the California College of the Arts, following junior college and his four-year service in the US Navy during the Korean War, he decided to pursue fine art as his interest shifted away from commercial art.5 At CCA Montoya, like Villa, encountered Pop Art, Minimalism, and other avant-garde styles, but he was impressed by the old guard, the instructors who lingered at the art school teaching craft, a term that was dropped from the college’s name in 2003. The college was a former center for crafts learning, and many of its instructors “were from the old German school of design, the Bauhaus,” Montoya recalled. “They revered crafts and making things” (ASU Hispanic Research Center 2013). A German school of design, architecture, and applied arts, the Bauhaus operated in Germany from 1919 to 1932 and philosophically centered on three main principles: “harmony, balance, and rhythm. And after that,” Montoya added, “there were six elements: line, color, value, space, texture, and form” (ASU Hispanic Research Center 2013). Bauhaus principles resonated in Montoya’s Hispano heritage. Originally from New Mexico, Montoya embodied a mixture of Spanish, Mexican, Pueblo, and other Native American ancestry. On a break from art school, Montoya went on a trip to New Mexico with his father to visit his aunts, whom he recalled “were very Pueblo Indian, more than Spanish” (ASU Hispanic Research Center 2013). He answered their questions about his classes and spoke of the Bauhaus principles. His aunts informed him of the principles’ similarities with the philosophy of Pueblo Indians. Montoya’s reverence for his Hispano heritage colored his experience of Bauhaus concepts at CCA because of the symmetry proposed between the natural world and the built environment. His fusion of Pueblo and Bauhaus philosophies suggests an origin point for his Chicano artistic worldview in the late 1950s. But while Montoya contemplated the similarities between European and Native American art traditions, he was disappointed by the absence of

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Mexican and pre-Columbian art in CCA’s curriculum. “Along the way,” Montoya recalled, “we discovered fine arts and discovered Mexican art. But not in the schools.” Frustrated by this absence, Montoya and Villa asked their instructors “why they went so quickly on the three Mexican muralists— Rivera, Orozco, Siqueiros—[when] we knew there was more. We knew that there was pre-Columbian art. We were definitely aware of that by the time we started, but we never got any of that in school or got any training.” They challenged their teachers “to acknowledge that there was an incredible cultural treasure waiting for us, or there for us, to tap into.” Montoya surmised, “It was simply Western art was the thing—American art and European art. Everything else was viewed more anthropologically, archeologically—put down [and] the reason was really clear: it was an imposition on Western art” (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). Montoya and Villa confronted the “idea of a ‘universal’ culture” in their art classes, or, as Eva Cockcroft and Holly Barnet-Sanchez (1993, 9) explain, a single idea of beauty and order. Montoya’s statement that “everything else was viewed more anthropologically, archeologically” reveals how pre-Columbian artworks were treated as exemplars of an ancient past, while Mexican muralism was glossed but not studied. The consequence of assigning pre-Columbian and Mexican art histories to the fields of anthropology and archeology, Lucy Lippard (2000, 12) writes, is that it “freeze[s] non-Western cultures in an anthropological present or an archeological past that denies their heirs a modern identity or political reality on an equal basis with Euro-Americans.” The absence of an equal basis for Chicano/a identity with that of EuroAmericans only partly addresses the fallout from institutional absences and academic segregations. Chicano/a art did not happen in isolation, but neither did Anglo American, or any American, art history. While early twentieth-century Mexican muralism influenced Chicano/a visual culture in the 1960s and 1970s, so did US federal art programs of the 1930s and 1940s and the Anglo American and African American artists who worked as part of an avant-garde of popular art. As Pop Art and other leading trends affected Esteban Villa’s artistic practices, and Bauhaus principles aligned with José Montoya’s New Mexican heritage, New Deal muralism deeply impacted a generation of Chicano/a artists in the 1960s and 1970s. African American artists were also influenced by New Deal muralism and the Mexican mural movement before it, further bolstering Montoya’s claim that he “knew there was more” to US art history than the Eurocentric tradition. African American artists attended art schools like the California Labor

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School in San Francisco, founded in 1942 and accredited under the GI Bill in 1945 (Ott 2014, 893). The California Labor School offered numerous classes in visual art and, according to John Ott, it complemented technical training with courses on black history and culture, many of which were instructed by African American trade unionists (909). Previous decades of populist, labor-oriented, and multiracial art practices culminated in the 1960s and 1970s, when the community mural movement began amid civil rights mobilizations. Chicano/a and African American artists in the 1960s and 1970s were drawing on the same historical, political, and artistic precursors.

“We knew there was more”: An Art Historical Afro-Chicanidad The verbal-visual architecture built by artists of color in the 1960s and 1970s was created on preexisting foundations of populist art and transnational encounters, proposing an aesthetic history of Afro-Chicanidad. African American artist William Walker mentions his awareness of New Deal muralism in his reflections on the Wall of Respect, the first community mural created in Chicago by the Organization for Black American Culture, AfriCOBRA, and local residents in 1967. Painted in Chicago’s South Side at Forty-Third and Langley Streets, the Wall of Respect incorporated portraits of black heroes from music, literature, sports, politics, and literature. Cockcroft, Weber, and Cockcroft (1998, 1–3) write that the mural proclaimed that “black people have the right to define black culture and black history for themselves.” For William Walker, the experience of painting the Wall was one “he had been waiting for” and his “chance to address his people directly in paint” (Cockcroft, Weber, Cockcroft 1998, 5). Walker also referred to the Wall as a “rebirth of public art,” revealing that he was aware of the public mural program implemented in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project (WPA-FAP). Creating murals in post offices, public schools, and public buildings across the United States, artists performed a national service under the federal program (Barnett 1984, 408). Numerous community centers were also established between 1935 and 1943 to provide arts training and exhibition space for working- and middle-class communities (408). Through WPA funding, African American artists like Charles White and Charles Alston helped establish community art centers in black neighborhoods, White at the South Side Community Art Center in Chicago,

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and Alston at the Harlem Community Art Center in New York (Schreiber 2008, 4, 33). Although WPA-era murals were federally funded, William Walker perceived the 1960s and 1970s community mural movement as the next wave of a progressive public art tradition. New Deal murals and the concurrent creation of community art centers were also inspired by an earlier period of state-sponsored muralism in Mexico. American artists encountered what Guisela Latorre (2008, 10) calls “a politicized modernist vocabulary” in the Mexican murals that followed the 1910 Mexican Revolution.6 The Mexican government’s public art projects provided a model for the Roosevelt administration’s implementation of comprehensive economic relief during the Great Depression (Barnett 1984, 408).7 The three Mexican muralists—Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros—whom José Montoya mentions were briefly discussed in his classes, were commissioned in the 1930s to create murals in the United States and worked with American artists. Ben Shahn, for example, assisted Rivera on the Rockefeller Center mural that was destroyed in 1933 due to its depiction of Vladimir Lenin (Hurlburt 1989). In 1936, Siqueiros instructed a political arts workshop in New York City during the St. Regis Gallery’s contemporary art exhibition. Jackson Pollock also participated, assisting on floats for the May Day parade. Orozco lived in the United States from 1927 to 1934, creating murals like Prometheus in 1930 at Pomona College in Claremont, California, and The Epic of American Civilization, painted at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, between 1932 and 1934. In the spring 1969 issue of El Grito: A Journal of Contemporary MexicanAmerican Thought, a Chicano/a studies journal founded at UC Berkeley, José Montoya published several of his works, prefacing the collection with an artist statement that takes the form of a poem. Calling out to his parents and art school friends as being the reasons why he paints, in the fourth stanza Montoya (1969) writes, “I paint because I love Orozco and Shahn. / I paint to destroy Orozco and Shahn.” In the building up and tearing down of canonical artists and the national art histories that he encountered in school, Montoya expressed his desire for the formation of Chicano/a art. While the connection he poses with Orozco is expected, Montoya’s association with Shahn is not. But perhaps it should be expected, since Shahn’s exaltations of the American worker were part of Montoya’s education at CCA, revealing an artistic convergence in his development as a Chicano artist. Shahn is one of the canonical American artists who did not abandon figuration or social

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content during the postwar period, despite the establishment’s shift to Abstract Expressionism. Serving as director for the graphic design division of the Congress of Industrial Organizations, Shahn produced union posters like For Full Employment After the War, Register, Vote (1944). In the image, better known as Welders, Shahn uses the illusion of large scale to heroize two workers, a technique that John Ott (2014, 900) claims produces a certain visual dignity. Paralleling the influence of Shahn on Montoya, Mexican muralists were also well known to African American artists in the 1930s and 1940s. Charles Alston was deeply impacted by the work of Orozco and Rivera, meeting the two artists when they created murals in New York City (Coleman 2000, 15, 17–18). African American artist Hale Woodruff apprenticed with Rivera in 1936, learning mural techniques and traveling to Cuernavaca to continue studying murals, where he observed how the “Mexican mural movement focused on the resistive spirit” (Coleman 2000, 16). While most African American artists encountered the Mexican muralists and their work in the United States, Rebecca M. Schreiber (2008) tracks African American artists in exile during the 1940s, particularly Elizabeth Catlett, who went to Mexico in 1946 along with Charles White to work with the Taller de Gráfica Popular. The workshop of popular graphics was a political art collective that produced affordable art for ordinary Mexicans (Schreiber 2008, 38). Inspired by the workshop’s portfolio of posters Estampas de la Revolución Mexicana (1946), a series of portraits of revolutionary leaders and heroic scenes from the 1910 revolution, Catlett created The Negro Woman, a series in which she presented a visual history of heroic African American women of the antebellum and postbellum US South (Schreiber 2008, 40–41). The influence of the Taller de Gráfica Popular on Catlett’s artistic philosophy cannot be overemphasized, but the point of this abridged history of collaboration between African American and Mexican artists in the 1930s and 1940s concerns definitions of transnationalism in art history. Artists of color never were (or are) “simply contained by the nation,” but, as Schreiber writes, circulate across national boundaries, fusing aesthetic ideas and creating art that does not value “political borders as their ultimate horizon” (xix, xii–xiii). For Chicana/o artists who formed pivotal collectives in the 1960s and 1970s, murals created by Mexican muralists in Northern California exemplify what Emory Elliot (2007, 10) calls the “fluid transnational cultural

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borderlands” in which “many people of color lived.” Located in a gallery at the San Francisco Art Institute, Diego Rivera’s The Making of a Fresco Showing the Building of a City (1931) presents Rivera’s back to viewers as he sits atop scaffolding while other artists erect a large portrait of a worker. The central panel is flanked by scenes of workers building, designing, and servicing a modern city’s infrastructure. RCAF artist Stan Padilla received his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute in 1969 and his MFA in 1971 (Stan Padilla, conversation with author, January 12, 2016). Likewise, Patricia Rodriguez, who studied with Esteban Villa and José Montoya at CSUS for an MFA she earned in 1975, received her BFA from the Art Institute in 1972 (Mesa-Bains 1991, 138). Both artists would have encountered Rivera’s mural on a daily basis. A visual exaltation of the working class, Rivera’s mural expresses a political perspective that was not lost on Padilla or Rodriguez, both of whom formulated community-based arts practices while training at an elite art school. Despite the different circumstances under which they were at the San Francisco Art Institute (they were students and Rivera was a celebrated muralist), Padilla and Rodriguez identified with the mural’s anti-elitist message.8 Chicana artist Irene Pérez also recounts meeting Emmy Lou Packard, an American artist who worked with Rivera on another San Francisco mural. Pérez cofounded Las Mujeres Muralistas with Patricia Rodriguez and several other women in San Francisco during the 1970s. Pérez recalls that Packard “painted the mural at Coit Tower” and that she “was very helpful. We consulted with her, and she told us a lot about the technical stuff and about working together as a group. It was exciting to have a historical connection with somebody who worked with Rivera” (Ochoa 2003, 41). Political ideas ingrained in Mexican revolutionary art circulated across geopolitical borders. Pérez’s reflections on Packard and Rivera exemplify a continuous, transnational American art history across the twentieth century, but only when the periphery of US art history is moved to the center of the field. A move such as this is crucial for clarifying transnationalism in art as a conversation, or web of influence, that never really stops. Typically, art history posits transnational influences in Latin American art in relation to power,9 but larger political contexts and economic changes, like the Mexican Revolution, the Great Depression, and New Deal legislation, catalyzed intimate and unaccounted-for meetings between artists across race, ethnicity, nationality, class, and gender—irrespective of epoch.

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Transnational artistic influences do not stay in their place or remain fixed in a historical period. Instead, they build upon each other, verbally and visually. They spread by word of mouth, through shared memories of intergenerational conversations, and in looking at murals of an earlier era located in art school galleries or Art Deco towers. When Stan Padilla, Patricia Rodriguez, and Irene Pérez’s encounters with Rivera’s murals are recognized as important moments in American art history, US murals of Mexican descent and their politicized modernist vocabulary are not muted until a “special juncture” occurs due to larger economic and political interests (Latorre 2008, 10; Goldman 1994, 268). Rather, these encounters are ongoing “political and cultural centers of contact and exchange,” mixing and fusing in the borderlands of national art histories (Elliot 2007, 10).

New World Mestizo/a Art Chicano/a art began as a fusion of “mainstream as well as experimental panAmerican genres and styles,” writes Alicia Gaspar de Alba (1998, 41), adding that it draws on “Mexican, Euro-American, Native American, and Chicano/a popular culture” to produce “a truly New World mestizo/a art.” These artistic borderlands also include African American artists who blended multiple contents, forms, and ideas to express their sociopolitical realities throughout the twentieth century. But New World mestizo/a art is “not technically a value in the same sense that freedom or individualism are values,” Gaspar de Alba cautions, reminding us that it is not an aesthetic version of US exceptionalism, a value system that elides conquest, rape, enslavement, and spiritual and cultural subjugations. Rather, it revalues racial and cultural mixtures as an artistic process, encompassing the transnational diasporas that spread imageries and cultures along with conquered and displaced peoples (Gaspar de Alba 1998, 41).10 Through an ongoing process, New World mestizo/a art is never resolved or finished; rather, it is always absorbing and transforming because it is in dialogue with the history of social reality and the history of its construction. New World mestizo/a art as an aesthetic process and as a history of the construction of Chicano/a social reality is foregrounded in RCAF artists Luis González and Ricardo Favela’s 1976 poster Cortés Nos Chingó In A Big Way The Hüey.11 Available for viewing on Calisphere, the poster visually engages pre-Columbian mixtures as it presents Luis González’s verse “Cortés Poem.”12 González’s poem is inlaid within an indigenous pattern

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reminiscent of papel picado, an artisanal craft from Mexico in which intricate designs are cut into delicate paper. The papel picado motif highlights the poster’s formal construction. Upon closer examination, the elaborate design is actually the huelga eagle, the United Farm Workers emblem (Jackson 2009, 91). In the context of the poster, the eagle simultaneously functions as a reference to the farmworkers’ movement and an allegory for the founding of the Aztec city-state of Tenochtitlan. The color spectrum in the poster’s background, with blue and green edges on the left and right sides merging in the center, evokes a color field where land and water meet, underscoring the poster’s reference to the founding of Tenochtitlan. As the colors join and turn yellow, the poster visualizes the “points of convergence” that set the stage for the poem (Romo 2001). González and Favela’s attention to the color spectrum and design suggests that they were thinking about the poster as poetic space, using serigraphy not only as a tool to announce events and to disseminate information, but as a platform to articulate decolonial ideas. The formal details of González and Favela’s poster also reveal the discourse in which they and other Chicano/a artists remapped the world beyond colonial histories. Many of these decolonial conversations took place in foundational Chicano/a literary spaces, including journals like El Grito at UC Berkeley as well as early anthologies of transnational poetry and prose published during the Chicano movement. In fact, the lack of Chicano/a publication space for literature, art, and history was one of the reasons Luis González printed “Cortés Poem” on a silkscreen poster. That method “offered him the ability to self-publish,” Terezita Romo (1993, 2) writes, adding that “his chances for publication from a mainstream publisher were slim because of his Chicano subject matter and bilingual text.” In 1972, El Teatro Campesino founder Luis Valdez intervened on the absence of Chicano/a literary space when he published Aztlán: An Anthology of Mexican American Literature. He reinforced the importance of indigenous ancestry to Chicano/a identity by proposing the term “Indigenous America,” rooting the term in pre-Columbian cultural mixtures that occurred through successions of indigenous civilizations before European contact (Valdez 1972, xiv). “This was not a new world at all,” Valdez writes. “Tula, Teotihuacan, Monte Alban, Uxmal, Chichen Itzá, Mexico-Tenochtitlan were all great centers of learning, having shared the wisdom of thousands of generations” (xvii). Before the Spanish, Valdez adds, “there were the Toltecs, Mixtecs, Totonacs, Zapotecs, Aztecs, and hundreds of other tribes.

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They too were creators of this very old new world” (xvii). Indigenous cultural convergences, evident in the fusion and diffusion of deities like Quetzalcoatl in art and architecture over regions and centuries of Mesoamerica, reveal a proclivity for precolonial mixtures. Assembling a literary anthology that includes excerpts from the Popul Vuh, Aztec songs, nineteenth-century journal entries, letters from the Mexican-American War, border ballads known as corridos, and political manifestos written during the Chicano movement, Valdez introduces the anthology by claiming that it rejects “efforts to make us disappear into the white melting pot. . . . Some of us are dark as zapote, but we are casually labeled Caucasian. We are, to begin with, Mestizos—a powerful blend of Indigenous America with European-Arabian Spain, usually recognizable for the natural bronze tone” (xiv). Evoking the color-coded language of José Vasconcelos’s “La Raza Cósmica” (1925), which proposed a modern identity for Mexicans through Mexico’s racial mixtures, Valdez defines the darkness of the mestizo/a as native to the flora of the Western Hemisphere. He does so to counter “melting pot ideology,” or what Gaspar de Alba (1998, 40) describes as “historical and cultural amnesia” in hegemonic US culture that disremembers wars and the annexations of territories and privileges a popular culture in which “Chicanos/as were seen and learned themselves as ‘immigrants or the children of immigrants in a new land.’” Luis Valdez was part of the RCAF’s milieu in the 1960s and 1970s, and the concepts he put forward were echoed by RCAF artists in posters like Cortés Nos Chingó In A Big Way The Hüey, which fuses indigenous and colonial symbols with contemporary political emblems irrespective of geopolitical borders. While the term “Indigenous America” is problematic from a twenty-first-century perspective of race and ethnicity because it reduces Native American identities, cultures, and colonial oppressions during Spanish, English, and US colonization, in the term’s historical moment it was an enunciation of a decolonial consciousness. “Indigenous America” expressed a tactical subjectivity by redefining the concept of the “New World” to mean something else for the ancestors of the native peoples it was forced upon (Sandoval 2000). It expressed the shared concerns of Chicanos/as and Native Americans, who worked together in the 1960s and 1970s on related issues (Pérez-Torres 2006, 16). These coalitions developed because, as Rafael Pérez-Torres writes, the “discourse of mestizaje” allowed Chicano/a artists to see their “shared colonial as well as racial history” with “Native Americans and other indigenous groups across the Americas” (16).

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The “Indian Chicano” Idea at D-Q U The idea of a New World mestizo/a art was made real through the building of institutional spaces for learning about “Indigenous America”—a history in which the RCAF was directly involved. In 1971, Chicano/a and Native American students and professors helped found D-Q University in Northern California, roughly an hour from San Francisco and near the campus of UC Davis (Land of Two 1971). Abandoned by the US Army in 1967, the land was taken over by the US Department of Health, Education, and Welfare and then slated for acquisition by UC Davis (“DQU Is Granted Site” 1971). Native American students, many of whom were enrolled at UC Davis, occupied the land after they learned that their efforts to obtain the land to start a college named Deganawidah-Quetzalcoatl University were going to be bypassed (“Indians Seize Base” 1972). On the heels of the occupation of Alcatraz by Red Power activists in 1969, the student occupation of the 640-acre parcel led to the “Indian-Chicano” college in 1971, announced in the inaugural issue of the D-Q University newspaper as a school founded on the need for intellectual space: “Our Indian and Chicano people possess a great deal in common in racial heritage, our cultural traditions, [and] life values [that] differ from the dominant society” (Land of Two 1971). Named after “Deganawidah, the founder of the Iroquois Confederacy, and Quetzalcoatl, Toltec leader, statesman, and deity from central Mexico” (Goldman and Ybarra-Frausto 1985, 38), the university newspaper presents its text in English and Spanish following a frontpage headline that proclaims: “INDIAN-CHICANO.” The headline is complemented by a symbol of a bird that merges a Native American thunderbird with the Aztec eagle to visually reinforce the “Indian-Chicano nature of the institution” (“Dedication of Two Flags” 1971). RCAF artists taught courses at D-Q University. José Montoya and Esteban Villa’s 1971 Chicano Art class is listed in the university newspaper along with classes named The Indian in Literature, Southwest Religion and Philosophy, and Social Welfare in America, the latter described as an “inquiry into the social welfare system of America as it relates to Indians and Chicanos” (Land of Two 1971). Carlos Jackson (2009, 91) writes that to help raise funds for the school, Luis González designed Announcement Poster for DQU Benefit (n.d.), a print in which he visualized “ethnic unity through printing the labels ‘Chicano/Indian,’ as if they were interchangeable or one.” González’s poster can be seen on Calisphere, and viewers

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will note that he did not use a slash between “Chicano” and “Indian” in the text.13 Instead, he presented “Chicano Indian” without any division or bridge—similar to Luis Valdez’s presentation of “Indigenous America.” While this may seem a belabored point, the thought put into a hyphen or a slash, or their absence, reflects deliberate choices in the visual representations of complex concepts of identity through textual abridgements. The slash evolved in the late twentieth century as an important signifier in critical race studies and the intersections of gender and sexuality on racial and ethnic designations. The slash is often debated for its lack of inclusivity, and other signs have been introduced to encompass people who do not identify with heteronormative gender and sexuality norms. Yet Luis González saw no need for a slash or hyphen, in the same way that Luis Valdez writes of no divisions between “Indigenous America.” No dividing or bridging line is used, because the emergent unity was not about sameness—or the conflation of colonial histories for Chicanos/as and Native Americans—but rather about the unification of similar calls for self-determination in the 1960s and 1970s civil rights era. Parallel calls for self-determination were also presented in the name of D-Q U’s newspaper, the Land of Two, a space where Chicanos/as and Native Americans pursued “a lineage to a pre-Columbian past beyond mere biology” and “insisted that political legitimacy—and even psychic well-being— rested upon the reclamation of what they proposed was a still vibrant indigenous cultural heritage” (Oropeza 2005, 84). The psychological fallout from borders, or a literal slash between the histories of native peoples, is a major theme of Luis González’s “Cortés Poem” in the poster Cortés Nos Chingó In A Big Way The Hüey. While the color spectrum and design of the poster account for precolonial and contemporary political mixtures as formal elements, the poem communicates the destruction of indigenous knowledge from the Spanish conquest to the present-day barrio. The poem moves through a historical succession of Spanish, French, US, and internal “conquests” that compose Mexican history. González writes, Cortés nos chingó in a big way españa nos chingó in Spanish francia nos chingó with music los estados unidos nos chingó un chingote santa ana nos chingó like a genuine chinguista porfy nos chingó for a long time

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y nosotros nos chingamos i swear!!!

In eight short lines, González describes the history of colonial destruction but also alludes to the construction of a hybrid Mexican culture out of which Chicano/a artists created a New World mestizo/a art. González’s elaborate conjugation of the verb “chingar,” for example, responds to Octavio Paz’s meditation on the cultural implications of “chingar” in The Labyrinth of Solitude (1961), illuminating the intellectual dialogue in which Chicano/a artists were engaged. Creating a linguistic map of the verb, Paz (1985, 75–76) accounts for different but related meanings of “chingar” in Latin America. Finding that the word is closely associated in indigenous cultures with making alcoholic drinks—or the residue of the fermenting process—Paz adds that in “Spain chingar means to drink a great deal, to get drunk” (76). While not named, Chicanos/as are implicated in Paz’s definitions of “chingar” through the position he takes on Pachucos/as, a generation of Mexican Americans in the 1930s and 1940s who innovated a uniquely syncretic culture of fashion, language, and ethos known as la pachucada or pachuquismo. In “The Pachuco and Other Extremes,” an essay published as the first chapter of The Labyrinth of Solitude, Paz’s description of Pachucos/as echoes the semantic development of “chingar” because he perceives them to be the residue of Mexican culture. As “a tangle of contradictions, an enigma,” Pachucos/as, Paz claims, were a fragmentation of an authentic self: “Even his very name is enigmatic: pachuco, a word of uncertain derivation, saying nothing and saying everything” (1985, 14). Paz’s reduction of Pachucos/as as strange and meaningless paralleled their portrayal in US media as political subversives and a threat to the nation-state during World War II. Between Paz’s rejection and the denunciation in US popular culture, Pachucos/as were pushed beyond the bounds of citizenship and a common humanity. In “Cortés Poem,” Luis González impersonates Paz’s definitions of “chingar,” locating the destructive forces of conquest in his barrio, as epochal battles turn into minuscule quarrels in the everyday lives of Chicanos/as. González writes, maybe if gloria stops hassling maría and josefina quits messing around with josé whose carnal héctor is gonna put ramón’s luces out

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González critiques the consequences of colonial subjugation in the minutiae of barrio life; but he does so sardonically to maneuver against Paz’s characterization of Pachucos/as and their Chicano/a descendants. In fact, in the poem’s conclusion, González performs the stereotype that Paz crafts for Pachucos/as. Imitating his elaborate conjugation of “chingar,” González uses “the polyglossia characteristic of Chicano linguistic expression” to poke fun at Paz’s hermetic thesis on the disintegration of Mexican culture in Chicano/a communities (Pérez-Torres 2006, 90). González writes, while manny’s cousin got jumped by chuy and tavo after the dance where chris got shot in the earlobe by one of the garcías who was really trying to get paula’s little sister for spreading chismes about how unreasonable and hot tempered the garcías are, man . . . que tiempo tan chingado, excuse me please, i’m gonna go look for ricardo to watch me kick clint eastwood’s honky ass!

If, as Paz writes, “chingar also implies the idea of failure” and “always contains the idea of aggression” (1985, 76), González’s poem tactically fails as he laments the drunken barrio brawls but ultimately becomes sidetracked by his nature, or digresses into aggression. Arriving at internal conquest, González proves Paz’s definitions of the verb, satirizing his essentialist claims of Mexican identity. Further, by ending on the lines, “i’m gonna go look for ricardo / to watch me kick / clint eastwood’s honky ass!” González extends Paz’s disdain for Pachucos/as to the portrayal of Mexicans in US popular film. González’s desire to fight Eastwood in front of an audience, or in front of Ricardo, is funny because it is futile; but in its irony, the poem destabilizes stereotypes of Mexico and Mexicans in the Western imagination (Lipsitz 2001, 73). Significantly, it is the poster’s form—the color spectrum and UFW-Aztec eagle— that signals the irony because it visually challenges essentialist claims of

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national identity. Through color and design mixtures, González and Favela articulate the “organic theories” that Karen Mary Davalos (2001, 11–12) ascribes to mestizaje and diaspora as aesthetic tools of fusion and diffusion in Chicano/a art.

The Third Root of New World Mestizo/a Art: Black in Latin America, circa 1972 Luis Valdez introduced the term “Indigenous America” in his anthology to politically align Chicanos/as and Native Americans through a decolonial vision of the Western Hemisphere. He also extended the decolonial vision to Africans, gesturing to Afro-Chicanidad in 1972 in his reference to racial mixtures between Africans, Europeans, and indigenous peoples as the ancestral roots of Chicanos/as. The introduction to Valdez’s anthology, then, is a record of the milieu in which Chicano/a and African American artists created a decolonial language through visual art, alternative press, and literary publications. Addressing the colonial moment in which Chicano/a and African American histories became intertwined, Luis Valdez (1972, xiv–xv) writes that “there were more black men in Mexico than white” by 1531, a decade after conquest. When “Negroes were brought in as slaves,” Valdez adds, “they soon intermarried and ‘disappeared,’” resulting in “an incredible mestizaje, a true melting pot. Whites with Indios produced mestizos. Indios with blacks produced zambos. Blacks with whites produced mulattoes. Pardos, cambujos, tercernones, salta atrases. . . . Miscegenation went joyously wild, creating the many shapes, sizes, and hues of La Raza. But the predominant strain of the mestizaje remained Indio” (xv). While Valdez claims African heritage for Chicanos/as, he uses the term “Negroes,” spelled in English and connoting a different history for African Americans in the United States that is related to, but distinct from, the Spanish version of the word. While the Spanish word, “negros,” was pervasive throughout the slave trade that followed European conquests in 1492 and 1521, “Negroes” in the United States developed as a preferred or self-chosen term among African Americans in the early twentieth century and was called into question by African American civil rights leaders in the 1950s and 1960s. Using US terminology alongside colonial designations, Valdez also upholds the emphasis on indigeneity in José Vasconcelos’s “La Raza Cósmica,” the treatise that formulated a modern Mexican nationality but elided African heritage. Yet Valdez intends all of

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these meanings and contradictions in the cultural borderlands of Chicano/a identity formation. Like Luis González’s “Cortés Poem,” in which González challenges Octavio Paz’s intellectual treatise on Pachucos/as and calls out Clint Eastwood for the stereotypical portrayals of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in his films, Valdez is in a messy dialogue with the colonial histories and contemporary realities of two nations. Nevertheless, Luis Valdez romanticizes miscegenation as the principal process of Mexican mestizaje, which he deems “the true melting pot.” Racial mixture in relationship to slavery in Latin America was not a “joyously wild” process; rather, it was one that was meticulously categorized and ordered, evident in the terms Valdez lists for mixed-race peoples, or “zambos,” “mulattoes,” “pardos,” et cetera, which were visualized in colonial casta paintings. A New World art, casta paintings tracked and categorized the racial mixtures of people in the colonial era (Katzew 2004, 5). The tracking of New World racial mixtures was primarily done for the benefit of Europeans, particularly Spaniards, who experienced Nueva España through the circulation of such paintings. In the New World, casta paintings supported the subjugation of mixed-race people, especially those with African heritage.14 In fact, as Valdez writes that Africans intermarried and then “disappeared,” he signals the simultaneous acknowledgement and denial of blackness in Chicano/a communities as well as in Mexico that continues today.15 But in 1972, and despite its insufficiency, Valdez gestures to the African root of Mexican history to buttress the African American and Chicano/a political alliances that were occurring in the US civil rights era. Publications like Valdez’s anthology were largely doing in the 1960s and 1970s what scholars in the twenty-first century do (and undo) to national histories using hemispheric and decolonial lenses. The history of graphics in the 1960s and 1970s underground press illuminates a continuous intervention on US and Mexican national histories. Like The Land of Two, D-Q U’s newspaper that politically aligned Chicanos/as and Native Americans, the alternative press disseminated sociopolitical alliances between Chicanos/as and African Americans, evincing their interactions and influences on each other (Pulido 2006, 3). Black Panther Party members were aware of Brown Berets because they read about them in the Black Panther newspaper, which covered issues facing Chicano/a communities, particularly in urban areas (Pulido 2006, 167). A principal space for the circulation of prose, art, and commentary on the oppression of African Americans, the newspaper launched in 1968,

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sharing space with the Brown Berets and announcing a Panther-Beret alliance to its national readership (Ogbar 2006, 257). In 1969, for example, the Black Panther Party offered Los Siete de la Raza, a Chicano/a and Latino/a activist-artist group in San Francisco, one side of its weekly paper (Davalos 2008, 40).16 Chicana artist and Los Siete member Yolanda López worked with Emory Douglas, the Black Panther Party’s Minister of Culture and principal image maker, on the Black Panther (41). López was influenced by Douglas’s “new visual vocabulary,” Karen Mary Davalos writes, which visually inspired the newspaper’s readers to reject “images of the complacent slave, the illiterate good-for-nothing, the savage brute, and the minstrel” (42). Alternatively, Davalos contends, Douglas “visualized the qualities of Huey P. Newton and Eldridge Cleaver, intellectual and strong black men of power, and offered them for African Americans as a source of self-determination” (42). Agreeing with Douglas that “images function to raise revolutionary consciousness,” López “repeatedly borrowed the Black Power fist” but modified it to convey themes of hope and not only of political resistance (41). For the 1969 cover of the alternative newspaper ¡Basta Ya!, López altered the raised fist, opening it and extending the hand “to the sky, holding a broken chain” (47–48). In tandem with the Black Panther newspaper, El Grito del Norte was founded in 1968 to disseminate news of Reies López Tijerina’s Alianza Federal de las Mercedes in New Mexico. Reporting on Alianza’s demonstrations and courtroom battles over land rights, the newspaper also covered Black Power and the American Indian Movement alongside international mobilizations (Vasquez 2006, xiii). Toward a New World mestizo/a art, artists of color fashioned a verbal-visual vocabulary in alternative press that imagined a broad-based community of disenfranchised peoples (PérezTorres 2006, 90). The Royal Chicano Air Force also gestured to an Afro-Chicanidad in their posters. In 1977, RCAF artists Juan Cervantes and Luis González created Announcement Poster for the Committee to Abolish Prison Slavery, which can be viewed on Calisphere.17 Focusing on the shared legacies of colonial oppression for Chicanos/as and African Americans, the poster shows two hands rising up from the bottom of the image as chains frame the entire composition. The artists included text from the US Constitution’s Thirteenth Amendment and a quote from the Emancipation Proclamation. The combination of imagery and text conveys that the poster’s call for justice and liberation was very much in dialogue with the tenets of the nation.

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Direct engagement with the democratic principles and legal documents of the United States was a well-worn tactic for artists of color by the time Juan Cervantes and Luis González “pulled” their poster. Following the creation of the Wall of Respect in 1967 in Chicago, William Walker and other artists reproduced the “Wall” concept in murals in Chicago and Detroit, including the Wall of Truth (1969) across the street from the Wall of Respect.18 Over the title of the Wall of Truth, a panel was hung with the inscription, “We the People / Of this community / Claim this building in order / To preserve what is ours” (Cockcroft, Weber, and Cockcroft 1998, 7). The caption appropriates the patriotic refrain of the US Pledge of Allegiance, situating the mural’s reclamation of public space within verbal codes of citizenship to morally critique the absence of these rights for African Americans. Resonating with the Wall of Truth’s political use of the doctrine of citizenship, Juan Cervantes and Luis González used chains and hands in their poster to reference colonial slavery in a contemporary critique of mass incarceration. But the RCAF artists depicted the hands as skeletal, which not only signals the history of colonial slavery in the Western Hemisphere, but also references la calavera in Chicano/a visual culture. La calavera, also known as a calaca, is a skeletal figure adapted from the work of nineteenthcentury Mexican illustrator José Guadalupe Posada, who popularized caricatures of skeletons to satirize Mexico’s ruling classes during the Porfiriato. Skeletal hands and chains were readable images for artists of color and their communities in the 1960s and 1970s since the “Black Power fist” was a central icon of the Black Panther Party; its use in RCAF artwork signaled solidarity with the Panthers’ “political coalition building against racism, material inequality, and US imperialism” (Davalos 2008, 41). Cervantes and González altered the Black Power fist by opening both hands as they rise up from the bottom of the poster. Creating New World mestizo/a art, Cervantes and González did not efface the connotation of the iconic chains and skeleton, or invent whole new meanings; rather, they drew upon the colonial meanings of the chains of slavery and Posada’s critique of social decadence via la calavera, remixing their meaning through the intertextuality of the images. “Racialization is a relational process,” or, as Laura Pulido (2006, 4) explains, “the status and meanings associated with one group are contingent upon those of another.” Cervantes and González extracted the historical connotations of the images to expose connections between late twentieth-century abolition movements, the classes who eco-

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nomically profit from slavery, and the colonial histories of African enslavement in the United States and Mexico. Moreover, the use of skeletal hands in the poster renders race ambiguous while maintaining an unambiguous moral position for a diverse audience. The poster, after all, was an announcement for a committee to abolish prison slavery in Berkeley, California, suggesting that membership was wideranging and centered on a common cause and not racial identity. The body that Cervantes and González reference through skeletal hands is aesthetically a mestizo/a one, revealing that they were thinking about mestizaje as a process for the fusion and diffusion of Chicano/a intellectual ideas. Mestizo/a bodies in Chicano/a art, Rafael Pérez-Torres (2006, 3) claims, “destabilize the unity and coherence integral to racial and gender hierarchies [that] seek to naturalize unequal relations of power.” Absent of color and skeletal, the mestizo/a hands undo the chains of race as well as the colonial identities that are based on notions of purity (3). Cervantes and González visualized an alternative understanding of race that historically was produced by colonial order, like casta paintings; but they revalued racial mixture as a process that Pérez-Torres contends “leads to a third state or condition” (3). The third state elicited by the poster united viewers politically and morally, as the skeletal hands emphasize racial valence, not only as an articulation of colonial impact but as one of aesthetic process. If, as Pérez-Torres argues, it “is the body that serves as the site of tenuous, complex, and conflicted change,” mestizaje “becomes more than a powerful metaphor signaling cultural hybridity. It roots cultural production and change in the physical memory of injustice and inhuman exploitation, of desire and transforming love” (4). Combining the accessibility of poster making “with ‘insider’ signs and symbols based on common folk forms,” Cervantes and González’s poster was made in the cultural borderlands of Chicanidad as it envisions the abolishment of contemporary prison slavery (Lipsitz 2001, 83).

Split Existence Part II: Chicano/a Artists before Chicano/a Art The Royal Chicano Air Force’s New World mestizo/a art involved a reconceptualization of mestizaje as a formal and intellectual tool for Chicano/a art. Absorbing precolonial and colonial fusions of races and cultures, Chicano/a art reconfigured contemporary symbols and texts of nationstates. But before the Chicano movement and the RCAF’s founding, the

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idea of a hybrid system of representation for Mexican Americans had been nonexistent in José Montoya and Esteban Villa’s classes at the California College of the Arts (CCA). Montoya’s memories of “why we didn’t hear about” pre-Columbian art or Mexican muralism in the 1950s linger in the twenty-first century, even as college art programs implement concepts and techniques that were initiated by artists of color in the 1960s and 1970s. Institutional investment in “European or Western ideas” sets standards for quality and achievement, “while everything else, from the thought of Confucius to Peruvian portrait vases, was second-rate, too exotic, or ‘primitive’” (Cockcroft and Barnet-Sanchez 1993, 9). The notion that art is not universal but predicated on colonial legacies persists in standards of “quality” that are assumed to transcend socioeconomic and political forces. Yet in actuality, standards of quality uphold a circular logic about what constitutes good art, and “according to this lofty view,” Lucy Lippard (2000, 7) contends, “racism has nothing to do with art; Quality will prevail; so-called minorities just haven’t got it yet.” José Montoya and Esteban Villa’s artistic alienation at CCA led them to seek connections outside of school. Fortunately, “what was good about art school in those days,” Montoya recalled, “was that there were a lot of political causes.” Montoya was “astounded in Berkeley to be going to parties, to be invited, because we could bring guitars and entertain.” Along with Villa and a small circle of Chicano classmates, Montoya attended parties “that were really leftist [and] Marxist,” an experience that he further described as the “start of us considering the power of the collective.” He added, The whole notion of existentialism was rampant, and it seemed to encompass all of our simple actions of being Chicanos—dressing the way we did, acting the way we did, and fighting the way we did. Drinking and carousing bereft of rhyme or reason. La locura impressed our professors. They were studying us as models of existentialism. We didn’t even know what the hell the word meant. . . . [At] fundraisers for [the] Fair Play for Cuba Committee . . . we had to sit and say, “Well we just came from fighting the Commies in Korea. Now we’re learning that there was more to it than what we were told.” We were lied to in Korea so badly that they still don’t want to talk about that war. So we became politicized, and that had a big psychic development . . . for us in terms of delving into the different political ways of seeing the world. (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004)

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Montoya conveys the impact that college enrollment and political gatherings had on him and Chicano student veterans who were laying a transnational and intellectual groundwork for 1960s and 1970s Chicano/a art. Encounters with international political movements, particularly the tenets of the Cuban Revolution, shaped Montoya’s ideas about “the power of the collective” that later influenced the RCAF’s collective theory and praxis. Moreover, Montoya’s “psychic development” outside the academy was very much in dialogue with the academy, a tension that would also manifest in the RCAF. Mentioning “la locura,” a shorthand version of the RCAF slogan “locura lo cura,” or “craziness cures,” Montoya contextualized this earlier period of “delving into the different political ways of seeing the world”; this strategy for surviving academia as a Chicano/a would become more visible in the 1970s, when the number of Chicanos/as increased on college campuses during the Vietnam War, amid civil rights mobilizations that coincided with federal and state policies aimed at making universities more accessible to underrepresented populations. Positioning la locura as a way of dealing with student and faculty gatherings, Montoya suggests the concept was a social maneuver for evading the essentialization of his identity because it maintained assumptions of who he was on the surface (Noriega 2001, 2). Montoya’s claims about “our simple actions of being Chicanos—dressing the way we did, acting the way we did, and fighting the way we did” are replete with subterfuge, since each gesture was not so simple; such performances created a way of being social at parties in Berkeley by providing a protective layer for the war veteran and firstgeneration college student as he navigated the pressures he felt between the university and his working-class, racial-ethnic, and cultural background. Suspicious of the intellectual terms by which he and other Chicano veteran students were characterized, Montoya quips, “We didn’t even know what the hell the word meant” when he felt they were being studied as “models of existentialism.” Distancing himself from the world of higher education in his recollection, Montoya reveals that “drinking and carousing bereft of rhyme or reason” was a screen identity that kept his humanity intact as he pursued an art degree. Yet by using “locura” to describe his socializing as “bereft of rhyme or reason,” Montoya also alludes to the melancholy he felt during this period of consciousness-raising. Attending fund-raisers for the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, Montoya’s growing international awareness was difficult and,

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perhaps, painful, since he felt implicated by his lack of third world consciousness during his service as a US sailor in the Korean War. Introductions to political ideologies like communism from a liberationist perspective of the Americas completely contradicted the mainstream patriotic messages he received about “fighting Commies in Korea.” Montoya had joined the navy in 1951 with a specific plan—to use the GI Bill and go to art school so he could “become a cartoonist. That was my big dream” (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). Using military service as a means to an end, Montoya did not anticipate his role in fighting against the liberation of oppressed people and in defense of US imperialism. “Drinking and carousing bereft of rhyme or reason” suggests that Montoya felt he had been had. Montoya’s complex recollection, which uses humor to reveal the pain and pleasure involved in early consciousness-raising, was an archetypal experience for first-generation Chicano/a college students in the late 1960s and 1970s. Echoing Montoya’s memories of the CCA and parties in Berkeley, RCAF artists Luis González and Ricardo Favela created Royal Order of the Jalapeño (n.d.), a silkscreen poster designed as a certificate on which one’s name can be added along with the date. Viewable on Calisphere, the poster is an ironic diploma because it works both with and against the institutional process of degree conferment.19 Within a border of orange and black lines wrapped in green vines and an airplane flying over three jalapeño peppers, the certificate reads, BE IT KNOWN THAT THE CHICANO NAMED HERE ........ HAVING COMPLETED ........ YEARS OF HIGHER EDUCATION AT ........ AND HAVING MAINTAINED A CREDIBLE AMOUNT OF LOCUR A WITHIN HIS OR HER BI=CULTUR AL SYSTEM: Y POR HABER SOBREVIVIDO LOS OBSTÁCULOS ACADÉMICOS CONTR A NUESTR A CULTUR A CHICANA CON SALSA Y CON SAFOS: IS HEREBY CONFERRED THE ROYAL ORDER OF THE JALAPEÑO ON THIS DATE ........ CHICANO STUDIES AWARD #TÚ(2)

The poster performs the “locura” strategy, which Montoya had performed at parties in Berkeley decades before the poster was made, suggesting that his experience was not unique. Rather, it was the first of many strategies to come for a Chicano/a student body. With a font imitating computer type, the poster awards Chicano/a students for completing their education while

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maintaining their “bicultural locura despite years in institutions of higher education” (Lipsitz 2001, 75). Through linguistic code-switches, the certificate recognizes a bittersweet accomplishment that a university diploma could not.

Speaking into Being: The Formation of a Chicano/a Artist Identity Wordplays and code-switches were a central element in building the verbal-visual architecture of Chicano/a identity in the 1960s and 1970s. The formation of a collective consciousness was a process of naming, or redefining and inventing words to express abbreviated concepts of intersecting affiliations. Deciding what to call oneself and the group to which one belonged was an important moment in 1968 when Esteban Villa founded the Mexican American Liberation Art Front (MALA-F) with René Yañez, Manuel Hernández-Trujillo, and José Montoya’s younger brother, Malaquias, in Oakland, California. The name of the art collective was infused with an amusing bilingual code-switch, as the acronym “MALA-F” translates in English to “the bad F.” But the designation of a self and group identity was also an evolutionary process, exemplified by the use of “Mexican American” in the MALA-F’s name. Members “chose ‘Mexican American’ instead of ‘Chicano,’” Terezita Romo (2011, 42) writes, “reflecting the transitional nature of the early years of the Chicano movement as activism shifted toward a new political identity.” By 1965, “Chicano” emerged amongst a growing populace of Mexican Americans as a self-designation and as a tool for “liberating the US Mexican community from de facto internal colonization” (Sanchez-Tranquilino 1993, 88). “Calling oneself ‘Chicano,’” Marcos Sanchez-Tranquilino asserts, diverged from the “assimilationist generations of Mexican Americans” and undermined the dominant cultural narrative of the melting pot (88). When Esteban Villa and José Montoya graduated from the California College of the Arts, in 1961 and 1962 respectively, they were not yet “Chicano” artists in name. Villa went to work as a high school art teacher in Linden, California, and Montoya taught high school art in Wheatland, California. Both men became active in the National Farm Workers Association (later renamed the United Farm Workers) that César Chávez and Dolores Huerta founded in 1962. During summer breaks, they took road trips together, including one to Mexico in 1964, visiting workshops and homes of

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the Mexican muralists.20 In the summer of 1965, they returned to the California College of the Arts in the San Francisco Bay Area on professional development scholarships (Esteban Villa, interview, January 7, 2004). Thus, “there were many years” between Montoya and Villa “leaving the Bay Area and the beginning of the Chicano Art Movement,” RCAF member Juan Carrillo writes. The interim years included the assassinations of President Kennedy in 1963 and Malcolm X in 1965. Those years also saw increasing US involvement in the Vietnam War and the development of a national dialogue about it, and not only amongst white college students but within communities of color. “For us,” Carrillo explains, “the deaths of black and brown soldiers at rates beyond our populations touched on issues of poverty, education, and racism. These newly rising forums included artists. Imagine seeing El Teatro Campesino performing in urban settings, educating the public on the lives of farmworkers and the interrelationships of their poverty to the structure of agriculture and agribusiness.” El Teatro Campesino “tied all that to the roles of law enforcement, the business community, race, and education,” in performances for Chicano/a audiences. But El Teatro Campesino was “not alone,” Carrillo adds: “The San Francisco Mime Troupe did the same. The Free Speech Movement did the same. The rising role of black students on Southern campuses demonstrated the power of students and educators in raising issues.” For José Montoya, Esteban Villa, Juan Carrillo, and other Chicano/a students, the early 1960s established a multipronged pathway to “articulations of decolonial constructs of Mexican American identity” (Juan Carrillo, email to author, February 7, 2015). From African American student mobilizations in the South, including the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1960 and the Freedom Riders in 1961, to California-based mobilizations, such as the Free Speech Movement in 1964 and the advent of El Teatro Campesino in 1965, the MALA-F artists built upon a broad base of political efforts in 1968 to articulate a Chicano/a identity. In regard to the verbalization of Chicano/a identity, Juan Carrillo’s comments touch on El Teatro Campesino’s performances of actos for farmworker and allied audiences, revealing that the process of naming was also performative. Quite literally, calling oneself Chicano/a was a speech act. Certainly, the farmworkers’ theater performed into being a political cognizance amongst disenfranchised farmworkers; but the troupe also performed on college campuses, and many troupe members were aware of multiple theater traditions. Growing up in a farmworking family in Delano,

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California, Luis Valdez studied theater at San Jose State University, learning the works of German poet and playwright Bertolt Brecht as well as Russian agitprop theater, both of which influenced political theater in the United States during the early twentieth century (Huerta 1982; Bagby 1967). Training with the San Francisco Mime Troupe for a year before joining the farmworkers’ movement, Valdez worked with other El Teatro Campesino members to create actos, or improvised performances that were staged in farm fields during the march from Delano to Sacramento to sustain the strikers and educate them on UFW efforts (Rosales 1997, 138; Bagby 1967, 77). 21 Actos synthesized Mexican and European theater traditions, marking another convergence of east-to-west and south-to-north trajectories for a New World mestizo/a art. If the MALA-F’s use of “Mexican American” echoed the transitional period leading up to the political awakening of Chicanos/as, the second half of the group’s name, “Liberation Art Front,” was in dialogue with the larger political arena. Activist and artist organizations emerged along intersecting lines of protest against the Vietnam War, racism, educational inequalities, poverty, and calls for global emancipation from imperialism. MALA-F cofounder Malaquias Montoya explained that “any group that was fighting for liberation had to have that in their name” (Romo 2011, 42). 1968 was a year of worldwide protests. Beginning in March 1968, Chicano/a students walked out of their high schools in East Los Angeles in what became known as the Chicano/a blowouts. Following the April 1968 riots in US cities, particularly in Chicago, and in response to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., artists and students of color in the United States witnessed international demonstrations in France and demonstrations by antiwar protestors during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, preceded by the political theatrics of the Youth International Party, or Yippies. The Chicago police riot in August 1968 paralleled the student demonstrations in Mexico that led to the Tlatelolco massacre in October 1968 (S. Goldman 1994, 165). Learning about “the graphic arts” of the Mexican Student Movement through the circulation of alternative press publications, the MALA-F was also impacted by the Black Power salute made by African American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos during their medal ceremony for the summer Olympics in October 1968 (165). Carlos and Smith’s gesture was a performance of solidarity with the civil rights movement against the oppression of African Americans in the United States, as well as a protest over the student massacre in Mexico City.

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In the San Francisco Bay Area, student strikes organized by the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF) in 1968 and 1969 were another major influence on emerging Chicano/a artists (S. Goldman 1994, 165). A student at UC Berkeley, Juan Carrillo joined the TWLF strike on campus, which followed the strike at San Francisco State University (Juan Carrillo, interview, July 13, 2004).22 The racial and ethnic collaborations that erupted in shared political protests in the Bay Area also shaped the worldviews of other RCAF members. RCAF artist Lorraine García-Nakata grew up in Marysville and Yuba City, California, but went to “San Francisco a lot,” where she “did the whole thing . . . the rallies, the protesting . . . being around the Black Panthers. All of that was a really big experience for someone like myself” (Quiñones and Flores 2007). San Francisco was also a “big experience” for RCAF member Stan Padilla, who met Roz, his Chinese American wife, in Roseville, California, before moving to San Francisco to pursue an arts education. “I said, ‘I’m going to art school. Do you want to go?’” Padilla recalled asking Roz, and they “packed up and moved and became the scandal of the world. She was disowned and the whole thing. . . . You couldn’t marry . . . interracially at that time, in ’61. . . . So we went to the city and became urbanized. You know, it was just for us. We were two provincial kids and went to the city to find our way in the world.” Commencing their rural-to-urban transformation, the Padillas “got very involved in everything, but we still maintained our roots— you know, our traditions and cultures and everything. But then I went really crazy. There were Persians, Armenians, and everything. I just loved everybody and every culture—Chinatown, Japantown . . . the art institute—that was the sixties; so it was the Cultural Revolution, the civil rights era” (Stan Padilla, interview, July 12, 2004). The urbanization process that Padilla describes encompasses both China’s “Cultural Revolution” and the US “civil rights era,” imagining very different borders for the trope of “the sixties” in the periodization of Chicano/a and US history that ignores the international politics of Chicano/a artists (E. Pérez 1999, 3–4). Padilla fuses local and global contexts and political movements, all of which shaped his worldview in the 1960s. The “Cultural Revolution” to which he refers occurred in the People’s Republic of China in 1966, with one of its Maoist tenets calling for the transformation of capitalist societies to socialism by revolutionizing rural communities. From a cannery and railroad area in Northern California, Padilla gravitated toward such

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ideas beyond the cultural nationalism of the Chicano movement, ironically, because of his working-class and rural background. Amid the audible protests of the TWLF strikes and the “electrifying impact” of cries of “All Power to the People!” future RCAF members encountered the political manifestos that circulated in the 1960s (Cockcroft, Weber, and Cockcroft 1998, 17). The Black Panther Party (BPP) had developed and disseminated a “Ten-Point Program” in 1966, articulating several themes concerning social reformation through an end to structural oppression (Pulido 2006, 96–98). The BPP’s “Ten-Point Program” was emulated by the Brown Berets in 1968 in a “Ten-Point Program” that was later amended to include thirteen points.23 But unlike the BPP’s “Program,” the Brown Berets’ text was not uniform in syntax. The BPP “Program” relied on an aural experience of language, as each point begins with the phrase, “We want,” performing in print the call-and-response strategy used on the front lines of protests and political assemblies. The phrase also works as a lyrical chorus since the choice of “We want,” instead of “We demand,” expresses desire for a new social reality, participating in the “distinct leitmotif of hope” that Floyd Coleman (2000, 10) traces throughout the history of African American art and cultural production.24 When the BPP’s “Program” was revised in 1972 to include “other people of color” and “oppressed communities,” the BPP preserved the repetition of the opening phrase “We want,” suggesting that they were aware of the aural force in the original “Ten-Point Program” (Pulido 2006, 167). The performative quality of the Black Panther Party’s “Ten-Point Program” also resonated in the Wall of Respect’s verbal-visual architecture as the mural simultaneously expressed “the experience of a people” and performed a “collective act, an event” (Cockcroft, Weber, and Cockcroft 1998, 2–3). The mural became a stage for poetic recital when Gwendolyn Brooks and Don Lee (Haki R. Madhubuti) read poems dedicated to the wall in August 1967 (Cockcroft, Weber, and Cockcroft 1998, 4).25 The poetic recitations were followed by the titling of the mural amid a demonstration and under police surveillance. With “permission from the demonstration leaders,” a local sign painter “calmly lettered Wall of Respect under the figure of Muhammad Ali” as William Walker “held the ladder and passed up the paint” (4). The combination of poetic recital and inscription was a performance of the right to assembly by African Americans, an act perceived as potentially dangerous and disruptive to law and order by local authorities.

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The right to assembly is a cornerstone of US democratic principles, legally interpreted over two centuries with great debate over to what and for whom it applies. Citizenship is not a natural state, but “dependent on borders and legislation” (González and Rodriguez y Gibson 2015, 61). Public gatherings of students, artists, and activists of color in political protest, or at the dedication of a community mural, were spatial tactics. Such actions drew upon civil rights mobilizations that used the right to assembly to express a “loss of faith in the institutions of power associated with embodied, economic and ideological citizenship” (60). But, as the content, form, and function of the Wall of Respect exemplify, performing the right to assembly involved a reconceptualization of the meaning of citizenship by disenfranchised communities.

MALA-F and the Performance of Citizenship: Decolonizing the Right to Assembly MALA-F members also performed the right to assembly in their formation of a Chicano/a art collective that became a prototype for Chicano/a artists regarding their role in the community (Martínez 1997, 234). Founding members gathered in each other’s homes, building a “vanguard forum”26 for discussions on the integration of art into the Chicano movement. Their conversations on Chicano/a art concerned all of it—from the forms, methods, and political and historical foundations, to the art’s audience and purpose. Meetings also included peer reviews in which members developed an ability to talk about art and their artist processes (Romo 2011, 40). Terezita Romo writes that during MALA-F meetings, Malaquias Montoya “gained enough confidence to present his work” and to answer “questions regarding his intent [and] the symbols and metaphors within his work” (40). His experience of the MALA-F’s peer reviews reveals the incorporation of institutional knowledge into early Chicano/a art discourse, because they held “crits,” or critiques, a method of evaluation that the artists had learned to perform in art school. “All your life you’d been looking at people who didn’t look like you for guidance,” Malaquias Montoya explained. “You’re discovering yourself, and you’re using your art to speak about those conditions you want to change. And all of a sudden, a voice that was much more articulate than my speaking voice had a vocabulary” (Elliott 1997). Montoya describes the process of speaking into being a voice for Chicano/a artists, which adapted an institutional framework for the theorization and praxis of Chicano/a art.

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MALA-F’s formation coincided with the development of other Chicano/a intellectual circles that adapted institutional methods for building space for Chicano/a art, prose, and intellectual thought. Juan Carrillo participated in the Chicano/a student group Quinto Sol at UC Berkeley and its journal, El Grito: A Journal of Contemporary Mexican-American Thought (Juan Carrillo, interview, July 13, 2004). Established in 1967, El Grito “served as a forum for a variety of themes, graphic arts and literature” (Rosales 1997, 254) and was the “first national academic and literary Mexican American journal in the United States” (D. López 2010, 183). The journal’s faculty advisor, Octavio I. Romano, also founded Quinto Sol Publications, which published several of the first Chicano/a novels in the 1970s (Rosales 1997, 258). Both the journal and the publishing group fostered an intellectual and creative network. Juan Carrillo recalled the introductions between Chicano/a artists, authors, and students: “I knew José [Montoya] because we had established . . . El Grito and we had solicited some work from José to publish.” Carrillo also “knew Esteban [Villa] because he was living in Oakland while I was at Berkeley and we had organized an exhibit in Oakland. So I got to know him and René Yañez [who] we were interested in [for] artwork for El Grito” (Juan Carrillo, interview, July 13, 2004). Malaquias Montoya also met Yañez through El Grito, “having seen a portfolio of his work in the summer of 1968 issue” (Romo 2011, 39). Stan Padilla “heard of them, met them at conferences, and saw their work. But it was happening all over the place. . . . It was all over San Diego, San Francisco, Fresno, and LA” (Stan Padilla, interview, July 12, 2004). What was “happening all over the place” was an assembly of Chicano/a artists engaged in the political, labor, and antiwar activism of the broader Chicano movement. “Out of that,” Juan Carrillo adds, “grew the whole idea of artists being activists; artists tackling political questions; artists working to develop community and expand educational opportunities; and telling our own story” (Juan Carrillo, interview, July 13, 2004). While the MALA-F only lasted for a year, their gatherings culminated in an art show, New Symbols for La Raza Nueva, at La Causa Center in East Oakland in March 1969 (Romo 2011, 42). The show featured “paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures” of Manuel Gómez, an antiwar activist and poet whom MALA-F had selected for his “pronounced indigenous profile” to “celebrate Mexicanidad and indigenous heritage as a source of cultural and personal pride” (43). Gómez had also refused induction by the draft board in 1969 through a letter that was reprinted in several underground newspapers, suggesting that his selection by the MALA-F reflected intersecting racial,

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cultural, and political values (Oropeza 2005, 89). The MALA-F redressed long-standing US stereotypes of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in the literary, historical, and visual archive of the nation-state by using Gómez as a new symbol for a new people. In an untitled print (1969) included in the show, Malaquias Montoya juxtaposes Manuel Gómez with the Mexican revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata (Romo 2011, 43). The pairing signaled “an unbroken chain linking the illustrious goals of the (past) Mexican Revolution to the (present) militant Chicano Movement” (43). The link was visualized through color, or the “deep brown of Gómez’s arm and face [that] spoke of indigenous ancestry” (43). Simple in its idea, the brown color functions as an abridged intellectual intervention on US history, because it visualizes historical continuity for Chicanos/as, proposing Gómez as a revolutionary hero of an ongoing resistance to colonialism. “The fact that I was able to work with him and portray this person,” Montoya explains, “gave me a face that I think awakened a lot of images. All my life I knew people who looked like this guy” (Romo 2011, 44–45). Reinscribing the meaning of the “deep brown of Gómez’s arm and face” with the indigenous complexion of Emiliano Zapata, Malaquias Montoya’s piece resonates with Luis Valdez’s (1972, xiv) reference to “the natural bronze tone” of Chicanos/as in his introduction to the anthology Aztlán. In the twenty-first century, these visual cues are taken for granted, but in 1969, Montoya made color and facial features mean something beyond the legacy of colonial thinking, a thinking that had appeared in everything from casta paintings to twentieth-century popular culture (see plate 4). The MALA-F never released a group philosophy, and their meetings were not recorded, but the 1969 announcement for New Symbols for La Raza Nueva can be interpreted as a philosophy of sorts (Romo 2011, 39). The announcement manifests a language for Chicano/a art: La Revolucion Mexicana de 1910 was not only the masses of Mexico uprising against Diaz so that they might obtain land, justice, and liberty, it was also a literary protest against the conventional system of the European influenced literary arts. The most dynamic protests came from the contemporary artists of that time. . . . These men knew and understood the importance of the pueblo to the revolucion. . . . they rebelled against the conventional European influenced arts[.] They encouraged and practiced the idea that art was meant for the pueblo not for a “cultured few[.]” . . . The Revolucion is now 1968 and we are still struggling. Out of this struggle

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emerges a new group of Chicano artists who call themselves the Mexican American Liberation Art Front. They too were trapped by the conventional system of line drawing. (Romo 2011, 45)

Pairing 1910 and 1968, the MALA-F mapped a south-to-north trajectory for the evolution of Chicano/a art based on idealizations of the Mexican Revolution. Bilingual code-switching strengthened the trajectory along cultural lines. Referring to Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros as the “contemporary artists of that time,” the MALA-F foregrounded the primacy of Mexican muralism as a revolutionary art history for Chicano/a art. Clearly, there are tensions between pairing the 1910 Mexican Revolution with the Chicano movement. As the former called for an end to the elitist ideals of the Porfiriato and an impenetrable caste system, the latter sought social justice and political reform within the principles of a democratic system, if not within the lived reality of democracy in the United States. But between 1968 and 1969, the MALA-F’s ideas were a formulation—an articulation of another way of being Mexican American in the United States. The act of teasing out the problems of overly idealized connections between Mexican and Chicano/a relationships to state power came later, in Chicano/a studies scholarship, which was (and is) only possible because of the intellectual interventions of groups like the MALA-F. MALA-F’s critique of “line drawing” illuminates the developmental stages of Chicano/a identity because it functions on two levels. The critique denounced artistic traditions of easel painting and works on paper that privilege individual artists. It also challenged the geopolitical “line drawing” that bordered the Chicano/a mind. To decolonize their historical consciousness, the artists asserted that they “needed to find themselves” by asking “the difficult question[:] Who am I? Quien soy yo?” After posing the question in their exhibition statement, the MALA-F answered by writing that “they emerged as Chicanos. They were free. They had returned to humanity” (Romo 2011, 45). Presented in English and Spanish, the question disrupts hegemonic forces in US education and culture simply by being asked. “Who am I? Quien soy yo?” was “a question that we were all asking of ourselves,” Juan Carrillo explains, and “one response was ‘I am Joaquin’” (Juan Carrillo, email to author, April 7, 2014). Answered in epic proportions by Rodolfo Gonzáles in his long poem “Yo Soy Joaquín” (1967), the question “Quien soy yo?” pervaded Chicano/a discourse. It was posed by Enriqueta Vasquez in El Grito

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del Norte in her 1971 editorial “La Historia del Mestizo.”27 Ruben Salazar also alluded to the question in his 1970 Los Angeles Times article “Who Is a Chicano? And What Is It the Chicanos Want?,” to which he replied, “A Chicano is a Mexican American with a non-Anglo image of himself.” The Royal Chicano Air Force also posed the question in visual art. In Emergence of the Chicano Social Struggle in a Bi-Cultural Society (1969– 1970), Esteban Villa depicted the birth of a Chicano within a visual genealogy of historical, cultural, and political symbols. The split existence that Villa felt before Chicano/a art circulates throughout Emergence as it simultaneously reveals a crossroads between dominant cultural values and institutions, and the Chicano/a desire for educational opportunities within those institutions, alongside connections to a pre-Columbian past and Mexican art history. The political struggle of Chicanos/as is also prominent in the mural through the visual and textual references to the Brown Berets and the educational platforms of the Chicano movement. Further, the process of naming, or the building of a vocabulary for a Chicano/a voice, is foregrounded in the mural because it calls itself “Chicano” in the center of its visual field.

¿Quien Soy Yo? The Emergence of a Chicano Mural Painted between 1969 and 1970 in the gymnasium of the Washington Neighborhood Center at Sixteenth and D Streets in the Alkali Flat district, Emergence of the Chicano Social Struggle in a Bi-Cultural Society was the first “Chicano” mural painted in Sacramento and a contemporary of Chicago’s Wall of Respect (Cockcroft, Weber, and Cockcroft 1998, 26–27). After his trip to Mexico with José Montoya in 1964, Esteban Villa became interested in “public wall art,” having “heard about the Wall of Respect, which was created a year before his first mural” (Barnett 1984, 68). Energized by the Mexican murals he toured and by news of one celebrating African American history and culture, Villa began bringing students from the CSUS Art Department to paint in the Alkali Flat (67) (see plate 5). Founded as the site of an outreach program in 1952 by the Fremont Presbyterian Church, the Washington Neighborhood Center “was donated to the Mexican community of the barrio,” Esteban Villa explained. “We held classes there with a lot of the young kids” (Esteban Villa, interview, June 23, 2004). The local neighborhood council asked Villa to paint the mural as part of a summer youth study program (“Esteban Villa, Summer Youth

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Study,” n.d.). “That’s how I painted that first mural,” Villa recalled. “I’d bring my students and start. [I asked,] ‘Don’t I need permission? Papers to fill [out], insurance, money, paint?’ [They said,] ‘No, just start.’” Bringing in supplies from “the Art Department, without them knowing about it,” Villa and the RCAF provided the “manpower” in the “only place in Sacramento that let us use their backyard, so to speak, to establish social and community organizations to improve people’s lives. . . . It was a huge difference in those early years, you know in 1968 to ’69, and [the mural is] still here” (Esteban Villa, interview, June 23, 2004). A collective course of action was implemented throughout the entire project, and like the Wall of Respect, the concept of painting a community mural within an actual community was an important part of the creative process, a process that the RCAF believed defined them as Chicano/a artists. Making Emergence “was about keeping the community organized for change and raising people up,” José Montoya explained (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). But “raising people up” was a reciprocal process, as RCAF members “underwent a radical process of what Paulo Freire would call conscientização,” or the idea of becoming “conscious of their own oppression” while making art that created “change at an individual and collective level” (Latorre 2008, 8; see also Freire 2000). Emergence was created inside a building that “built” a Chicano/a community through services and education. Marking infrastructural space for the Chicano/a community, the mural is a visual call-and-response within a Chicano/a house, or an alternative structure for knowledge production, identity formation, and the right to assembly. The desire for a house of one’s own, or rather a house for the Chicano/a community, resounds in 1980s and 1990s literature by Sandra Cisneros, Richard Rodriguez, and Gloria Anzaldúa, each of whom use the symbol of the house to explore the individual or interior architecture of ethnicity that came to unprecedented prominence after the culturally nationalist period of Chicano/a literature (Kaup 1997). While 1980s and 1990s Chicano/a literature moved beyond the symbol of land, or Aztlán, to express a desire for a home of one’s own, 1960s and 1970s Chicano/a artists also wanted “houses,” or alternative institutions like D-Q University and the Washington Neighborhood Center.28 As a Chicano/a house, the Washington Neighborhood Center shelters the “oldest Chicano mural” in existence because “the word ‘Chicano’ is on it,” Ricardo Favela stated, adding that “there might be some other ones that may have been done, but no one knows, because they don’t say ‘Chicano’” (Ricardo Favela, interview, July 20, 2004). The process of naming was a

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critical factor for self-determination in the creation of Emergence. Not only did Esteban Villa and his students paint a striking mural full of images of the farmworkers’ struggle, the Brown Berets, and the social climate of the Chicano movement, but they spelled it out on the wall (“Esteban Villa, Summer Youth Study,” n.d.). The integration of the mural’s title into the visual field implicates viewers in the subject matter by making them read and, thus, contemplate the social, political, and cultural crossroads at which Chicanos/as found themselves in the 1960s and 1970s. Remarking on the mural’s title, Villa pointed to the figure of a Brown Beret above a skeleton with daggers throughout its rib cage, an image that symbolizes “all the people that have died in the barrio and in the canneries . . . whether it was through accidents in the fields, the student shootings, overdose [or] stabbings” (Esteban Villa, interview, June 23, 2004) (see fig. 1.1). Turning to the panel on the right side of the emerging Chicano figure, Villa continued, “Over here is the struggle to survive. That’s why you see this woman there armed with what is an education . . . the principles of education, El Grito—the magazine from Berkeley. . . . This side symbolizes hope, and the other one over there is struggle. Dare to struggle, dare to win” (Esteban Villa, interview, June 23, 2004). While the title of the Wall of Respect was added several months after its completion, the incorporation of Emergence’s title into the mural demonstrates its “aesthetics of the message,” or the simultaneity of its content (Romo 2001, 2011). “The aesthetics of the message operate on multiple levels of reference at the same time,” Terezita Romo (2011, 10) writes: “artistic and political, private and public, individual and societal, personal and universal. Each artistic piece is a seamless merger of all these dichotomies.” In other words, “composition, form, and technique are not just a means to an end. Instead the aesthetic becomes an integral component of the message; one never precludes the other” (10). Romo proposes that the aesthetics of the message in Chicano/a art operate outside Eurocentric standards of art by valuing the creative process as a political one; this results in a powerful tool with which to read Chicano/a murals (and posters) because it disrupts the separation of image and text in written narrative, which often imposes a reading style that moves from left to right and chronologically. Reading Emergence is not a sequential process, but a simultaneous one, since the title is both its message and part of the visual experience. Other Chicano/a murals with titles inserted directly into their visual fields support the idea of the aesthetics of the message in Chicano/a art. Frank Fierro’s Orale Raza (1974) and Congreso de Artistas Chicanos en

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Aztlán’s We Are Not a Minority!! (1978) call Figure 1.1. Esteban Villa, right side detail of Emergence of the out to Chicanos/as through a greeting and a Chicano Social Struggle in a declaration. Created at the Estrada Courts Bi-Cultural Society (1969– housing project in Los Angeles, Orale Raza 1970). Royal Chicano Air functioned as a salutation for Chicano/a resiForce Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural dents, using a word-based and code-switched Archives. Special Collections design to establish “cultural recognition Department, the University between the Chicano muralist and the Chiof California, Santa Barbara cano viewer” (Sanchez-Tranquilino 1993, 85). Library. Meanwhile, We Are Not a Minority!! presents its title as the focal point, contextualized by a portrait of Che Guevara with his index finger pointing directly at the viewer to simultaneously identify and implicate viewers (85). Guevara’s portrait also reconfigures the image of Uncle Sam in World War II–era US propaganda posters to convey the mural’s message, signaling the convergence of dominant visual codes and Chicano/a ones in New World mestizo/a art. Like both of these murals, Emergence hails its viewers as it engages them in graphic concepts that merge several historical contexts and art histories. The title coincides with five enormous figures that overwhelm viewers, epitomizing what John Pitman Weber (2003, 6) identifies as the “late Siqueiroesque graphic style,” or David Alfaro Siqueiros’s emphasis on hands in many of his later works. The central image in Emergence is a naked

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man with mouth agape, suggesting an audible howl, erupting from the blue, womb-like center of a UFW eagle. The figure holds a cross in one hand and a book in the other (Barnett 1984, 67). “The cross,” Esteban Villa explained, “symbolizes religion. And the other one is a book. . . . What’s more important, church or state? Should a country be run by the religion, the church, God, or should it be run by the courts and the state? . . . And then behind it is the farmworkers’ struggle” (Esteban Villa, interview, June 23, 2004). Pointing out the broader spiritual and political questions that Emergence poses, Villa suggested that only through the United Farm Workers union, faith, and education will the Chicano/a survive a “bi-cultural society.” For Villa and many members of the RCAF who “came from farmworker families and had experienced first-hand the harsh working conditions in the fields and the ravages of pesticides” (Latorre 2008, 35), the man’s emergence from the UFW eagle is a “graphic testimonio,” or what Raúl Villa (2000, 189) describes as a visual record of a collective experience. Yet because of the collective mode in which Emergence tells a Chicano/a origin story, the mural is not without tensions for a diverse Chicano/a viewership. While the central male figure grasps a cross and a book in his hands, his choice between the two remains unresolved. During the United Farm Workers strike, César Chávez used identification with the Catholic Church as a political tactic, since UFW members were predominantly Catholic and many perceived clergy as essential to representing the moral high ground during the farmworkers’ pilgrimage to Sacramento (Ruiz 1998, 132; Rosales 1997, 140). Emergence depicts the intellectual struggle over the political role religion played in the Chicano movement and the limitations of faith-based politics. The duality posed by the book and the cross in the Chicano’s hands continues on both sides of the mural as figures “stream outward, one a Brown Beret gripping a rifle,” and the other carrying books titled Principles of Education—Aztlán and El Grito (Barnett 1984, 67). The mural’s reference to El Grito and the journal Aztlán connects the RCAF to the assemblies of students and artists in the San Francisco Bay Area and the extended network of Chicano/a publication spaces in California. With the exception of a military jacket that drapes the Brown Beret, all the figures are naked, either skeletal or partially humanized by flesh. Below the Brown Beret, for example, Esteban Villa and his students painted the skeleton with daggers throughout its frame, which Barnett (1984, 67) reads as an “indictment on the current condition of Chicanos.” Across from the skeleton, a pregnant woman with

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a child in her womb and one outside of her Figure 1.2. Esteban Villa, left side detail of Emergence of the body suggests the future (67). Her nakedness Chicano Social Struggle in a articulates Chicano/a rebirth through selfBi-Cultural Society (1969– awareness in the Chicano movement (67). But 1970). Royal Chicano Air the skeletal and fleshy figures also reveal the Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural influence of Mexican art history on Chicano/a Archives. Special Collections muralism. Asserting that his only artistic link Department, the University “was the fact that my roots go back to Mexof California, Santa Barbara ico,” Esteban Villa explained, “I looked at José Library. Guadalupe Posada, Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, José Clemente Orozco. I looked at that and it opened my eyes” (Esteban Villa, interview, January 7, 2004) (see fig. 1.2). In looking at José Clemente Orozco’s murals Prometheus (1930) and The Epic of American Civilization (1932–1934), the connections with Emergence are unmistakable. Both of Orozco’s murals incorporate large-scale human forms and nakedness to articulate epic struggles of man against self, society, and nature. The central male in Emergence nearly touches the ceiling with his fingers, and Villa’s attention to the Washington Neighborhood Center’s architecture is similar to Orozco’s placement of Prometheus in the arc of the dining hall’s ceiling at Pomona College. Further, a skeletal woman giving birth in Gods of the Modern World, a mural panel from Orozco’s The Epic of American Civilization, reappears in Emergence. Orozco’s birth scene

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includes a skeletal academic faculty presiding over a series of births of skeletal infants who are outside the woman’s body, which is empty. The skeletal newborns wear graduation caps as they await delivery under glass display cases, suggesting that in higher education, they are more specimens than human beings. Villa adapted the scene from Orozco’s panel to convey the Chicano/a concern over the process of assimilation through institutionalization; but he focused on the mother figure, which is both skeletal and flesh, holding a baby inside her womb as another reaches upward and outside of her: “You see that little baby down there? There’s another one to be born. This one’s already born and is reaching out for survival. Dare to win, dare to struggle. So this is hope” (Esteban Villa, interview, June 23, 2004). The theme of hope in the panel parallels the “distinct leitmotif of hope” that Floyd Coleman (2000, 10) finds in the Wall of Respect because it provided images of black heroes and leaders absent in mainstream culture. The lack of “images of blacks on television, in print media, or in film,” Michael D. Harris (2000) adds, paralleled the absence of “images by blacks in museums, galleries, or art texts” (24; emphasis in original). Emergence transformed the Washington Neighborhood Center into a Chicano/a house through a theme of hope conveyed in a visual and textual fusion of 1930s Mexican murals, 1960s and 1970s Chicano movement symbols and imagery, and African American community murals. Emergence of the Chicano Social Struggle in a Bi-Cultural Society is a national artifact, as important to US civil rights art history as Chicago’s Wall of Respect. But despite the Wall of Respect’s significance, it was destroyed in 1971 after a building fire damaged the exterior on which it was painted. Perhaps Emergence remains intact, amid ongoing redevelopment efforts that spur demographic change in the Alkali Flat, because it exists inside a Chicano/a community center. In fact, Emergence was restored between 1994 and 1995. Esteban Villa created additional panels featuring mariachis, ballet folklórico dancers, and Tejana singer Selena Quintanilla-Pérez (Esteban Villa, interview, June 23, 2004). The mural’s restoration and the creation of new panels testify to the ongoing production of Chicano/a verbal-visual architecture beyond the 1960s and 1970s.

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The Emergence of the Chicano in the Absence of La Mujer Nueva The Washington Neighborhood Center’s community programs and the Emergence mural continued the course of action that the Mexican American Liberation Art Front (MALA-F) announced in 1969. Held in a Chicano/a community center in Oakland, California, the group’s art show New Symbols for La Raza Nueva practiced what the MALA-F preached in their exhibition statement. But the MALA-F also declared that they were “practicing ‘carnalismo’ in its truest sense [by] offering any help they can to Chicano artists, writers, and poets . . . for the liberation of their minds” (Romo 2011, 45). Describing the decolonization process as a fraternal one, the MALA-F’s practice of “‘carnalismo’ in its truest sense” aligned with “El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán” (1969), which demanded Chicano/a “writers, poets, musicians, and artists produce literature and art that is appealing to our people and relates to our revolutionary culture. Our cultural values of life, family, and home will serve as a powerful weapon to defeat the gringo dollar value system and encourage the process of love and brotherhood” (“El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán” 1972, 405). “El Plan” called for a body of work and a practiced style that rejected the idea of making art for art’s sake, and, instead, inspired Chicano/a artists to make art for the political needs and cultural values of the Chicano movement. In its objection to capitalism, which was racialized as “gringo,” and thus colonial, “El Plan” put forward a vision of decolonization through a patriarchal order of gender roles in the traditional sense of the Mexican American family. The MALA-F’s fraternal vision of carnalismo was also shaped by the visual doctrine of the Mexican muralists and the work of writers whom the MALA-F artists esteemed. From José Clemente Orozco’s 1926 mural Cortés y la Malinche, to the writings of Octavio Paz, who linked sixteenth-century conquest to the twentieth-century corporate takeover of Mexico by foreign investors and industries (Paz 1985, 65–88), the emphasis on carnalismo as the path to decolonization in the MALA-F’s exhibition statement neglected the destruction of female lives, agency, and autonomy under centuries of colonial rule. But MALA-F was focused on the restoration of Chicano masculinity, proposing “images of el hombre nuevo (the new man),” or what Esteban Villa described to Tomás Ybarra-Frausto as the “Chicano who had emerged from

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the decolonization process” (Ybarra-Frausto 1991a, 130). Villa’s explanation of the MALA-F’s intention to create and disseminate images of the decolonized Chicano resonated in the broader circulation of ideas during the 1960s and 1970s Chicano movement.29 These ideas were also put forward by Chicana writers, artists, and activists, who redefined Chicano masculinity as a community-based, and not military-based, identity. Villa’s articulation of “el hombre nuevo” echoed antiwar claims made by Chicana activists Lea Ybarra and Nina Genera, for example. They insisted that “young Mexican American men needed to use their ‘potential here at home in constructive ways that will help our Raza’” (Oropeza 2005, 108). Yet, in redefining Chicano masculinity, Chicanas also constructed la mujer nueva as they “became aware of their own talents” (Oropeza 2005, 110). Betita Martínez, for example, cofounded El Grito del Norte, the newspaper for Reies López Tijerina’s Alianza Federal de Mercedes. Chicanas were involved in every aspect of the newspaper, from “the actual pasting and putting together of the newspaper [which] was tedious work with little associated glory,” to writing “some of the movement’s most original and insightful political commentaries” (110). Enriqueta Vasquez and Valentina Valdez wrote editorials against the Vietnam War, essays in support of the Chicano movement, and meditations on Chicana activism for El Grito. In so doing, they forged a political and intellectual Chicana voice in the context of the movement (110). Despite the feminist consciousness-raising of Chicanas amid the redefinition of Chicano masculinity, the verbal-visual architecture of the Chicano movement is difficult to disentangle from the male privileges that Chicano/a artists invoked against historical denigration and invisibility in the United States. Esteban Villa’s description of the decolonization process negates half the people who helped articulate, visualize, and enact it. But the absence of la mujer nueva in his reflection on MALA-F goals also maps the development of Chicana identity, one that was drafted and redrafted as the Chicano movement evolved. While la mujer nueva is absent in Villa’s explication of the MALA-F’s call for mental liberation, she is the subject of one of his largest murals, painted six years after the MALA-F’s New Symbols for La Raza Nueva. Creating one of several RCAF murals in San Diego’s Chicano Park, Villa erected an enormous female figure entitled Mujer Cósmica (1975). Following the historic victory of the Barrio Logan community, murals were created to celebrate the political assembly of Chicanos/as who demanded their rights

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as citizens be recognized along with their racial-ethnic, historical, and cultural origins before and after the US annexation of California. But Mujer Cósmica’s color, nudity, and markings created tensions with local residents, largely expressed through claims of insider and outsider artists painting murals with political agendas that were perceived as foreign to the community that had established Chicano Park (Barnett 1984, 164–165; Mulford 1988) (see plate 6). Mujer Cósmica was not the only RCAF mural that created controversy. Painting directly next to Villa’s mural, RCAF artists Irma Lerma Barbosa and Celia Herrera Rodríguez and their colleagues created Women Hold Up Half the Sky (1975), a mural featuring clothed women, naked women, and no male counterparts. RCAF murals at Chicano Park tell a story about the limits of cultural nationalism and its manifestations of sexism in the RCAF as members pursued the decolonization of the Chicano/a mind in their creations of New World mestizo/a art. Explored further in the next chapter, Mujer Cósmica and Women Hold Up Half the Sky reflect the growing pains of the Aztlán ideal, or a sense of place within the United States, and the reality of the ideal’s implementation, especially the problem of gender equality for Chicanas in the actual spaces of Aztlán. Sexism in the Chicano movement undercut its decolonial vision. The RCAF’s navigation of that sexism was complicated and at times articulated through the air force persona that they performed for each other and Chicano/a audiences. But women in the RCAF also used the air force persona to combat sexism and push forward their artistic practices, which included work beyond traditional genres and definitions of art. Women members were a major force of the RCAF’s infrastructure as well as that of the Chicano movement. In fact, the creation of Women Hold Up Half the Sky at Chicano Park dovetails with the work of Chicanas in the RCAF through Josephine Talamantez’s community and arts activism over a period of forty years. Born and raised in Logan Heights in San Diego, Talamantez was on the front lines of Chicano Park’s creation and preservation from 1970 until the present. Talamantez’s most recent efforts led to Chicano Park’s addition to the National Register of Historic Places in January 2013 (Josephine Talamanez, conversation with author, January 11, 2016). In moving the story of the RCAF’s formation forward, the work that Chicanas performed must be moved to the center of RCAF art history to account for the numerous contributions and multiple influences the collective made to American art history and cultural production to date.

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C h ap t e r 2

Perfor ming La Mujer Nueva Chicana “Art Work” in the RCAF Women were instrumental to the health and sustainability of the RCAF community programs. . . . Without women running the programs, there wouldn’t have been any programs. Sam Rios Jr., interview, April 24, 2007 José told me I would have to become a general of women. Irma Lerma Barbosa in María Ochoa’s (2003) Creative Collectives

I

n the documentary film Chicano Park (Mulford 1988), the story of a Chicano/a community’s uprising against spatial encroachment and political disenfranchisement is recounted eighteen years after its occurrence. San Diego’s Barrio Logan was the second largest Chicano/a neighborhood in the United States according to the film, which begins with an overview of the area’s growth in the early twentieth century and its proliferation during the World War II era. By the 1950s, however, Barrio Logan had been rezoned for industrial use. The neighborhood disintegrated with the rise of junkyards, pollution, and construction damage to homes (Mulford 1988). In the 1960s, it was severed by the construction of Interstate 5 and freeway on-ramps to the San Diego–Coronado Bridge. The waves of infringement that upended the community sparked a spontaneous 84

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occupation of land that had been previously promised to residents for a park. On April 22, 1970, residents “swarmed” the site, and the occupation grew to an assembly of hundreds of local and allied people (Mulford 1988). Their efforts were successful, and the land was returned to the community to create a park, supervised by a steering committee comprised of residents. The story of Chicano Park is relayed in the film through interviews with local participants, including Josephine Talamantez, who recalls her grandmother’s migration to the Logan Heights neighborhood from Baja California Sur in the early twentieth century (Mulford 1988). Talamantez’s presence in the documentary is significant to Royal Chicano Air Force history because it reveals the lifelong leadership of one of the group’s Chicana members. Following her participation in the occupation and her service on Chicano Park’s steering committee, Talamantez graduated from UC Berkeley and worked in community mental health services through the Sacramento Concilio, Inc. (Josephine Talamantez, e-mail to author, January 27, 2015). Taking a position in student services at Sacramento City College, she met members of the RCAF and joined the collective. In 1979, she returned to Chicano Park as director of El Centro Cultural de la Raza, serving until 1981 and coordinating the first nationally touring exhibition of José Guadalupe Posada’s artwork. Returning to Sacramento in the 1980s, Talamantez married Armando Cid and became director of La Raza Galería Posada. She earned her master’s degree at California State University, Sacramento (CSUS), and she served as chief of programs at the California Arts Council for twenty-six years (Josephine Talamantez, e-mail to author, January 27, 2015). Talamantez remained committed to Barrio Logan, achieving the listing of Chicano Park and its murals on the National Register of Historic Places and recently coauthoring a proposal for its designation as a national landmark. In addition to the interview with Talamantez, the film chronicles the evolution of Chicano Park’s murals. The first wave of murals involved spontaneous creations in 1973 that steering committee member Salvador Torres describes as an explosion of paint on the walls by hundreds of people (Mulford 1988). In 1975, a mural committee organized an artist invitational, and the RCAF was invited to participate. But the group’s murals provoked protest from residents who objected to imagery and symbols they felt were politically and culturally inappropriate (Barnett 1984, 164–165), including a red star in the hand of José Montoya’s farmworker father and intertwined nude bodies in Juanishi Orosco’s mural. The greatest offense was caused by Esteban Villa’s mural, Mujer Cósmica (1975). According to José Montoya,

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Figure 2.1. Esteban Villa, detail of Mujer Cósmica (1975). Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

who appears in the documentary, Villa’s mural was an enormous, partially nude woman, painted white and “tattooed” with communist symbols and names of communist leaders (Mulford 1988) (see fig. 2.1). Although Montoya comments on the controversy caused by the RCAF’s murals, his focus shifts to an internal conflict in the RCAF when he reflects on Women Hold Up Half the Sky (1975).1 Created by RCAF artists Irma Lerma Barbosa and Celia Herrera Rodríguez, alongside their colleagues Rosalinda Palacios, Antonia Mendoza, and Barbara Desmangles, the women’s mural consisted of only female forms, several of which were partially nude and stirred local controversy. José Montoya does not address the mural’s content but, instead, recalls that the women artists arrived at Chicano Park before their male colleagues. “I think the women messed up,” Montoya states, adding, “They took off without letting us know; so it was a solo flight that, usually in the RCAF, you know, it’s a court martial . . . in which case, they would have come back and said, ‘What are you talking

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about? We know you guys too well.’ Again, it’s Figure 2.2. Irma Lerma Barbosa with framed picture of the old machismo coming out. But they did a 2012 renovations and picture very beautiful pillar” (Mulford 1988). Calling of original mural Women Hold their act a “solo flight,” Montoya uses air force Up Half the Sky (1975). Private vocabulary to describe how his Chicana colcollection of Irma Lerma Barbosa. leagues violated the collective’s values. Nevertheless, he assumes they “would have come back and said, ‘What are you talking about?’” if he had attempted to hold them accountable for breaking protocol. Acknowledging his patriarchal perspective, or his “old machismo coming out,” Montoya also suggests that women in the RCAF were not passive members, but talked back to sexism. In this case, they chose to bypass the collective in order to create a mural because they knew the “guys too well.” Despite their actions, Montoya concludes that they made a “beautiful pillar,” further nuancing his criticism by suggesting that he did not object to them making art, but to their circumvention of the collective process (see fig. 2.2). José Montoya’s interview in Chicano Park offers key insight into how Chicana members navigated patriarchal gender roles in the RCAF under the culturally nationalist platforms of the Chicano movement, which put

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forward a fraternal vision of decolonization. In this chapter, I explore the advancement of la mujer nueva in the RCAF, or the Chicana who “emerged from the decolonization process” despite its androcentric vision.2 To do so, I frame Chicana agency in the RCAF largely through the story of Irma Lerma Barbosa, who used the air force persona to perform a Chicana identity against traditional expectations of gender. Her air force performance was one among many personas she fashioned in the 1960s and 1970s to tow the political line of the Chicano movement while simultaneously cultivating Chicana autonomy. A Brown Beret prior to joining the RCAF, Lerma Barbosa had previous experience with political activism, and thus the RCAF’s community-centered practices were not new ideas for her. She drew upon interracial alliances in the initiation of Breakfast for Niños, a community service that originated through her college experiences and encounters with the Black Panther Party’s free breakfast program. While several Chicana artists worked among the collective’s predominantly male ranks, Lerma Barbosa was a pioneering Chicana artist in the RCAF, inviting Kathryn García to perform with her at RCAF events in the 1970s. Celia Herrera Rodríguez also began her art career with the RCAF, and Lorraine García-Nakata, Kathryn García’s sister, joined the RCAF in 1973 (Lorraine García-Nakata, e-mail to author, February 1, 2013). GarcíaNakata collaborated with her RCAF colleagues on Southside Park Mural (1977) and organized an all-women’s art show that addressed the development of women artists after the first decades of the Chicano movement. Moving between visual art production, performance, and community activism, Chicana members of the RCAF created an arts infrastructure that was grounded in real labor. They contributed to the inception and management of a centro, a bookstore, and a galería, each of which propagated institutional sensibilities for all RCAF members (Davalos 2011, 174). The establishment of Chicano/a spaces also included public parks in Sacramento, where Chicana RCAF members and the Cultural Affairs Committee, a group that operated under the RCAF’s Centro de Artistas Chicanos, staged female-centered, neo-indigenous ceremonies. By tracking the history of Chicanas in the RCAF through a variety of sources, I argue that they were central to the circulation of decolonial ideas performed and produced by the collective. But in order to hear their stories, the RCAF’s records must be studied differently. I do so by asking what counts as “art work” in a Chicano/a art collective that philosophically valued labor equality and believed in making art for the advancement of the Chicano/a

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community. Turning up the volume on Chicana voices in RCAF history means examining visual and performance art alongside meeting minutes, grant applications, interviews, and photographs. By doing so, I explore a Chicana verbal-visual architecture that is largely forgotten in detail or attributed solely to the male artists of the collective (Blackwell 2011). The patriarchal ethos of the Chicano movement played out in the everyday lives and work of Chicano/a arts organizations, and the Royal Chicano Air Force is no exception, as the dream of equality was executed along gendered lines. These gendered lines are often reinforced in scholarly interpretations that overlook collaborations between the Chicano and Chicana artists who innovated a New World mestizo/a art. In the Chicano Park documentary, none of the women artists who created Women Hold Up Half the Sky are interviewed; only José Montoya speaks on behalf of the RCAF’s murals (Mulford 1988). But in the historical reality of Chicano Park, RCAF artists created their murals directly across from each other. Conversations took place between the artists that are evident in the content of Esteban Villa’s mural, for example. Analyzing Mujer Cósmica as a third world textual environment that Villa created through a female body, I explore how Women Hold Up Half the Sky offered a multiplicity of female forms as an alternative vision of Aztlán in a park considered to be a physical expression of the Chicano/a homeland. Certainly, Chicana artists were “outnumbered by male artists” in the RCAF, but women “were often at the forefront of leadership, organizing, development, education, and artistic production”—especially if the last category is defined more broadly than traditional definitions of art making (Noriega and Tompkins Rivas 2011, 81). By reconsidering “the role of gender and women as central, rather than as supplemental or marginal” (81), Chicana “art work” can be found everywhere in the RCAF’s history, reorienting the origins of interdisciplinary arts practices that are abundant in the twenty-first century. I do not deny sexism in the RCAF, nor do I seek to resolve the patriarchal limits of the Chicano movement, but once scholars have made the point that “el Movimiento was deeply sexist” (Gaspar de Alba 1998, 156), what should they do next? I answer that they should remix the records, listening for stories of artistic exchange, collaboration, and empowerment.

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“MAEP-ing” Irma Lerma Barbosa’s Journey to the RCAF in 1969 Typically, the story of the Royal Chicano Air Force begins with José Montoya and Esteban Villa’s arrival at California State University, Sacramento (CSUS), in 1969, and the importance of the name and goals of the Mexican American Liberation Art Front (MALA-F). This point of origin for the RCAF is important because it connects the Sacramento Chicano/a art collective to a prototype for all Chicano/a art collectives, as well as to the broader student and antiwar movements in the San Francisco Bay Area during the 1960s. This starting point also highlights the Mexican American Education Project (MAEP) at CSUS that led to a critical mass of Chicanos/as at the university, all of whom shared a political commitment to the Chicano movement.3 But Montoya and Villa were not the only RCAF members to enter CSUS through the MAEP. Irma Lerma Barbosa entered the MAEP as a “fellito,” or an undergraduate fellow, in September 1969.4 Lerma Barbosa recalls that she “got into the fellows program because I was a Brown Beret [and] the MAEP had actively recruited in the Berets” (Irma Lerma Barbosa, interview, June 26, 2013). Her involvement in Sacramento’s Brown Berets led to encounters with the Sacramento and Oakland chapters of the Black Panther Party. From her entrance into the MAEP and her Brown Beret activism, to her exposure to the Black Panther Party, Lerma Barbosa’s story is as important to the formation of the RCAF as the MALA-F’s founding in Oakland. By privileging her story, RCAF history begins in Sacramento’s preexisting Chicana/o community and activism. This alternative version of the RCAF’s founding is represented by Lerma Barbosa in Sacramomento (1987), a silkscreen poster that documents her activism alongside an important location in Sacramento’s Chicano/a history (see fig. 2.3). Sacramomento is based on photographs of Lerma Barbosa and “a few other original Sacramento Brown Berets standing on the outdoor stage of Southside Park where the Chicano community regularly held community events” (Irma Lerma Barbosa, e-mail to author, January 16, 2013). Recalling that the photographs were taken in 1969, Lerma Barbosa explains that Chicano/a gatherings at Southside Park ranged from “motivational speakers from the various political groups, bands, Mariachi,” to “mom and pop food booths [and] artists’ booths.”5 The Sacramento Brown Berets “functioned as ‘Security’ keepers for many of those events” (Irma Lerma

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Barbosa, e-mail to author, January 19, 2013) Figure 2.3. Irma Lerma Barbosa, Sacramomento (see fig. 2.4). (1987). Screenprint. Recruited to the Brown Berets by Freddy Royal Chicano Air Force Rodriguez and Mariana Castorena (Rivera), Archives. The California Lerma Barbosa was one of four women memEthnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections bers: “Castorena, Juanita Polendo (Ontiveros), Department, the University 6 Rosie from Woodland, and myself.” A longof California, Santa Barbara time resident of Sacramento’s Washington Library. neighborhood, Freddy Rodriguez had been a member of the Washington Bulldogs, “a beloved Washington neighborhood baseball team,” Lerma Barbosa recalled, adding that he organized the Bulldogs into “the Sacramento chapter of the Brown Berets” after “his return as a decorated veteran from the Vietnam War” (Irma Lerma Barbosa, e-mail to author, January 19, 2013). Meeting Freddy “at a neighborhood bar in North Sacramento called the Cabana Club,” Lerma Barbosa explained that he “came back from Vietnam knowing he could now fight for his own people.” She continued,

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Flying under the Radar with the RCAF I think he looked at the local Brown Berets as more of a brotherhood. . . . His idea was more local and about a code of ethics and honor—wearing the uniforms. Freddy and the other Brown Berets represented locally, and they would go to local events and pull security. . . . Mariana Castorena had other ideas about the Brown Berets and was looking more globally. She was connected to Sac State, I believe, as a student already, and was concerned with poor people’s issues. (Irma Lerma Barbosa, interview, June 26, 2013)

While Lerma Barbosa recalls that Rodriguez looked upon the Brown Berets as a brotherhood, she became part of his vision when he asked her and other women to join. Chicana members like Mariana Castorena (Rivera) worked within the fraternal order of the chapter but “had other ideas” that were “more globally” oriented. Likewise, Lerma Barbosa participated in security details for the Brown Berets but also “designed and hand sewed the Brown Beret flag,” suggesting that she performed traditional gender roles in the chapter to serve its political purpose and not necessarily to comply with patriarchal expectations of women’s work (see fig. 2.5).7 Lerma Barbosa’s memory of Freddy Rodriguez’s military service and community organizing once he returned from the Vietnam War signals the generational break that many Chicanos/as made with traditional expectations of Mexican American masculinity during the 1960s and 1970s. In La Batalla Está Aquí, an antiwar pamphlet from 1970 that informed Chicanos on ways to avoid the draft, Chicana antiwar activists Lea Ybarra and Nina Genera “offered an alternative vision of manhood,” one centered on community and not on military service (Oropeza 2005, 108). Similarly, Freddy Rodriguez, according to Lerma Barbosa, wanted to “now fight for his own people.” The Chicano/a transformation of the Mexican American tradition of military service into community activism is represented in Sacramomento as a political sentiment shared by men and women. Lerma Barbosa depicts herself standing “to the right of the flag, in shorts, with my arms folded, defiant, along with Tommy Guido, Ben Pulido, and a few other Berets, CSUS students, and Washington neighborhood residents.” She explains that they “covered the brass dedication plaque with our own flag of La Virgen de Guadalupe to indicate that our values are distinct [and to] demonstrate that we will choose our own icons and our own identities. Our presence on that stage was very powerful in that we demonstrated leadership to our own people.” Lerma Barbosa stands center stage with other Brown Berets, who

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are encircled by several young men and a ChiFigure 2.4. Photograph taken during event that Irma Lerma cana, all dressed in plain clothes. A mariachi Barbosa re-created in Sacramusician stands at a distance from the group, momento (1987). Freddy Rodri“scratching his chin as though he was wonguez holds Brown Beret flag on dering what to do next” (Irma Lerma Barbosa, left and Chicana student poses above it. Private collection of e-mail to author, January 19, 2013). Irma Lerma Barbosa. With her arms defiantly folded in front of her and her gaze looking off toward the park, Lerma Barbosa performs the Brown Berets’ motto, “to serve, to observe, and to protect,” which was further explicated in the organization’s “Ten-Point Program” from 1968 (Valdez 1972, 303). Demanding language rights, voting rights, an end to police harassment, and equity in the judicial process, the “Ten-Point Program” also called for the cessation of “‘Urban Renewal Programs’ that replace our barrios with high rent homes for middle-class people” (Valdez 1972, 304). The “Ten-Point Program” has particular resonance in Lerma Barbosa’s poster, as she and fellow Brown Berets served the Chicano/a community by protecting the festivities taking place and, as her far-off stare suggests, returning the gaze of police surveillance. The significance of the arrangement of the figures in Sacramomento also reveals the complexity of spatial concerns during the Chicano movement. Visualizing in her poster the community’s demand for public space, Lerma

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Barbosa explores the different personas and Figure 2.5. Sacramento Chapter Brown Beret flag identities within the Chicano/a community. sewn by Irma Lerma Barbosa. Her attention to each person’s proximity to Private collection of Irma one another expresses “the relationship that Lerma Barbosa. our Mexican American parents held with the dominant culture, from the relationship we as ‘revolutionaries, activists, and progressive Chicanos’ were determined to create” (Irma Lerma Barbosa, e-mail to author, January 19, 2013). Despite their differences, however, everyone stands “together in solidarity,” committed to the larger goal of self-determination. Sacramomento visually narrates Lerma Barbosa’s role in decolonizing the gender identity of Mexican American men as US soldiers and reimagining it, through the Brown Berets, as a community-based gender identity; but the work also captures her performance of la mujer nueva, or the Chicana who stood in solidarity with the Brown Berets’ calls for racialethnic justice, while advancing a Chicana presence within the organization’s fraternal order. It is not coincidental that Irma Lerma Barbosa selected photographs of Southside Park on which to base her poster. In doing so, she visualized the site of multiple performances by Sacramento’s Chicano/a community, including her own performance of a particular “social type through costume”

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(Noriega 2001a, 2). In her presentation of the multiplicity of social types on stage, Lerma Barbosa alludes to the Mexican American community’s use of the park and reclamation of the stage before the creation of the RCAF’s Southside Park Mural (1977), since the panels behind her are bare.

Southside Park Mural: From Neglected Space to Chicano/a Place Several years after its founding, the Royal Chicano Air Force turned its attention to the outdoor stage at Southside Park, which had fallen into disrepair but was the location of numerous Chicano/a community events.8 In 1977, the RCAF created a mural that covers the entire expanse of the stage, including side walls, steps, fountains, and a memorial plaque.9 Six RCAF artists painted panels in their specific styles, reflecting the collective’s stylistic diversity. Because of the distinct content and form of each panel, the mural does not present a linear timeline of Chicano/a history. Instead, multiple scenes of pre-Columbian spirituality, Pachuco/a history, Chicano/a activism, and Chicano/a futures comprise the visual field (see plate 7). Blending abstract and Pop Art techniques with pre-Columbian imagery, Esteban Villa painted a priestlike figure with a newborn in its arms in the center panel. The enormity of the figure and its ambiguous gender prompted Alan Barnett to connect it to Mujer Cósmica, Villa’s mural at Chicano Park (Barnett 1984, 276). To the left of Villa’s panel (when facing the stage), Juanishi Orosco created images of ojos de Dios (eyes of God) with Hopi influences. On the right side of Villa’s panel, Stan Padilla blended indigenous imagery with a monarch butterfly—perhaps the prototype for the Metamorphosis mural that was planned later that year and installed by 1980 on the L Street parking garage in downtown Sacramento. José Montoya’s far left panel captures Pachuco/a couples strolling along a public street. The scene gestures to a genealogical past represented by a Mexican revolutionary in the sky, and a Chicano/a future suggested by the young Cholo/a couple at the base of the mural. On the far right side of the mural, RCAF artist Juan Cervantes created a scene that echoes Montoya’s attention to historical succession and ancestral influence. A United Farm Workers (UFW) activist is silhouetted by a pre-Columbian god, visualizing the deity’s return amid the Chicano movement (Barnett 1984, 276). But Terezita Romo (1996, 38) identifies Cervantes’s pre-Columbian figure as “the last Aztec ruler, Cuauhtemoc,” who

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Figure 2.6. Lorraine GarcíaNakata and José Montoya in flight suits, painting at Southside Park in 1977. Courtesy of Lorraine García-Nakata.

Figure 2.7. Juanishi Orosco and Lorraine García-Nakata at Southside Park, painting in 1977. Courtesy of Lorraine García-Nakata.

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is shown “giving advice” to Frank Godina. The Chicano activist shadowed by Cuauhtemoc is actually an “RCAF member, philosopher and college instructor,” Romo writes, grounding Cervantes’s mural in RCAF history and with other members of the collective (38). By visualizing “an ancestor’s validation of the UFW struggle and by extension the Chicano Movement,” Cervantes communicates “that the past informs the present which then impacts the future” (38). The final murals were created by Lorraine García-Nakata, who returned from Washington to contribute murals to the ensemble piece (see fig. 2.6). On both ends of the stage, García-Nakata designed, outlined, and painted two indigenous women with open hands (Barnett 1984, 276). The enormity of the female forms with “outstretched arms and palms opened toward viewers” is explained by García-Nakata as “taking a position of accepting power” (Romo 1996, 35) (see fig. 2.7). In their position of power, the women also caution viewers before they enter the stage, a message underscored by the size of their hands. Southside Park was a beloved place for the Chicano/a community, serving as a hub for Chicano/a celebrations in the 1970s and 1980s, including Cinco de Mayo, Mexican Independence Day, neo-indigenous festivals, an athletic event called Barrio Olympics, and car shows (R. Villa 2000, 189). Subsequently, Southside Park Mural and García-Nakata’s creation of indigenous women on both sides of the stage signal the sacredness of the place, or its importance to the community who performed ceremonies, music, and poetry on it (see plate 8). Southside Park Mural is a real and symbolic Chicano/a text, evidentiary of the RCAF’s “barriological praxis,” or what Raúl Villa (2000, 18) calls a seamless mixture of “practical interventions in urban place politics with textual representations of the same.” The mural was a visual marker and monument to an active site of Chicano/a history making, one that Esteban Villa expressed in verse and song in 1985 with “Southside Park.” Lyricizing the spatial transformation made in the park by the Chicano/a community and the RCAF’s mural, Villa’s song narrates the Chicano/a community’s response to spatial encroachment on their neighborhoods, engaging a central theme of Chicano/a literature and poetry. He sings, Southside Park After dark, in the moonlight Southside Park A summer day, in the sunshine

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Flying under the Radar with the RCAF Children come and play all day And Mama dreams the hours away . . . Pretty faces shining bright Everything’s gonna be alright . . . Daddy likes to play handball And those of you who hate the mall There's El Southside (E. Villa 2008)

The song centers on a repetitious chorus that reinforces Southside Park as a utopic space for Chicanos/as, reorganized from the disorder caused by urban redevelopment efforts in Sacramento during the 1960s and 1970s. A “pointed critique of the dominant consumer culture and hegemonic urban renewal,” the song, Raúl Villa (2000, 186) asserts, invites listeners to gather in “alternative public space” instead of Sacramento’s downtown plaza mall. But while Esteban Villa references the spatial encroachment of the mall, he foregrounds “the spatiality of social life, the actually lived and socially produced space of geography and the relations between them” (Saldívar 1997, 206n4). In content and form (which Raúl Villa identifies as a bolero), the song is the oasis that it sings of, soothing listeners with simple lyrics that repeatedly conjure a place of relaxation, exercise, and sociality. Like the park, the song also “becomes a space for responding to chaos” (Bruce-Novoa 1990, 96), achieving the “new kind of literary space” that Juan Bruce-Novoa identified in Chicano/a prose in the 1970s and that José David Saldívar (1997, 78) locates in Chicano/a visual art, namely in the monito paintings of Carmen Lomas Garza.10 As Chicanos/as reclaimed parks as “barrio-centered public space” in the 1970s (R. Villa 1993, 206), making their political, cultural, and spatial demands known, Chicano/a artists documented those events and aestheticized them, pushing them into the realm of sensory experience. Songs like Esteban Villa’s “Southside Park” account for the social ways in which contested space was used after it was claimed, or how people felt (and feel) while using it. What I want to emphasize here is that the abstract space that Villa’s song conjures for “El Southside” relies on images of Chicana/o bodies using public space because, in doing so, Lerma Barbosa’s presence on the stage as a Brown Beret is central to the park’s spatial transformation and the

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artistic production that followed. Challenging patriarchal gender norms by wearing her Brown Beret uniform and donning a particular persona, Lerma Barbosa and other Chicana/o actors reclaimed space first with their bodies, followed by visualizations and lyrical articulations like Villa’s song of spatial autonomy. Irma Lerma Barbosa and the Brown Berets’ presence at the park prior to the RCAF’s painting of Southside Park Mural is one of several Chicana histories of spatial transformation that demystify the mural’s creation. The Chicano/a community’s support of the mural was matched by the city council’s approval and financial support. Not only did the city permit the mural, but it also “prepared the surface of the structure for the mural” and made “a number of other plumbing and electrical improvements” (Wisham 1990).11 RCAF artist Ricardo Favela elaborated on the mural negotiations that he and RCAF member Rosemary Rasul led with Sacramento’s director of parks and recreation. “Rosemary and I wound up being the ones that were going to negotiate with ‘Doc’ Solon Wisham,” Favela recalled, adding that they “were able to convince him” to give them “permission to paint on the Southside Park Memorial backdrop” by agreeing to provide “the manpower and even the material, because we had already amassed a lot of . . . mural color paints from other jobs that we’d done. . . . All we needed from them was their permission . . . and then we’d take care of the rest, and that’s what we did” (Ricardo Favela, interview, July 20, 2004). The RCAF’s spatial appropriation and graphic embellishment of the stage, writes Raúl Villa (1993, 208), “reinvigorated political-cultural public use of the park.” That Rosemary Rasul was one of two RCAF members to preside over negotiations with a local official testifies to Chicana leadership in the RCAF.

Chicana “Art Work” in the RCAF Stepping back from this brief infrastructural history of Southside Park Mural, scholars who are concerned with Chicana participation in the RCAF must look at grant proposals, photographs, and interviews with fresh eyes and new questions. They must ask what counts as “art work” or a work of art in a Chicano/a art collective that opposed definitions of art centered on individualism. Are the murals the only “graphic testimonio” (R. Villa 2000, 189) or collective record of the group’s artistic theory and praxis? Or do the administrative positions through which many Chicanas helped secure space

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for RCAF murals count on equal terms with the artists’ graphic embellishments? What about food preparation, materials coordination, bookkeeping, and other essential tasks that members performed while RCAF artists painted? A loose typewritten document entitled “Southside Park Mural,” discovered in a folder of contracts, newspaper clippings, and other RCAF papers housed at UC Santa Barbara’s California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives, names most of the RCAF members involved in the Southside Park Mural project and places them in six categories (“Southside Mural Project,” n.d.).12 José Montoya, Juanishi Orosco, Stan Padilla, Esteban Villa, Juan Cervantes, and Lorraine García (Nakata) are listed under “Artists.” The document also lists Sam Rios Jr. as an “Artist” and Rudy Cuellar as an “Assistant.” Several children of members are identified under “Apprentices.” A category of “Photographers” includes José Montoya, Sam Rios Jr., and Sam Quiñones. The designation “Facilitator/Laison [sic]” mentions Ricardo Favela but not Rosemary Rasul, indicating that the document is not entirely accurate according to Favela’s memories (Ricardo Favela, interview, July 20, 2004). Interestingly, “Clara Cid, Frances Gonzalez, Juana Polendo (Ontiveros), and Jennie Baca” are named in the document under “Food Coordination,” a labor that is typically unpaid, uncounted, and relegated to the domestic sphere. But in the planning of Southside Park Mural, “Food Coordination” was counted alongside the “Artists,” “Apprentices,” “Assistants,” and “Photographers,” factoring into the projected overhead of the mural. The simple record presents a bigger picture of all who participated—who worked—to create Southside Park Mural and to transform the space into a Chicano/a park. The roster of names is significant to RCAF history if scholars suspend patriarchal assumptions of historical evidence that devalue work done by women as auxiliary or inconsequential to the history and art of the Chicano movement. In Pilots of Aztlán (LaRosa 1994), a documentary film on the RCAF, José Montoya and Juanishi Orosco recall an RCAF art show held at the state capitol, sponsored by the office of governor Jerry Brown (in office 1975–1983). “The catering for the reception of the Chicano/a art exhibit,” Montoya explains, “was not what they had agreed [to] provide for us. . . . We had gone as far to even suggest what caterer [to use] to have the appropriate food.” Elaborating on the offense the mistake caused, Juanishi Orosco adds that “this was a chance to bring our community into the capitol—into the offices of the governor. . . . How many chances do you get to do that?” (LaRosa

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1994). Orosco suggests that food, and, specifically, Mexican food, was perceived as a presentation of a collective identity, politically intervening on the status quo in a Chicano/a art show at the state capitol. In response to the oversight, several Chicana RCAF members tracked down the staff person responsible, and, according to José Montoya, “there was an altercation” (LaRosa 1994). The story is humorously recalled in the film by male members of the RCAF, resonating with the documentary Chicano Park, in which none of the Chicana artists involved in creating Women Hold Up Half the Sky are interviewed regarding their decision to bypass the collective’s protocol. Once again, only male RCAF members speak on behalf of their Chicana colleagues, who in this instance had objected to the indiscretion over the food provided at the reception. But the scene also lends insight into Chicana agency in the RCAF because it suggests that food was valued as an integral component of the exhibition. On the subject of food preparation, among other “idealized notions of femininity,” Tanya González and Eliza Rodriguez y Gibson write that “Chicana and Latina feminists have worked hard to counter” maternal models that “reinforce stereotypes of maternal Latinas circulating in the media and within Chicano and Latino communities” (2015, 106–107). They cite Rosa Linda Fregoso’s (2003, 71–90) paradigm of the “Chicano Familia Romance,” or the “heteronormative, patriarchal family structures” implicit in Chicano movement platforms “that define women’s roles as caretakers and sacred holders of the social and moral codes of family and community” (González and Rodriguez y Gibson 2015, 107). The romanticization of women’s work as dutiful acts of generosity on behalf of the family certainly imposed “structural limits” on Chicanas who strayed “from the roles given them” during the Chicano movement (107). But not all food work was dutiful or maternal all the time. In the case of the RCAF’s exhibition at the state capitol, food was a political act, one that presented a collective Chicana/o identity through a shared display of art and culture. Likewise, food production had an official committee during the making of Southside Park Mural, and the efforts of those who made the food factored into the project’s budget. Failing to consider the labor of food—from planning, purchasing, and cooking, to packaging and transporting—as part of the RCAF’s artistic production reduces the complexity of Chicana agency in the Chicano movement. Overlooking a particular type of labor determines for historical actors what their contributions mean, and if such contributors are historically valuable. This results in and perpetuates an androcentric realm

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of history supported by a historiography that privileges certain records over others. The importance of task equality in the RCAF is often overlooked in scholarly analyses and other interpretations of the collective. But the RCAF did not ideologically privilege visual artists over other members, regardless of whether or not the predominantly male artists were influenced by the “implicit carnalismo” of the Chicano movement in their perceptions of women’s work (Arrizón 2000, 45). Searching for a new framework in which to intellectualize the “lives of Tejana and other migrant worker women,” Antonia Castañeda (2001, 119 and 134) asks critical questions about “canonic categories of historical analysis” that frame the history of the West within the patriarchal paradigms of US history. She argues that Chicana histories mean different things to traditional approaches to history because they introduce “concepts of the body as well as dispossession, displacement, and appropriation that require new ways of conceptualizing family, household economies, and the agency of working-class women. It is a question not just of inclusion, but of construction” (134–135). In the construction of a Chicana history for the RCAF, a process that involves locating the “creation stories of Chicana historiography” (119), definitions of Chicano/a art must be redefined; one way to do so, according to Chon Noriega and Pilar Tompkins Rivas (2011, 75), is to discern the “space between the aesthetic and the instrumental” when evaluating the form, function, and meaning of Chicano/a artistic production.

The Art of Food: Breakfast for Niños and the Black Panther Party If food production is reconsidered as central to the RCAF’s art history, Chicana members figure prominently in the group’s implementation of the political ideals of the Chicano movement. By the early 1970s, RCAF members and the Cultural Affairs Committee were running a breakfast program in Sacramento’s Chicano/a neighborhoods. Breakfast for Niños exemplified the RCAF’s enactment of the larger call for Chicano/a artists to make art not for its own sake but for Chicano/a people’s sake, a demand put forward in “El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán” (1969). Conveyed through its bilingual name, Breakfast for Niños was explicitly a Chicana/o response to a basic need within their community. But Breakfast for Niños was also in dialogue with the ideas and actions taking place in the broader civil rights movement through the interracial

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alliances of one of its original organizers. When Irma Lerma Barbosa began undergraduate courses as a “fellito” in the Mexican American Education Project (MAEP) in 1969, she took a constitutional law course at CSUS with James Long, an African American lawyer who had grown up with brothers Huey and Melvin Newton. James Long became Lerma Barbosa’s friend and mentor, engaging with her in discussions of local issues facing the Chicano/a and African American communities (James Long and Irma Lerma Barbosa, conversation with author, June 30, 2015).13 Lerma Barbosa attended Black Panther Party meetings in Sacramento and Oakland with her Brown Beret colleague Mariana Castorena (Rivera). The two women met “the Sacramento president of the Black Panthers, Charles Brunson,” Lerma Barbosa recalled, and he introduced them to “the Oakland Black Panthers Study Group, which would read and study Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book. They talked to us about how they served their community, and we toured their breakfast program.” Lerma Barbosa continues, Back in Sacramento, I talked with the Washington Neighborhood Center, and Jennie Baca volunteered to be on-site for our breakfast program. Jennie was a comadre who was from North Sacramento, the Northgate area. I met her through Shirley Vasquez, who I lived with and worked with in sorting tomatoes. We all also socialized at the Cabana Club, where I met Freddy Rodriguez. . . . For Breakfast for los niños, I would solicit for contributions. I then talked to Senon Valadez, a teacher for the Mexican American Education Project at Sac State [CSUS], and he made it a class for credit called the Community Involvement and Poverty and Education course. Senon was able to then enroll students to go and work the Breakfast for los niños program, which made a big difference, because the volunteers were exhausted. (Irma Lerma Barbosa, interview, June 26, 2013)

Breakfast for Niños evolved from a grassroots effort to a sustainable program with a college credit component, which Senon Valadez introduced through the MAEP. A goal of the MAEP, according to José Montoya, was to produce Chicano/a educators and administrators who were “agents of change,” or the “notion that wherever we came from, once we got our MA degrees, we were to go back and begin advocating for change” (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). Irma Lerma Barbosa’s role in Breakfast for Niños demonstrates one of the ways in which MAEP students performed these ideas into being. A photograph from “fall of 1969” shows Irma Lerma Barbosa in a “Sac

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State classroom in the science building,” Figure 2.8. Classroom in California State University, wearing her brown beret and “sitting close to Sacramento, science building the wall in the first row next to Mariana Casin fall 1969. Irma Lerma torena.”14 Lerma Barbosa recalled that she and Barbosa is in front row by her colleague were “waiting to give a presentawall wearing her Brown Beret and sitting next to Mariana tion about the Chicano movement to regular Castorena (Rivera). Private enrolled students. [We] were recruiting stucollection of Irma Lerma dents to sign up for class credit to assist” with Barbosa. the breakfast program (see fig. 2.8).15 Although Senon Valadez provided the initial support, Lerma Barbosa explained, “Sam Rios provided the professor oversight.”16 By 1972, Sam Rios Jr. began managing Breakfast for Niños with Rosemary Rasul, who also served as director for the Washington Community Council (Valadez and Rasul 1972). RCAF member Jennie Baca, whom Lerma Barbosa met at the Cabana Club, coordinated the program and served as its longtime cook. Lupe Portillo, Gina Montoya, and Melinda Santana (Rasul) also served as program coordinators at various times. The board of directors for Breakfast for Niños included Lupe Portillo, Rosemary Rasul, Terezita Romo, and Melinda Santana (Rasul), along with several male RCAF members (“Breakfast for Ninos List of Board of Directors,” n.d.).17

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The Washington Neighborhood Center was one of the original headquarters for Breakfast for Niños, a historical detail that is captured in Esteban Villa’s mural Emergence of the Chicano Social Struggle in a Bi-Cultural Society (1969–1970).18 On the right panel of the mural, a Brown Beret flanks the central figure of the man bursting forth from the wall. Standing in the center’s gymnasium, Villa recalled that “the need for children’s art classes and the need for English-speaking classes and the need for breakfast programs— which was patterned after the Black Panthers’ breakfast programs—the greatest need was right here. It was meant to be that the people said, ‘Hey, we’ll accept you guys’” (Esteban Villa, interview, June 23, 2004). Emphasizing the historical relationship between the RCAF and other civil rights–era organizations in Sacramento, Villa’s sense of place in the Washington Neighborhood Center invokes the idea of the community house that I discuss in chapter 1. By turning up the volume on Irma Lerma Barbosa’s recollections of the origins of Breakfast for Niños, we can fill in the gaps of Esteban Villa’s nebulous reference to the Black Panther Party. Put another way, Lerma Barbosa’s recollections concretize how Breakfast for Niños happened—through interracial dialogues and encounters between Chicana Brown Berets and Black Panther Party members. Along with tutoring and legal aid, the Black Panther Party offered its signature breakfast program for school children in 1969 at the United Church of Christ in Oak Park, an African American neighborhood in Sacramento adjacent to the downtown district (Burg 2013, 63). The Black Panther Party perceived the Brown Berets as a parallel organization (Pulido 2006, 167), which meant that they were “willing to work across racial lines to fight what they saw as a class war that used race to separate people of a common class background” (Burg 2013, 61). In turn, Irma Lerma Barbosa and Mariana Castorena (Rivera) worked across racial lines to benefit Sacramento’s Chicano/a community. Like the “Food Coordination” that took place during the RCAF’s creation of Southside Park Mural, making and serving food to community children transcended patriarchal assumptions of women’s work for many RCAF members and was a political act. Sam Rios Jr. and Rosemary Rasul saw their work in Breakfast for Niños as providing an “experience for children of a cultural and learning character” (“Sacramento Walk for Development Project Proposal,” n.d.). Their emphasis on the cultural and educational qualities of Breakfast for Niños echoes the Black Panthers’ belief that “their

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Figure 2.9. Esteban Villa, Announcement Poster for Breakfast for Niños (1969). Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

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most important effort was the Free Breakfast Program,” William Burg (2103, 61–62) writes, adding that the Black Panthers believed “better nutrition facilitated better education, and for the Panthers, education and critical thinking were tools more important to a Black Panther than self-defense training.”19 RCAF artists supported Breakfast for Niños through announcement posters intended to inform the community about the service. In a 1969 serigraph, Esteban Villa used an image of a young girl, calligraphy, and crayon on a silkscreen poster to announce that breakfast for children was available “Monday thru Friday” in the “mornings—7 to 8” at the “Washington Community Center” (see fig. 2.9). The design is visually simple, but it reflects the RCAF’s use of art not for art’s sake, but for people’s sake. Villa’s Breakfast for Niños poster continues to inform people in the twenty-first century by serving as a historical record, or “an archival document of events, locations, organizations, collaborations, iconography and statements” between the Brown Berets, the Black Panther Party, and the Royal Chicano Air Force (Noriega and Tompkins Rivas 2011, 91). Clearly, the Chicana-led initiative to create a breakfast program was inspired by encounters with the Black Panther Party, but Irma Lerma Barbosa had already formed interracial friendships early in life, which directed the multicultural perspective she brought to the RCAF. Born in 1949, in Elko, Nevada, Lerma Barbosa recalled growing up in “the North Highlands area” of Sacramento and the railroad town of Roseville, California, where she was raised by her parents following their journey from northern Mexico and Arizona (Irma Lerma Barbosa, interview, June 26, 2013). She attended Highlands High School, and her best friend Barbara Ann Desmangles was African American. The two women stayed friends after graduation, and Desmangles was Lerma Barbosa’s maid of honor when the latter married musician and Vietnam War veteran Jaime Barbosa in February 1976 (see fig. 2.10). Lerma Barbosa was not the only Chicana artist in the RCAF to encounter the Black Panther Party and to approach Chicano/a community activism from an interracial and cross-cultural perspective within the Chicano movement. RCAF artist Lorraine García-Nakata also remembers the impact the Black Panthers made on her at an early age. García-Nakata joined the RCAF in 1973, but at “16 years of age, in early 1966,” she “started coming to SF regularly (hitch-hiking with my older friend Gloria Rindon out of Woodland), though I lived in Marysville at the time.” During outdoor concerts and events in San Francisco, García-Nakata recalls, “Black Panthers (as part of

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the program) would be asked to speak,” and Figure 2.10. L: Irma Lerma Barbosa in high school. R: topics included the “Breakfast Program, selfBarbara Desmangles; Irma’s determination, [and the] concept of black husband, Jaime Barbosa; and as beautiful [that] informed the movements Irma Lerma Barbosa following that followed.” Citing the Black Panther Parwedding. Private collection of Irma Lerma Barbosa. ty’s influence on the “Indigenous Movement, Chicano/Latino Movement, Asian/Pacific Islander Movement, Youth Empowerment Movements, LGBT, and even the Senior Movement,” García-Nakata asserts that “‘self-determination’ and ‘pride’ were central to the Black Panther legacy, not only for various movements, but also public life in general.” García-Nakata’s exposure to the Black Panther Party intersected her encounters with the indigenous movement and “the concept of ‘first voice,’” or the notion “that we can speak for ourselves without people outside the culture doing so in order for us to be ‘valid’” (Lorraine García-Nakata, e-mail to author, August 15, 2014). The Chicano movement championed the rights of a specific racial-ethnic group, but many Chicanas participated in a circulation of ideas during the civil rights era, having their consciousness raised through multiple platforms. This reality does not diminish the cultural and ethnic solidarity of the Chicano

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Figure 2.11. Lorraine GarcíaNakata, Friends No Matter What (2008). Charcoal/pastel on paper. 7ˇ× 4ˇ2ˇˇ. Courtesy of Lorraine García-Nakata.

movement; rather, it reflects the concept of Afro-Chicanidad built into the verbal-visual architecture of the 1960s and 1970s, and in which artists of color expressed solidarity with multiple movements against oppression and disenfranchisement through a fusion of signs, symbols, and texts. Moreover, García-Nakata creates work in the twenty-first century that focuses on the formation of her Chicana identity before joining the RCAF. One of a series of childhood self-portraits that resonate with the scale of the indigenous women she painted for Southside Park Mural (1977), GarcíaNakata’s Friends, No Matter What (2008) is a large charcoal work on paper that shows her playing a game of hide-and-seek with an African American childhood friend. The prepubescent girls stand back to back and are blindfolded, conveying their trust in each other. Their girlhood intimacy resonates in the work’s title, which also powerfully invokes the historical context of the autobiographical scene García-Nakata depicts. The realities of racism, sexism, and classism, as well as the sociopolitical changes that took

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place in the 1960s and 1970s, await the pair of friends who will grow up during the civil rights movement. The message is clear: childhood is important, and the girl García-Nakata was during these formative years impacted the adult she became and the political and multiracial awareness she embodied prior to joining the RCAF (E. Diaz 2014) (see fig. 2.11).

Figure 2.12. Juan Carrillo, Imagenes de Ayer (1987). Screenprint. Self Help Graphics and Art Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

Chicana Sweat Equity at the Centro of RCAF History If Irma Lerma Barbosa’s 1987 poster Sacramomento tells a story about local Chicano/a history in Sacramento prior to the RCAF, its production serves as a record of the RCAF’s collaborative process, evincing dialogues between the group’s male and female artists. Lerma Barbosa collaborated on Sacramomento with her RCAF colleague Luis González, who “helped me to produce [it] at his home studio when the request came for a suite of RCAF prints for our ‘Quinceañera’” (Irma Lerma Barbosa, e-mail to author, January 19, 2013).

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Figure 2.13. Cover of La Raza’s Quinceañero. Anniversary catalogue for La Raza Galería Posada. Author’s collection.

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Created for the fifteenth anniversary of La Raza Galería Posada in Sacramento, California, the anniversary show featured RCAF artwork, and Sacramomento was spliced on the cover of the exhibition catalogue with a silkscreen poster by Juan Carrillo titled Imagenes de Ayer (1987). Like Sacramomento, Carrillo’s poster utilizes photorealism, but Carrillo exposes the origins of each image he incorporates in the piece by presenting them as film negatives and Ektachrome slides. RCAF members appear in every frame, with handwritten annotations that name the artists, provide dates, and note the circumstances of each picture. From Esteban Villa “at the Centro 1978” and Juan Cervantes painting “Southside Park Mural August, 1977,” to “Louie’s birthday” at the “Centro de Artistas Chicanos, August 1976,” Carrillo records RCAF art history through the people who made it (see fig. 2.12). Carrillo and Lerma Barbosa’s posters are spliced together on the catalogue cover for La Raza’s Quinceañero (1988), merging the stories both artists tell about the RCAF. In joining the two works together, Lerma Barbosa is continuously present, as one of Carrillo’s Ektachrome slides is a portrait of “Irma at home, May 1976.” Certainly, one must know who she is in both posters, but by knowing her, viewers understand her importance in RCAF history over time (see fig. 2.13). Moreover, several of Carrillo’s film negatives and Ektachrome slides list the “Centro de Artistas Chicanos” as the location of the photographs. Founded in “1970, in a room of the Washington Community Council headquarters at 14th and E Streets” (Johnson 1977), El Centro de Artistas Chicanos became an operational hub for artists by handling funding applications, determining mural locations, signing contracts, and performing other administrative tasks (S. Goldman 1993, 35). Alongside housing RCAF poster production, the Centro offered classes for children, high school students, and the elderly (Johnson 1977). By the mid-1970s, it held art shows that were open to the general public (Johnson 1977). Moving to various locations in Sacramento, the Centro was incorporated in 1972, and its directors included Gina Montoya, Max Garcia, and Ricardo Favela (Johnson 1977). The Centro also represented a generation of Chicana board members, including Rosemary Rasul, Juanita Polendo (Ontiveros), Jennie Baca, and Gina Montoya, all of whom served during the 1970s and 1980s. The Centro was also the channel through which the RCAF accepted federal and state funding for educational programs and jobs, including funding from the 1973 Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, a federal policy that provided financial aid and employment opportunities to artists

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and cultural workers.20 Coordinating grants and performing organizational duties, the Centro remained a creative space where artists and students produced “what is now called Chicano culture,” Rafael Pérez-Torres (2006, 117) writes, or the “convergence of the social and aesthetic (along with the historical and political)” that led to “explosions of literary, musical, and visual artistic production.” A central element of the explosion of Chicano/a culture concerned the professionalization of artists. This component was paramount because of institutional barriers in the 1960s and 1970s that limited or denied Chicanos/as access to exhibition space in museums, universities, and commercial galleries. Such exclusions were a double bind for Chicana artists, who were also marginalized because of sexism within the Chicano movement, impeding their professionalization in both institutional and Chicano/a art spaces. In 1979, Lorraine García-Nakata used the Centro de Artistas Chicanos as an organizational sponsor for her multifaceted women’s art show that redressed gender exclusion in the arts through a pedagogical framework (“Revised Program and Budget for Centro de Artistas” 1979). Applying for an artist residency through the California Arts Council to produce the exhibition, García-Nakata developed What We Are Now, a show that featured “a series of works in black and white on paper by Sacramento Artists” (GarcíaNakata 1980). Self-reflective in title, or aware of the developmental stages that all artists must undergo to advance their careers, What We Are Now is an abridged treatise on the status of Chicana artists fifteen years after the beginning of the Chicano movement (see fig. 2.14). García-Nakata worked with several women, including her sisters Eva and Kathryn García and colleagues Celia Herrera Rodríguez and Pat Carrillo. The show was a critical maneuver, taking stock of the gains of civil rights mobilizations alongside the persistent lack of opportunities for women artists to professionalize through gallery and institutional experience. García-Nakata shared with her colleagues the concept of the art series, or working with larger intellectual and aesthetic concepts over time and in multiple mediums.21 She further instructed the group on writing artist statements and how to coordinate exhibitions, both of which were important components of the show as What We Are Now traveled to several locations, including Galería Posada in Sacramento and concluding at Galería de la Raza in San Francisco (Lorraine García-Nakata, e-mail to author, June 8, 2015). Only a handful of Chicano/a art centros “reached the new millennium,” and the RCAF’s Centro de Artistas Chicanos was not one of them, but such

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establishments, Karen Mary Davalos (2011, 173) asserts, “shaped critical consciousness about art, politics, representation, vernacular aesthetics, and space.” Chicano/a arts organizations, Davalos continues, “share a common experience of sweat equity because their storefront or industrial spaces required complete renovation before the members could do anything creative” (175). Davalos is correct in her acknowledgment of the collective labor, or what she calls the “sweat equity,” involved in creating facilities for Chicano/a art shows. But the repurposing of a storage room or a storefront into artistic and cultural space was creative work in itself for many founders of Chicano/a centros and galerías. The building of space that would in turn create space for making and displaying art established a realm of possibility for Chicano/a artists, who developed an exhibition culture that aimed to integrate, but not equate, Chicano/a art with the contemporary practices of Western institutions. Like Self-Help Graphics in Los Angeles, Galería de la Raza in San Francisco, and the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, the Centro de Artistas Chicanos began in a room and developed into an institution through the work of Chicano and Chicana artists, students, and cultural workers (Ontiveros 2014, 35). At the same time that El Centro de Artistas was founded, Chicana RCAF members and CSUS students were building intellectual infrastructure in Sacramento’s Chicano/a community, investing “sweat equity” through volunteerism and harnessing support from existent channels (Davalos 2011, 173). In February 1972, the RCAF’s Centro de Artistas Chicanos supported Phillip “Pike” Santos and Terezita Romo, who, along with Chicano/a university students and residents of Sacramento’s Alkali Flat district, opened La Raza Bookstore at 1228 F Street (Santos 1988, 1). A home for Chicano/a literature and cultural resources, the bookstore “survived largely through the efforts of the community, in cooperation with the professors of Sacramento State University” (Santos 1977). RCAF member Terezita Romo and CSUS students Pete Hernández and Francisca Godinez worked with “the Educational Opportunity Program at Sacra Estate and Sacra Concilio,” sending letters to faculty requesting their textbook listings and shelving all course materials for the university’s ethnic studies classes (Romo and Godinez, n.d.). As a rising barrio institution, La Raza Bookstore was an important venue for the exhibition of RCAF posters, facilitated by Terezita Romo and Phillip Santos, who forged relationships with the artists that were mutually

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beneficial. Artists were able to exhibit and sell Figure 2.14. Flyer from Lorraine García-Nakata’s their work in a culturally significant space, show What We Are Now and the bookstore earned supplemental (1980). Courtesy of Lorraine income. Between 1979 and 1980, the Galería García-Nakata. Posada was added to the bookstore to formally exhibit Chicano/a visual art. In an unpublished essay entitled “La Raza Bookstore—The Early Years,” released during the bookstore’s thirtieth anniversary celebration, José Montoya relates a whimsical tale of the bookstore’s history. Montoya personifies the bookstore as a woman, mapping her inception in a “tiny space squeezed between Johnny’s Place on the corner and Terry’s folks’ dry cleaners on the other” that had formerly “housed the U.F.W. headquarters in Sacramento in ’67 and ’68.” According to Montoya, the bookstore served as the office for Joe Serna Jr.’s Chicano Organization for Political Awareness “and [a] meeting place for local MEChistas.” The bookstore staff eventually “nationalized” the neighboring dry cleaners, Montoya muses, to “accommodate the Galería Posada to honor the ‘patron saint’ of Chicano artistas.” Then “she grew up— matured, as it were—and moved up the street and around the corner to 15th & G. Today, she is a ravishing encantadora, having moved again to where

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another old barrio flourished once, por abi por la calle O” (J. Montoya, n.d., ca. 2002). By imagining La Raza Bookstore as female, Montoya alludes to the Chicana history of its establishment. In fact, Terezita Romo spoke about what Montoya had called in his essay the “early days de La Bookstore” during a gallery presentation in February 2007. Clarifying Montoya’s more elusive account of the bookstore’s history (J. Montoya, ca. 2002), Romo named several of its original founders: “Phillip Santos, Pete Hernández, Gilbert Gamino, Juan Gutierrez, and Louie ‘the Foot,’” a nickname for RCAF artist Luis González.22 She added that in 1979, she “asked Santos if we can use the other space as a galería, when the cleaners closed” (Romo 2007). After writing a grant and fund-raising with the CSUS chapter of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA), Romo and the bookstore staff launched the Galería Posada (Santos 1988). The gallery was named after the “‘patron saint’ of Chicano artistas” because Romo had coordinated an exhibition of José Guadalupe Posada’s artwork with RCAF members Josephine Talamantez and Armando Cid (J. Montoya, ca. 2002). As the director of El Centro Cultural in San Diego, Talamantez had met Arsasio Venegas Arroyo, the grandson of Antonio Venegas Arroyo, “who owned the print shop where José Guadalupe Posada created his works” (“On José Guadalupe Posada,” n.d.). In possession of Posada’s original printing blocks, Arsasio Venegas Arroyo and Armando Cid reproduced Posada’s prints. After the exhibition of Posada’s work at El Centro Cultural de la Raza in San Diego, Talamantez and Terezita Romo planned for the show to travel to Sacramento to coincide with the opening of the Galería Posada, but it traveled to San Francisco’s Galería de la Raza first because Sacramento’s galería wasn’t finished in time (Josephine Talamantez, conversation with author, January 11, 2016). Galería Posada eventually eclipsed La Raza Bookstore, and the merged institutions became known as La Raza Galería Posada (LRGP). As a barrio institution, LRGP hosted nationally touring shows, largely due to the efforts of its predominantly Chicana leadership. Josie Talamantez directed LRGP during the 1980s, and Terezita Romo returned to the bookstore to serve as the organization’s director during the 1990s (Smith 2005). Marisa Gutíerrez fortified LRGP in the early twenty-first century as an executive director who pursued large grants through national foundations (Cassinos-Carr 2005). After a difficult move from the Heilbron Mansion in 2004, LRGP moved across town to a renovated warehouse at 1421 R Street. The move led to another relocation in 2006, to 1022 Twenty-Second Street between J and

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K Streets, and the return of Francisca Godinez, the former volunteer who worked at the bookstore as a student in the 1970s. Godinez served as interim director from 2006 until June 2008, when Marie Acosta was appointed executive director.

The Front Lines of Chicana Performance in the RCAF Running community programs and building Chicano/a art infrastructure through a centro, a bookstore, and a gallery, Chicana members of the RCAF did not work at a distance from the front lines of political protest. Luis González captured this historical reality in Announcement Poster for International Women’s Year (1975).23 Luis González adapted his brother Hector’s photograph of “Royal Chicano Air Force women (Rosalie ‘Huatacha’ Souza and Juanita Polendo) being ‘busted’ by the police.”24 The poster reveals the complexity of Hector González’s experiences as the RCAF’s principal photographer, an artist who is at once inside and outside the tense scene taking place. Bernard Kinsey (2009) elucidates my point when he describes the perspective that photographer Howard Bingham brought to the photographic record of the Black Panther Party in 1968.25 Bingham “had a knack for being part of history while recording it—through his keen set of lenses— images that somehow put each of us in ‘the shot’” (16). Likewise, Hector González implicates viewers in his photograph through the framing of his image. The woman on the left is in a standoff with a police officer, and her stare is impenetrable. She attempts to meet the officer’s gaze, or to be seen, and thus understood, by him. An open hand enters the visual field on her right, prompting viewers to search the poster for the woman’s hands, which are open but lowered in front of the officer, coding her gaze as imploring more than hostile. The woman’s hands correspond with the officer’s open hand, visually suggesting that their reciprocal motions call for calm in a tense moment. Meanwhile, dead center, another woman’s gaze intersects the stalemate. The other woman, whom I recognize as Juanita Polendo (Ontiveros), gazes at Rosalie Souza, revealing multiple positions from which viewers bear witness to the event. Luis González made two versions of the poster, one with brown figures against a tan background and the other a black-and-white version, now in the collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.26 In the latter, González incorporated splashes of red paint on top of black areas, which together represent the colors of the United Farm Workers (UFW) flag.

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He also rendered a flagstaff in both posters, which is more pronounced in the black-and-white version and leans against Juanita Polendo’s shoulder. The sharp line of the flagpole draws viewers’ attention to a pyramid-like shape behind her. The geometric design and flagpole, coupled with the red paint, convey that the women are on the front lines of a UFW protest. While Luis González’s International Women’s Year posters foreground the political front lines of Chicana activism in the RCAF, other sites of Chicana political action are often excluded from histories of political protest during the Chicano movement, because they are perceived as solely spiritual or cultural. Yet creative expressions of neo-indigenous ceremonies, or reenactments of pre-Columbian rituals, celebrated the spatial victories of Chicano/a communities, accounting for political visibility in contexts other than labor, antiwar, and student protests. Chicana/o ceremonial performances were, at their core, decolonial acts, publicly demonstrating “the intersections of the spiritual, the political, and the aesthetic,” Laura E. Pérez writes (2007, 20). In 1979, RCAF artist Juanishi Orosco created Announcement poster for Fiesta de Maíz, informing the community that a pre-Columbian ceremony and market would take place on June 17, 1979, at Southside Park (see fig. 2.15). The poster announces Sacramento as “Sacraztlán,” locating the ceremony within a reclaimed space, simultaneously symbolizing and locating a Chicano/a homeland. Orosco’s poster exemplifies Sam Rios Jr.’s assertion that “women were instrumental to the health and sustainability of the RCAF community programs” because it foregrounds a Chicana figure, signaling the visible roles performed by women in a festival that had taken place for several years at other Chicano/a parks in Sacramento (Sam Rios Jr., interview, April 24, 2007). In 1976, for example, the Fiesta de Maíz took place at Zapata Park and included a coming-of-age ceremony for children from the Zapata Park housing project.27 Renamed in 1975, Zapata Park’s rededication coincided with the establishment of a new elementary school and the building of the Washington Square Apartments, an affordable housing complex that the Chicano/a community secured through Sacramento’s redevelopment agency in 1973 (R. Villa 2000, 192–193).28 Organized by the Cultural Affairs Committee, which operated under the RCAF’s Centro de Artistas Chicanos, the Fiesta de Maíz celebrated “the new harvest in June,” and, “in a symbolic way, the new harvest is seen to be the new people who are born to continue

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Figure 2.15. Juanishi Orosco, Announcement Poster for Fiesta de Maíz (1979). Screenprint. Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

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the culture and spirit of our ancestors.” Based on the pre-Columbian goddess Xilonen, the Corn Festival centered on “women who will bear the new children that will become a part of our community in the days to come” (“Revised Program and Budget for Centro de Artistas” 1979). Another description of the Fiesta de Maíz indicates that each stage of the ceremony centered around female maturation, concluding with the symbolic sacrifice of the female for the sake of a plentiful harvest: “Everyone raises their arms, w/ tremendous voices they ask the gods to help the corn / At the end the girl was covered w/ corn; flowers & sacrificed / This is [where] the girl would go to the gods—before the Aztecs— / Xiloni was the god of Love, Peace, Flowers” (“La Fiesta De Maize [sic],” n.d.).29 From a critical perspective of patriarchy, words like “sacrifice” are loaded, and one wonders if a ceremonial performance that symbolically offered a girl to the gods is liberating or supportive of gender equality. But for RCAF Chicana members, the Fiesta de Maíz was an act of consciousness-raising; it publicly honored women, children, indigenous traditions, and spiritual practices. It was a Chicana-led ceremony that ritualized a community’s spatial reclamation and more broadly celebrated indigenous people’s rights to land. By performing the ritual and teaching the next generation about it, Chicanas enacted what Laura E. Pérez (2007) calls “spirit work.” They staged a ceremony that “counter[ed] the trivialization of the spiritual, particularly of beliefs and practices from non-Western traditions, as ‘folk religion,’ ‘superstitious,’ or ‘primitive’” (20).30 There are several images of Armando Cid’s tile mosaic murals at Zapata Park in the RCAF archives at UC Santa Barbara’s California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives; but if the viewer-researcher remixes the historical record, or as Maylei Blackwell (2011, 37) suggests, turns up “the volume on the stories of gender and sexuality,” she discovers photographs of Chicanas working in proximity to Cid’s murals, preparing for the fiesta, and participating in the ceremony. Chicana community activist and RCAF Band member Gloria Rangel was central to Zapata Park’s Fiesta de Maíz in 1976. She is easily missed in one photograph because she kneels amongst the neighborhood children who are gathered around her in their costumes. Cid’s Sunburst radiates behind Rangel and the children, making a perfect backdrop for a Chicana-led spatial reclamation that was deeply invested in ceremony (see plate 9). The photograph illustrates Gloria Rangel’s role in instructing the children on the “dance that they offered up during the ceremony.”31 Minutes

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from a Cultural Affairs Committee meeting in March 1976 indicate that Rangel was quite busy in the two months leading up to the ceremony, as “David [Rasul] suggested that costumes and dance workshops get started as soon as possible, Fiesta es 21/2 months away, June 6th.” The meeting minutes, signed “GM” for Gina Montoya, a Cultural Affairs Committee member and board member for the Centro de Artistas Chicanos, also mention the location for the “Costume and Ojo de Dios workshops [at] Centro de Artistas” (G. Montoya 1976). Gloria Rangel, Gina Montoya, and their Cultural Affairs Committee colleagues elevated Chicana/o consciousness by bringing the community together to plan, perform, and witness female rites of passage and a spiritually syncretic ritual. While ceremonies like the Fiesta de Maíz were spiritually aligned with the political urgency of the farmworkers’ movement that gave rise to Chicano/a theater, they are not typically regarded as political acts (Huerta 1989, 6). Instead, they are perceived as root sources of the modern Chicano/a community’s “now mythical sources of its cultural identity” (YbarraFrausto 1993, 64). For Jorge Huerta (1989, 6), the performance of actos by El Teatro Campesino during the initial years of the farmworkers’ movement was the central context in which Chicano/a theater became a political action, responding to the urgency of the United Farm Workers union and the striking farmworkers. Through actos, short and collectively created pieces that dramatized the inequities of the farm labor system and generated support for the farmworkers’ strike, El Teatro Campesino politicized audiences and raised awareness about the union’s demands for economic justice, labor equality, and collective bargaining power (Elam 1997, 20). Actos initially were not written down or rehearsed by El Teatro Campesino, which often performed the same pieces on the front lines of the farmworkers’ strike (Broyles-González 1994, 176; Huerta 1989, 209). The performative actions— the gestures, the dialogue, and the crowd response—were more important in early Chicano/a theater than the printed text. Meanwhile, records of the 1976 Fiesta de Maíz at Zapata Park evidence a more detailed scripting and rehearsal of a ceremony concerned with social reproduction and cultural renewal. Yet the extended planning was part of the Chicano/a community’s political response to spatial injustice, marking the neighborhood’s victory with a spiritually restorative celebration. The Fiesta de Maíz achieved a connection with pre-Columbian ancestry beyond mere biology because it symbolically reenacted the Chicano/a community’s native rights to land during a period of urban renewal (Oropeza 2005, 84).

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The spirit work that Chicanas performed as part of the RCAF’s artistic production resonates in “the ceremonial” lens that Amalia Mesa-Bains (1991) provides for interpreting Chicana art. “Spirituality, religiosity, spectacle, and pageantry,” Mesa-Bains writes, “are a prevailing aesthetic dimension of the work of many Chicana artists [that] highlights belief, healing, and celebration as elements in the ongoing lexicon of women’s work” (133). Mesa-Bains’s explication of “the ceremonial” in Chicana art complicates notions of the political urgency of frontline protest and militant postures by Chicanos/as in the 1960s and 1970s—which were the means and not the end of Chicano movement goals. While Chicana RCAF members were present on the front lines of political protests and public demands for social change, they were also active in the planning, building, and sustaining of the Chicano/a community through the healing spaces of ceremony.

From Historical Reality to Historical Interpretation Mesa-Bains’s ceremonial lens for reading Chicana art was one of several she provided to readers of the exhibition catalogue for Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation, 1965–1985 (CARA). This is important to note because the role of the ceremonial in RCAF art was a major feature of the collective’s “grupo” exhibit in the CARA show. Amongst the framed RCAF silkscreen posters, several photographs were included of Chicana/o ceremonies and neo-indigenous performances in Sacramento. The photographs in the RCAF’s grupo installation appear in the CARA catalogue and show a procession, a candlelight vigil, and danzantes aztecas (Castillo, McKenna, and Yarbro-Bejarano 1991, 290–291). The photographs surrounded a cutout in the wall of the group exhibit that served as an altar containing offerings of corn, pre-Columbian artifacts, feathers, and syncretic religious symbols (290–291); yet the photographs in the CARA catalogue offer no labels, names, or captions, and subsequently, no sense of the people who participated. Moreover, CARA staged only three grupo installations for Chicano/a art collectives—the RCAF, Los Four, and Asco—which Alicia Gaspar de Alba (1998, 145) contends encroached on the realms of “domesticity and spirituality, domains traditionally assigned to women.” Encompassing “doorways, stoops, windows, walls and roofs,” Gaspar de Alba writes, “the three ‘men’s rooms’ are casitas that on the inside appropriate the form of the home altar, a domestic space traditionally installed and cared for by women” (145). The absence of a room for Las Mujeres Muralistas, the pioneering women’s

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collective that created eleven murals by 1977, leads Gaspar de Alba to wonder “what this exclusion says about the sexual politics of the Chicano Art Movement, which was then replayed by the CARA exhibit” (122). I add to Gaspar de Alba’s inquiry my own concerns over CARA’s curatorial assumptions that the RCAF was an all-male artist collective. Many RCAF artists find the absence of Chicanas in analyses and exhibitions of their artwork problematic because it misrepresents the collective’s artistic philosophy, which centered on labor equality and collaboration. José Montoya confirmed the disparity between the RCAF’s historical reality and scholarly interpretations that neglect women’s contributions and art work. “There’s people that accused us of [being] macho oriented,” Montoya remarked, adding that “the critics forget that there were a lot of women in the RCAF. So, when people say that the RCAF was a specifically male thing, they are privileging the artists over all other components of the RCAF.” Referring to specific Chicana RCAF members, Montoya continued, “You couldn’t tell my comadre Jennie Baca that she wasn’t RCAF. Jennie [and] Rosemary Rasul were powerful ladies. They were the proposal writers and the administration that kept our airplanes flying. When they gave us our orders, we went and did it. Juanita (Polendo) Ontiveros was another. And my daughter Gina grew up in that” (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). Montoya raises important questions about how RCAF art history is interpreted. Was it simply male chauvinism in the RCAF that led to assumptions that it was an all-male art group? Or do scholarly evaluations of art and labor within the RCAF privilege the artists, particularly visual artists, “over all other components” of the group’s membership? While there is no doubt that RCAF male artists are celebrated in scholarship more frequently than other members, the tendency for scholarly interpretations to avoid questions about what constitutes art work and works of art distorts the historical reality of what the RCAF produced. The omission of specific details about artistic collaborations and dialogues in the RCAF also distorts the larger history of Chicano/a art because it limits our understanding of how Chicanas/os navigated patriarchal cultural norms that contradicted the liberationist philosophies and decolonial ideas of the Chicano movement. In Marilyn Mulford’s (1988) Chicano Park, for example, the reality that Chicana artists were not invited to create murals is addressed by Yolanda López, who relays that despite being a native of Logan Heights, a participant in the occupation, and an institutionally trained artist, she was never invited to create a mural at the park. López did oversee a

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mural by Chicana students who approached her for assistance, but she perceived her role as that of an advisor (Mulford 1988). When the film turns to the RCAF and the controversy surrounding their murals due to the political content and nudity of several figures, shots of Esteban Villa’s massive Mujer Cósmica appear, and José Montoya explains why Villa chose white for her body and used communist symbols and names to adorn her. He then expresses his disappointment over his Chicana colleagues’ decision to bypass the collective to create Women Hold Up Half the Sky. If no Chicana artists were officially invited to paint at Chicano Park in 1975, then the fact that women artists in the RCAF made a mural is an extraordinary moment of Chicana artistic agency on the front lines of the Chicano movement. Moreover, there was verbal-visual interplay between Esteban Villa’s Mujer Cósmica and Women Hold Up Half the Sky by Irma Lerma Barbosa, Celia Herrera Rodríguez, and their colleagues Rosalinda Palacios, Antonia Mendoza, and Barbara Desmangles. Villa’s mural visualized an antiwar platform through interracial solidarity with the Vietnamese, which echoed the political and intellectual discourse of the Chicano movement. Lea Ybarra and Nina Genera delivered “an antiwar manifesto” in their pamphlet “La batalla está aquí!” (1970), declaring that the “injustice and suffering rendered by the ‘same imperialist system,’ inextricably linked the Chicano—and indigenous—past to the same Vietnamese present” (Oropeza 2003, 211-212). In turn, Mujer Cósmica boldly announced the parallel between the Vietnamese and Chicano/a social reality through an absence of color, which Villa represented with “primer” white and Asian facial features on the original mural.32 He also created a third world textual environment in Mujer Cósmica through inscriptions on the figure’s torso and limbs. Villa included names and symbols ranging from “Che, Allende, Tio Ho (Uncle Ho Chi Minh), and his own father, Antonio,” to “Paloma, Amour, Venceremos, c/s,” and “a sickle with the hammer missing that suggests a question mark,” which Alan Barnett (1984, 164) writes reflected “Villa’s mixed feelings about Communism.” The integration of words, names, and symbols in the mural reveals Esteban Villa’s exposure to Pop Art in the 1950s during art school, in particular because the images are more iconographic than semantic. In other words, they function as visual allegories for the different revolutionary and leftist politics of each historical figure, as the names “Che, Allende, and Tio Ho” suggest, more than communicate, political ideas that Villa absorbed and

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adapted into his artwork. Adding his father’s name to the woman’s body, Villa personalized the origins of his political worldview at the time of the mural’s creation. As an integrated visual field, the woman’s body simultaneously claimed and negotiated each of these political locations toward a fusion of spiritual, cultural, and political beliefs. The mural represented the messy formation of a Chicano worldview taking shape in 1975 and reflected the milieu of political philosophies in which Chicano/a cultural nationalism materialized. The ambiguity of the communist symbols Villa used also support the mural’s reflection of a Chicano worldview in progress, because the ambiguity touches on Villa’s early years as an art professor at CSUS. In the 1970s, the RCAF focused on creating “art in public places and barrio art and reaching out,” Villa explained. “Community work,” he added, “was a total socialistic bridge to it all [which] the individual professors did not like at all. They did not like me and José [Montoya] at all coming in with this collective stuff. Yeah, some were like, ‘Communists!’ They were very individualistic” (Esteban Villa, interview, January 7, 2004). Villa’s rendering of an impartial communist symbol reveals the historical concerns of Chicanos/as in the 1970s regarding the co-option of their culturally nationalist values by “white-dominated radical left groups” and a misunderstanding of the origins of their collectivism, which many artists aligned with pre-Columbian concepts of communal identity, as proposed in doctrine like “El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán” (Oropeza 2005, 97). The word “communist” was “loaded with negative connotations,” Lorena Oropeza writes, and understood differently amongst the politically diverse Mexican American communities in which Chicano movement newspapers and activism circulated (98). Villa’s mural makes it clear that he wanted to provoke discussion but was not entirely committed to communism because of the different class and racial politics it represented for Chicanos/as. Beyond the third world textual environment that Villa created in Mujer Cósmica, the mural and its inscriptions were also infused with colonial allusions to land as being female, or territory to be entered and claimed, exposing a patriarchal trap in New World mestizo/a art. European and Anglo American imaginings of the New World are replete with allegorical representations of “America” as female and indigenous (Murphy 1994). In the early twentieth century, Mexican murals like José Clemente Orozco’s Cortés y la Malinche (1926) articulated nation making through the coupling of a symbolic colonial father and indigenous mother. Thus, Mujer Cósmica

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reflected the convergence of two competing colonial orders in Villa’s vision of Aztlán as the birth of a Chicano/a nation.33 But the patriarchal limitations of Mujer Cósmica as a decolonial vision of a Chicano/a homeland were offset by the adjacent mural, Women Hold Up Half the Sky. Irma Lerma Barbosa and Celia Herrera Rodríguez, along with their colleagues, created a mural featuring several women who extend their arms and hands to hold up the pillar, visually echoing the mural’s title. As opposed to a monolithic body, the artists created diverse female forms that suggest a peopling of Aztlán, resisting the assimilation of ideas into one master narrative under nationalism, as well as the patriarchal cultural norms of “their own people” (Barnett 1984, 164). At the mural’s original base, two female flutists sit and play. Their music creates visible notes, perhaps audible to the viewer able to read music, as well as a rainbow arc that in turn holds up a silhouette of a celestial female being holding a symbol of the yin-yang in her palm. In the center of the mural, Lerma Barbosa painted an indigenous woman holding her child, an image she created with her longtime friend Barbara Desmangles, whom she invited to assist her on the mural. Gesturing to an aesthetic AfroChicanidad, an African American woman helped create one of the earliest Chicana murals at Chicano Park in 1975 (see fig. 2.16).34 Like Mujer Cósmica, Women Hold Up Half the Sky was a fusion of political philosophies, spiritual beliefs, and interracial alliances. During the mural’s restoration in 2012, Celia Herrera Rodríguez remarked that the mural’s name, which had always been Women Hold Up Half the Sky, was based on the “Confucian proverb taken up by Mao Tsetung.” Having returned from the “1975 World Conference on Women convened by the United Nations” in Mexico City, Herrera Rodriguez as well as Rosalinda Palacios and Irma Lerma Barbosa had each traveled “to Cuba on the Venceremos Brigade.” The Chicana artists who worked on the mural had been inspired by their encounters with international causes and platforms calling for the “agency of women developing within their own nations and in fighting discrimination” (G. Pérez 2012). Most fascinatingly, the women’s trips to Cuba resonate in Villa’s inscription of the word “Venceremos” on the leg of Mujer Cósmica.35 Returning to the disparity between historical interpretations and the historical reality of RCAF Chicana/o artists, the CARA exhibition signaled the canonization of the RCAF through the grupo installations, which Gaspar

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Figure 2.16. Chicano Park, 1975. Top, L–R: Celia Herrera Rodríguez and Rosalinda Palacios. Bottom, L–R: Antonia Mendoza, Irma Lerma Barbosa, and Barbara Desmangles. Private collection of Irma Lerma Barbosa.

de Alba (1998, 145–147) calls “men’s rooms” because they presented collectives that were comprised mainly of male artists. The literal construction of rooms for these groups prompts Gaspar de Alba to conclude “that they (and no others, and certainly not any women’s collectives) deserve to be memorialized as dearly departed ancestors or heroic pioneers of the Chicano Art Movement” (147). Although the lack of Chicana RCAF members in the grupo exhibit exemplifies how sexism in the Chicano movement persists in scholarly interpretations of the era, Chicana voices are audible in RCAF history; but they are only legible if one digs through the records, Maylei Blackwell (2011, 37) writes, and selects the “missing stories.” By turning up the volume on the women in the RCAF, scholars will discover that women were always present, if not always accounted for in curatorial choices and scholarly interpretations.

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Figure 2.17. Irma Lerma Barbosa and Christina Francisco singing at California State University, Sacramento, in 1970. Private collection of Irma Lerma Barbosa.

Figure 2.18. Irma Lerma Barbosa and Kathryn García performing at RCAF art show at University of California, Santa Barbara, 1973. Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

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Irma Lerma Barbosa’s Pachuca Performances Chicana art work was substantial in the RCAF, converging with creative performances involving ceremony and celebrations of spatial reclamations in Sacramento, as well as with interventions on the visualizations of Aztlán at Chicano Park in San Diego. For Irma Lerma Barbosa, political and creative performances during the Chicano movement overlapped because of her musical talents. In listening to her memories of early musical performances, another pathway opens up for understanding the role of Chicana art work in the RCAF. When Freddy Rodriguez invited Lerma Barbosa to join the Sacramento Brown Berets in 1969, he “asked me and Cristina Francisco to perform with his band, to sing,” she recalled (see fig. 2.17).36 Lerma Barbosa also “would sing for RCAF events,” and as a student at CSUS, she traveled with the RCAF and José Montoya, who “was giving talks—lectures—on Chicanidad and poetry recitals.” Asking “other Chicanas to come with me,” Lerma Barbosa explained, in 1973 at Santa Barbara, me and Kathryn García were the entertainment. . . . We were supposed to be giving the students a cultural shock. Kathryn and I changed in the bathroom. We went from looking like the little surfer girls on campus to Pachucas, with ratted-out hair, lipstick, and clothes that were tight. So, we began to perform in the bathroom, commanding the mirror and intimidating the college girls. We walked in with the audience too, with everyone going to the show. When we walked up onstage, everyone began to laugh and be at ease. We had made them . . . a little nervous close to home. We wanted them to feel us—feel something new, something different in their environment. . . . Once we walked onto the stage, everyone got it— that it was a performance. After getting their attention, we gave the stage to José, who gave a lecture on Chicanidad and recited his poems. (Irma Lerma Barbosa, interview, June 26, 2013)

The RCAF’s music and poetry recital was part of the group’s collective effort “to introduce the kind of art that the RCAF made, as well as our politics with the visual representation” (Irma Lerma Barbosa, interview, June 26, 2013). Lerma Barbosa’s performance supports the convergence of creative and political work within the RCAF, illuminating the dynamic interventions that the collective and, specifically, Chicana members made while showcasing the intersections of Chicano/a politics, visual art, music, and poetry. Setting

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a mood for the show, Lerma Barbosa and Kathryn García visually and aurally prepared listeners for José Montoya’s recital (see fig. 2.18). Yet the show really began before the women went onstage. Lerma Barbosa and García started to perform in the bathroom, breaking the fourth wall by “commanding the mirror and intimidating the college girls,” then walking “in with the audience.” Claiming space in the university through a particular racial-ethnic and classed persona of gender, Lerma Barbosa and García enacted a Chicana counterclaim to the university by alienating students from their implicit sense of belonging on campus. Making the students feel “a little nervous close to home,” the Chicanas-turned-Pachucas implicated the college students in their own privilege, or ease of access, to a seemingly neutral space. The two women were able to do so because of their familiarity with invisibility in mainstream culture, US institutions, and the gendered lines of the Chicano movement. Lerma Barbosa was one of many Chicana/o students who were adept at making others “feel something new, something different” in the quads of universities, on city streets, and in protest lines, while wearing Brown Beret uniforms, holding picket signs, dressing as Pachucas/os for theatrical and musical performances, or climbing scaffolding to paint murals.37 From the Chicano Moratorium marches to the East Los Angeles walkouts, the Chicano movement was initially a physical occupation and reclamation of space. Chicano/a students, artists, and community members did so with their bodies.38 Irma Lerma Barbosa and Kathryn García’s attention to their appearance during the Santa Barbara performance highlights “the element of style” that Chon Noriega (2001a, 1) claims underpins social movements.39 Lerma Barbosa and García used Pachuca fashion strategically to express their Chicana desires for visibility in the public sphere, as well as for gender equality in the Chicano movement, while keeping essentialist claims about their identities at bay. Vicki Ruiz (1998, 54) writes that alongside their male counterparts, Pachucas innovated a syncretic culture in the 1940s by “blending elements as diverse as celebrating Cinco de Mayo and applying Max Factor cosmetics.” Pachuca style was a cross-cultural coalescence for Mexican American women that allowed them to navigate “across multiple terrains at home, at work and at play” (67). Pachucas moved in and out of domestic space, dance halls, and public streets, dressing in form-fitting skirts and low-cut blouses.40 They coiffed

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their hair in dramatic pompadours and wore exaggerated eyeliner. Some Pachucas pushed their bodies entirely out of the bounds of patriarchal gender norms by wearing zoot suits in public.41 Whether donning a zoot suit or wearing hypersexualized, feminine clothes, Pachucas challenged “normative binaries of gender,” Luis Alvarez (2008, 83) contends, “mobilizing their own bodies and occupying public space” and asserting through “cultural practices that masculinity was not the sole property of men and femininity did not belong to only women.” A key manifestation of Pachuco/a gender-bending was acoustic—“crafted and exhibited by zoot suiters” through “distinct speech patterns inflected by region and ethnicity” (Alvarez 2008, 90). Referring to caló, Alvarez explains that “slang empowered the gender identities many youth sought to embody. Speech patterns helped make masculinity, in particular, a central feature in the politics of cool” (90). Alvarez argues that while a large part of Pachuco identity performance “included talking about women and to women in ways that frequently objectified them as objects of sexual desire,” Pachucas “made their speech and related behavior appear more masculine at times for their complicity in what was often deemed a male social world” (92). Used for different reasons, a masculine-coded language was used by Pachucos and Pachucas to engender visibility in the public sphere. Turning up the volume on the photograph of Irma Lerma Barbosa and Kathryn García performing in Santa Barbara, the women harnessed the potency of an earlier generation’s disruption of the established social order and gender norms, staring down their Mexican American families’ patriarchal expectations, which they now faced in the Chicano movement. Performing the Chicana desire to be seen on their terms through an earlier period of Mexican American women’s fashion, Lerma Barbosa and García not only exposed a generational trajectory of ethnic and racial persecution, but also a genealogy of Chicana subversions.42 Lerma Barbosa’s Pachuca performance occurred around the same time that she portrayed Libertad Lamarque in the 1972 production of Recuerdos del Palomar. A musical revue, Recuerdos del Palomar featured “songs and dances de los ’40s,” according to an advertisement poster created by José Montoya for the play (see fig. 2.19). First performed in April 1972 by a Chicano/a theater group at CSUS under the direction of Robert Vallejo, Recuerdos del Palomar was on the same billing with El Teatro Campesino at the Fifth Annual Chicano Teatro Festival in San Jose, California (State

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Figure 2.19. José Montoya, Announcement Poster for Recuerdos del Palomar (n.d.). Screenprint. Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

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Hornet 1972).43 In the play’s advertisement Figure 2.20. Irma Lerma Barbosa singing as Libertad poster, Montoya depicts a Pachuco/a couple Lamarque in California State dancing under a spotlight (Romo 2001, 105). University, Sacramento, Terezita Romo contrasts Montoya’s Pachuco musical Recuerdos del Palomar in this poster with the one he designed for the (1972). Private collection of Irma Lerma Barbosa. announcement of his 1977 exhibition, José Montoya’s Pachuco Art: A Historical Update. In the latter poster, Montoya focused solely on the Pachuco, combining the “enigmatic figure” of José Guadalupe Posada’s calavera with a “pachuco dandy,” which Romo adds was “trademark humor of the RCAF artists” (Romo 2001, 105). Considered canonical to Chicano/a art history, Montoya’s poster Pachuco Art: A Historical Update (1977) became widely recognized following its exhibition in ¿Just Another Poster? Chicano Graphic Arts in California and CARA.44 Like José Montoya, who created multiple artworks devoted to a theme or period (e.g., the poster for Recuerdos de Palomar, one for his 1977 Pachuco/a art show, and his mural panel at Southside Park in 1977), Irma Lerma Barbosa created multiple works of art devoted to a theme or period of her performances (see plate 10). In the midst of her theatrical role in 1972, Lerma Barbosa painted a portrait titled after the play, focusing on a singular

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Pachuca figure and, specifically, herself. Lerma Barbosa adapted a blackand-white photograph in which she is “singing as Libertad Lamarque, from my role in the fabulous Sac State musical,” she recalled, adding that “Juanita Polendo (Ontiveros) was Toña la Negra, I believe, in the same play. We took it on the road to compete in Teatro Campesino’s TENAZ [El Teatro Nacional de Aztlán] competition and blew all the burlap sack curtains away with our mirror ball boogy woogy.”45 Unlike the humorous and reverential tone with which Montoya rendered a Pachuco calaca in his exhibition poster, Lerma Barbosa’s portrait emphasizes the expressive face of her character. With her mouth agape and fingers extended, Libertad Lamarque bellows a thunderous note from a song. Her furrowed brows exaggerate the height of her pompadour, accentuating the dramatic scene of the play (see fig. 2.20). Lerma Barbosa’s visualization of her performance in Recuerdos del Palomar reveals her sustained interest in aestheticizing photographs of herself into records of Chicana art history. Prior to her 1987 poster Sacramomento, Irma painted a self-portrait in 1972, an act that resonates with numerous Chicana artists in the 1970s, like Patricia Rodriguez, who created a series of sculptural nichos with face masks of Chicano/a artists, including one of herself.46 Yolanda López rendered herself in paintings numerous times throughout the 1970s, first as a runner and then most famously in Portrait of the Artist as the Virgin of Guadalupe (1978) from her Guadalupe series (Davalos 2008). Judy Baca created Las Tres Marías in 1976, a mixed-media triptych in which life-sized portraits of a Pachuca from the 1940s and a Chola from the 1970s flank a full-length mirror (Gaspar de Alba 1998, 135– 137). In a photograph from the CARA exhibition reproduced in Alicia Gaspar de Alba’s (1998) analysis of the show, Baca stands in between the panels at an angle, with her gaze meeting the viewer through the mirror’s reflection. Throughout the Chicano movement, Chicana artists constructed an image of la mujer nueva and often rendered her in their own likeness. They did so because they knew their entrance into the androcentric spaces of El Movimiento, as well as into Chicano/a art history, was heroic, pioneering, and bigger than themselves; this is why they documented their presence through paint, sculpture, and serigraphy. It is also why Baca placed a mirror in the center of Las Tres Marías—so that other women, and Chicanas in particular, would see themselves as la mujer nueva, a woman emerging from the decolonization process.

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The Words That Gave Her Power, and Getting Dressed for Work Thinking about women in the RCAF and the form and function of the group’s air force persona, one wonders what it meant when a Chicana used air force language to talk about herself, the collective, and the work she performed. Throughout the late twentieth century, the RCAF developed a verbal and visual repertoire for the air force identity. Recalling José Montoya’s coded speech in Chicano Park (Mulford 1988), air force language streamlined the collective’s artistic philosophy, but it could also communicate internal conflicts that were gendered for some members. Recalling an opportunity to obtain a higher rank in the collective, Irma Lerma Barbosa informed María Ochoa (2003, 69–70) that at a gathering of RCAF artists, José Montoya announced, “‘Well, tonight’s the night we’re going to give Irma her general’s wings.’ One of the guys objected. He said, ‘No, this is not right. She’s a woman.’ . . . I didn’t get my rank as a general. I was hurt and pissed, you know? José told me I would have to become a general of women.” Lerma Barbosa’s memory suggests that while the air force vernacular was humorous and unifying, it also reinforced traditional gender roles in the collective. Lerma Barbosa’s memory of being denied her general’s wings echoes issues of voice in women’s participation in other Chicano movement student organizations and collectives. In her analysis of Hijas de Cuáthemoc, a Chicana university group that was a prototype for Chicana feminist awareness and a hub for resources and activities, Maylei Blackwell (2011, 66) assesses gender dynamics in the United Mexican American Students (UMAS) and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) through the particular performance of the “heavy” at membership meetings. Heavies were not necessarily elected student officers, but highly visible, forceful speakers, often engaging the “politics of cool,” which Luis Alvarez (2008) refers to in his analysis of Pachuco/a culture and which Blackwell (2011, 66) explains as “masculinized speech of the streets and other codes of movement” that were “viewed as a site of authenticity.” As a strategy for having their ideas heard, Chicanas appropriated “the language of heavies” (Blackwell 2011, 66–67). One such Chicana to do so was Anna NietoGomez, a founder of Hijas de Cuáthemoc, who felt that “learning to cuss was empowering for me as a woman in UMAS. I had never cussed before. . . . The words gave me power” (Blackwell 2011, 67).

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Irma Lerma Barbosa heeded José Montoya’s advice and became a “general of women,” cofounding the Comadres Artistas in 1992 (Ochoa 2003, 70). A Sacramento-based women’s collective, the Comadres comprised several members, including Irma Lerma Barbosa, Simona Hernández, Lucy Montoya Rhodes, Carmel Castillo, Kathryn García, Helen Villa, Laura Llano, Socorro Zuniga, and Susan Homdus (Comadres Artistas 1994, 2). The majority of the artists were formally trained and had apprenticed in particular modes of art while they raised children, ran households, and participated in the Chicano movement (2). But in their 1994 catalogue, Story/Visions from the Cactus Tree, the Comadres acknowledge that their collective was a response to the historical reality that “women of many communities donate time and services with little recognition for their own interests and needs” (4). They further grounded the concept of “Comadres” in making “time for developing one’s individual art-making [that] is often restrained because of family demands and needs” (4). Positioning themselves as comadres, and not as generals, the collective’s statement reveals a desire to work and be recognized in the identity and realm of the artist, which persisted as a malecentered space throughout the Chicano movement and in US institutions and hegemonic definitions of art. The desire for a space of one’s own to create art and to hone one’s ability is visualized in Irma Lerma Barbosa’s oil on canvas Warriors of the New Day (1993). In a desert landscape, Lerma Barbosa stands with her back to a colorful sunrise. Compared to her 1987 serigraph Sacramomento, the painting is a departure from the militant fashion of the young Chicana Brown Beret, but her arms are still folded. Not surrounded by a gathering of activists, performers, or other people, she gazes beyond the viewer’s reach, connecting with a vista outside the landscape of the painting. Her flowing skirt, matching shoes, and white blouse convey comfort in middle-age femininity, as a cactus flower blooms in the foreground. Depicting a new stage for a veteran artist of the Chicano movement, Lerma Barbosa tracks her evolution in the painting from a collective identity of political power to an autonomous one based on Chicana desires for Aztlán (see plate 11). Lerma Barbosa’s desire for a higher rank in the RCAF, communicated through terms of power or titles meant to denote respect in the collective, and her advancement of Chicana artistic agency with the Comadres Artistas, was also reflected in her clothing choices and the personas she donned while wearing them. Like Pachucas who wore zoot suits in public, modified slightly, or a combination of men’s and women’s apparel, Lerma

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Figure 2.21. José Montoya performing at One More Canto at the Reno Club, 1979. Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

Barbosa moved in and out of many costumes that publicly signaled her politics, affiliations, and cultural and ethnic authenticity (Alvarez 2008, 108). From Pachuca fashion and her Brown Beret uniform, to her appearance as an RCAF artist who “on a daily basis,” she recalled, “always wore my green flak jacket and real combat boots from the army-navy surplus store,” Lerma Barbosa shape-shifted in order to navigate and counter external and internal gender expectations (Irma Lerma Barbosa, interview, June 26, 2013). When Lerma Barbosa began working with the RCAF artists, she felt that she was perceived differently from other female members, who “thought I was some kind of tramp because I worked as an artist, side by side with the men. So I knew I had to handle myself a certain way in order to get their respect. So I’d be sitting around in my combat boots, while the girlfriends would be flittering around the men like butterflies” (Ochoa 2003, 68–69). Lerma Barbosa’s memory of her “combat boots,” more than any other material marker, reveals how she dressed to “combat” sexism in the RCAF and, more generally, in the Chicano movement (E. Diaz 2013, 59).

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Choosing her clothes carefully, Lerma Barbosa was not the only RCAF artist to use fashion to publicly signal political affiliations, class consciousness, and cultural authenticity. Calling José Montoya a “workingman’s poet,” Olivia Castellano (1992, xi) introduces his 1972 poem “El Sol y los de Abajo” by focusing on details of his appearance in a photograph in which he is in the midst of a poetry recital: “Dressed in his baggies, Pendleton shirt, and Stetson Beaver hat, or his blue Sir Guy jacket,” Castellano writes, “this people’s poet, in his non-conformist professor’s ‘uniform of the day,’ reaches deep within the poet’s bag of madness and magic” (xii) (see fig. 2.21). Castellano’s close reading of Montoya’s appearance, as opposed to an analysis of his poem, underscores the importance of style during the Chicano movement. In Montoya’s case, wearing workingman’s clothes visualized the politics of his poetry and visually communicated that his art was his labor. These were also Irma Lerma Barbosa’s concerns when she got dressed for work. Emphasizing that she was a “crossover from the Brown Berets to the RCAF,” Irma Lerma Barbosa asserted, “I have a history of performance, [of ] getting dressed in various personas, getting dressed to go onstage with Shades of Brown” (her longtime Chicano/a band). “To me,” she continued, “performance has been survival. And adaptability has been the means to survival. . . . Performance made visibility possible. In the RCAF, I was putting people at ease when I was in my combat boots and army jacket because they didn’t have to treat me as a woman and I didn’t have to act like one.” Lerma Barbosa’s performance of the RCAF’s air force persona “was not because of the RCAF,” she concludes; rather, “the RCAF was a conduit through which I could dress like that. But it was the Brown Berets and then the RCAF that gave me permission . . . to speak and act with authority. I didn’t have to adopt the skirt way; I could move with authority. .  .  . I could move with power” (Irma Lerma Barbosa, interview, June 26, 2013).

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C h ap t e r 3

Heroic Foundations Chicano/a Heroes in Family, Farmwork, and War I was here before the Chicanos were even invented or came about. Stan Padilla, interview, July 12, 2004 My mother was always telling me, “Son, get a job in the shade. Just get a job in the shade.” Ricardo Favela, interview, July 20, 2004

I

n 1987, Ricardo Favela created Aquí Estamos . . . Y No Nos Vamos!!!, a poster that uses a rallying call as part of the image and title. A popular slogan of the Chicano movement, the phrase relies on a Spanish rhyme scheme to convey an abridged message to the political status quo from Chicanos/as on the front lines of the farmworkers’ strike, university campuses, and the streets of their neighborhoods (see plate 12).1 Repurposing a political slogan to encapsulate Royal Chicano Air Force history, Favela conveys how the Chicano/a art collective fashioned “a poetics never separate from politics” (Limón 1992, 86). The rallying call summarizes the political platforms of the Chicano movement and the Chicano/a desire for a sense of native belonging in the United States. In 1987, the catchphrase also pertained to the RCAF’s documentation of their history in the absence of institutional recognition. 139

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The large size of the slogan prompts viewFigure 3.1. Ricardo Favela, Compañeros Artistas (1983). ers to simultaneously experience the aesthetCanon 400 copy machine and ics of the poster’s message (Romo 2001, 2011), color pencil. Royal Chicano Air or to see, read, and hear the slogan as they Force Archives. The California contemplate the image and secondary title at Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections the bottom of the poster: “We’re still here . . . Department, the University 18 years later.” The secondary title signals a of California, Santa Barbara personal memory within the visual field that Library. is supported by the fact that Favela created the poster based on a photograph, which he photocopied and embellished with color pencil (see fig. 3.1).2 From the work’s photographic origins to his use of color in the screenprinting process, Favela questions spatial construction—both the formal space of the poster and the figurative space of memory. The tilted rectangle that frames the artists, for example, highlights the artwork’s construction. Favela’s decision to render the RCAF artists in black and white adds formal contrast to the orange-to-yellow gradation behind the men. Within the slanted frame of the picture that surrounds the artists, the acronym “RCAF” repeats in blue sequential lines that correspond with the poster’s background. But the slanted frame pierces the poster’s outer border with two of its four points, reinforcing the idea of space as a figurative, personal, and aesthetic experience.

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Of particular importance to this chapter is the portrait of the artists, each of whom holds artwork that tells stories about Chicano/a heroes. Esteban Villa holds a portrait of Tiburcio Vásquez, a nineteenth-century Californio outlaw who championed Mexican American rights after California’s annexation in 1848. A clenched fist with shackles rises from the left corner of the image, suggesting sustained Chicano/a resistance through the combination of a hero and a heroic symbol. On Villa’s left, Ricardo Favela holds an image of a skeleton that gestures to José Guadalupe Posada, the Mexican illustrator who created a visual lexicon of revolutionary images that critiqued ruling power in Mexico during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. On Villa’s right, José Montoya holds a piece that also incorporates a skull, but as part of a tripartite head, a prominent symbol in Chicano/a art that represents the racial and cultural mixtures of Chicano/a ancestry (Arrizón 2000, 27). Montoya’s image is a serigraph titled La Resurrección de los Pecados (1971), which he produced with his RCAF colleague Armando Cid.3 Along with the skull, the tripartite head includes an indigenous man in profile and a central man whose enlarged eyes and open mouth suggest an audible howl, alluding to the horrors of war—both the colonial legacies and contemporary destructions. Aquí Estamos . . . Y No Nos Vamos!!! contains pictures within pictures of Chicano heroes and heroic allegories that simultaneously foster a Chicano/a sense of place in the nation while resisting the limitations of geopolitical borders. Holding artworks that include heroes and heroic allegories from multiple spaces and times, the three Chicano artists stand together above the secondary textual line. The layers of historical representation commemorate the RCAF’s founding and its role in creating and disseminating a Chicano/a verbal-visual architecture that fortified the Chicano movement. Using heroes and heroic allegories as a mode of analysis for RCAF art history is perhaps unexpected in the twenty-first century. The trope of the hero is largely critiqued in Chicano/a studies scholarship for its replication of the patriarchal values of the Chicano movement, which elided Chicana agency by privileging hypermasculine imagery and heteronormative representations of the Chicano/a family (E. Pérez 1999). “Never defined in neutral terms,” the symbol of “la familia,” Richard T. Rodríguez writes (2009, 20), reanimated images of heroism “in the name of egalitarianism,” redressing the emasculation of social inequality through a visual lexicon entrenched in hetero-patriarchy. As Ricardo Favela’s poster demonstrates, the RCAF appropriated leader emulation from the nation-building strategies implicit

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in US history to combat the absence or stereotypes of Chicanos/as in mainstream media and popular culture. In repurposing dominant modes of representation, Chicano/a artists reproduced similar forms of exclusion. Reflecting on machismo in the Chicano movement and the “clear masculine trope [that] ran though the language of Chicano Power,” Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar (2006, 274) notes the parallel with the language of Black Power; but “the movement was not monolithic,” he contends, a point he supports in an interview with Elaine Brown, chairwoman of the Black Panther Party in the 1970s. Ogbar asks her about the Black Panther Party’s public image, or the verbal and visual lexicon that “clearly lionized black men” (276). Brown responds with a question: “Did these brothers drop from ‘revolutionary heaven’? Of course not. We were working through issues” (276). I tend to agree with Brown in regard to the Chicano movement, but not to dismiss the real exclusions of women and queer Chicanos/as. Rather, I agree with Brown because doing so accounts for the historical reality and patriarchal structures under which Chicanos/as, African Americans, and other disenfranchised people advanced movements in the 1960s and 1970s for selfdetermination and mental decolonization. Heroization is necessary in a foundational analysis of the Royal Chicano Air Force. It allows for close readings of art made by a vanguard collective that was articulating and performing into being a self and group identity adapted from several cultures and civilizations that constructed the history of the Western Hemisphere. Thus, the idea of Chicano/a heroes should not be so easily dismissed in the twenty-first century for its exclusionary outcomes. Instead, it should be positioned as part of the trajectory of decolonial thought in which scholars continue to rephrase ideas from 1960s and 1970s Chicano/a art in academic terms. Theoretical lenses that emerged in the 1990s, for example, took shape in the visual vocabulary of decolonization that developed during the US civil rights era. 1960s and 1970s consciousness-raising produced racial, ethnic, political, and cultural awareness largely through heroization, which not only spurred subsequent theoretical paradigms but generated some of the very words used to express them. There are clear connections between RCAF art and academic paradigms like Emma Pérez’s (1999) decolonial imaginary. I wonder if a decolonial imaginary, and for that matter, an “alter-Native” lens for Chicano/a art (Gaspar de Alba 1998) or a “remapping of American cultural studies” (Saldívar 1997), would have been possible without the RCAF’s artwork and other Chicano/a art produced during the Chicano movement. I

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concretize my point from the beginning of this chapter with an analysis of heroes in Antonio Bernal’s 1968 murals, painted at El Teatro Campesino’s original headquarters in Del Rey, California. Alongside Bernal, the RCAF laid foundations for decolonial ideas in their visualizations of Chicano/a history. Using oral history as an archival tool, I enhance the experience of looking at RCAF art by contextualizing their verbal and visual claims of Chicano/a nativity in the United States before, during, and after the Chicano movement. This is an important context for thinking about RCAF art that heroizes Chicano/a farmworkers and aligns the farmworking experience with third world consciousness. Whether or not RCAF members migrated to the United States with their families due to the sociopolitical upheaval of the 1910 Mexican Revolution or as part of the labor force of the 1942 to 1964 Bracero Program, RCAF members do not determine their indigeneity through geopolitical borders, a point they make continually in their artwork. In building a Chicano/a sense of place in the United States, the RCAF remapped colonial understandings of the world.4 They did so by exalting the ordinary, or heroizing the Chicano/a experience of family, farmwork, and war to address cultural loss through migrations that were (and are always) tied to larger sociopolitical and economic forces. None of these ideas were executed perfectly in the 1960s and 1970s, since the RCAF did not fall from revolutionary heaven; but the RCAF was part of a decolonial vision of the future and dealt directly with issues that people of color continue to face. Perceiving their ancestry in real and symbolic ways, RCAF members focused on the roles of their mothers in interviews, describing them as teachers, workers, and guardians. In recalling her mother, Irma Lerma Barbosa revealed a female-centered Chicana consciousness-raising prior to the Chicano movement, suggesting that, as numerous Chicana scholars have since argued, Chicana self-actualization began before the 1960s and 1970s. Collaborating with her colleague Kathryn García on a flyer to announce the Conferencia Femenil, Lerma Barbosa planned a meeting that politicized the mother-child relationship beyond the domestic sphere and in relation to third world consciousness through the recovery of indigenous knowledge. Likewise, José Montoya’s “La Jefita” (1969) is a canonical poem that foregrounds the farmworking mother’s place in defending the rights of the Chicano/a family. The poem has been critiqued for its idolization and not humanization of the farmworking mother, but I revisit the poem for its attention to sound as a heroic allegory. Among these works, I read several

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RCAF creations for their use of heroic tropes and allegories that fused the aesthetic with the political and the instrumental.

The “forgotten heroes and heroines of the frontier”5 The re-creation of heroes and heroic allegories in Chicano/a history began, according to Emma Pérez (1999, 8), when Chicano historians “constructed a distinct knowledge of Chicano history in the twentieth century, a knowledge that manifests four periods and four dominant modes of thinking.”6 From sixteenth-century conquest, nineteenth-century war, and the US annexation of Mexican territories, to the 1910 Mexican Revolution and the 1942 to 1964 Bracero Program, Chicano historians arrived at the Chicano movement as the next great event in their people’s history. They advanced a conceptual frame for historical actors who resisted US annexation and aligned with the populist side of the Mexican Revolution. In doing so, Pérez asserts, Chicano historians produced the trope of the Chicano hero and, indirectly, the heroic intellectual (1999, 8–9).7 With the Bracero Program, Chicano historians argued that Chicanos/as were (and are) a colonized workforce (8). Following interpretations of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century events, Pérez tracks the development of the scholarly perspective that Chicanos are “social beings, not only workers” and, finally, that “Chicanos are also women” (8). Each of these modes of analysis is problematic for Pérez because each responds to colonial moments like war, annexation, and binational treaties (8). For my purposes, Pérez’s critique of the Chicano hero and its allegories is important to RCAF history because both emerged representationally during the 1960s and 1970s and were central to Chicano/a artistic production. Heroism also persists as an important motif beyond the initial decades of the Chicano movement, evidenced by Ricardo Favela’s poster Aquí Estamos . . . Y No Nos Vamos!!! (1987), in which he restages a photograph of RCAF artists holding artwork that they created in the 1970s, presenting nineteenth- and twentieth-century heroes alongside pre-Columbian symbols. The point of my discursion into Pérez’s critique of the colonial moments upon which Chicano/a history is based is that while leader emulation is problematic, heroes and heroic allegories are nevertheless complex, theoretical interventions on regional hegemony.8 Heroes in Chicano/a art emerged as pathways to a self-determined Chicano/a identity, served as visual shorthand for intellectual and political treatises, and simultaneously exalted an

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alternative trajectory for Chicano/a historical consciousness while signaling its fragmentation. In 1968, for example, Antonio Bernal painted two murals on the facade of El Teatro Campesino’s location in Del Rey, California, using historical figures and symbolic composites to represent each of the great events to which Pérez refers. One mural featured a line of pre-Columbian figures headed by an indigenous woman (S. Goldman 1990, 167). Bernal replicated the form of the Maya murals in Room One at Bonampak, Chiapas, Mexico, by depicting his figures in flat, horizontal lines (167). Holly BarnetSanchez (2012, 247) claims that by employing both the form and content of the pre-Columbian frescoes, Bernal testified to “the relevance of ancient beliefs and practices for Chicano/as as philosophical and theoretical underpinnings” of the Chicano movement and, specifically, in homage to El Teatro Campesino performances. Bernal’s murals put forward an intellectual trajectory for Chicano/a history—from an indigenous past to a political present, the latter conveyed by the line of figures on the wall opposite from the indigenous procession. There, Bernal painted nineteenth- and twentieth-century heroes led by a soldadera, a female soldier from the 1910 Mexican Revolution. While she is unidentifiable, the heroes that follow, all of whom are male, can be identified. From Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata, Bernal’s line moves to Joaquín Murrieta, César Chávez, and Reies López Tijerina, as well as a Black Panther resembling Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., two figures that signal the multiracial environment of the Chicano movement. These figures are also arranged in a single line, suggesting that Bernal desired aesthetic uniformity between the pre-Columbian murals he referenced and the contemporary figures he rendered (S. Goldman 1990, 167). For Carlos Jackson (2009, 77), the consistency between the two murals communicates a sense of “historical progression” or evolution of civil rights in the United States. But Bernal’s aesthetic organization can be interpreted in ways other than progress toward a more democratic society (Jackson 2009, 77). The figures in both murals were appropriate for El Teatro Campesino’s headquarters because their arrangement reflects a roll call of theatrical archetypes. The murals visualized a cast of characters performed by Chicano/a actors who invented a theatrical genre for Chicano/a farmworkers (Valdez 1966, 1967; Huerta 1973, 1989). The anonymous pre-Columbian woman and la soldadera in Bernal’s murals support this reading, since Chicana actors and female roles were limited to these types in early El Teatro Campesino performances (Broyles-González 1994).

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The murals also mirrored the range of Chicano/a cultural production in the late 1960s, particularly the proliferation of Chicano/a poetry. Bernal’s lines of Chicano/a heroes paid homage to Rodolfo Gonzáles’s long poem “Yo Soy Joaquín” (1967). As Gonzáles moves his hero Joaquín through the poem, he crosses several regions and epochs of pre-Columbian, Mexican, Californio/a, and Chicano/a history, circling back to previous periods and making the past present in his epic verse (Barnet-Sanchez 2012, 248). Likewise, Bernal’s murals were metaphysical inquiries into Chicano/a historical consciousness; they collapsed space and time through representative figures in order to trace historical antecedents of the Chicano movement. From the verbal to the visual, the poem and the murals made intellectual claims through pre-Columbian imagery as well as subsequent historical figures to inspire Chicano/a audiences. The poetic elements of Bernal’s murals directly engaged the intentions of the space in which they were painted. A mural showcasing a procession of past and present figures was readable imagery for El Teatro Campesino audiences. Many people who frequented the group’s headquarters participated in the 1966 United Farm Workers march from Delano, California, to Sacramento (Barnet-Sanchez 2012, 248). Luis Valdez described the farmworkers’ march as its own “theatre about the revolution,” a point that underscores the transition of a political audience into spectators of cultural affirmation on El Teatro Campesino’s stage in Del Rey (Barnet-Sanchez 2012, 248–249). On the most basic level, Bernal’s procession of heroes beckons Chicano/a viewers into the center, or cues them to fall into line to watch El Teatro Campesino pull “the past into the present,” Holly Barnet-Sanchez writes, as “legendary individuals gather” on the exterior walls “to envision their collective future” (251). More than a historical progression, Bernal’s murals suggest a circulation of ideas that exalted pre-Columbian civilization as an allegory for Chicano/a origins alongside the rise of populist mobilizations that led to the 1910 Mexican Revolution and their perceived reincarnations in the Chicano movement. But Bernal’s murals also replicated the structure of nationalist mythos, or the historical ordering of epochs contingent on patriarchal understandings of war, annexation, and sociopolitical uprising. In regard to Bernal’s symbolic representation of female heroes, Guisela Latorre (2005, 100) claims that the generalities of female archetypes in Chicano/a cultural production personified “the anxieties generated by the active participation of women in critical historical events.” One wonders why the likeness

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of Dolores Huerta (or Angela Davis, for that matter) was not considered by Bernal for murals that identified local, regional, and national leaders of revolutionary and civil rights movements through portraiture. Yet, despite the limitations of Bernal’s female symbols, he visualized a political history for the Chicano movement that parallels the theorizations of scholars in the 1990s who identified actual female soldiers fighting on the front lines of the Mexican Revolution or working within the system for political reform.9 Claiming that soldaderas “have marched through most of Mexican history,” Elizabeth Salas (1990, 120; emphasis mine) proposes female combatants and caretakers of the wounded as precursors to Chicana activists, irrespective of geopolitical borders. Vicki Ruiz (2007, 171) underscores Salas’s historical connection as a figurative one between “Mesoamerican women warriors (the ancestors)” and “las soldaderas and their symbolic descendants—Chicana student activists.” Bernal’s murals also gestured to Emma Pérez’s idea of the decolonial imaginary in which she writes Chicanas into history by claiming them as political descendants of Mexican feminists working within and against the patriarchal order of government and political discourse in the early twentieth century.10 Bernal’s murals resonate with Pérez’s desire for Chicana history that is not only decolonized but decolonizing—a tool that can be activated by a third space, where “third space agency is articulated” (E. Pérez 1999, 5).11 An area in between dominant paradigms where “subjugated histories” are “written as something new coming into being,” the decolonial imaginary is a space “in between that which is colonialist and that which is colonized” (E. Pérez 1999, 4, 7). Subsequently, it is often contested space because it can “replicate, copy, and duplicate first world methods and tools,” if not interrogated in its expression of alternative history, knowledge, and culture (4). Attempting to make Chicano/a consciousness visible on the walls of El Teatro Campesino’s building, Antonio Bernal created a decolonial imaginary, despite the incompleteness of his vision.

When Your Mother Asks You Who You Are: The Heroic pre-Columbian Past The Royal Chicano Air Force imagined a decolonial Chicano/a history in the 1970s through murals created in Sacramento’s Chicano/a neighborhoods. Between 1975 and 1976, RCAF artists Luis González, Ricardo Favela, and Esteban Villa painted When Your Mother Asks You Who You Are, a striking

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mural with a provocative title, in the farmworker program dining hall of the Sacramento Concilio, Inc. A vital membership association for all Chicano/a organizations, the Concilio acquired and distributed funds for programs like Breakfast for Niños, a service that provided schoolchildren with morning meals (Ricardo Favela, interview, July 20, 2004). It also assisted La Raza Drug Effort, a prevention program that served the local community (“Special Board Meeting” 1974). Housing a dining room for farmworkers, the Concilio offered space to multiple groups in the Chicano/a community to practice various modes of citizenship—from discussing and voting on United Farm Worker measures and participating in workshops and administrative meetings, to eating together in a room where RCAF artists painted a mural that positioned the Spanish conquest of Mexico as a major event in the history of the Western Hemisphere. When Your Mother Asks You Who You Are also gestured to a preColumbian framework for Chicano/a art by fusing several important sites of Mesoamerican civilization.12 The mural included the pyramid El Castillo from Chichén Itzá, a rendering of the god Tlaloc—with altered features that suggest a pastiche of multiple deities—and several representations of the Mexican Inquisition, an extension of the Spanish Inquisition in Mexico from the sixteenth to the early nineteenth centuries (Corteguera 2012). On the left side of the mural, a large skeleton holds a wooden cross in his upraised arm as if ready to strike; his accusatory posture mirrors that of another skeleton holding a blazing torch in front of a wooden door with flames shooting from the door’s barred window.13 In the background, El Castillo sits vacant and unused as an eagle warrior in the mural’s bottom left corner looks directly at the scene, bearing witness to the calamity. An indigenous man sits above the fiery scene and a wall of bones that represents the tzompantli, or skull rack, inside the Aztec pyramid, the Templo Mayor. Sitting on top of a grassy hill, the indigenous man raises his head and hands toward the sky. The scene evokes the Hill of Tepeyac, where the apparition of the Virgen de Guadalupe in 1531 led to the erection of her shrine on the former site of worship for the female deity Tonantzin. In the RCAF’s visualization of the conquest, the artists portray the immediacy of the violence and a lingering anxiety over spiritual loss in their contemporary moment. The assemblage of indigenous symbols, places, and deities also suggests feelings of frustration over a lack of knowledge. The frustration resonates in the mural’s title, When Your Mother Asks You Who You Are, which anticipates a secondary clause, or a conclusion to the sentence of what one should

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tell his or her mother. If the mural’s collage of pre-Columbian images is the next clause (what one tells his or her mother), the assortment of signs and symbols conveys fragmentation and an uncertain pride in one’s ancestry. For Chicanos/as in the midst of politicization, armed with a growing sense of self-awareness but faced with a lack of access to information, the mural and its title express an emotional experience of spiritual and cultural loss. Other imagery incorporated into the mural supports the theme of loss because it presents symbols of colonization, an important legacy within the Chicano/a worldview. In the center panel, the artists painted a sacred heart of Jesus with the Eucharist adorning its center. The heart is encased in a larger circle on the back of an animal that is also enclosed in a circle.14 The image denotes Aztec heart sacrifice, but its anatomical likeness aligns it with Catholicism, fitting the scene’s turbulent depiction of religious conquest. Directly above the sacred heart of Jesus, the artists painted a large female figure with a United Farm Workers huelga bird covering her lower body. She is framed by red sun rays similar to those that appear behind the quintessential portrait of La Virgen de Guadalupe. Her white coloring denotes an otherworldly presence. In both size and color, she reflects Mujer Cósmica (1975), the mural that Esteban Villa created at Chicano Park in San Diego. As the mother figure of this mural, she stands before the troubling scene, and below her a poem written by Luis González is transcribed. The poem, also titled “When Your Mother Asks You Who You Are,” reads, Cry on your pyramids memories Tu corazón no se recuerda, tu corazón no se recuerda, the sun is still your father planting maiz for Moctezuma The land is still your mother eso nunca olvidarás, eso nunca olvidarás, giving birth to magic children eso nunca olvidarás c/s15

The verse is a lamentation, using a chorus that speaks directly to its audience in the farmworkers’ dining hall. While the poem conveys the contemporary Chicano/a community’s historical loss of ancestral memories—an absence painfully felt in the heart—Luis González’s lines “the sun is still

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your father / planting maiz for Moctezuma / The land is still your mother” suggest that a physical connection between the Chicano/a farmworker and the land remains unbroken. González frames the connection around labor, politicizing it for Chicano/a farmworkers who harvest California’s agricultural fields not for Moctezuma but under a different ruler. The farmworker that González hails and interpolates in the poem through possessive pronouns is the mural’s protagonist or hero, traveling through an odyssey of cultural, spiritual, and ideological clashes between civilizations, reflected in the mural’s assortment of symbols, locations, and creation stories. The indigenous imagery in When Your Mother Asks You Who You Are, as well as the historical disconnect it simultaneously conveys through a mishmash of symbols, was endemic to early Chicano/a art. The RCAF artists reached back into histories beyond the United States, probing sources like Mexican calendars for an iconography with which they could historically, culturally, and spiritually connect. “We took a step consciously in the seventies,” RCAF artist Juanishi Orosco explains, “to project . . . the true values that we have in our community. You wouldn’t see them anywhere. You wouldn’t go to a gallery and see that. You wouldn’t go to a store and see that. Unless you went to a Mexicano restaurant or something like that and [saw] a calendar. But other than that, where would you see it?” (Juanishi Orosco, interview, December 23, 2000). Orosco refers to a common practice amongst Mexican American businesses in the twentieth century of giving annual calendars to their patrons, a practice that subsequently introduced Chicano/a artists “to a wealth of images illustrating Mexico’s indigenous heritage, cultural traditions, and regional diversity” (Romo 2001, 102–103). “For many people,” Terezita Romo writes, “these prints became ‘art works’ after the calendar dates were cut off and the image was framed” (102–103). In his interpretation of Gilbert “Magú” Luján’s calendar piece Hermanos, Stop Gang War (1977), Rafael Pérez-Torres (2006, 137) asserts that the calendar was an aesthetic blueprint for Chicano/a art, becoming “a means to engender belonging, to identify a neighborhood as a community.” Calendars were an accessible means by which to iconicize and disseminate empowering images of indigeneity and cultural histories, which Romo (2001, 103) claims “provided some of the most memorable icons in Chicano art.” The calendar’s form, or how it was made, also deeply influenced Chicano/a art practices. Unlike the Mexican versions, Chicano/a calendars emerged from a collaborative process in which multiple artists participated in their production (Romo 2001, 103; Jackson 2009, 73).

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The RCAF’s appropriation of pre-Columbian imagery from calendars was an act of “recovery and recuperation of Chicano/a and Mexican history,” Guisela Latorre (2008, 18–19) writes, adding that while such history “predated the encroachment of Spanish colonialism and Anglo-American expansionism,” it was “denied to most of these activists in the US public school system.” Esteban Villa’s reflections on early appropriations of precolonial imagery support Latorre’s claim. “In the beginning,” Villa confessed, “I didn’t know what I was doing [when] I would use, for example, some of these Mayan, little deities.” Mining images from “anthropology books,” Villa recalled that he was once asked if he was the artist who had made a “Mayan drawing there at the restaurant.” When he replied that he had, he was told, “I don’t think that’s for food; that’s when they sacrificed people and had them for dinner. Cannibalism. When they ate the heart and stuff. You don’t want that in a restaurant. . . . Don’t paint that anymore.” Villa’s anecdote conveys the Chicano/a desire for a culturally relevant history in the 1960s and 1970s, one that he tried to access on his own but “was all incorrect,” he explained, adding that “I was really trying. I just wanted anything to make a connection . . . because I was coming already from European [art]: French Impressionism, German Expressionism, Dutch Realism, Italian Renaissance. . . . And when I landed here in Sacra . . . I wanted my own influence” (Esteban Villa, interview, June 23, 2004). Villa’s desire for his own artistic influence was an attempt to decolonize his otherness from the Eurocentric cultural vision of the Western Hemisphere, or to embody the pre-Columbian knowledge that had become disembodied for Chicanos/as through successions of colonization and the reordering of their historical place, or a lack thereof, in the master narratives of two nations (E. Pérez 1999, 6). Villa’s mention of “cannibalism,” for example, alludes to Western misperceptions of anthropophagy in Mesoamerican societies—a legacy of cultural imperialism to which Spanish colonialism and US expansionism gave rise. Villa used the humorous anecdote to contextualize the systematic denial of pre-Columbian histories for Chicanos/as. He had, after all, been denied information about indigenous cultures and histories in his education and, as he states specifically, in his training at the California College of the Arts. Villa’s visual choices were declarations of “indigenous identity as an identifying marker of the Chicano/a experience in this country,” Latorre (2008, 4) writes, adding that these “indigenist images and ideas” did not necessarily “come directly from their own personal indigenous experiences.” Rather, they were part of a politicization process “that prompted them to study

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Mexican history and culture” (4). Esteban Villa, Ricardo Favela, and Luis González’s effort to reconnect with pre-Columbian cultures in When Your Mother Asks You Who You Are was part of a larger phenomenon in which Chicano/a artists reconfigured pre-Columbian and Mexican motifs within a Chicano/a context in order to forge a sense of place in the United States that attended to their local, national, and global positionalities (Noriega 2012, 4). When Your Mother Asks Who You Are poses a self-reflexive question to viewers. After viewers take in the violent scene, the title, written directly below the mother figure and above the poem, provokes a sense of loss and a desire for missing knowledge, ideas that are reinforced by Luis González’s verse. But the mural also positions the mother figure, symbolic of previous generations, as heroic. The mother figure in the mural extends her arms and opens her hands to viewers, communicating that Chicano/a identity is a history accessed genealogically.

The Heroic Chicano/a Family The 1960s and 1970s Chicano/a generation signaled an ideological shift from the previous generation of Mexican Americans, announced by a self-chosen designation, but the shift did not discount family histories of migration, hard work, and sacrifice.16 Rather, Chicano/a artists, and the RCAF in particular, heroized their Mexican and Mexican American families to make their lives and contributions in the United States visible. While a historical analysis of the Bracero Program is beyond the scope of this chapter and book, its absence from the “Great Events of US History” exemplifies the exclusion of Mexican and Mexican American contributions to the nation (E. Pérez 1999, 132n26). It also reflects contemporary discourse on US immigration policies that do not consider lessons learned from this enormous labor program. For my purposes, the centrality of the railroad during the Bracero Program, and in moving Mexicans and Mexican Americans across the US Southwest, is an important symbol in RCAF artwork and one with which they frame their family stories.17 RCAF artist Rudy Cuellar testifies to the railroad’s importance in the Chicano/a origin story in his poster Agosto 7 (1977). Recalling the importance of calendars in the formation of Chicano/a art practices, Agosto 7 was part of the RCAF’s calendar History of California (1977), produced by San Francisco’s Galería de la Raza and the RCAF’s Centro de Artistas Chicanos (Romo 2001, 103). The poster incorporates four gold, brown, and silver Kodalith images that form an archetype of early

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twentieth-century Mexican and Mexican American migrations. The photographs on which Rudy Cuellar based his poster are from his personal collection and represent both sides of his family, including his grandmother, uncle, and father, who served in the military during the Korean War (Terezita Romo, e-mail to author, January 30, 2014) (see plate 13).18 The images in Cuellar’s poster recall photographs by the Hermanos Mayo, posing a transnational, aesthetic link between Chicano/a serigraphy and 1940s Mexican photography. The Hermanos Mayo were Spanish photographers working in exile from the Spanish Civil War in Mexico City during the 1940s (Schmidt Camacho 2008, 75). Not regarded as “crafters of a visual record,” but rather as reporters, the Hermanos Mayo created the “most extensive visual record of the bracero mobilization” in pictures that exposed “the individual drama” (75, 76). In Uprooted: Braceros in the Hermanos Mayo Lens, John Mraz and Jaime Vélez Storey (1996, 41–42) include several images from the Hermanos Mayo archive that show male braceros leaning out of train windows, grasping their children, and holding hands with their wives or mothers as they leave to work in the north.19 Mraz and Vélez Storey claim that the Hermanos Mayo provided “a human face to sociological data and statistics,” photographing the people who “actually experienced the events” (5). Rudy Cuellar’s poster parallels the humanization of Mexican workers in Hermanos Mayo photographs, but he pushes the viewing experience beyond the historical record by aestheticizing the people pictured. In Cuellar’s rendering of a farewell scene, for example, a woman cleans a window, reversing the archetype in Hermanos Mayo photographs. Based on a picture of his grandmother, Cuellar accentuates her arm through color, signaling female labor—a representation of braceros that is uncommon in the Hermanos Mayo collection. The context of migration during the Bracero Program is underscored by the silhouette of a train traveling on a bridge below the woman. Cuellar uses the train to move the migration story forward in a composition that reads left to right and top to bottom. In the next photograph, a man stands on a train dressed in apparel that suggests he is not a farmworker, but a railroad worker. This is an important detail in Cuellar’s poster because he is tied directly to the Mexican American diaspora created through the railroad in the early twentieth century. Cuellar grew up in Roseville, California, a small town northeast of Sacramento, and his father worked for the railroads. The photograph on which he based the image is of his uncle standing on top of a steam train. While the Hermanos

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Mayo “were emigrants looking at emigrants,” as Schmidt Camacho (2008, 75) notes, Cuellar looks at his family and arranges a visual narrative that moves across the geopolitical border, arriving not only in the agricultural fields but on the railroad tracks and in military service, which were critical parts of the Mexican and Mexican American migration story. The lower left image, for example, shows two men sitting in a jeep in a field, with a small airplane parked behind them. While the plane can be read as a crop duster, the photograph is actually a snapshot of Cuellar’s father during the Korean War (Rudy Cuellar, Juan Carrillo, and Esteban Villa, conversation with author, February 3, 2015). Cuellar’s final image shows two of his relatives working on train tracks as opposed to laboring in farm fields. Captured in mid-swing, the foregrounded figures are framed by the shadow of a larger figure working on the tracks as the sun radiates in the background. The large, shadowy figure is residual, or an afterimage of their motion. Circular lines break off into fragmented streaks from the sun, indicating the intensity of the heat under which they work. By bringing the four photographs together, Cuellar creates what José Saldívar (1997, 29) calls “an alternative American Bildung,” or a different location for the “central immigrant space in the nation.” From a south-to-north trajectory, Cuellar disrupts the Eurocentric location of Ellis Island as the central immigrant experience in US history, illuminating Mexican American journeys to, and also within, the nation.20 The importance of the railroad in Cuellar’s poster resounds in the memories of other RCAF members, like Stan Padilla, who recalled the role of the railroad in moving his grandparents across geopolitical borders. Born in Northern California in 1945, Padilla asserted, “I was here before the Chicanos were even invented or came about,” when asked about his Chicano identity. “My family’s been here nearly one hundred years,” he continued, adding that the “first ones came to the valley. And so that was what a real Mexican American was. . . . With the [Mexican] Revolution, they came up” (Stan Padilla, interview, July 12, 2004). Resonating with the periodization put forward by Chicano historians in the 1960s and 1970s (as Emma Pérez [1999] contends), Padilla framed his family’s journey via the railroad at the turn of the twentieth century. Padilla also broached the complexities of race and ethnicity in determining Chicano/a origins and identity when he noted the migration of his “Yaqui grandparents, [who] walked out. You know, with amnesty . . . you could ride the railroads. Before that, brown skins couldn’t ride the railroad. [But they]

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took the railroad . . . as far as you could go” (Stan Padilla, interview, July 12, 2004). The long walk of his Yaqui grandparents nuances the heroic journey of the Chicano/a family because it addresses the racial hierarchies between Mexicans and Native Americans who navigated the exclusionary policies of two nations in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.21 While Mexicans and Mexican Americans were allowed to work and develop the railroads, indigenous peoples and phenotypically indigenous Mexicans were not allowed to ride them. Stan Padilla’s rejection of the 1960s and 1970s as the beginning of Chicano/a identity troubles historical periodization that distinguishes between indigenous peoples and Chicanos/as according to geopolitical borders. Asserting his Yaqui ancestry as part of his Chicano identity, Padilla explained that his family arrived in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century and not as workers of the Bracero Program. Padilla’s arrival on the map of US history also responds to current tensions over undocumented immigrants or immigrants altogether in the United States, conveying that for many Chicanos/as who embraced Chicano/a identity in the 1960s and 1970s, indigenous ancestry continues to define their Chicano/a subjectivity. Likewise, RCAF artist Irma Lerma Barbosa mapped the history of her Chicana identity through ancestral knowledge that subverts overarching geopolitical boundaries. Born in 1949 in Elko, Nevada, Lerma Barbosa recalled “the North Highlands area” of Sacramento and Roseville, California, where she was raised by her parents, Alejandrina Rascon Lerma and Saturnino Barrios Lerma, following their journeys from northern Mexico and Arizona. “My parents really couldn’t speak to other Mexicans,” Lerma Barbosa explained, “because they spoke an indigenous language as their primary language. The Spanish they learned was a mixture of caló, pochismos, English, and Spanish. My mother did teach us Spanish though. She was raised in the Sierra Madre mountains in Mexico, between Chihuahua and Sonora.” With only “an elementary school education, which was very advanced for a girl of her generation,” Lerma Barbosa’s mother held classes for her children. “After dinner, chores, and homework, all five of us kids attended Mama Nina’s school in our garage equipped with a beat-up chalkboard. She taught us Spanish, native dialect, and about honor and respect. My parents spoke Spanish fine, but with each other, they spoke their native language, and we grew up in a family language, which was that mixture of caló, indigenous words, and pochismos” (Irma Lerma Barbosa, interview, June 26, 2013). Lerma Barbosa’s memories of being immersed in a “family

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language” are seemingly contradictory because her parents spoke “Spanish fine” but had trouble speaking Spanish with other Mexicans. Yet she alludes to the reason for their linguistic difference when she mentions her family’s “migration path” through “Hermosillo, Aguas Prietas, Navojoa, Nogales, Douglas, El Paso, Juárez” (Irma Lerma Barbosa, e-mail to author, December 2, 2013). Influenced by sound, Lerma Barbosa maps a migration story through numerous accents, vernaculars, and regionalisms. She conveys her family’s history through what Rafael Pérez-Torres (2006, 107) calls “aural mestizaje” in his examination of Chicano/a and US Latino/a musical traditions. Complementing the multilingual environment in which she moved, Lerma Barbosa added that her “father worked, first laying track from Mexico to Elko, Nevada, where I was born, then as a car inspector for the Southern Pacific Railroad” (Irma Lerma Barbosa, interview, June 26, 2013). Her father’s family was “settled near but outside of the Pascua Yaqui nation near Tucson.” Her mother and father “moved with the railroad and settled first in Nevada, then in Roseville.” Despite the family settling down, Lerma Barbosa recalled that her “mom would make yearly treks” to check on property, including a herd of cows that “my grandfather left her [when he died]. She would come back with huge slabs of dried beef and huge wheels of cheese manufactured by my mom’s relatives who cared for [the cows]” (Irma Lerma Barbosa, e-mail to author, December 2, 2013). Memories of her mother’s annual migrations and her family’s multilingual encounters chart an alternative Chicana history, or an oppositional consciousness to US history, since Lerma Barbosa is unconcerned with, as opposed to unaware of, US constructs of epochs and borders. Furthermore, Lerma Barbosa’s memory of the home school in which her mother taught her children who they are (a point I underscore to recall the RCAF’s mural inside the Sacramento Concilio, Inc.) also rejects US history as a colonizing force in Chicana/o lives.22 By privileging her mother’s cultural and linguistic teachings over dominant ones, Lerma Barbosa suggests that her Chicana consciousness commenced through her mother, who pursued “intellectual and social justice” by transnationally structuring her children’s sense of family (Latina Feminist Group 2001, 26). Lerma Barbosa’s mother taught “homemade theories” to her children, which the Latina Feminist Group claims “propels the utopian dreams that have nourished us” and helps them “make sense of everything that we are and all that we

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Figure 3.2. Flyer designed by Irma Lerma Barbosa and Kathryn García for 1974 Conferencia Femenil. Private collection of Irma Lerma Barbosa.

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find to love” (26). Through Chicana strategies of memory construction in oral history, Lerma Barbosa foregrounds her mother as a hero who informed her activism and agency in the Chicano movement. In doing so, she echoes Emma Pérez’s (1999, xv) “love of history,” which motivated her to decolonize Chicana history by using her own voice to articulate a third space in between the periodization of US and Chicano histories.23 Irma Lerma Barbosa rejected the colonizing force of US history by upholding her mother’s teachings through her activism in the RCAF. Lerma Barbosa developed multiple images of Chicana identity that not only were symbols of female autonomy but reflected a Chicana community infrastructure that she was building for indigenous and female-centered knowledge. Working as a coordinator in 1974 for the National Education Task Force de la Raza, Lerma Barbosa planned and implemented the first Conferencia Femenil at the Centro de Artistas Chicanos. The day-long event included communication workshops with Chicana media professionals. Employment, affirmative action, and family planning workshops were offered to educate attendees about the opportunities and services available to them.24 Lerma Barbosa also planned a curanderismo workshop that instructed participants on the medicinal use of plants and herbs—a knowledge grounded in indigenous cultures and oral histories that was largely removed from Chicano/a consciousness through Spanish colonization and assimilation in the United States. Led by Lerma Barbosa’s mother, Alejandrina, and another female elder, Alejandra Delgadillo, the workshop on herbal remedies and healing methods was a decolonial act that resonates powerfully in the flyer produced for the conference. Lerma Barbosa designed the image with her colleague Kathryn García, who created the Art Deco–inspired outline to which Lerma Barbosa added a woman holding a child. As the mother looks down on her child, the two figures’ hair cascades around them, transforming into a map of the Western Hemisphere and reflecting the mother-child image that Lerma Barbosa created in Women Hold Up Half the Sky (1975), a mural at Chicano Park. A ribbon with a star in the mother’s hair contains the Spanish words for freedom, advice, and help (Irma Lerma Barbosa, conversation with author, February 12, 2016) (see fig. 3.2).

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Visualizing in the Collective Mode: Agosto 7 as Testimonio There is a testimonio quality to the RCAF’s artwork that provides depth to the historical contexts in which Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and indigenous peoples navigated epochal change in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A literary genre that originated in Latin America, testimonio destabilizes Western understandings of autobiography and memoir by positioning an individual’s experience as “the reality of a whole people” (Menchú 2009, 1). Testimonio is a Chicano/a and Latino/a response to macroeconomic changes, wars, and geopolitical shifts that caused waves of immigration and diaspora (Jackson 2009, 96). The literal spreading of people, diaspora not only results from the push and pull factors of macroeconomic and political forces, it also results from exclusions in the mainstream culture and politics of the society in which displaced people rebuild their lives (Jackson 2009, 26). Subsequently, diasporic communities, Karen Mary Davalos (2001, 23) contends, “create alternative sources for establishing culture, memory and solidarity.” Testimonio is one such source, composing a narrative method that resists the erasure of subaltern experiences primarily through its collaborative mode. Testimonio is often spoken, relying on the storyteller and mediator (if translated for other audiences), which aesthetically determines it as a genre (Brooks 2005, 182). Pushing definitions of literary quality beyond Western notions, the performance strategies of the testimonio materialize “not as subversions of the genre’s social message but as vehicles of it” (182). Returning to Rudy Cuellar’s calendar poster Agosto 7, he mixes photographs of his family’s experiences of migration, labor, and military service to aestheticize Chicano/a history before and during the Bracero Program, but the poster is not a fictive version of historical events, nor is it less authentic than photographs by the Hermanos Mayo. Resonating with Stan Padilla’s and Irma Lerma Barbosa’s memories of the role of the railroad in their family histories, Cuellar’s serigraph is a visual testimonio that accounts for intersecting mobilizations, separations, and experiences of Mexicans and Mexican Americans who had family members working on railroads, laboring on farms, and serving in the US armed forces prior to the Vietnam War. The poem that Cuellar includes in Agosto 7 further supports the poster’s testimonio quality. The poem echoes the range of migration stories with musical cadence, propelling Mexican and Mexican American journeys through multiple spaces and times:

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From Chihuahua, y sabrán los dioses desde donde before that, like scattered leafs from an autumn storm we drifted by rails across make believe fronteras del norte. From E. R., Dunsmuir, Chicago, La Junta hasta de Roseville, we layed cold steel rails and sweated at the round house, journing long singing a song in search of El Dorado—only to retire and be swept away lost or forgotten by company policy now upheld by your sons and daughters. Trabajadores companeros les saludo.

Cuellar’s metaphor of “scattered leafs” articulates the displacement and disconnection of families during the Bracero Program, but for many families like Cuellar’s, the Bracero Program encompassed military service and railroad work, and families were scattered for different reasons. Misspellings in the poem are also important because they express a pronunciation of words, emphasizing the poem’s aural impact over its written one. “Journing,” for example, has one less syllable than “journeying,” maintaining the poem’s rhyme scheme but, more importantly, echoing the way the word is often spoken. The poem moves in and out of historical epochs to ancestrally connect Native American peoples and sixteenth-century Spanish explorers with the Chicano/a experience. The lines “we layed cold / steel rails and sweated at the / round house, journing long / singing a song in search of / El Dorado” merge several historical moments and cultural encounters. Although roundhouses were specially designed buildings for servicing trains, aligning with the poem’s focus on the railroad as a central part of the Mexican and Mexican American migration story, the words “round house” also evoke Native American architecture—specifically the Miwok of Mariposa County in California, for whom the roundhouse is a ceremonial center for villages

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(Yosemite Online 2013). Meanwhile, the search for El Dorado, or a city of gold, symbolizes the hope for economic prosperity—a dream never realized for many Chicano/a rail workers who were “forgotten by company policy” and did not receive their contracted guarantees. Cuellar’s reference to company policies that went largely unmet also corresponds with the historical reality of farmworkers. Working and living conditions for farmworkers contracted through the Bracero Program were deplorable. Promised minimum wages, adequate housing, insurance, the right to unionize, and the right to terminate employment at any time and return to Mexico, farmworkers found that these guarantees were largely unfulfilled by US employers (A. Garcia 2002, 31; Schmidt Camacho 2008, 69). Alicia Schmidt Camacho writes that “employers resisted the authority of the federal oversight and hired masses of unauthorized workers. Mexican laborers arrived to filthy work camps, encountering poor food, minimal care, and a hostile work environment” (69). Born in Kingsburg, California, in 1944, Ricardo Favela grew up in the neighboring town of Dinuba. After Favela graduated high school in the early 1960s, his father told him, “‘You have two choices. You either continue your education or you come to work in the fields with me.’ . . . I went to college because I didn’t want to work in the fields. Now that’s a hell of a way to go to school. . . . . And my mother was always telling me, ‘Son, get a job in the shade. Just get a job in the shade’” (Ricardo Favela, interview, July 20, 2004). A “hell of a way to go school,” Favela worked in agricultural packing sheds prior to his graduation and after years of fieldwork alongside his family. In an interview conducted at California State University, Sacramento, Favela speculated on his father’s immigration from Durango, Mexico, to the United States: “I have a sneaking suspicion that he came in as a bracero, in the forties and fifties perhaps, and was able to attain a green card” (Schraith 2001). Finding work in California’s fields and eventually as a truck driver, Favela’s father met his mother in the San Joaquin Valley. The youngest of eleven siblings, Favela moved with his family around the small towns of the area, following the crop seasons (Schraith 2001). The only one of his siblings to graduate high school, Favela acknowledged that the task had not been easy, but he believed it was a critical step in escaping the circumstances that many young Chicanos/as faced in farmworking communities: “I realized that the majority of my peers were destined for an existence of drug or alcohol abuse, prison time, or a lifetime of grueling work in the farm fields. This epiphany was the catalyst that motivated me to

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continue my education, in an effort to break free from this predetermined path” (Schraith 2001). Descriptions of “the predetermined path” were a common reflection for RCAF members whose childhoods took place in the fields. Born in Lincoln, California, in 1945, to Jesus and Carmen, Juanishi Orosco recalled, “We were farmworkers; our parents were farmworkers, and we knew what the conditions were” (LaRosa 1994). RCAF member and former Sacramento mayor Joe Serna Jr. adds, “My father died not knowing what it meant to earn over a buck and a quarter an hour” (LaRosa 1994). Along with abysmal camp conditions, farmworkers were exposed to pesticides like DDT as crop dusters sprayed fields while people picked crops from dawn to dusk (LaRosa 1994). Esteban Villa described the farmworker experience as “unrelenting hunger and deprivation that trapped me into a corner of life and it forced me to fight my way out by using my creativity” (Quirarte et al. 2004). Literally meaning “one who works with his arms,” the bracero’s “hunger and deprivation” extended far beyond basic survival needs, as Villa’s description suggests. Born in Tulare, California, in 1930, to Antonio and Serafina, Esteban Villa connects the isolation he felt as a child to his educational desires. Unsure “if they could read or write,” Villa recalled that his parents “knew they were supposed to keep children in school . . . and they didn’t force me out. I raised myself more or less because they were always working in the fields. In the morning they’d be gone, and they’d be gone at night when I’d be sleeping” (Esteban Villa, interview, January 7, 2004). Villa’s recollection imparts the deeper toll that the conditions of farmwork had on children through the demands it made on parents, depriving entire families of intimate connections. Villa’s reflections also convey that he desired more life options, and not simply better housing, wages, and protections under the law. Young Chicanos/as like Villa wanted to do something else with their lives: “I think it was the importance of school—for whatever reason, it was better than home. I had schoolwork, art supplies, and field trips. I loved it” (Esteban Villa, interview, January 7, 2004). Desire to do more with one’s life is a constant theme in the heroic allegories that the RCAF used in their art. From political desire for labor equality and civil rights to pride in a pre-Columbian past and ancestry, the RCAF’s decolonial vision hinged on a universal theme of a meaningful existence through historical connection, education, and political visibility.

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The “Many Wests” of the Heroic Chicano/a Family As the labor relationship between Mexico and the United States shifted throughout the twentieth century, the predominance of Mexicans in the US agricultural sector was pushed by economic hardship and population displacement after the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and pulled by the enactment of the 1942 Bracero Program. It is also important to note that during this time, many Mexican Americans, Hispanos/as, Tejanos/as, and indigenous peoples internally migrated to urban areas in the US Southwest. Racial hostility in the United States was a push factor for Mexican Americans who entered a binational worker program alongside Mexicans, as the US and Mexican governments implemented a policy to ensure a steady supply of immigrant workers (A. Garcia 2002, 31).25 Anti-immigration sentiment and changing immigration policies in the United States impacted existing communities during the Bracero Program. Deported in the 1930s amid the Great Depression, Mexicans and Mexican Americans were later “imported,” Harry Pachon and Joan Moore write, due to labor shortages caused by World War II; they were then deported in large numbers in the 1950s through Operation Wetback (Pachon and Moore 1981, 114). Further, the regulation of the Bracero Program was never complete, and subsequently, Mexican Americans moved internally in the United States for work opportunities during and after World War II. Resettlement also coincided with a movement of people out of Texas in the 1940s due to the dangerously xenophobic environment (Pachon and Moore 1981, 114). Thus, geopolitical changes to the US-Mexico border in the nineteenth century coupled with twentieth-century immigration laws reshaped legal definitions of Hispano/a, Californio/a, and Tejano/a nativity in the United States. “The first Mexican-descent workers to migrate internally within the United States as mobile seasonal laborers were neither foreigners nor Mexican immigrants,” Antonia Castañeda (2001, 120) writes, adding, “they were Californios, Tejanos, Nuevo Mexicanos, and native-born US citizens made exiles, aliens, and foreigners in their native land.”26 Castañeda’s point resonates in José Montoya’s memories of his family’s migration from New Mexico to California. The uniqueness of Montoya’s family history does two things to the collective mode in which the RCAF visually exalted the Chicano/a family in their artwork. First, it accounts for the impact of the Bracero Program on preexisting Mexican American communities and exposes the complexities of people living with constructions of race under two competing colonial orders. Secondly, it discloses that

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Chicano/a identity in the 1960s and 1970s was a political choice and an act of agency for people who were labeled and reclassified for at least two centuries in the United States by systems beyond their control. Montoya’s memories rely on a family-centered axis that pivots with and against a Chicano/a history that responds to colonial moments in US history. Not a native Californian or born in Mexico, Montoya was born in New Mexico in 1932 and migrated with his family for the first time to California in 1941 (Romo 2011, 13). He recalled that some of his New Mexican relations “never have been traced to Mexico at all, but they’re Mexicans from when [Mexico] was known as New Spain.” Montoya continued, For all intents and purposes, those mountains of New Mexico were really all the Montoya family knew and understood. . . . The ones that came from Chihuahua came at the beginning of the [Mexican] Revolution. . . . Some claimed Apache, Pueblo, and Castellano. . . . Some of my relatives claim Hispano. I claim more of the Chihuahua Mexicano—that we were Mexicanos. You know, some parts of my relatives would cringe at that word. I had a step-grandfather who was a justice of the peace, [and] he would say, “There’s nothing Mexican about the Hispanos. They are indigenous mixtures. It was Apache or Pueblo.” Yeah, it was an interesting mix. But when we first came to California, we realized it was a different mixture. . . . There’s more Mexican-ness than Spanish-ness. And in Hanford, California, in school, they thought I was Portuguese. And we were amazed that what was the Portuguese language was Spanish. But I was never able to pick it up. (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004)

Covering five centuries of conquest, migrations, and racial mixtures, Montoya claims his ancestry as his connection to a nonimmigrant population in the United States. By “nonimmigrant population,” I refer to the outcome of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed after the Mexican-American War (1846–1848), which changed the geopolitical borders between the United States and Mexico and in turn, the legal statuses of preexisting populations in the areas that became the US Southwest. While some of Montoya’s ancestors “would cringe” at being called Mexican, he acknowledges their position, despite his personal preference for the “Chihuahua Mexicano” to convey the particularities of his ancestry and its preexistence in the United States. But how did Montoya’s grandfather arrive at the conclusion that “there’s nothing Mexican about the Hispanos”?

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Why would some of Montoya’s relatives “cringe at that word”? Montoya’s “interesting mix” of family, or their differing identity politics, reflect larger processes of Spanish colonization and nineteenth-century antimiscegenation laws in the United States that (re)racialized regionally distinct populations. From the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, Spanish and Mexican governments established communities that comprised colonists and local indigenous populations, developing distinctive racial and ethnic mixtures and cultures in the northern territories that became the US Southwest (Menchaca 2007, 315). But once the United States “acquired Mexico’s northern frontier,” Martha Menchaca writes, “the multiracial ancestry of the conquered Mexicans placed them in an ambiguous social and legal position” (315). Preexisting populations, Martha Menchaca writes, “entered a new racial order in which their civil rights were limited and were determined by their blood quantum,” a process reflecting the US slavery system as the US Civil War approached (316). But “throughout its history,” Menchaca explains, “New Mexico chose not to pass anti-miscegenation laws” (318), which potentially explains Hispano/a acceptance (and pride) of a blended Spanish and indigenous heritage, as well as Montoya’s memories of his grandfather’s claim that “there’s nothing Mexican about the Hispanos. They are indigenous mixtures” (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). Montoya’s emphasis on his Hispano roots as native heritage responds to two levels of colonization (Jackson 2009, 87), which Montoya invokes to historically contextualize himself as one of the “native born US citizens” that Castañeda (2001, 120) asserts were present in the area that became the US Southwest. When Montoya and his family migrated to California’s San Joaquin Valley in 1941, they became part of a labor force that reflected “more Mexican-ness than Spanish-ness.” His family had been cattle ranchers and subsistence farmers in the mountains of New Mexico (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). Class hierarchies of Spanish, then Mexican, rule turned into racial and linguistic ones once New Mexico became part of the United States. Rafaela Castro (2001, 124) explains that “the Spanish language spoken by the Hispanos maintained an antiquated quality for hundreds of years because of isolation in the region.” The misreading of Montoya’s ethnicity in California’s San Joaquin Valley during the 1940s exemplifies the impact these different phases of colonization had on the Mexican American diaspora and the historical, linguistic, and cultural particularities they elided. Montoya was not recognized as New

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Mexican nor “read” as Hispano. Instead, “they thought I was Portuguese,” in part because of the large community of Azoreans who settled from the nineteenth century to the 1970s in the rural communities of California’s San Joaquin Valley (Reese 2003). Yet one of the discernible traces of the history of wars, annexation, resistance, and cultural adaptation was acoustic for Montoya, who could hear the Spanish in the Portuguese; after all, his language had originated in a Hispano/a context.27 The complexities of his colonial encounters with different racial orders are, ironically, eclipsed by a Chicano/a history that is periodized only in response to the colonial moments that Emma Pérez (1999) critiques. Great events in Chicano/a history that adhere to US history’s timeline transpose an “overarching theory about power relations and culture belonging within the hemisphere,” Chon Noriega (2012, 4) writes, producing “generalizing conclusions” about a transformational epoch and the people who lived it. Montoya’s memories, like those of Irma Lerma Barbosa and Stan Padilla, return a sense of the diversity—or the many voices—of the collective Chicano/a experience, revealing that there were many Wests, which Noriega (1995, 12) describes as a multitude of experiences “located at the crossroads of conflicting historical perspectives.”28 Responses to competing colonial orders and their impact on preexisting populations were visually redressed by RCAF artists. Juanishi Orosco created Viva la Huelga (1977) for the RCAF’s Historia de California calendar, accounting for the indigenous peoples who worked alongside Mexicans and Mexican Americans in the Bracero Program.29 Flags, in a national context, are hegemonic symbols of citizenship and demographic cohesion. But Orosco uses a United Farm Workers (UFW) flag to exalt the idea of a native coalition. The visual scene consists of farmworkers who are separated by frames but nevertheless connected through the UFW flag. An indigenous man is depicted within the smaller frame but is the largest figure in the poster; his arm and hand extend beyond the frame that borders him and move into the central image. The UFW flag he holds blankets the sky under which three farmworkers stand. A campesino holding a smaller UFW flag over his shoulder and a female farmworker flank either side of an indigenous man’s portrait (see plate 14). The inscription in the calendar image emphasizes the human rights of the farmworker, and Orosco positions the UFW flag both with and against dominant histories of war and colonial claims to territory. As an emblem of

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labor solidarity for the UFW, the farmworker flag is used in Orosco’s poster to imagine a “state” of sovereignty for colonized peoples through a visual culture of labor. The idea conveyed in the poster is a decolonial one, taking place between that which is colonialist and that which is colonized, and reflecting a conscious choice to center Chicano/a identity on the commonalities of colonized peoples with fragmented histories, fighting together toward a shared goal.

“The sounds of those nights en carpas”: The Heroic Farmworking Mother The farmworkers who participated in the Bracero Program were racially, ethnically, linguistically, and regionally diverse, but a central commonality that affected them concerned patriarchal gender roles, which translated into the gendered divisions of labor across Mexico and the United States. Growing up in a migrant family, Antonia Castañeda (2001, 130) remarks bluntly that farmwork “was hierarchical, stratified by race and gender. . . . Women were paid less than men, Mexicans were paid less than Anglos, and Mexican women were paid least of all.” Castañeda’s observation echoes in Ricardo Favela’s recollections of his mother. Born in San Diego, California, Favela’s mother “spent much of her life enduring the hardship of domestic labor before working in the fields, and later as a labor camp cook” (Schraith 2001). The advice Favela’s mother gave him on how to navigate labor conditions came directly from her experiences with the patriarchal system under which farmwork operated. Preferring to cook “because she was under shade and didn’t have to go out in the fields,” Favela’s mother shared her survival strategy with her son as he made his future plans (Schraith 2001). Meditations on the gendered divisions of labor resound in José Montoya’s 1969 poem “La Jefita,” which visualizes the inequity of women’s work through sound. “When I remember the campos,” he begins, Y las noches and the sounds of those nights en carpas o Bagones I remember my jefita’s Palote Click-clok; clik-clack-clok Y su tocesita. (J. Montoya 1992, 9)

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Taking his audience inside the family tent, Montoya conjures an image of his mother cooking at night as he is awakened by the noises she makes. He asks, “¿Que horas son, ’ama?” to which his mother replies, “Es tarde mi hijito. Cover up / Your little brothers. / . . . Go to bed little mother! / A maternal reply mingled with / The hissing of the hot planchas” (9). “‘La Jefita,’” José E. Limón (1992, 96–97) asserts, is a “muted rebellion and pro-maternal stance” against the subjugated reality of the farmworking family. Preparing lunches to sustain her family during their next day of hard labor, la jefita literally works against the conditions of the camp. In focusing on the sounds of his mother’s labor, Montoya broaches the politics of the domestic sphere, or who works within the home and who benefits from those efforts. Amid “the snores of the old man,” Montoya swears his mother “never slept!” (J. Montoya 1992, 9). Aída Hurtado (1996, 65-67) claims that “La Jefita” is an ode that pastoralizes the Chicana farmworkermother, obscuring her exhausting reality through the constant sounds of her labor. Montoya, for example, begins the morning scene by being jolted awake by his father’s whistle “that irritated the world to / Wakefulness. / Wheeeeeeet! Wheeeeeeet!” Montoya next hears his father’s menacing command, “¡Arriba, cabrones chavalos, / Huevones!” to which Montoya humorously interjects, “Y todavia la pinche / Noche oscura.” In the background of his clamorous wake-up call, Montoya hears “la jefita slapping tortillas” as she orders her daughter, “¡Prieta! Help with the lonches! / ¡Calientale agua a tu ’apa!” (J. Montoya 1992, 9). The authority with which Montoya’s mother commands her daughter to help with the chores is part of her “legitimate” domain, or the domestic space, according to Hurtado (1996, 65), who claims that Montoya idealizes motherhood to foreground “the family centeredness that characterizes Mexicano/Chicano culture.” While la jefita is the center of care for the family, her “silence is a direct measure of her sainthood,” Hurtado claims, since “she does not express needs, pains, or frustrations” (67). Although Montoya’s exaltation of his farmworking mother is well intended, Hurtado concludes that he converts her into the “other” (67). But one wonders if Montoya actually “others” his mother or, to borrow Guisela Latorre’s (2005, 100) phrase, participates in the “mythification of women” in a poem that in reality is about his mother Lucia Montoya. If “La Jefita” strikes a “chord of truth for many workingclass Chicanas and Chicanos” regarding self and group preservation through the constant work of women (Hurtado 1996, 67), perhaps it does so because of its testimonio quality.

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In other words, the poem does not dehumanize, but rather relates the dehumanization process under which Chicana farmworkers lived and worked in inadequate housing, with limited access to supplies, and under conditions that were (and are) hostile to the Chicano/a family’s well-being. The sound of her labor, then, is a subaltern response to a system of oppression. The sounds aurally symbolize her efforts to treat her family humanely and restore their humanity through sustenance and care. This is a point that Limón (1992, 96) makes by locating “La Jefita” at “the heart and hearth of this dominated universe, mitigating its corrosive effects with her nurturing familial love.” Domestic care for one’s family is a decolonial act that resists the destructive forces of labor exploitation. Rising in the middle of the night to make breakfast and prepare lunches, la jefita then carries a hundred pounds of cotton from the field as Montoya’s father smiles in awe of her, remarking, “That woman—she only complains / In her sleep” (J. Montoya 1992, 10), which apparently is never, since she works at night in preparation for the next day. With her commanding hushes to her son to go to sleep and her direct orders for her daughter to bring hot water to her father, la jefita is not a metaphor of selfless motherhood; she is a tenacious woman combatting exploitive working and living conditions to defend the human rights of her family. Further, la jefita is not silent in the poem; readers and listeners hear her tell Montoya to cover his brothers and go back to sleep; they hear her orders to her daughter during the morning routine. While audiences are mostly aware of her through the sounds of her labor, sound is everywhere in the poem, suggesting that Montoya invokes the working-class pastoral ironically. The audibleness of “La Jefita” is central to the poem’s purpose. From the “PRRRRRRRRINNNNGGGGGG!” of the “noisy chorro missing the / Basín” to the “Wheeeeeeet! Wheeeeeeet!” of his father’s whistle (J. Montoya 1992, 9), Montoya records sounds that are not necessarily recognizable outside the labor camp. If “La Jefita” is an allegory, it pertains to the class politics of sound, or what sounds like home in a labor camp and inside a tent, what sounds like work in a crop field, and who and what is audible in both spaces, all of which are accounted for in the poem.30

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The War at Home and the War Abroad: Chicano/a Veterans While the sound of his mother’s labor in the family tent conveys José Montoya’s experiences of farmwork in the 1940s, not all members of the RCAF grew up in California’s agricultural fields. Like Irma Lerma Barbosa and Rudy Cuellar, RCAF artist Juan Cervantes grew up in a railroad family. He recalled, “Rudy and I went to high school together [and] to elementary school [in] Roseville. . . . When I talked to him about going back to school instead of working in the railroads like our dads were, we went to Sierra [College]” (Quiñones and Flores 2007). Stan Padilla simply asserted that his family “didn’t really do farmwork. Roseville, Lincoln, all over that area is all the canneries, and the dry yards in Elverta, but mainly it was the canneries” (Stan Padilla, interview, July 12, 2004). Members who did not grow up in farmworking families were also from cities, like Juan Carrillo, who was born in Mexico and raised in San Francisco. At a 2007 roundtable discussion held in the University Library Gallery at California State University, Sacramento, RCAF artists gathered to discuss their history. Juan Carrillo lightheartedly teased his colleagues about the regionalism they attach to the RCAF and, more broadly, to the Chicano/a movement. In doing so, he provided insight into the formation of a self and group identity for a Chicano/a art collective. “I’m a San Francisco guy,” Carrillo explained. “I come here and I start to meet all these valley guys, and they just—they were insufferable (Quiñones and Flores 2007). Amid the laughter, Carrillo continued, “I listened to all this stuff about farmworkers, and, you know, the real Chicano/a comes out of the valley. The education happened outside of the classroom at Berkeley and it continued here .  .  . the whole reanalysis of things, including what is art, what is history, what is sociology, what is anthropology if it doesn’t consider our experience, our reality” (Quiñones and Flores 2007). Challenging the notion that “the real Chicano comes out of the valley,” Carrillo alluded to interracial and crosscultural collaborations at UC Berkeley, which largely shaped urban manifestations of the Chicano movement. His witty but reflective comments signal that regional and working-class differences were negotiated during the 1960s and 1970s Chicano movement. Not all Chicanos/as who supported and participated in the United Farm Workers union were farmworkers, and not all Chicanos/as who protested the Vietnam War were veterans. Necessary amid the crises of total societal exclusion, Chicano/a cultural nationalism condensed differences to unify a civil rights movement.

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Other RCAF members who were not originally from cities lived for periods of time in Los Angeles. These members served in the armed forces during the Vietnam War, using the GI Bill to pursue higher education. Upon his honorable discharge from service during the Vietnam War, Armando Cid did not return to Sacramento, where he had been raised after being born in Mexico (Josephine Talamantez, conversation with author, January 11, 2016). Instead, Cid wanted “to get into art school,” he explained, adding that he “went to the Art Center College of Design” in Pasadena, California, where he “was the only Mexican on the whole campus” and worked at night for the Los Angeles Times as a copy editor (Quiñones and Flores 2007). Living and working in Los Angeles, Cid recalled an encounter with a mass protest while he was en route to visit his aunt. “My aunt lived in East LA,” he explained, “and on Sundays I would go down there to get some menudo.” While walking to her home, he “saw all these cop cars; they were everywhere. Helicopters, you know. It looked like the stuff we just got out of. . . . I thought I was back over there again, getting ready to pick up some rifles. . . . Everybody was going towards, you know, down Whittier Boulevard, marching down to my aunt’s house” (Quiñones and Flores 2007). Evading the actual context of his stroll, or the Chicano Moratorium protests in Los Angeles during the 1970s, Cid humorously mentioned that he “jumped in line with them” because it was “the quickest way to get . . . some menudo at my aunt’s house. . . . Little did I know . . . the gas starts to fly, tear gas everywhere, helicopters are running around. The police are beating people on the head, and I’m standing right there in the middle of all this and looking around, and I said, ‘I think I better go home and see what the action is up north’” (Quiñones and Flores 2007). The unassuming hero of the story, Cid downplays his participation in the Chicano Moratorium march against the Vietnam War, one of a series of protests that took place throughout the US Southwest between 1969 and 1971 (Oropeza 2003). On August 29, 1970, thousands of Chicano/a antiwar activists marched through East Los Angeles, down Whittier Boulevard toward Laguna Park. Protesting the disproportionate death toll of Chicano soldiers, the march began peacefully but ended in police violence (Rosales 1997, 199– 201). Several fatalities resulted, including the death of Los Angeles Times reporter Ruben Salazar, who was killed when a tear gas projectile struck him in the head as he sat inside the Silver Dollar Café. Salazar emerged as a fallen hero of the Chicano movement, with Chicano/a artists responding immediately to his murder through art,

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including Esteban Villa in the poster Ruben’s Figure 3.3. Armando Cid, Por la Raza United Flight (1973). Graffiti (1972).31 Combining text, portraiture, Royal Chicano Air Force and caricature, the poster begins with a bold Archives. The California title, spelling out Salazar’s first name in capital Ethnic and Multicultural letters and “graffiti” in cursive, or barrio calArchives. Special Collections Department, the University ligraphy used to mark public space. The calof California, Santa Barbara ligraphy used in the title conveys the illegality Library. of the Chicano Moratorium in the eyes of the police and the moral contradiction of their actions, or the unlawfulness of Salazar’s death. Below the title, a series of portraits of Salazar diminish in size and cascade down the poster. Each of the portraits is shadowed by an image of a police officer wearing a riot helmet and caricaturized as a pig. Silver dollars trickle down the poster and around Salazar’s portraits, signifying the Silver Dollar Café (see plate 15). To visualize the destruction of Salazar’s life, Villa deconstructs the tripartite head in his combination of Salazar’s portrait and the officer as a pig. In Villa’s fragmented version, there is no ancestral, cultural, or spiritual connection between the three visual elements: the Chicano (Salazar), the United States (the police officer as a pig), and capitalism, symbolized by the silver dollars that are head side up. In Villa’s poster, the coins signify the cheapness of life, or the disposability of Chicano bodies as soldiers on the front lines

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of the Vietnam War. The descending portraits of Salazar, shadowed by the “pigs” and silver dollars, lead to the poster’s subtitle, “Califas Aztlán,” written in barrio calligraphy and reminding viewers that it was on their turf, or in their homeland, that the atrocity took place. Lastly, Villa ends the poster in a textual environment, using tags like “Lulu,” “Chicano,” “UFW,” “RCAF,” “La Hickey,” “Raza,” and “Con Safos,” with audible calls and responses, including “We love you,” “Y-que,” and “Todos Unidos.” He references the circulation of these ideas in alternative press by writing “La Causa,” which was the name of the Brown Beret newspaper. Together, the tags and refrains conjure the sights and sounds of the Chicano Moratorium and the deadly conclusion of an antiwar protest. The sensory experience that Esteban Villa’s poster creates parallels Armando Cid’s eyewitness account of the events of the day, as he recalls that amid the police and helicopters, he felt “back over there again, getting ready to pick up some rifles.” Cid’s description of tear gas, helicopters, and police “beating people on the head” suggests a war flashback. The sights and sounds of the police’s armed response to the Chicano Moratorium scared him, the effects of which are present in his 1973 mural Por la Raza United Flight.32 Painted on the window of La Raza Bookstore, Cid’s mural participated in the RCAF tradition of air-force-inspired imagery in posters and murals as a collective signature. The central image of a pilot in Cid’s mural is based on a photograph of José Montoya taken by Hector González, which Cid recreated for the cover of Montoya’s 1972 poetry collection, El Sol Y Los De Abajo and other R.C.A.F. poems (Leal 1992, 181) (see fig. 3.3). The pilot is painted below the word “libros” and connected to a preColumbian warrior and a Chicano activist through breathing tubes that appear both aeronautical and gestational. The pilot’s connection to the pre-Columbian warrior (an ancestral past) and a Chicano activist wearing a United Farm Workers emblem (the Chicano/a present) recalls Cid’s war flashback during the Chicano Moratorium march, as well as an alternative outcome for the day’s events. In essence, Cid visualized the other major platform of the Chicano Moratorium: the uplifting of Chicano/a people not through military service and sacrifice but through community action and education.33 Cid’s integration of José Montoya into his mural heroized him as a Chicano movement leader as well as a teacher, reconfiguring representations of military service as community leadership tied to educational access. The desire for more education as a means to class mobility was an important part of military service for RCAF members, but it quickly transformed

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into a larger consciousness-raising centered on a political valuing of art as historical, cultural, and social weaponry to fight for the aims of the Chicano movement. Much like Cid in his own educational journey through military service, Juanishi Orosco was eligible for the GI Bill after he had completed “two years in the army in the 101st Airborne Division.” Orosco had been moving around from city to city in California and testing out different junior colleges. After spending four years in Los Angeles, Orsoco returned to Sacramento and started classes at Sacramento City College in 1965. “Then I got drafted by the army for the Vietnam War,” he explained, adding, “I got out before they shipped the division out. So when I came back here in 1967 to ’68, I enrolled at American River College and started doing my art.” Orosco was able to get back on track with school because the GI Bill provided funds for college.34 Once he was stationary and enrolled in a junior college in Sacramento, Orosco met Ricardo Favela, Esteban Villa, and José Montoya during an art show at California State University, Sacramento (CSUS), for professor Carlos Villa, who was showing his work in a gallery on campus. “I walk in to check his show out and here comes José and Esteban and Favela,” Orosco remembered, adding that from that moment on, I was part of the group. . . . We started expanding at that point and then we were heavily involved in the UFW, MEChA, and student movements on campus. . . . We went to work creating art for the movement—you know, going to rallies and marches and UFW stuff, down to Delano. It was just a revolution. I mean, it was on. . . . They kind of knew that I was doing murals, and Villa was doing murals, and so I just kind of latched onto Villa [and] we started doing murals in the community. (Juanishi Orosco, interview, July 6, 2004)

Orosco’s access to educational benefits through the GI Bill is part of the larger historical context that led to an unprecedented Chicano presence on college campuses in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The Vietnam War GI Bill (enacted in 1966) provided many Chicano veterans with the chance to go to school. This means of entrance coincided with the emergence of other assistance programs that, coupled with the increase in population following World War II, created a large Chicano/a generation in the 1960s. “[A] sheer weight of numbers,” F. Arturo Rosales (1997, 175) writes, “put them on campus.” The Equal Opportunity Program was also initiated during the

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era, and Rudy Cuellar remembered that between 1971 and 1972, his friend Juan Cervantes worked at the program. “He got me into the university. Otherwise . . . I wouldn’t have been able to do the paperwork” (Quiñones and Flores 2007). While attending school, Juan Cervantes worked at CSUS as a student counselor, one of the admissions services provided by the university’s Equal Opportunity Program office. Offering admissions assistance, academic tutoring, and financial aid, the program at both the California State and University of California systems benefitted generations of Chicano/a students and other underrepresented groups.35 Military service in itself also played a critical role in preparing several RCAF members for careers as artists. The experience of both wartime service and higher education restructured the meaning and purpose of their military training. Drafted into the US Army, Hector González notes that during his preparation at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, he “became a professional photographer.” “After my two years of service,” González adds, “I enrolled in Sacramento City College [and] began to get involved in documenting the Chicano movement. When I transferred to Sacramento State College [CSUS], I took a class in government with Professor Joe Serna,” who introduced González to César Chávez and the United Farm Workers (H. González, n.d.).36 Trained in photography during his military service, González applied these skills in a different arena once he became active in the United Farm Workers movement. Wartime service and its impact on the RCAF’s art was also unique because it encompassed members who served in two back-to-back wars, both of which were bound to national campaigns against the spread of communism. Like their younger counterparts, Esteban Villa and José Montoya received educational opportunities from the GI Bill, but from service in an earlier war.37 Villa and Montoya were not the only Korean War veterans in the RCAF. Sam Rios Jr. served in the US Air Force in 1952. He was first sent to “Laughlin Air Force Base [AFB] in Texas [where he] scored high on his exams in basic training [and] then went to radar tech training at Keesler AFB, Mitchel AFB, and Sewart AFB.” After basic training, Rios Jr. “was sent to Okinawa, Japan, where he tried out for the football team [and] eventually became the starting running back” (Bernardo Ramirez Rios, e-mail to author, January 22, 2014). Leaving the service in 1955, Rios Jr. played football for CSUS. In 1970, Rios Jr. returned to CSUS as a graduate student (Sam Rios Jr., interview, April 24, 2007). He quickly became a Chicano community leader, working in several of the RCAF’s cultural and social programs, and

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emerged as a pioneering professor in CSUS’s Chicano/a studies program. The third world turn made by Chicanos/as in the 1960s and 1970s was “a fundamental break in the strategy of integration and accommodation by earlier Mexican American generations,” Maylei Blackwell (2011, 33–34) writes, because the younger generation perceived the Vietnam War as an extension of colonial oppression of indigenous peoples. In the RCAF’s case, Korean War veterans also rethought and retooled their military training as leaders of a Chicano/a community agenda and not as agents of the colonialist vision of the nation-state.

“Chicanos en Korea”: Chicano Veterans as Heroic Community Leaders Ricardo Favela’s 1987 poster Aquí Estamos . . . Y No Nos Vamos!!! features José Montoya holding Resurrección de los Pecados (1971), an artwork that confronts the psychological fallout of war by disrupting linear progressions of time and space. A decolonial imagining of Chicano/a history, Resurrección de los Pecados connects Montoya’s experience as a US sailor during the Korean War to the Spanish conquest of indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica while also addressing the political moment in which he made the piece—the Vietnam War. The conflict and, really, crisis of the central figure in Resurrección de los Pecados is that he is both colonizing soldier and colonized subject, conveyed in the howl he unleashes out of a tripartite head. Montoya’s visual fusion of events in Chicano/a history continued throughout his work, particularly in “Chicanos en Korea” (ca. 1992), a poem and song that expresses a sense of community with the Japanese people he encountered during his wartime service. A poetic remapping of Chicano/a history, “Chicanos en Korea” crisscrosses spatiotemporal locations, connecting Montoya’s consciousness-raising in the Chicano movement to his Korean War experiences. Montoya (1992, 248–249) opens the poem with a stanza about Spanish colonization: Ay, aztlán del corazón Tierra antigua de mi gente Porque nos tratan tan mal Como hijos desobedientes. Somos indios mexicanos, Sin embargo somos gente (248)

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Plate 1. Rodolfo “Rudy” Cuellar, Anncouncement Poster for Día de la Raza (1975). Screenprint. Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

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Plate 2. Juanishi Orosco, detail from south wall of L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. (1984; renovated 1999). Author’s photograph.

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Plate 3. Malaquias Montoya, Murió Una Muerte Natural (1969–1970). Screenprint. Courtesy of Malaquias Montoya.

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Plate 4. Malaquias Montoya, untitled screenprint of Manuel Gómez (1969). Courtesy of Malaquias Montoya.

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Plate 5. Esteban Villa, Emergence of the Chicano Social Struggle in a Bi-Cultural Society (1969–1970; renovated 1994). Washington Neighborhood Center. Author’s photograph.

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Plate 6. Mujer Cósmica (1975) by Esteban Villa and Women Hold Up Half the Sky (1975) by Irma Lerma Barbosa, Celia Herrera Rodríguez, Rosalinda Palacios, Antonia Mendoza, and Barbara Desmangles. James Prigoff Slide Collection. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

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Plate 7. Southside Park Mural (1977). Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

Plate 8. Lorraine García-Nakata’s drawing of indigenous woman for murals in Southside Park Mural (1977). Courtesy of Lorraine GarcíaNakata.

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Plate 9. Fiesta de Maíz, ca. 1976. Gloria Rangel kneels among children. Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

Plate 10. Irma Lerma Barbosa, Recuerdos del Palomar (1972). Oil on canvas. Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

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Plate 11. Irma Lerma Barbosa, Warriors of the New Day (1993). Oil on canvas. Private Collection of Irma Lerma Barbosa.

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Plate 12. Ricardo Favela, Aquí Estamos . . . Y No Nos Vamos!!! (1987). Screenprint. Self Help Graphics and Art Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

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Plate 13. Rodolfo “Rudy” Cuellar, Agosto 7 from Historia de California calendar (1977). Screenprint. Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

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Plate 14. Juanishi Orosco, Viva la Huelga from Historia de California calendar (1977). Screenprint. Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

Plate 15. Esteban Villa, Ruben’s Graffiti (1972). Screenprint. Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

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Plate 16. Armando Cid and students, Para la Raza del Barrio (ca. 1976). Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

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Plate 17. Armando Cid, Reno’s Mural (ca. 1976). Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

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Plate 18. Juanishi Orosco, detail of south wall of L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. after renovations in 1999. Courtesy of Juanishi Orosco.

Plate 19. Juanishi Orosco, detail of south wall of L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. after renovations in 1999. Courtesy of Juanishi Orosco.

Plate 20. Esteban Villa, detail of north wall of L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. after renovations in 1999. Author’s photograph.

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Plate 21. Ricardo Favela, Huelga! Strike! Support the U.F.W.A. (1976). Screenprint. Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

Plate 22. Esteban Villa, 5 de Mayo con el Royal Chicano Air Force Arte Musica Poesia (1973). Screenprint. Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

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Plate 23. Armando Cid, Por la Raza United Flight (1973). Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

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Plate 24. Ricardo Favela, In Search of Mr. Con Safos (1989). Screenprint. Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

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Plate 25. Ricardo Favela, Announcement Poster for El Centro de Artistas Chicanos (1975). Screenprint. Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

Plate 26. Juan Cervantes, Aeronaves de Aztlán automotive co-op mural (ca. 1978–1979). Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

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Plate 27. Juanishi Orosco, Stan Padilla, and Esteban Villa, three panels of Eartharium (2003). Courtesy of Juanishi Orosco.

Plate 28. Details of angular eagle Esteban Villa painted in Eartharium (2003). Courtesy of Esteban Villa.

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From his opening lines on Spanish conquest and the emergence of “indios mexicanos,” Montoya embarks on a story about his experience in the 1950s with law and order, specifically in Fresno, California, where he ended up enlisting in the US Navy—the choice being between prison or military service: Año del cincuenta y uno En el condado de Fresno Se compadecio un juez Y hasta me paso quebrada, Seis meses en el tabique ¿O cuatro años en la armada? (248)

The use of “armada” to describe joining the US Navy evokes the arrival of Spanish conquistadors in Mesoamerica in 1519 and conveys the tension Montoya felt as a US sailor in his odyssey through foreign lands and his encounters with native peoples. Toward the end of the poem, Montoya declares that despite serving in the navy with honor and bravery, Chicanos returned to a prison in the United States, a country that denied them full citizenship, which impeded their life opportunities: Los chicanos en Korea Se portaron con honor Ganaron muchos medallas Hasta liberty en Japón Pero al volver al cantón Derechito a la prisión (249)

Montoya closes the song by returning to his opening verse. The repetition connects the denigration of Chicano veterans with the destruction of indigenous peoples across centuries of colonial law and order. But before he ends the poem, Montoya offers his interpretation of third world solidarity, which was largely shaped by his working-class ethos. When he arrives in Japan, Montoya sings, Y yo no hablaba en japonés Me lo enseñó una chaparra Al derecho y al revés

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Siendo un vato agradecido Le enseñé a dares a las tres. (249)

Meeting a Japanese woman with whom he cannot speak, Montoya teases listeners that they communicated romantically. He also recalls a legendary party in the port of “Yokuska,” where “iba toda la plebe / A vacilar con las rucas / Y a bailar un mambo o dos / Y acordarse de sus chucas” (249). Attending a party in an infamous city with a US Navy base, where “la plebe” go to carouse, Montoya flirts with “las rucas,” dances a mambo or two, and partakes in an evening of eyebrow-raising reveling. Calling the Japanese people he encounters “la plebe,” or common folk, and the women “rucas,” or chicks, Montoya draws the Japanese people into his caló articulation of the world, making their interaction more intimate and human. In doing so, he suggests that the third world consciousness central to Chicano/a politicization in the 1960s and 1970s began for him during the Korean War. The anti–Vietnam War protests “crystallized the Chicano movement’s fundamental challenge to popular assumptions about American citizenship and national belonging,” Lorena Oropeza (2003, 203–204) writes, positing the idea of “citizen-soldiers” with respect to Chicano/a organizations like the Brown Berets, whose membership included Vietnam War veterans. Working on behalf of the Chicano/a community, the Brown Berets transformed the “meaning of Chicano masculinity from one based on military service to one more oriented toward community” (Blackwell 2011, 33–34). In the RCAF, military service also influenced artistic production. While Esteban Villa did not travel abroad during his term in the Korean War, he encountered the diversity of Mexican America in the US Army’s transportation department, in which he “loaded and unloaded cargo ships just like they do in Oakland and San Francisco.”38 Trained “by the longshoremen on how to do the loading and unloading,” Villa recalled that his army “unit was mixed,” and he “met a lot of nice guys from different parts of the country. There were Mexicanos from New Mexico, East LA, and the valley” (Esteban Villa, interview, January 7, 2004).39 Like José Montoya’s encounters with Mexican and Mexican American farmworkers in California’s San Joaquin Valley in the 1940s, Villa was exposed to regional distinctions between soldiers from the US Southwest. Because these experiences occurred during his service years, he became aware of highly organized, unified efforts amongst soldiers who claimed

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different strains of a shared ancestry. WorkFigure 3.4. Ricardo Favela, Announcement Poster for ing as part of a diverse team and learning his Veteranos (1981). Screenprint. job from an already unionized laboring class Royal Chicano Air Force of multiethnic and multiracial workers, Villa Archives. The California became familiarized with the idea of working Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections collectively and across ethnic and racial differDepartment, the University ences. Thus, his understanding of collectivism of California, Santa Barbara as an arts practice was shaped by his military Library. experience. Yet despite the diversity and regional particularities in his unit, Villa was disillusioned by the total absence of Chicanos/as, let alone their intricate differences based on region and ancestry, in the formal processes and systems of documentation in the United States. “When you go into the army,” he told Jacinto Quirarte in 1973, You might be as black as I am, but to them I am a Caucasian. I am classified as white. OK, in school you’re told George Washington is the father of your country. Like this poet once said, “Man, if he’s the father of my country, how come he’s not Chicano?” Also in the US census form it says: “Please list your race or nationality.” So they list White, Korean, Hawaiian, Oriental, and Black, the word Mexican is completely left out. They’re implying we don’t exist. . . . And what we’re trying to do . . . through our art—is to bring it to their attention, that we do exist, that we are here and not only do we exist but we also have a culture of our own. (Quirarte 1973, 136)

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Referring to a poem by Richard Olivas that opened the 1972 edition of the literary anthology El Espejo—The Mirror, Villa uses George Washington as a trope, or as a historical figure and spatiotemporal location in the historical imagination of the United States (D. López 2010, 190–191). In doing so, Villa expressed his frustration over his total invisibility in the governmental methods for tracking race in the military as well as in the dominant cultural outlook of the nation in the mid-twentieth century. His observation in 1973 offers context for the Chicano/a desire for heroes, or identifiable figures with which they could map their historical, cultural, and political contributions to society writ large. Villa’s remarks also concretize what the RCAF artists wanted to do with their art in terms of heroic Chicano/a representations. Reconfiguring the Chicano/a soldier as a community leader, fighting on behalf of the Chicano movement and the people it represented, the RCAF turned to ordinary veterans as a source of Chicano/a community solidarity and healing. Ricardo Favela redresses the absence of Chicano heroes in Announcement Poster for Veteranos (1981) (see fig. 3.4).40 The poster was created for the California Department of Mental Health, but it also reflects the RCAF’s process of artistic collaboration. Based on Hector González’s photograph of Favela’s clay sculptures, the poster foregrounds several of Favela’s ceramic “vatitos,” or little dudes, walking together and in conversation (see fig. 3.5). Favela’s figures signify the poster’s caption, instructing veterans to talk to each other for mental health: “Sus Amigos Son Buena Medicina / ¡Háblanse!” A black emblem in between the vato figurines announces a new oath for the Chicano veteran to live by: “La Cultura, familia, respeto, hermandad, salud.” Written in Spanish, the pledge echoes the transformation of Chicano masculinity in the 1960s and 1970s. As the notion of brotherhood transformed from military service into community service during the Chicano movement, Favela’s poster shows an intimate manifestation of the ongoing dialogue that was needed for veterans long after the collective calls to end the Vietnam War had subsided. The Chicano soldiers represented in Ricardo Favela’s poster, and, for that matter, in José Montoya’s “Chicanos en Korea,” were not of the epic proportions of George Washington or the Mexican revolutionary heroes Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. Rather, they were portrayals of ordinary men, positioned as seekers of community and continuing to serve each other by addressing the ongoing psychological fallout of war.

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Figure 3.5. Photograph of Ricardo Favela’s vatitos (1971). Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

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C h ap t e r 4

Bet w een the Aesthetic a nd the Instrumental Free Association, Collectivism, and Making Space for Chicano/a Art During my teenage years in Sacramento, the California state capital, located in the Central Valley, I had first admired the synthesis of artistic aesthetic and direct political message in the Chicano murals that appeared downtown in the seventies. Ben Keppel (1998, xxvii) in Toward a People’s Art It should go on record that we definitely do not—with our art—want to destroy this country. That’s not our purpose—to be destructive . . . and we’ve been accused of that, but not as educators. . . . In fact, education is constructive, and what was interesting is what they were opposed to—our connecting with history. Esteban Villa, interview, December 23, 2000

O

n November 8, 1978, RCAF member Juan Carrillo sent a letter to Esteban Villa from the California Arts Council (CAC), informing him that he had “inquired at the Department of Transportation in regards to your proposed use of the walls under Interstate 5 for a mural project.” Carrillo added, “It appears as though this request is not out of line 182

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and has often been granted throughout the state.” He pressed Villa to “keep in mind the idea of the gift to the City of Sacramento. Phil might be open to that as a way of finding additional support and publicity for you. I am glad Bill Moskin of SMAC happened by. Perhaps he can find the scaffolding for you” (Carrillo 1978). Carrillo referred to Sacramento mayor Phil Isenberg by his first name and tactfully noted the CAC visit by the director of the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission (SMAC). In doing so, he informed Villa that Moskin was aware of his interest in creating art on the tunnel walls (see fig. 4.1). Two days after Carrillo’s official letter, which he addressed to Villa at the Centro de Artistas Chicanos, RCAF artist Ricardo Favela sent Mayor Isenberg a letter that begins with an unassuming tone: “Just thought you might like to know what we are doing these days” (Ricardo Favela 1978). Writing to the mayor as the director of the Centro, Favela quickly turned to the real intention of his letter, reporting that on “Tuesday November 7, 1978, Mr. Villa began working on the tunnel walls [but] Sacramentos [sic] ‘finest’ decided to ask for his permission slip . . . and don’t be surprised if you receive a midnight telephone call from me asking you, again, to get Mr. Villa and probably myself, out of jail” (Ricardo Favela 1978). From the dates on both letters, it appears that Villa began painting a mural without the city’s permission. After being stopped by the police, he asked Juan Carrillo how to obtain access to the walls lining a pedestrian underpass between K Street and downtown’s Old Sacramento tourist district. Favela then contacted the mayor to ensure Villa did not face more consequences. Ironically, the K Street tunnel was the future site of the RCAF mural L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. (Light Art in Sacramento, Energy Resources In Unlimited Movement), which was officially created in 1984 but, as the letters evidence, began in 1978. At the time of Villa’s unauthorized painting, a Sacramento Housing Authority director told local press, “It won’t remain” (Mendel 1978). Villa claimed in the same article that the impromptu mural was an attempt to “bring more attention to how murals are being painted over throughout the city without proper permission from the artists” (Mendel 1978). His actions were swiftly countered by the police, as Favela made clear. Despite the humorous tone of his letter, Favela conveyed the RCAF’s resolve to make Chicano/a art regardless of administrative obstacles: “We welcome whatever help you may deem necessary for the continuation of aesthetics and spiritual ceremony as a way of life. Again, I remain yours truly, in community growth” (Ricardo Favela 1978).

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Figure 4.1. L: Letter to Esteban Villa from Juan Carrillo, November 8, 1978. Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library. R: Letter to mayor Phil Isenberg from Ricardo Favela, November 10, 1978. The Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission.

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Villa’s actions and his colleagues’ official correspondence tell a story about the RCAF and their allies, who were working in public offices, municipal agencies, nonprofit organizations, and at the Sacramento campus of California State University (CSUS). In the early 1970s, the RCAF made art in Sacramento’s Chicano/a neighborhoods, creating a Chicano/a sense of place by using resources available to them through grassroots efforts. By the late 1970s, they demanded access to space beyond Chicano/a barrios to foster community in locations deemed transient and pedestrian, many of which were devoid of the histories of people who had lived and worked in them. To do so, the RCAF combined verbal, visual, and written demands for access that reveal how they enacted “the space between the aesthetic and the instrumental” to make art for the Chicano/a community and, more broadly, for people’s sake (Noriega and Tompkins Rivas 2011, 75). Chon Noriega and Pilar Tompkins Rivas use “free association” to describe the ways in which Chicano/a artists established a “pedagogical political culture” that visually expressed demands for social change (2011, 75). The free association of Chicano/a artists reflected “two major modes of critical thought in the twentieth century: psychoanalysis and Marxism” (75–76). Merging the psychoanalytic method of self-expression without censorship and the Marxist goal of creating “social relations among individuals outside the constraints of private property, social class, and the state,” Chicano/a artists freely associated through creative, political, and professional channels (75). Chicano/a artists collaborated on posters and murals, allowing for “nonlinear, unplanned, and intuitive connections aimed at addressing social problems” (75). They also “associated with one another across social groups, organizational affiliation, and artistic mediums” (75–76). Free association is an important framework for thinking about the RCAF’s creation of Chicano/a art infrastructure in Sacramento because it demystifies the appearance of Chicano/a murals. In the second edition of Toward a People’s Art, Ben Keppel (1998, xxvii) recalls the Chicano/a murals that “appeared” to him in the 1970s, a phrasing that obscures the work involved in the creation of public art. RCAF murals did not simply appear; they resulted from collective groundwork implemented over several decades. By 1979, the RCAF had created fifteen murals in Sacramento, and Keppel must have seen many of them, including Armando Cid’s murals Olin and Sunburst (ca. 1976) at Zapata Park and Reno’s Mural and Para la Raza del Barrio (ca. 1976), which Cid painted with students on the exterior walls of the Reno Club at Twelfth and D Streets (Hillinger 1979, 20).

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While RCAF murals located in Sacramento’s Chicano/a barrios were not painted over until demographic shifts occurred due to urban redevelopment, murals the RCAF created in spaces deemed public, like Villa’s unauthorized tunnel mural, did not survive the 1970s, let alone the year they were created (Weber 2003, 5). In fact, Villa’s remark in the local press about the removal of murals without artist permission refers to a whitewashing campaign that took place at CSUS in 1976. The removal of campus murals was followed by a battle in the 1980s over designs for L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. Both events led Villa to position the RCAF as a militant arts organization: “For every mural whitewashed or demolished,” he declared, “we will paint two more” (Walls 1984). While Villa publicly proclaimed the air force persona, other members worked behind the scenes with SMAC and the Art in Public Places ordinance to support the RCAF’s mural campaign throughout the late twentieth century.1 As a Chicano/a art concept, free association explains the RCAF’s collective praxis, which differed from student art collectives in the 1960s and 1970s. While RCAF artists originally signed posters and murals with the collective’s acronym, a practice that changed toward the late 1970s, RCAF murals like Southside Park Mural (1977) evidence the group’s emphasis on artistic range. Rather than aesthetic uniformity, the RCAF centered their collective values on labor equality and educational access. This chapter examines the rise of the RCAF’s Chicano/a art infrastructure through the free association of members whose communities, political orientations, and professional circles varied—to the benefit of the collective. The RCAF was not alone in building a Chicano/a sense of place in Sacramento, and I use archival records to document their “symbolic takeovers” of space through murals that were part of a larger Chicano/a community (Latorre 2008, 142). As the stories of several RCAF murals reveal, the group’s navigation of barrio, institutional, and public space was not seamless. The different receptions to RCAF murals in Sacramento’s Chicano/a neighborhoods in the 1970s, and in public places in the 1980s and 1990s, are important chapters in Chicano movement history and are relevant to cultural analyses of spatial production in Chicano/a literature. While RCAF murals forged and embellished spaces for Chicano/a performances, community actions, and projects, they were also cause for controversy concerning access to walls managed and supervised by government agencies and university administrations. I analyze RCAF murals in conjunction with poetry, interviews, photographs, and other records to move the

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RCAF to the center of public art controversy in the United States in the late twentieth century. The concept of “site specificity” factors into the relationship between RCAF murals, poetic performances, and the free association of members, but it is not frequently considered in analyses of 1970s Chicano/a murals.2 Generally, site specificity contextualizes the spatial demands of national public art during the late twentieth century, which came to a head in the United States with George Sugarman’s sculpture Baltimore Federal (1977) and the different receptions to Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial (1982). The removal of Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc (1981) from the New York Federal Building Plaza in 1989 also framed a national conversation on public art through a coded language concerned with public safety.3 There were other battles over public art in the late 1970s and 1980s that shaped the national discourse. The RCAF’s designs for L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. were initially rejected by officials in the 1980s and redesigned by the lead RCAF artists on the project. In 1999, the designs were symbolically realized as the decolonial vision that the RCAF originally intended through the work’s restoration. The historical backdrop of the making and remaking of L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. was a national backlash against multicultural trends in public art funding, which also impacted nationally touring Chicano/a art shows like Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation, 1965–1985 (CARA) and the patronage of queer and women artists.4 The end of the twentieth century in the United States witnessed a war on public art as a (mis)representation of the nation. But the RCAF’s public art battles, negotiations, and victories are missing from this history. When these events are returned to the historical record, they suggest that public art conflicts in the 1980s and 1990s extended the demands of the US civil rights era and the reach of community murals that recognized Chicanos/as and other people of color in the spaces in which they live, work, and struggle for inclusion in both real and symbolic spaces of US history and culture.

Claiming Space through La Cultura: A Chicano/a Student Body at CSUS In 1978 Esteban Villa took his students to paint a mural in the K Street tunnel in response to the whitewashing of Chicano/a and student murals on the California State University, Sacramento (CSUS), campus in 1976 (Barnett 1984, 433). Considering that the RCAF developed as a Chicano/a art

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collective between 1969 and 1972, members who were university students and teachers witnessed enormous changes to the student population and curriculum at CSUS amid the Chicano movement. Not only was CSUS, formerly Sacramento State College, located in the state’s capital city, but in 1969 it was one of the few colleges in California’s agricultural valleys. With the rise of the United Farm Workers (UFW) union in the 1960s, the financial aid provided to veterans through the Vietnam War GI Bill, and the implementation of the Mexican American Education Project (MAEP), Chicanos/as entered CSUS as a student body that would have been unfamiliar to white college students, many of whom were from Northern California families that, perhaps, worked in agricultural industries but rarely as farmworkers. The murals destroyed at CSUS included the institutionally sanctioned La Cultura (1970), which had been painted on “six wooden panels” and “mounted onto the front of Lassen Hall,” formerly the university library. In 1976, it was “cut up into library shelving” (Kuss 2006). According to university archivist Kurt Kuss, La Cultura was painted by art student Ed Rivera, sponsored by the Sacramento Concilio, Inc., and donated to the campus. RCAF member Sam Rios Jr., however, remembers that in addition to Rivera, the original La Cultura “was painted by students in the Mexican American Education Project. And there was an inscription on it that read, ‘This mural is to bridge the gap between the community and the university’” (Sam Rios Jr., interview, April 24, 2007). CSUS president James Bond presided over the mural’s destruction in 1976 and two years later apologized to the Sacramento Concilio, Inc., contracting Ed Rivera to replicate the piece (Arceo 1999).5 The story of La Cultura is important to RCAF history not only because several members were MAEP students at the time of its first painting, but because the RCAF had a role in its restoration. La Cultura reflected the Chicano/a sense of place that was emerging on campus through the efforts of students in organizations like the Mexican American Youth Association (MAYA) and the MAEP, which catalyzed new relations between the Chicano/a community and the university. Supporting Sam Rios Jr.’s recollection of the original mural’s intent, minutes from a “Sacramento State College (SSC) Planning Meeting” evidence that as early as 1968, “Ed Rivera and Mexican American Youth Association (M.A.Y.A.) asked to paint mural on front of library” (“I. Mural Chronology” 1977).6 With the support of the Sacramento Concilio, Inc., MAEP students “and Rivera from M.A.Y.A. asked

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for approval to place mural on front of the library building” on June 5, 1969. The campus planning committee quickly approved the project (“I. Mural Chronology” 1977). Supported by an off-campus Chicano/a community council, La Cultura was a symbolic takeover of university space. It signaled the presence of a new kind of student from a farmworking and working-class background. Many such students were Korean War or Vietnam War veterans and were active in Chicano movement politics through the local chapter of the Brown Berets and the proximity of the farmworkers’ strike (Latorre 2008, 142). Asserting their presence with a vivid mural, Chicano/a voices grew louder through poetry recitals also taking place in the campus commons. In tandem with La Cultura, MAYA members planned a poetry event that led to José Montoya’s arrival on campus “in ’69,” he recalled, adding, “I came to read poetry and show my work to the Chicano students. They weren’t called MEChA at that time. . . . The students really loved my poetry, and they liked my artwork, and they told me about a program . . . where they would teach the Chicano teachers.” Referring to the MAEP, Montoya remembered enrolling in the graduate program and also facilitating Esteban Villa’s participation “as the artist, illustrator, and designer of the Mexican American Project” (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004).

Institutional Access and Professional Desires: El Concilio de Arte Popular The MAEP aimed to reverse dropout rates and underachievement for Mexican American youth in public schools by training culturally competent educators. The program also catalyzed the careers of several RCAF members. Certainly, working in the community was the central motivation for Chicano/a students enrolled in the MAEP during or shortly after the 1969 National Chicano Youth Liberation Conference and, later, the endorsement of “El Plan de Santa Barbara.” But the desire for more education led to leadership roles in various organizations, transforming the professional trajectories of MAEP fellows and informing the free association of RCAF members. Juan Carrillo’s “chance to go to Sac State for a master’s program” not only led him to the RCAF but also to his career as an instructor at Cosumnes River College in 1970. In 1978, Carrillo took an entry-level position at the California Arts Council (CAC) and later became a deputy director of

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programs. By the end of his twenty-seven-year career, Carrillo had served as the CAC director. Institutional access for Chicano/a students and artists created professional circles in the 1960s and 1970s, as Carrillo explained: “When Chicano groups began to appear, centros began to also appear up and down this state, and we met as artists.” Meeting in different cities throughout California, Chicano/a artists coalesced a shared point of view regarding their work, following the initial decade of the Chicano movement. “I wish I could re-create for you the excitement, the hope, the energy of all these people who would gather,” Carrillo remarked, adding, “the debates, the arguments, the fistfights on occasion, even the love affairs. . . . People were meeting each other, and a world was formulating. It was a coming together of people [who were] creating a sense of peoplehood.” The series of meetings led to a statewide organization called El Concilio de Arte Popular, and “every centro up and down the state had two members on the board of directors.” Carrillo recalled that when he was unable to attend an important meeting in Santa Barbara, “true to RCAF custom, they nominated the guy who wasn’t there to represent them on the board” (Juan Carrillo, interview, July 13, 2004). In serving on the board for the popular arts council, Carrillo became acquainted with Gloriamalia Flores (Pérez), who “worked at the California Arts Council, which was established in 1976. She came in right at the beginning, pretty much hired by Luis Valdez, who was on the council; he was appointed by governor Jerry Brown. Gloria [was] part of the RCAF circle.” In 1977, Carrillo resigned from Cosumnes River College. Upon informing Flores, she asked if he was interested in interviewing for a job at the CAC. “So that’s how I fell into it,” Carrillo surmised, “by way of the RCAF, the Concilio de Arte Popular board, getting to know Gloria, and then interviewing for a position” (Juan Carrillo, interview, July 13, 2004). Carrillo’s memories illuminate the intersections of creative, social, and professional circles that developed during the Chicano movement and culminated in Chicano/a art infrastructure. It is not coincidental that the meeting at which El Concilio de Arte Popular was endorsed took place in Santa Barbara, the site of a monumental educational plan. Like “El Plan de Santa Barbara,” the name El Concilio de Arte Popular gestured “toward what these artists were bringing into existence,” and in this case, a “popular,” meaning populist, arts council (Noriega and Tompkins Rivas 2011, 74). As part of a new vocabulary that expressed Chicano/a identity and culture—a language that included adaptations of postrevolutionary Mexican phrases like “la raza

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cósmica,” references to a pre-Columbian homeland, or “Aztlán,” and political calls to “decolonize” the Chicano/a mind—El Concilio de Arte Popular was an infrastructural idea that articulated “a sense of peoplehood” (Juan Carrillo, interview, July 13, 2004). Established in 1976, El Concilio de Arte Popular became headquartered in Los Angeles following several meetings in different locations, including Sacramento’s Washington Neighborhood Center in February 1975 (Noriega and Tompkins Rivas 2011, 73; “Una Junta” 1975). A planning document for the Sacramento meeting announced the group’s intentions “to solidify Chicano/Latino artists into one body that can more effectively deal with the urgent questions of economy, health, culture, sexism, racism, legal, and all other needs basic to the artist as a worker” (“Concilio de Arte Popular” 1975). The Concilio de Arte Popular was founded the same year as the California Arts Council, for which Luis Valdez served as a board member and Gloriamalia Flores (Pérez) served as director in 1978.7 The inception of a formal Chicano/a arts organization and the establishment of the California Arts Council were interrelated events, revealing the influence of grassroots efforts to build Chicano/a art infrastructure on the administrative body that presides over all public art in California. The professional advancement of RCAF members also commenced directly through the MAEP because of the relationship the program fostered between students and the Chicano/a community. Juan Carrillo explained, “We were told by a community advisory council connected to the project that we were expected to be activists.” As Esteban Villa and José Montoya became “the focal point for the artists’ portion,” Carrillo continued, “other programs began, because we were connected to a larger community of activists” (Juan Carrillo, interview, July 13, 2004). Along with working in local Chicano/a neighborhoods, MAEP students and activists on campus helped establish ethnic studies and Chicano/a studies programs (Campbell 2005– 2006, 7). Larger academic changes included new faculty positions. José Montoya recalled that “we went with enough community supporters, including Brown Berets and community activists, and demanded that they hire us. So they ended up hiring me, they hired Esteban [Villa], and then Eduardo Carrillo” (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004).8 Esteban Villa was hired as an art instructor at CSUS in 1969. Montoya, who completed his MA in 1971, was hired in the Education Department to teach art and arts education.9

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Decentering the Monolingual Literary Tradition in Public Space When Esteban Villa, José Montoya, and Juan Carrillo arrived at CSUS, other Chicanos/as were already enrolled as undergraduate students. Ricardo Favela, for example, was a CSUS art major and was listening in the audience on the day Montoya came to campus to read poetry and show his art (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). Recalling “a thing called Cinco de Mayo that was happening here on campus,” Favela “went out to the quad with my two Anglo friends, which I had been palling around with for all that year.” Favela came upon the event as “José was reading poetry,” and the verses astounded him. Favela explained, He read “La Jefita,” which is “The Little Mother,” y “Los Vatos,” which means “The Dudes,” and when he read those, I was flabbergasted. I said, “How does this guy know me? How does he know where I came from? I don’t even know him, but he’s talking about me.” Because “La Jefita” was certainly my mother, and the vatos were certainly the vatos I hung around with. That’s why I left Dinuba—because I was hanging around too much with the guys. And I turned to Jimbo, and I was going to tell him something [but] I say, “Nah.” And I turn around over to Jerry, and I go, “Nooo.” And I just stood looking, and I just said to myself out loud, “I’m going to meet this guy. I don’t know where or when, but I’m going to meet this guy,” and about two weeks later, I had the opportunity. (Ricardo Favela, interview, July 20, 2004)

Favela experienced Montoya’s poems as a call-and-response, merging his recollection of the recital with the people, places, and events that both poems conjure. For Chicano/a students like Favela, the memories Montoya expressed in his poems were not audible or visible ones at CSUS, and it is important to reflect on what it must have felt like to hear such poems spoken out loud. Perhaps it was an experience akin to seeing La Cultura on the library’s facade. “La Jefita” (1969), for example, was “certainly” Favela’s mother, and Favela later learned that Montoya also grew up in a farmworking family in the San Joaquin Valley (Ricardo Favela, interview, July 20, 2004). “La Jefita” catalyzed a connection for Favela with Montoya, but in hearing Montoya’s poem “Los Vatos” (1969), Favela journeyed with the poet to a period of

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Mexican American history directly preceding the Chicano movement. Montoya returns to the 1940s and 1950s in “Los Vatos” to pose a social critique in the contemporary moment in which Chicano/a poets, artists, and activists demanded institutional and mainstream attention—a recognition of their humanity that had long been distorted through a visual archive of racial stereotypes. Opening the poem with a prelude, Montoya establishes that he is the narrator, locating himself amongst the listeners that have gathered to hear his tale: Back in the early fifties, el Chonito and I were on the Way to the bote when we heard the following dialogue: Police car radio: Pachuco rumble in progress in front of Lyceum Theatre. Sanger gang crossing tracks heading for Chinatown. Looks big this time. All available Westside units . . . Cop to partner driving car: Take your time. Let ’em wipe each other out. That attitude was typical then. Has it changed? Below I sing of an unfortunate act of that epoch. (J. Montoya 1992, 6)

Montoya’s prelude informs listeners that he is present in their time and space but in the midst of a memory from the 1950s, when he and his friend were on their way to jail. Concluding the prelude with, “Below I sing of an unfortunate act of that epoch,” Montoya announces another spatiotemporal shift, specified in the first lines of the poem’s main text: “They came to get him at three o’ clock / On a Sunday afternoon that summer of ’48. / Five of them and a guitar in a blue ’37 Chevy” (6). The details overwhelm listeners, disorienting their sense of time and pushing them toward a sensory experience of the immediate story. As the poem begins, young Pachucos head out on a “cruz,” or meandering journey, and listeners see them through the details of “long, sleek hair” and “hidden eyes squinting”; they watch their “cat-like motions, bored and casual”; they hear them whistle and the “gurgling sounds inside the car” (6–7). With a filmic rhythm, Montoya cuts to Benny, the poem’s protagonist, who also hears his friends arriving and watches “them from the window of the tiny bedroom” (7). Benny’s anticipation is ominous as he observes his

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younger sister with “huge, slanting eyes—eyes that / Surely witnessed in another time, in another land now / Foreign, Moctezuma slain” (7). Unfolding the magnitude of the moment, Montoya hints at Benny’s impending doom but also alludes to the end of something bigger, as he likens his sister’s physical features to pre-Columbian ancestry and imagines her bearing witness to sixteenth-century Spanish conquest. Building a movielike sequence through words, Montoya relies on a universal theme of man versus man to articulate Benny’s experience of his imminent death: “His brain, his stomach his feet—all of him— / Was not himself at all, and he could stand outside / And look in. He was at once a rock and a lump of jello / Something—a thing, but not himself” (7). Exploring Benny’s corporeal sensations, Montoya disrupts the dehumanization of young Pachucos to address the contemporary gang crises and police surveillance of Chicano/a youth in the 1960s and 1970s. Meant to be spoken, “Los Vatos” echoes the “border form” of the corrido, a Mexican musical tradition of story songs that disseminated throughout the US Southwest over three centuries (Saldívar 1997, 57–58). In his remapping of American culture, José Saldívar argues that “Los Vatos” is a contemplation of “racial formation” in the United States and the reduction of human experiences to both stereotype and paradigm. Saldívar concludes that by merging the corrido’s “border form” with the “individual and collective experience,” “Los Vatos” is a “social text that bridges the gap between the world of the mind and the world of real affairs, between past and present, between desire and action” (61). Connecting the construction of racial difference to the historical consequences of that construction, “Los Vatos” links the social dangers faced by the Pachuco and his Chicano descendant during different epochs of US history.

Poetry Performance as Symbolic Takeover of Public Space The filmic quality of José Montoya’s poem “Los Vatos” also reveals influences from US popular culture that shaped Chicano/a social reality, expanding the poem’s formal elements to account for the cross-cultural and visual Chicano/a experience. Through his attention to sound, image, and physical sensation, Montoya inverts the stereotype of Pachucos as criminals (read: Cholos in the 1960s and 1970s). In doing so, he dares his audience to answer a question: “Let ’em wipe each other out. / That attitude was typical then. Has it changed?” (J. Montoya 1992, 6). Recalling that Montoya heard the

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exchange in the 1950s and shared it with his audience in 1969, his query suggests that Benny is more allegory than historical figure, but an allegory with flesh and bone. Ricardo Favela’s memory of hearing the poem makes this especially clear. Favela was not a Pachuco from “that epoch” (J. Montoya 1992, 6), but he responded to Montoya’s question, recalling that the vatos in the poem were the ones with whom he had been friends growing up in Dinuba, California. Thus Favela’s connection with “Los Vatos” was tangible, made real by Montoya’s oration, which allowed Favela to crisscross historical epochs, identifying his individual experience within the collective of Mexican American history. It is important to linger on the performance origins of Montoya’s poem and the environment in which it, and numerous other bilingual poems, was recited to decenter the “monolingual Anglocentric literary tradition” (Saldívar 1997, 58). Montoya’s early poems were not meant for readers but for listeners. They were proclamations of a particular racial-ethnic consciousness and working-class sensibility.10 Emphasizing the readership of Montoya’s poems obscures the history of poetic performance as political consciousness-raising in the 1960s and 1970s. José Montoya’s poetry recital shifted the experience of public space for Chicano/a students like Ricardo Favela, articulating a bilingual identity in 1969 that, like the mural La Cultura, bridged the gap between the Chicano/a community and the university. Published in the 1969 anthology El Espejo— The Mirror, “La Jefita” and “Los Vatos” expressed the intellectual and creative milieu of the Chicano movement as it unfolded on university campuses.11 When Montoya’s 1969 recitation is considered as a political performance, it becomes part of a larger discursive history of poetic declarations demanding visibility in the US civil rights era (Noriega and Tompkins Rivas 2011, 74). Further, there are aural elements in Chicano/a poetry that are essential to the sensory experience of consciousness-raising. The “alliterative power of sound texture” in Chicano/a poetry, Tino Villanueva (2000, 694) writes, triggers corporeal sensations that the poetic content demands. Villanueva considers “The Lion Roars” (1971), a trilingual poem by Chicano poet Alurista (Alberto Urista) that relies on the sounds of consonants between Spanish, English, and Nahuatl to drive the poem forward. Between the poem’s three languages, Villanueva counts “twenty-two r’s, strong t’s and the k sounds of ‘calaca,’ ‘skeleton,’ ‘con,’ ‘quétzal,’ ‘cuadros,’ ‘square blocks, and rock,’ in their aggregate carriers of vigorous sounds that complement

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and sustain the idea of strength,” which translates into ancestral pride (Villanueva 2000, 694).12 The role of the narrator in moving audiences between spaces and times in “Los Vatos” is underscored by the particular voice of the bard. Montoya’s poem was rooted in a corrido tradition intended for listening audiences. This is an important distinction for all bilingual poetry, both near and far, to Montoya’s reading in 1969, which marked a year of ethnopoetic performances that decentered the “Anglocentric literary tradition” in public space (Saldívar 1997, 58). Prior to the publication of “Puerto Rican Obituary,” for example, Nuyorican poet Pedro Pietri recited it in 1969 at a rally to support the Young Lords Party (Monthly Review 2004).13 Pietri structures the poem around an unremitting refrain of names, “Juan / Miguel / Milagros / Olga / Manuel,” but before he introduces his chorus of names, Pietri uses the pronoun “they” sixteen times in the first stanza, hammering his audience with the dejected existence of the Puerto Rican working class. While Pietri’s long poem was published in 1973 as part of his first book, Puerto Rican Obituary, Agnes Lugo-Ortiz (2002, 212) asserts that in order to experience the work’s “defiant language” and “relentless repetition and flowing raps,” one must hear them aloud, not in “comfortable solitude and silence” but in “emphatic public performance.” Meanwhile, in Denver, Colorado, “El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán” was delivered at the National Chicano Youth Liberation Conference in 1969 (Ontiveros 2014, 24). The plan’s preamble, written by Alurista, set a mood for a gathering of Chicanos/as. Commencing with, “In the spirit of a new people that is conscious not only of its proud historical heritage, but also the brutal ‘Gringo’ invasion of our territories,” the preamble elicited an awakening, Randy Ontiveros asserts, revealing the simultaneity of consciousnessraising through evocations of indigenous and Mexican histories and the “moment when Mexican Americans at last decided they had had enough abuse” (24). Pedro Pietri’s, Alurista’s, and José Montoya’s poetic performances were essential components of consciousness-raising because of the sensory experiences the bilingual components conjured for listeners. While Pietri’s poem and Alurista’s preamble were recited in front of homogenous audiences in 1969, Montoya read his work at a university campus where a program had been established to increase Mexican American student enrollment. A varied audience heard Montoya recite “Los Vatos,” many of whom may

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not have known a person like Benny, the poem’s protagonist. For Ricardo Favela, Montoya’s code-switches elevated his consciousness because he was not used to hearing the blend of Spanish, English, and caló at his university. The immediate distance Favela felt from his “Anglo friends” suggests that hearing Montoya’s poems disrupted the assimilative forces that minority students endured through the invisibility of their cultural, linguistic, and racial-ethnic differences on college campuses in 1969. From nicknames of people and places like “el Chonito” and “el bote,” to references to sixteenth-century Spanish conquest via “Moctezuma,” Montoya’s words complemented the pre-Columbian allusions, summoning feelings of ancestral pride (Villanueva 2000, 694). University campuses, public streets, and public parks in the late 1960s and 1970s were occupied by students, artists, and activists of color to stage events, hold protests, and engage in creative expression. Like the mural La Cultura, Montoya’s poems activated a sense of place on campus for Favela. But the feeling of ownership fostered by such poems for Chicano/a students was perceived by administrators, law enforcement, and mainstream media as verbal threats to the status quo and an expression of militant activism.

The Reno Club and One More Canto: A Verbal-Visual Chicano/a Sense of Place The sound textures in José Montoya’s bilingual poems manifested in the visual textures of RCAF murals, which fused cultural symbols and historical periods across geopolitical borders for Chicano/a viewers, cultivating their sense of place in an environment of images, words, and oration that Guisela Latorre (2008, 140) calls “decolonizing creative expressions.” RCAF murals communicated the Chicano/a artists’ desire “to overturn historical processes in order to exact radical change” (Latorre 2008, 2). Armando Cid’s tile mosaic murals Olin and Sunburst at Zapata Park and Esteban Villa’s Emergence of the Chicano Social Struggle in a Bi-Cultural Society at the Washington Neighborhood Center were decolonizing expressions because they reclaimed “physical space on behalf of the Chicana/o community,” Latorre writes, and “asserted metaphorical spaces for said population” (2008, 141; emphasis in original). Created in the Alkali Flat district of downtown Sacramento, they were not the only RCAF murals in the city’s Chicano/a barrio. From La Raza Bookstore’s storefront mural, Por la Raza United Flight (1973)

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by Armando Cid, to the murals that the RCAF created between 1974 and 1976 at the Sacramento Concilio, Inc., many of these works were destroyed when property ownership changed in the 1980s and 1990s. Villa’s and Cid’s incorporation of pre-Columbian motifs, spiritual signs, and Mexican imagery changed the meaning and function of the spaces in which the murals existed and in which a handful of murals remain. Cid’s murals provided context for the cultural and spiritual performances that took place at Zapata Park, while Villa’s mural engaged viewers in a complex rumination on the historical processes of racial and cultural mixtures that formed Chicano/a identity and now informed Chicanos/as on local issues.14 In content, form, and location, such murals were site-specific, responding to “pragmatic and conceptual concerns” and presenting “a solution to the disparity between abstract ideas and immediate needs” (Latorre 2008, 142). Armando Cid’s murals at the Reno Club also exemplified the intersection of the visual, poetic, and political in RCAF artistic production. In 1976, Cid and his student team created Reno’s Mural and Para la Raza del Barrio on the exterior walls of the Reno Club at Twelfth and D Streets. The murals marked the café as an “ethnically bounded sanctuary” in the Chicano/a barrio, a space that David R. Diaz (2005, 3) describes as “a zone of segregation and repression” to counter romanticized notions of what a barrio is for the people who work, live, and socialize in one. Barrios do not emerge as idyllic or inspirational spaces, but originate in economic, social, and political exclusions. By creating murals alongside community infrastructure, Chicano/a artists and their communities re-created barrios as places of belonging through graphic embellishment and community programming centered on commonality and cultural affirmation. Latorre (2008, 143) terms the re-creation of barrio space through murals as “mural environments,” exemplified by Estrada Courts in East Los Angeles, Chicano Park in San Diego, and Balmy Avenue in San Francisco.15 Similar to Chicano/a poems that code-switch and rely on consonance between Spanish and English to instill strength and cultural pride, mural environments do similar visual work through the intertextuality of pre-Columbian, Mexican, Latin American, and US signs and symbols. Most importantly, Chicano/a mural environments enact the idea of Aztlán, or the ancestral and symbolic homeland of the Chicano/a diaspora (Latorre 2008, 146) (see plate 16). Reno’s Mural performed Aztlán by bridging the intellectual and historical experiences of Chicanos/as with their social reality, as Saldívar (1997, 61)

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claims for José Montoya’s poem “Los Vatos.” The mural told a story about Chicano/a poetry through the musical history that had evolved between the United States and Mexico. It also identified a Chicano/a refuge in the 1970s by marking a place in which Chicano/a poetry was performed. Emblazoned with Indio colors and a Mexican flag, Reno’s Mural fused pre-Columbian imagery with portraits of Mexican mariachis, cantadores, and Mesoamerican symbols and deities (Latorre 2008, 2).16 The Reno Club was the official home of José Montoya’s One More Canto, a Tuesday night Chicano/a poetry series that attracted poets from all over California and beyond. “Frustrated at being denied access to campus facilities for poetry reading,” Montoya “started holding ‘flor y canto’ sessions at a legendary local Chicano nightspot, the Reno Café, in the early 1970s” (Inside the City 2002, 11). Established in 1977 and coordinated by RCAF member Terezita Romo, the series lasted for four years at the Reno Club (see plate 17). At the height of the poetry series in 1979, over two hundred people crammed into the Reno Club to listen to “16 Chicano poets” who were “unpublished or had several anthologies to their credit,” resonating with the RCAF’s approach to collapsing hierarchy in the production and display of visual art (J. Diaz 1979). Although One More Canto ended at the Reno Club, Terezita Romo continued to run a poetry series at La Raza Bookstore and Galería Posada throughout the 1980s, and Ricardo Favela recalled that it continued in the “poetry nights over at Luna’s,” a café still in existence and “where the Reno Club went” (Lemon 2001). Armando Cid’s murals at the Reno Club elevated the ethnopoetic performances that took place there by linking them to an ancestral past that was deeply rooted in song. In defining what mural environments often catalyze for Chicano/a communities, Latorre claims that mural dedication ceremonies are a “more performative form of the mural environment” (2008, 171; emphasis in original). Upon completing murals in the 1970s, Chicano/a artists and communities dedicated the work with elaborate services involving blessings, danzas indigenas, and various addresses from the artists and community members. In the case of Reno’s Mural, the poetic dimension of the space on which the mural was painted coincided with the artwork, revealing literal verbal-visual architecture for Chicano/a poets, musicians, and audiences in a sanctuary in Sacramento’s downtown barrio. An important component of the RCAF’s creation of a Chicano/a mural environment was their collapse of artistic hierarchy in opposition to the idea

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of beauty and artistic genius as the realm of Figure 4.2. Detail of Para la Raza del Barrio (ca. 1976) the individual artist. Adjacent to Reno’s Mural, with Armando Cid’s students’ Armando Cid and a student team created Para signatures. Royal Chicano Air la Raza del Barrio, in front of the café’s parkForce Archives. The California ing lot. Cid’s mural team consisted of students Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections from the Washington Barrio Education CenDepartment, the University ter at 1512 C Street, an outreach program that of California, Santa Barbara began through classes held at the Washington Library. Neighborhood Center in 1975 (“Pamphlet for the Washington Barrio Education Center,” n.d.). Cid and José Montoya taught art-related courses at the education center (“1978 Summer Session Schedule,” n.d.), while Cid and Sam Rios Jr. worked with Sacramento City College to provide free academic services

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in the Washington neighborhood, highlighting another example of RCAF members’ free association (“Pamphlet for the Washington Barrio Education Center,” n.d.). As the mural’s title suggests, Para la Raza del Barrio showcased the lives of working-class Chicanos/as. Using street art and elements of Pop Art, the mural included images of farmworkers, calaveras, the Virgen de Guadalupe, and a mixture of Chicano/a calligraphy. Cid’s students created their own images and visual signatures in the mural, most notably Yolanda Tarin and Joe González, who designed a mandala-like circle that included four faces (see fig. 4.2). Tarin and González signed their names above two of the faces, and the faces left unsigned may have represented Kenneth Munguia and Javier Torres, the other students involved on the project, according to an image description on Calisphere. Tarin and González painted a power fist in front of a huelga eagle in the middle of the mandala. The image not only marked the Reno Club as a working-class oasis, but it politicized the space, since the club was in proximity to the Alkali Flat’s business district and served as an informal meeting center for Chicano/a laborers and union workers.17

The Art of Conversation: Free Association and Collective Brainstorming Painted with students and allowing them to take ownership of the work by designing and signing it, Para la Raza del Barrio achieved its title in both content and form. The mural reflected the RCAF’s theory and praxis of collectivism, which was an approach to mural making for many Chicano/a artists and collectives in the 1970s. Alicia Gaspar de Alba (1998, 10) writes that by opposing “the ideology of individualism at the core of ‘art for art’s sake,’” Chicano/a artists expressed “the symbiotic relationship between art and its social context,” producing “a unique aesthetic and social practice” through collaborative work. The RCAF artists took their cue directly from Chicano movement manifestos that called for art in service to the political goals of the movement. In doing so, they freely associated, gaining “insights into social relations” that Noriega and Tompkins Rivas (2011, 75) assert offer deeper understandings of the creative process “than those offered by literally illustrating a political platform.” The RCAF’s theory and praxis of a Chicano/a art collective opposed a hierarchy between teachers and students, individual ownership of artwork,

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and the idea that political activism lacked creative potential—all values and practices that are intimately bound to the group’s formation at CSUS. Esteban Villa recalled, “We were with a group of teachers and students, and at some of our get-togethers on campus, we started talking about [a collective]. It was just kind of like, ‘Hey, let’s start an art collective in Sacramento. What are we going to call it?’ . . . Somebody said, ‘The Rebel Chicano Art Front,’ because of the times, you know, ‘rebel’ and ‘Chicano’” (Esteban Villa, interview, January 7, 2004). The collective brainstorming over the RCAF’s name signals the role that free association played during their informal conversations. Several artists and students, including Juan Cervantes, Armando Cid, Rudy Cuellar, Ricardo Favela, Luis González, and Juanishi Orosco, joined José Montoya and Esteban Villa in these informal gatherings on campus. The group also included Max Garcia and Luis González’s brother Hector, who transferred from Sacramento City College to CSUS (Martínez 1997, 234).18 Already active in the Brown Berets, Irma Lerma Barbosa enrolled in the MAEP’s 1969 undergraduate class and joined the RCAF after talking with Juanishi Orosco and Rudy Cuellar (Irma Lerma Barbosa, interview, June 26, 2013). Celia Herrera Rodríguez, who earned a bachelor’s degree in art and ethnic studies at CSUS, also participated (L. Pérez 2007). Echoing Esteban Villa’s memories of the conversational nature of the collective’s formation, José Montoya reflected on the brainstorming sessions in which members defined what the name of the RCAF would mean. Recalling that “the Juanishis and the Celias and the other students wanted to have an organization like the one that Esteban and I had belonged to in the Bay Area,” the Mexican American Liberation Art Front (MALA-F), Montoya explained, “We couldn’t use that here because that was a Bay Area–based program. So we threw it out to the students, you know, ‘What would you like to call it?’ It’s hard to remember who decided to be the Rebel Chicano Art Front.” Unable to remember who proposed the original name because of the informal nature of the discussions, Montoya added that “one of the things we signed on to was that no one was going to sign their name to any artwork. It was going to be like the old regiment of the Toltecs—you don’t see who built the pyramids. There are no leaders. Everybody is an artist. Everybody is a teacher. This is kind of a Marxist idea, that everybody’s on the same level” (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). The RCAF’s collective philosophy formed in an exchange of ideas and a fascinating fusion of historical and cultural references as well as political ideologies and values. Drawing on the broader student and anti–Vietnam War protests to which several RCAF

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members were exposed, José Montoya conveys that members merged their knowledge of pre-Columbian cultures and their investment in the politics of the Chicano/a movement with their concept of an art collective that rejected power differentials between students and teachers; yet they did so while enrolled in or instructing at a university. The group’s rejection of the protocol and culture of the university was a central point of the RCAF’s oppositional consciousness and defined much of its artistic rebellion. The RCAF’s institutional background is important in outlining its version of an art collective, which attempted to circumvent ownership and hierarchy in the production and exhibition of art, resonating with the “Marxist idea” to which Montoya refers. But it is also important to note because early scholarship on 1960s and 1970s student art collectives does not address the RCAF as being founded at a university and thus influenced by institutional culture, art traditions, and curatorial methods. In Toward a People’s Art, originally published in 1977, Eva Cockcroft, John Pitman Weber, and James Cockcroft (1998, 68) explain that the student art collective was “the direct expression of a political philosophy advanced by New Left organizations [and] came to the fore mainly with the student movement, the counterculture, and certain community organizations.” The New Jersey People’s Painters exemplified the art collectives that emerged directly from these sources, operating like a “brigade” and consisting of “students or youths located at or around a college campus” whose “primary commitment is political” (68).19 Advised by professor James Cockcroft, the People’s Painters practiced “artistic anonymity,” resulting in a “single collective style distinct from individual styles of the group’s members” (68–69). The aesthetic uniformity enforced equality amongst members as the People’s Painters created murals at Livingston College in the early 1970s, now the Livingston campus of Rutgers University. Although the RCAF was highly visible by the 1977 publication date of Toward a People’s Art, it is not mentioned in the book.20 Further, the original La Cultura mural, created by Mexican American Youth Association (MAYA) and Mexican American Education Project (MAEP) students at CSUS, is also absent. To establish a connection between the collective ideas practiced by the People’s Painters and Chicano/a art collectives, the authors of Toward a People’s Art claim that the latter operated under community and not aesthetic values: “Within the Chicano movement, which is sensitive to the many historical precedents for communalism in its Indian and Mexican heritage, the collective form has been a frequent mode of organization.

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Rather than at a university setting, the national or ethnic collective tends to work within the neighborhood of its people” (Cockcroft, Weber, and Cockcroft 1998, 70). The authors demonstrate their claim with Artes Guadalupanos de Aztlán, an art collective that formed in the 1970s in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and developed “directly out of the local barrio,” practicing aesthetic uniformity to “attain a group expression” (69).21 Although the RCAF worked within Chicano/a neighborhoods, as evinced by Para la Raza del Barrio as well as Cid’s Zapata Park murals and Villa’s Emergence mural, the group slips through the authors’ description because it emerged on a college campus with a majority of trained-artist members working inside and outside the university. The RCAF also included members who were educators, state workers, community service leaders, and politicians, all of whom were occasionally tasked with making art. While numerous RCAF posters and murals were signed with the collective’s acronym in the early 1970s, the artists’ individual styles are identifiable. As I explored in chapter 1, variances in RCAF art styles often mirrored differences in the artists’ political and spiritual beliefs as well as their biographies, but artistic differences also reflected members’ professional training. José Montoya and Esteban Villa had studied at the California College of the Arts in the late 1950s, encountering lingering art world trends among leading styles like Pop Art. Armando Cid trained at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California, and earned his MFA in printmaking at CSUS. Stan Padilla completed his BFA and MFA degrees at the San Francisco Art Institute. Ricardo Favela completed both his BFA and MFA degrees at CSUS. Lorraine García-Nakata first studied sculpture in 1974 at CSUS and was a sculpture major between 1976 and 1977 at the University of Washington. Juan Cervantes and Rudy Cuellar studied art at CSUS, and Luis González majored in English there, focusing on poetry, which is reflected in his numerous serigraphs that incorporate original verses (Romo 1993). Irma Lerma Barbosa graduated from CSUS in 1975 with a BA in ethnic studies and a minor in art as well as her master’s degree in counseling education. Juan Carrillo and Sam Rios Jr. completed graduate degrees at CSUS and, like Lerma Barbosa, were exposed to pedagogical frameworks for communitybased learning and collaborative models. The educational backgrounds of RCAF members counter assumptions of untrained artists not invested in quality, unaware of art traditions and trends, or unconcerned with testing the boundaries of art world norms through social approaches to aesthetic innovation. RCAF artists were at the center of intellectual discourse on the

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arts as they moved back and forth between the university and Sacramento’s Chicano/a neighborhoods. More central to the RCAF’s collective theory and praxis than a uniform artistic style was their shared identity as Chicanos/as, an identity that operated under a broad-based political movement that pivoted on selfdetermination. Instead of a standardized art style, the RCAF’s collective idea revolved around collaboration both among the members themselves— often in support of one another’s projects—and with various communities. Armando Cid elaborated on this point, moving beyond the aesthetic variations of the individual artists in the collective to emphasize an RCAF future: Anytime you have a collective that thinks and expresses themselves in terms of working for the community, working for your own people, and making these connections happen because there’s many different communities that were involved. There’s students, there’s elders, there’s farmworkers, you know, we got people in prison. . . . The more you look at how we started and how we continue is that you have to not stop and look at the past, but look at how we’re going to keep this thing going. (Quiñones and Flores 2007)

Cid asserts that the future of the RCAF was more important to him than its past; nevertheless, he underscores that “there were many different communities” involved in the RCAF’s formation of a collective idea. Not all RCAF members worked with the communities Cid mentions, but each member attributed the collaborative process of making art for people and sharing ownership of the work to their involvement in the RCAF.22

“The Barrio Artist/Teacher”: Decolonizing Art World Rules RCAF members relied on university resources to implement the Barrio Art program in the early 1970s, further illuminating their collective theory and praxis as well as their movement between university and Chicano/a community spaces.23 Known as Barrio 138 because it was offered as a college class at CSUS, the program brought university students into Chicano/a neighborhoods to learn and train in arts education but, more importantly, to work with Chicano/a youth and the elderly. Barrio Art was José Montoya’s vision made real by his RCAF colleagues. It was initially managed by Montoya and

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Esteban Villa, along with their CSUS colleague Eduardo Carrillo, prior to his departure from the university. Ricardo Favela became the director in 1977 and supervised the program until his untimely death in July 2007. Rejecting the individual act of painting on canvas in the solitude of one’s studio with the intention of exhibiting the work in museums or selling it in commercial galleries, Barrio Art centered on the art of building relationships. This concept is now referred to as relational art, which proposes that the artist is not the source or center of creation but a catalyst for making art that takes “as its theoretical horizon the realm of human interactions and its social context, rather than the assertion of an independent and private symbolic space” (Bourriaud 2002, 14; emphasis in original). While numerous records abound on Barrio Art in the RCAF collection at UC Santa Barbara’s California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives, Montoya offers a different record of the program in his poem “The Barrio Artist/Teacher” (1975). Dedicated to the RCAF, Montoya’s poem espouses the collective idea of merging aesthetic practice with sociality and education. “Because to create / Is to give life,” Montoya states, “The barrio artist/teacher / Commits acts of love . . . / And risks / seeming selfish” (J. Montoya 1992, 114). Using the extra space between stanzas, Montoya interjects on his supposition, writing “But” as a one-word line to emphasize the three stanzas that support his conclusion: To look into the eyes Of a child Discovering The magic Of color Amidst squalor— To see A stone Vato loco Caressing A ball of clay— To discern As wrinkled

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Fingers forget The pain of aging— It has to be a Selfless Selfishness. (114)

Verbally turning in three directions, Montoya’s stanzas are reverential gestures toward his primary audience. More confession than poem in its delicate vulnerability, “The Barrio Artist/Teacher” is a counterpoint to Western understandings of altruism because it discloses the shared benefit of consciousness-raising between teachers and students. Diverging from Christian ideals of selfless generosity as the individual’s pathway to communing with the Holy Spirit, Montoya evokes the Chicano movement’s adaptation of the Mayan concept of “In Lak’ech,” or the communal sense of collective responsibility that was poeticized by Chicano/a poets and authors in the 1970s.24 Alongside the reference to “In Lak’ech,” Montoya’s poem highlights the convergence of institutional training and Chicano movement principles. Montoya’s meditation on the inspiration he received from teaching and collaborating in the community is, after all, a single-author poem. His organization of the three stanzas that offer a confession on behalf of the poet reveals tension between the identities of “The Barrio Artist/Teacher,” visually conveyed through the forward slash in the poem’s title that signifies division between the identities. The “Selfless Selfishness” of “The Barrio/Artist Teacher” is a negotiation of institutional desires—the longing for individual artistic recognition in the mainstream art world and the experience of creating art that transforms the source of artistic genius into a communal consciousness and sense of shared ownership. For choosing the latter over the former, the RCAF often received criticism of their art as being more social work than aesthetic innovation (Noriega 2001b, 21). Barrio Art exemplifies the RCAF’s development and refinement of a collaborative approach to making art, but it was also a response to institutional exclusion, which José Montoya, Esteban Villa, and their students experienced at CSUS. “We all came to the consensus that we were really not that well received at the university,” Montoya recalled, adding that because the RCAF “had entered into activism .  .  . we knew the community very well, and we talked to some community leaders of various referral programs and [asked] their help in providing space and in some cases, a little bit of money”

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(José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). Together with the RCAF’s Centro de Artistas Chicanos, Barrio Art developed beyond a reaction to institutional marginalization, primarily through the group’s discursive framework.25 RCAF members worked as instructors for Barrio Art and El Centro de Artistas Chicanos and served as administrators for both organizations as they evolved. Members also served on the board of the Concilio de Arte Popular and as representatives of the Sacramento Concilio, Inc. Thus, the RCAF professionalized through parallel infrastructural systems as its members entered official channels for public art and community relations. The RCAF’s knowledge of art instruction and administrative processes most definitely impacted their rejection of art world rules. Along with art exhibitions at tEl Centro de Artistas Chicanos that included works by untrained artists and children, the RCAF organized shows at CSUS that broke exhibition protocol. “Sac State went crazy when we had our first RCAF exhibit,” Montoya explained, adding that other faculty “freaked out; they thought it was going to be me, [Eduardo] Carrillo, and Esteban [Villa], but we said, ‘No, it’s the whole RCAF.’ Remember, they were our students. But the Sac State Art Department said, ‘You can’t show an exhibit with students. You have to keep that teacher-student relationship’—whatever that meant.” Despite pushback, the RCAF staged “a show of the whole collective and young people” in which the “signature was the RCAF [the acronym for the], Rebel Chicano Art Front. And people would see ‘RCAF’ and they would wonder what connection we had with the Royal Canadian Air Force, the real RCAF. And somebody just at one point said, ‘Hey, we’re not the Royal Canadian Air Force. We’re the Royal Chicano Air Force.’ And everybody dug it, and it stuck” (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). The RCAF’s curatorial decisions undermined implicit understandings of authorship and property rights, and through the enigmatic group logo, the collective announced their rejection of art world rules. Coinciding with RCAF university exhibitions, Esteban Villa began painting murals on campus with students in the early 1970s, disrupting the regulation of institutional space by not pursuing administrative approval. Subsequently, many of these murals were destroyed. Sam Rios Jr. lamented that only one student mural from the 1970s remains on school grounds (see fig. 4.3): “There’s Tlaloc by Henry [Enrique] Ortiz in Sacramento Hall. That’s the only community mural left” (Sam Rios Jr., interview, April 24, 2007). Ironically, in 2002, a line of photographs hung above the mural Tlaloc and displayed former university presidents, one of whom is particularly

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important to the period of student mural Figure 4.3. Enrique Ortíz, Tlaloc (1972), California removal. President James Bond (1972–1978) State University, Sacramento. oversaw all public art projects after the CSU Author’s photograph. Board of Trustees passed a policy on September 26, 1973, requiring public art proposals to receive the “approval of a special committee designated by the president” and then the consent of “the president himself.” After receiving the proper approvals, the designs were “submitted to the Chancellor’s Committee on Campus Planning, Buildings and Grounds for recommendation to the Board of Trustees for action” (Austin 1974). In 1974, Esteban Villa and his students were in the midst of painting Pandora’s Box on the exterior of a campus pub when “a security officer arrived to tell them that it couldn’t be done.” The mural “was to represent the story of Pandora’s Box . . . but with a modern twist, as can be ascertained with representations of rockets, jets, hyperdermic [sic] needles, etc.” Deemed by campus officials as a “defacing [of ] the walls,” the mural was painted over “within the hour.” Villa commented in the university newspaper that the

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administration either didn’t “want anything Figure 4.4. Photograph of the whitewashing of mural by controversial or they don’t like color” (Austin Esteban Villa and students. 1974). All kidding aside, Villa and his students Jim Austin, “Mural Does did not have permission to paint on university Vanishing Act,” State Hornet. walls (see fig. 4.4). Department of Special Collections and University Recalling his remarks in 1974 about the Archives. University Library, removal of Pandora’s Box, Villa contextualized California State University, his actions in more serious terms to lay bare Sacramento. what was at stake for the RCAF in the 1970s as they struggled for a sense of place on campus by using art to demand equal access. For Villa, the question of who had legitimate access to public space was central to the creation of Chicana/o art. Wanting to “go on record that we definitely do not—with our art—want to destroy this country,” he positioned the RCAF as “educators” (Esteban Villa, interview, December 23, 2000), echoing the “pedagogical political culture” that Noriega and Rivas Tompkins (2011, 75) assert was central to

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Chicano/a artists and art centers in Los Angeles. Instead of the destruction of space, Villa concluded that he and the RCAF were attempting to construct Chicano/a space by reconnecting with pre-Columbian and Mexican history through murals. The right to public space and the rights of students and faculty to pursue their studies—for example, by making murals—was part of their right to access Chicana/o histories and cultural memories (Barnett 1984, 433). Official recognition of these rights was a huge concern for Villa as an instructor within an institution that was exerting censorship. Thus, the stakes were high when Esteban Villa, RCAF members, and students returned to school in fall 1976 and discovered that “seventy student murals” had been whitewashed over the summer (Barnett 1984, 433). According to Alan Barnett, Villa “flew into a rage and began painting an impromptu mural until restrained by security personnel. The mural survived only forty-five minutes, he says, and Villa himself hardly lasted longer, since efforts were made to fire him for defacing public property” (433). In another report, Villa was said to have been “outside of the SSU [CSUS] cafeteria” painting an unsanctioned mural when he “was stopped after about an hour by campus police. He said campus painters promptly blotted out his beginning” (Mendel 1978). The summer whitewashing also led to the destruction of La Cultura, the mural that had been created with the administration’s approval in 1970. La Cultura was destroyed following President Bond’s policy in 1973, as well as a directive to remove campus murals that “had come from the Chancellor of the State University System, Glenn Dumke . . . as the result of an ‘offensive’ mural done by Black students at Long Beach. Executive Order 113 required the removing of murals on all state campuses and established a moratorium on all wall art” (Barnett 1984, 433).26 The university’s eradication of murals in 1976 raises questions about the politics of representation in US history and art, or what is valued nationally as history, preserved as historical artifact, and treated as valuable American art. These questions were also posed by a mural restoration committee formed by the Sacramento Concilio, Inc., following La Cultura’s destruction. Comprising RCAF members, CSUS students, and CSUS faculty, the committee drafted reports on the mural’s history.27 In a “Statement of Need,” the committee explained that under the supervision of Ed Rivera “and Jorge Macias, a large number of people of all ages participated in developing the mural, with the understanding that this cultural gift would be accepted and respected by the people of CSUS.” The committee asserted that negotiations

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for the mural had been “in compliance with official procedures” and that the understanding reached by the administration and original mural makers was “solidified by a public ceremony . . . in which the President [Otto Butz, 1969–1970], the artists, and community representatives dedicated the creation.” Consequently, the committee “and a significant portion of the CSUS academic community was shocked when in August of 1976 and without warning the mural was destroyed” (“II. Statement of Need” 1977).28 Further substantiating that La Cultura was created collectively, the report conveys that the creators did not perceive the mural as ephemeral art or a temporary solution to larger problems between the institution and the Chicano/a community. Emphasizing the “public ceremony” that inaugurated the mural’s symbolic claim to university space for Chicano/a students and their sending communities, the committee underscored the Chicano/a infrastructure that the mural had created, resonating with Sam Rios Jr.’s recollection that La Cultura was meant to build a bridge between communities inside and outside the university.29 The mural committee pressed on in their cause following the statement of need. Isabel Hernandez (Serna) and her colleague José Pitti wrote a letter to President Bond regarding the destruction of the mural. Bond responded with a request for more “background information on [the] mural” (“I. Mural Chronology” 1977). In October 1976, Isabel Hernandez (Serna), Juanishi Orosco, Ed Rivera, and others toured the remaining mural panels. The committee continued to meet with Bond, and meeting minutes convey that they wanted to repaint the mural in the exact place where it had been destroyed: “Location: we still want old library” (“Mural Proposal Meeting Minutes” 1977). In a letter to President Bond, Sacramento Concilio director Henry Lopez emphasized the need for La Cultura’s “rebirth,” which required that restoration “be designed by Edward Rivera, assisted by local community people and students” (H. Lopez 1977). Not only did the Chicano/a community want the mural back in its specific location, but they wanted to replicate the collaborative process that had been used in the creation of the first mural. Whether or not the destruction of La Cultura was an administrative mistake, the racial and ethnic implications, as well as the political and cultural tensions exposed by the event, were real upon the mural’s removal; the mural became symbolic of the larger struggle for inclusion and educational access during the 1960s and 1970s civil rights era. The terms and context in which the committee framed their statement of need makes this clear. Pointing out

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the “conflict and violence” that had “occurred on many campuses during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s,” the committee claimed that CSUS “survived turmoil with a minimum of destruction” because of “the active involvement of ethnic students and faculty and community agency personnel” who brought “services of the university to their respective communities.” Because “the destruction of the old mural has been seen by Chicanos as a sign of disrespect,” the committee concluded that a “new mural will help rebuild the image of cooperation and respect on the CSUS campus between the entities involved” (“II. Statement of Need” 1977). The mural committee’s statement was strategic, highlighting the fact that CSUS remained secure during a volatile period at many college campuses and suggesting that they were responsible for that stability. “Ethnic students and faculty” were key ambassadors for CSUS in inner-city neighborhoods and included RCAF members who represented CSUS as MAEP fellows and worked in services that operated under the Sacramento Concilio, Inc., and the Centro de Artistas Chicanos. With the “disrespect” caused by La Cultura’s destruction, the committee pointed its finger: keeping the peace at CSUS was now up to campus officials.

Spatial Metamorphosis: The RCAF’s Entry into Public Space The removal of student murals at CSUS led Esteban Villa into other spaces deemed off-limits to Chicano/a art, like the tunnel under Interstate 5 on November 7, 1978. Villa’s actions prompted official correspondence from his RCAF colleagues Juan Carrillo and Ricardo Favela. Both of their letters suggested that Sacramento mayor Phil Isenberg was not only familiar with the RCAF but a political ally. In fact, Isenberg supported the United Farm Workers union throughout his political career and knew the RCAF as “the graphic arts arm of the union in the Sacramento Valley” (LaRosa 1994). Isenberg also worked with Joe Serna Jr., who was an RCAF member, Mexican American Education Project instructor, and government professor at CSUS. Joe Serna Jr. began his political career as a United Farm Workers organizer, a representative on the Sacramento Concilio, Inc., and the director for the Chicano Organization for Political Awareness. He became Sacramento’s mayor in 1992, serving until his death in 1999. In 1978, coinciding with Esteban Villa’s unauthorized tunnel mural, the RCAF entered a competition to create a mural adjacent to the K Street

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tunnel. The call for public art proposals was Figure 4.5. Metamorphosis in progress (ca. 1979–1980). sponsored by the Sacramento Metropolitan José Montoya Papers. Arts Commission (SMAC) via the Art in PubThe California Ethnic and lic Places ordinance. Both the governing entity Multicultural Archives. and ordinance materialized through legislaSpecial Collections Department, the University tion in 1976 that required percentages of “City of California, Santa Barbara and County capital improvement project budLibrary. gets be set aside for the commission, purchase, and installation of artworks throughout the City” (Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission 2016).30 Once the Art in Public Places ordinance was active, SMAC requested applications for public art to accompany a new parking structure on a lot bounded by K, L, Third, and Fourth Streets (“Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission Announces a Competition,” n.d.).31 Through the Centro de Artistas Chicanos, the RCAF proposed a sixty-five-foot-long, four-story mural to adorn the east wall of the garage on Fourth Street (J. Goldman 1980b). SMAC approved the design in 1978, and Esteban Villa, Stan Padilla, Juanishi Orosco, and a crew of RCAF members and students began work on Metamorphosis, an enormous butterfly mural featuring cosmic imagery, local landmasses, and indigenous figures (Centro de Artistas Chicanos 1980a). Dividing the mural

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into sections, Padilla, Villa, and Orosco maintained the butterfly’s shape but added distinct visual elements (see fig. 4.5).32 Completed by 1980, Metamorphosis departed from the culturally nationalist imagery of earlier RCAF murals, like Emergence of the Chicano Social Struggle in a Bi-Cultural Society (1969–1970). By the late 1970s and early 1980s, Chicano/a artists began broadening their interests in political and contemporary issues, including environmental concerns (Latorre 2008, 57). Metamorphosis replaced openly political messages with scenes from the natural world unfolding on the wings of a giant monarch butterfly. Metamorphosis also differed from earlier RCAF murals in terms of its location, which made it visible to multiethnic and interracial audiences. In a news interview, Juanishi Orosco described Metamorphosis as “the physical manifestation of the ‘primal energy on the earth’s surface,’” demonstrating the shift from culturally nationalist vocabulary to more general environmental concerns (J. Goldman 1980a). Orosco noted the mural’s “Tree of Life,” which sprouts from the right side of the second level “as animals and plants pick up the vibrations from the central figure of a drummer . . . ‘beating out the heartbeat of the earth mother.’” A giant tortoise in the mural “reminds us that ‘in ancient myth this continent was called Turtle Island.’ . . . And the twin towers of Rancho Seco show ‘what man is doing with the energy that’s at his disposal. Whether that’s good or bad is left to the viewer’” (J. Goldman 1980a). Referring to Sacramento’s power plant, Rancho Seco, Orosco avoided taking a position on nuclear energy.33 His description of the indigenous imagery and figures is also extremely general and not specific to the Nisenan or Miwok peoples who inhabited the Sacramento Valley (Avella 2003, 12). Although Orosco seemed concerned with man’s relationship with nature, technology, and spirituality, his interpretation in the news article is ambiguous, lacking the direct political message evident in earlier RCAF murals (see fig. 4.6). Interviews like Orosco’s suggest that Metamorphosis exemplified the RCAF’s turn toward decorative murals without the politically charged themes of the 1960s and early 1970s. As the community mural movement transitioned to subsidized art projects, “critical imagery virtually disappeared after 1980,” John Pitman Weber (2003, 9) claims. Chicano/a muralists were not alone in the transition; African American muralists were also impacted by government funding. Michael D. Harris (2000, 30–36) characterizes African American murals after the 1960s and by the mid-1970s as marking a transition “From Revolutionary Effort to Creative Decoration.”

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According to Harris, African American murals Figure 4.6. Metamorphosis (1980). Royal Chicano Air were no longer based on community consenForce Archives. The California sus or reliant upon the collaborative approach Ethnic and Multicultural that William Walker and Organization for Archives. Special Collections Black American Culture artists enacted with Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Chicago residents in the selection of images Library. for and the painting of the Wall of Respect (1967). Instead, individual artists began receiving direct grants and commissions for public artwork, signaling the end of murals made without government funding and for the communities who wanted them. Although municipal arts commissions and initiatives like the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) generated important exposure and experience for young artists, Eva Cockcroft and Holly Barnet-Sanchez (1993, 14) write that government support also “created an implicit (and sometimes real) threat of censorship that tended to dilute the content of these walls.” Cockcroft and Barnet-Sanchez connect the depoliticization of murals in the late 1970s to decreased social activism after the end of the Vietnam War (14). Government involvement in community murals was a double-edged sword for artists of color. Unlike the “force, specificity, and conviction” of

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earlier murals, those funded by government agencies carried “more general, wishful, positive images” (Weber 2003, 9). Likewise, the process changed from community collaboration to exclusively favoring the work of individual artists with name recognition (Goldman and Ybarra-Frausto 1985, 53). But upon closer inspection of its content and form, Metamorphosis (1980) challenges assumptions of an apolitical mural devoid of the collaborative process the RCAF used in making art. Reflecting on the planning stages, José Montoya recalled that “even after we got them to OK our work .  .  . the restrictions were really detrimental to what we were trying to do [which] was, first of all, to get young people to understand the importance of art in general” (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). The RCAF resisted the individualized process of the public art commission. An original roster for the mural team lists names of seventeen people involved in the project (Centro de Artistas Chicanos 1980b). Moreover, during the six weeks of actual painting, the RCAF “invited the public to share the experience of creating a work that they feel represents ‘humanity as a whole’” (J. Goldman 1980a). Despite transitioning into the realm of government-funded public art, the RCAF used the Art in Public Places ordinance as a platform for engaging the central tenet of their collective philosophy—a civil rights–era concept that had led to works like the Wall of Respect (1967) and Emergence of the Chicano Social Struggle in a BiCultural Society (1969–1970). In addition to upholding the collaborative process, the RCAF requested a specific location for Metamorphosis in their mural proposal because of its meaningful Chicano/a history. José Montoya revealed that Metamorphosis honors the site of Ernesto Galarza’s first home in Sacramento (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). In Barrio Boy Galarza (1971, 197) recalls his experiences in Sacramento: “418 L St, our refuge in a strange land . . . my mother and I began to take short walks to get our bearings . . . we noted by the numbers on the posts at the corners that we lived between 4th and 5th streets on L.” Metamorphosis is well named; the mural honors what was once the “lower part of town” in Sacramento’s West End, where Mexicans, Chinese, and other working-class people lived during the early twentieth century (Galarza 1971, 197). From a Chicano/a perspective of public space, Metamorphosis articulated a historical certainty, even the legitimacy, of a Mexican presence in Sacramento prior to the 1940s. Certainly, the RCAF was conscious of Sacramento’s original indigenous inhabitants, but Galarza’s early

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twentieth-century home in Sacramento exemplified the Mexican and Mexican American presence in the United States before the Bracero Program. “To be given that information when you are looking for your roots is very liberating,” José Montoya explained, adding that Metamorphosis is a historical marker for Chicanos/as that supports “a very legitimate claim to . . . being part of this land. And what keeps us viable is the memory, and it’s that memory that people are trying to eradicate” (LaRosa 1994). The RCAF used the concept of metamorphosis to symbolically express a spatial reclamation. Like the group’s murals in the late 1960s and 1970s, the RCAF’s murals in the 1980s continued to make Chicano/a lives, stories, and history visible. As the built environment and demographics changed, Metamorphosis reminded viewers that space is never neutral (Brady 2002, 7–8). Metamorphosis was not a barrio mural, but it commemorated a former barrio, reflecting the temporality of the built environment, which changes rapidly within a decade or two and then appears to onlookers as if it has always been there.

Toward a Chicano/a Future: Navigating Spatial Metamorphosis Metamorphosis was concerned with a Chicano/a past—both native ties to Aztlán as well as Galarza’s first home in Sacramento—but it was equally concerned with a Chicano/a future. Stan Padilla’s memories of the criticism the mural received suggests that as a new, and perhaps unreadable, Chicano/a symbol, Metamorphosis reflected the growing pains of the Chicano movement. “Up to that time,” Padilla recalled, “so-called Chicano murals had to have a certain iconography: you know, a huelga bird, a pyramid, Aztec calendars—the old Mexican grocery store calendars and stuff. If it didn’t have that, well then it wasn’t Chicano” (Stan Padilla, interview, July 12, 2004). Metamorphosis reflected an expanding visual vocabulary, one that imagined outcomes for the Chicano movement. Painting out of bounds for Chicano/a art by the end of the 1970s and testing the “codified themes, motifs, and iconography” of Chicano/a visual culture (Ybarra-Frausto 1993, 67), Padilla continued that “the butterfly was a real turn around” because “we were critiqued heavily by everybody, including our own . . . and then our liberal supporters were going, ‘Well, that’s not a real Chicano mural. Where’s the power fist? Where’s the bird?’ We’re going, ‘I don’t speak monolingual here. I can speak several tongues’” (Stan Padilla, interview, July 12, 2004). Likening the evolution of imagery in Chicano/a art to an ability to speak multiple

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languages, Padilla reveals the role of free association in shaping individual members’ vision for the mural. Nevertheless, Padilla used the collective’s air force persona to ground his particular perspective. Explaining that his colleagues often referred to him as “the navigator in it all,” Padilla praised his air force title and extended it to describe the evolution of the Chicano/a verbal-visual architecture that Metamorphosis represented: You get the planes flying, and you get the runway ready, but where in the hell are you going? You don’t know where you’re going, and you’re not leading your people towards something that is relevant and principled, and it doesn’t have a future. You know, it’s like a shooting star: great, it’s beautiful, but where does it go?

Returning to Metamorphosis, Padilla asked, “So, butterflies represent what?” and then moved through the steps of transmutation as a metaphor for Chicano/a art’s development over time. “We were changing [and] it was radical,” he added, “especially for our own people. Our own people were just going like, ‘What the hell are these people doing?’” (Stan Padilla, interview, July 12, 2004). Metamorphosis moved beyond expectations of political Chicano/a iconography to present a vision of a future world in harmony with nature and humanity (Ybarra-Frausto 1993, 67). But with several representations of indigenous people in the mural, the RCAF continued to address “the question of their Indian heritage,” which Shifra Goldman (1990, 167) identified as one of the primary issues tackled in Chicano/a art of the 1960s. Amid redevelopment projects that further removed indigenous, Mexican, and Mexican American histories in Sacramento, the RCAF created Metamorphosis as a visual “embracing of pre-Columbian cultures in order to stress the nonEuropean racial and cultural aspects of their background” in a vision of a Chicano/a future (S. Goldman 1990, 167). They landed their vision on the wings of a butterfly, and the delicateness of their hope for the Chicano movement’s future is captured by Stan Padilla’s example of a shooting star, which is beautiful, “but where does it go?” The future world that Metamorphosis envisions was also not gender neutral. In response to criticism of the mural, Padilla claimed that the RCAF created the butterfly “to retrieve our soul, to retrieve back in time and pull back and get some of that gentleness—like our own yin and yang. You can’t have one without the other” (Stan Padilla, interview, July 12, 2004). Perhaps

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Metamorphosis reflected the numerous ChiFigure 4.7. Esteban Villa at Metamorphosis (1980) in 2002. cana-led community initiatives and cultural Author’s photograph. programs in Sacramento, like Breakfast for Niños, or the Cultural Affairs Committee’s ongoing calendar of fiestas and ceremonies. Padilla’s memories convey that after nearly two decades of the Chicano movement, the RCAF was changing, pushing the boundaries of the group’s verbal-visual architecture to meet the needs of an evolving Chicano/a identity. The butterfly that was perceived as apolitical in 1980 has emerged as a radical Chicana/o symbol in contemporary US Latina/o art. Alma Lopez created numerous digital images for her Our Lady, Lupe & Sirena series, which restages patriarchal creation stories from a perspective of female desire and autonomy, and most of the images include the strategic placement of a butterfly.34 Lopez’s incorporation of the butterfly anticipated the politicization of the symbol in the ongoing struggle for the human rights of undocumented peoples. Drawing on the idea of the naturalness of migration, Favianna Rodriguez uses the butterfly as a symbol of persistent migratory patterns despite violent disruptions caused by geopolitical borders. Rodriguez has adapted the butterfly image in several artistic genres, captioning the work with the motto “Migration is Beautiful.”35 The transformation of the butterfly into a readable sign in Chicana/o and US Latina/o art begins with the

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RCAF’s Metamorphosis, which is in need of serious repair as Sacramento’s K Street changes once again in 2016 through the removal of buildings to make way for a new sports arena. In June 2016, RCAF artists Stan Padilla, Juanishi Orosco, and Esteban Villa were selected to create a public artwork in the new Golden 1 Center and are negotiating the renovation of Metamorphosis with SMAC (see fig. 4.7).

Light Art in Sacramento, Energy Resources In Unlimited Movement On the heels of Metamorphosis, the RCAF began inquiring with SMAC about the K Street tunnel, where police had prevented Esteban Villa from painting a mural in 1978. Connecting K Street to the city’s riverfront district, also known as the city’s West End, the underground walkway was created by the construction of an Interstate 5 on-ramp in the 1960s. City officials began razing and redesigning the riverfront district after it fell into disrepair and urban blight (Champion 1949; Burg 2013, 11). Moving through a thirty-year redevelopment plan that started in the 1960s, city officials turned their attention back and forth between the Alkali Flat district, the West End, and the reconstruction of the capitol mall area, which included the parking structure at K and L Streets on which Metamorphosis remains.36 The success of Metamorphosis created an opportunity for the RCAF to revisit the issue of access to the tunnel. The designs they submitted to SMAC for a mural in the tunnel reflected their commitment to Chicano/a art principles. “Regarding the original concepts,” Juanishi Orosco recalled, “we had just finished the butterfly mural . . . and everything that we were doing in the community, aside from these two particular murals, was very political, very huelga-this, [very] Chicano movement and ethnic studies” (Juanishi Orosco, interview, December 23, 2000). Bringing the two tunnel walls together under the concept of Light Art in Sacramento, Energy Resources In Unlimited Movement, or L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M., the RCAF rewrote the city’s biography from a Chicano/a perspective of historical development and urban change. In a series of meetings and written statements, the RCAF acknowledged that the area known as Old Sacramento had once been a barrio, and they explained to the Art in Public Places committee that they wanted “to leave something beautiful for the people who used to live there” (G. Montoya 1983).37 In an official proposal, the RCAF recognized “fully, the early importance of the river front area to the larger history of Sacramento” but

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were especially “cognizant of the fact that not Figure 4.8. Plans for L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. (1983–1984). too long ago, old town was the active trading, Royal Chicano Air Force bartering and social center for most Chicanos Archives. The California in Sacramento” (Centro de Artistas Chicanos Ethnic and Multicultural 1982) (see fig. 4.8). Archives. Special Collections Department, the University Esteban Villa and Juanishi Orosco were of California, Santa Barbara the primary muralists on the tunnel project, Library. each designing one of the walls and assisted by Ricardo Favela and other RCAF colleagues, as well as their students and children. The area that the murals cover is enormous, with nearly two hundred feet of cement wall on both sides of the tunnel.38 Villa’s mural became known as the north wall, while Orosco’s mural is known as the south wall. Along with a SMAC coordinator, an Art in Public Places committee comprised of local artists and public servants oversaw the project.39 The committee requested a mural that was not overly ethnic or culturally specific; instead, a letter from the SMAC coordinator mandated that the RCAF’s “mural be abstract and geometric in nature” (Dowley 1982). Orosco and Villa delivered multidimensional designs that celebrated technological advancement in the Sacramento Valley as well as the area’s natural resources, but both artists did so from a Chicano/a perspective of local and hemispheric history. Juanishi Orosco’s mural told a story about Sacramento that started much earlier than the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. He locally referenced the Nisenan and Miwok, as well as a larger Native American history

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within the Western Hemisphere.40 Perhaps emboldened by his insertion of indigenous imagery in Metamorphosis, Orosco now wanted to capture a pre-Columbian understanding of time and space in the tunnel, challenging the “political borders, geographic boundaries, and discursive categories” that Emma Pérez (1999, 3) claims “shaped late twentieth century historical knowledge.”41 Blending indigenous symbols and imagery from Aztec, Pueblo, and Maya peoples, Orosco focused on sacred places, such as the Mayan temple El Castillo at Chichén Itzá. Thinking about space and time threedimensionally, Orosco planned a ceiling suspension system that would harness two large crystals. Orosco recalled that he collaborated with architect Roger Scott, “who worked with glass and stained glass,” and they planned to encase the “tetrahedron crystals” in fine wire mesh and suspend them on “two overhead shafts, which were water spillways from the overpass.” When light hit the suspended glass prisms, they would produce a rainbow at “sunrise, from the east, and then around 3:00 p.m., from the west” (Juanishi Orosco, interview, December 23, 2000). Orosco wanted to create sitespecific art in the tunnel by replicating “the serpent shadow” that appears on El Castillo at Chichén Itzá during the spring and fall equinoxes. The desired effect, however, was more than aesthetic novelty. It rethought the function of public space as well as the experience of time while paying homage to pre-Columbian architectural design. In thinking about Energy Resources In Unlimited Movement, Orosco wanted to recognize an alternative history of technology, one that considered the resource management of earlier civilizations (see plate 18).42 The RCAF’s original plans were turned down, largely due to the crystal suspension system (“Internal Memo from Department of Engineering to City Manager’s Office” 1980). Orosco regrouped, and the RCAF resubmitted its plans, but it was the first of many battles. A clear conflict over historical representation, aesthetic preference, and definitions of public art unfolded in a series of meetings between the RCAF and the Art in Public Places committee.43 After the RCAF resubmitted its plans, SMAC’s liaison sent a letter to the Centro de Artistas Chicanos indicating that changes needed to be made, and if they were not made, “the Committee may discontinue negotiations with the Centro” (Dowley 1983b). The committee’s mandated changes included: “Reflect a positive attitude, emphasize the human scale and transitional nature of space,” “create a pleasant experience for pedestrians moving through the Underpass,” and “use abstract imagery” (“Information on K

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Street Underpass Mural,” n.d.).44 Juanishi Orosco recalled his frustration with their requests: It wasn’t the city officials that censored it but the arts commission panel that were our peers [and some of whom] were also full professors at the university. . . . They were opposed to us doing the imagery that we normally do. What they wanted and dictated—they were very specific about it—they wanted us to design something very colorful, very general, very blah, that people would just walk through and not necessarily even look at the walls. That was what they wanted, but we’re going, “That’s not what we do.” They specified in the contract no faces, no identifiable imagery, no farmworkers, no words—nothing that was identifiable culturally or otherwise. And they did not want people to stop and look at it. They just wanted a sense of color, shape, and form—and thank you very much. So we fought that tooth and nail. (Juanishi Orosco, interview, December 23, 2000)45

Orosco’s memories span the four years it took the RCAF to get L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. made. Ultimately, to move the project forward in 1982 after the committee rejected his glass art concept, Orsoco revamped the south wall design. Orosco’s new design was full of color and had no identifiable imagery, but he maintained one aspect from the original proposal: a white line, representing a laser, which was also carried through to the north wall (see plate 19). When the RCAF returned to the tunnel in 1999 to renovate L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M., Juanishi Orosco took the opportunity to create an entirely new piece, adding a crystal at one end to further signify the original “Light Art” concept (Romero 1999). The new south wall is replete with identifiable imagery, including Hopi twins moving through a celestial sky and an indigenous woman giving birth as her hair turns into the Western Hemisphere, connecting North America to Central America, South America, and Cuba. Interspersing his aerial views of the Western Hemisphere with local geography, Orosco painted an indigenous woman sitting at the junction of several rivers in Sacramento. He ended the mural with a woman warrior staring toward a tapestry that turns into a pre-Columbian calendar, an alternative measure of time that disrupts the linearity of European timelines.46 For Chicano/a artists in the 1960s and 1970s, grounding their identities in pre-Columbian ancestry was a “strategic assertion of racial difference in the

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struggle against disenfranchisement,” Rafael Pérez-Torres writes (2006, 16). Mestizo/a consciousness, or an awareness of racial and cultural mixtures amongst Chicanos/as, was both a reclamation of indigenous heritage and a political tactic for claiming “native” rights in opposition to “the privilege and power of the Anglo-European mainstream within the United States” (Barnet-Sanchez 2012, 244). In describing the fusion of Mesoamerican imagery and Native American designs and figures in his original concept and, later, in his renovated mural, Juanishi Orosco turned “toward the Indian” to create a decolonial vision of history that he believes is his embodied experience as well as an intellectual one (Pérez-Torres 2006, 16; emphasis in original). “The influence of pre-Columbian culture and artists on Chicanos is evident,” Orsoco asserted. “Otherwise, why would we be doing what we’re doing? There’s got to be a gigantic DNA strain that is very much alive and goes back. . . . All we have to do is unlock it” (Juanishi Orosco, interview, December 23, 2000). The process of unlocking his pre-Columbian DNA involved artistic expression without censorship: “I believe when we write, when we draw, we open up our pre-Columbian veins—that through our hands, our ancestors speak. We’re probably opening up all of our synapses; and once you open up all your synapses, then you’re receiving. You’re suspending your conscious. It’s like a big lens” (Juanishi Orosco, interview, December 23, 2000). Orosco’s contemplation of the artistic process brims with the free association that influenced Chicano/a artists in the 1960s and 1970s. The “big lens” through which he envisions his art historical influences is an alternative one for understanding Chicano/a art as a native production within the United States (Gaspar de Alba 1998). It also visualizes a decolonial imaginary that, in its very creation, decolonizes historical consciousness by imagining simultaneous points of origin or a collective brainstorming for understanding the history of the Western Hemisphere (E. Pérez 1999). Orosco’s rendering of an aerial perspective of Chicano/a nativity in the Western Hemisphere was localized by Esteban Villa’s north wall design. Villa’s mural participated in the larger “Light Art” concept but focused on the removal of the West End’s working-class and multiethnic residents and the reinvention of the riverfront as a tourist attraction that framed Sacramento history in the mid-nineteenth-century California gold rush. Drawing on the familiar “Wild West” depiction of most Northern California cities and towns, the official website for Old Sacramento announces the city as founded

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in 1849. There are no traces of the West End’s Figure 4.9. Esteban Villa, detail of north wall history in the early and mid-twentieth century of L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. after and the highly concentrated community of renovations in 1999. Author’s working-class railroad workers and day laborphotograph. ers who comprised a multiethnic and interracial center in the middle of the capital city.47 While Juanishi Orosco redesigned the south wall of L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. in 1999, Esteban Villa “worked very hard to keep [his] as it was (16) years ago” (Romero 1999). Villa had escaped the Art in Public Places committee’s objections in the first round of negotiations until 1983, when they requested that he make his mural more like Orosco’s revised south wall (Dowley 1983a). Villa relied on the committee’s demand for “abstract imagery” and barely altered his original design in 1983 (G. Montoya 1983). Thus, there was no need for Villa to reinvent his mural in 1999, because in 1983 he encoded the elements that the Art in Public Places committee wanted him to change. In December 2000, for example, Villa pointed to a section of gold, angular shapes at the far west end of the mural and explained that “these buildings right here are Old Sacramento. . . . Now it’s a tourist place [but] they used to pick up farmworkers right here [where] nobody wanted to live.” Moving along the wall, Villa continued, “One cantina after another. So that’s what this depicts in my mural. And then over here, right here next to it, is how they

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started to destroy some of the old cantinas and Figure 4.10. Esteban Villa, detail of north wall bars” (Esteban Villa, interview, December 23, of L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. after 2000). The creation of Old Sacramento in renovations in 1999. Author’s the 1960s and 1970s involved the removal of photograph. “entire neighborhoods, both the people who lived there and the buildings where they lived” (Burg 2013, 11–12).48 Villa used the Art in Public Places committee’s request for “abstract imagery” strategically, capturing the historical presence of Mexican businesses and workers in the West End before its redevelopment (see plate 20). Villa continued to expose the Chicano/a history hidden in the north wall as he moved along the white line, pointing out the “famous farmworker truck, where they used to stop over here. There are people sitting down on the bench” (Esteban Villa, interview, December 23, 2000). Difficult to discern at first, the truck is disarming once detected. Painted from a rear-end view, its gate is open and men sit sideways above the rear tires (see fig. 4.9). After describing the natural resources available in the Sacramento Valley, Villa commented on scenes from the local nightlife. He explained that “they used to have nightclubs over there, so that’s champagne or a martini. And then this is a stage with entertainment: ‘ET’—entertainment tonight. Some people, well they say [it’s] ‘extra-terrestrial,’ but no. They said, ‘Don’t put any letters like ET,’ so I said, ‘Okay,’ and then I put letters with stars” (see fig. 4.10). While Villa recalled the Art in Public Places committee’s reaction

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Figure 4.11. Esteban Villa, detail of north wall of L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. after renovations in 1999. Author’s photograph.

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to letters in the mural, he avoided explaining what the letters originally stood for: “Eternal Tunnel.” In fact, Villa remained strategically ambiguous throughout our interview as he described images along the white line: “Now the whole time, the white laser beam is moving throughout nature, technology, [and] man’s building-up of the land. See here, below the nature? Some people think he’s holding a guitar; others say it’s a gun” (Esteban Villa, interview, December 23, 2000). Whether or not the man holds a gun or a guitar is inconsequential. For Villa, the ambiguity of the man’s instrument reflects the strategic ways in which Villa himself negotiated the official process once he was finally permitted to paint a Chicano/a mural in the tunnel. If elusive in his explanations of certain images, Villa was very specific about the labor history that takes place in the mural. In a final view of the north wall, he described a group of images as representative of “Sacramento athletics” and a view of the city at night. Directing my attention “above the football” and “the evening view of the buildings,” Villa pointed to the United Farm Worker (UFW) eagle surrounded by more obvious images. He concluded, “The mural focuses on land, labor, [and] the elements—fire, water, wind, earth—and then it ends with technology; see here, this computer chip.” For Villa, the UFW eagle symbolizes the labor that helped build the Sacramento skyline and makes possible “all the area has to offer,” from its athletics to its nightlife (Esteban Villa, interview, December 23, 2000). The north wall’s final scene, then, is not a random collection of images. Rather, it is a synthesis of ideas that centers on a Chicano/a perspective of Sacramento’s built environment. Villa pays homage to the hands that built the city as well as the industries that sustain it. From the most basic elements, “fire, water, wind, earth,” to the most complex technological achievement, the computer chip, Villa posits the worker as the catalyst that moves technology and society forward (see fig 4.11). Esteban Villa’s act of hiding symbols within his mural, largely through color, illuminates one of the ways he used New World mestizo/a art as a critical tool for building a Chicano/a verbal-visual architecture on the tunnel wall, despite the Art in Public Places committee’s guidelines. “Outside racial discourses, in a cultural context,” Rafael Pérez-Torres (1998, 155) claims, “mestizaje foregrounds the aesthetic and formal hybridity of Chicano artistic formation.” A well-worn tool for Chicano/a artists, mestizaje is a means by which to move strategically “among distinct racial or ethnic groups (Indigenous, African, Hispanic, Asian, Caucasian) and strategic reconfigurations of cultural repertoires (mythic, postmodernist, nativist,

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Euro-American)” (Pérez-Torres 1998, 155–156; emphasis mine). Mestizaje not only articulates racial mixture for Chicano/a consciousness, it provides an aesthetic method for defining that consciousness.49 In their desire to tell Chicano/a history in public space, the RCAF maintained their collective theory and praxis in the creation of L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. and also relied on a combination of artistic strategies that they learned along the way. The Art in Public Places committee created many obstacles for the RCAF’s vision for the tunnel, but the group navigated the politics of public art and space for nearly two decades, outlasting many of the committee’s members and remaining committed to their original design. Ultimately, by 1999, they achieved their vision when they returned to renovate the work. Thus, the tunnel had become a time warp. L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. is both a visual account of Sacramento’s development of the West End and a record of the artwork’s own creation. L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. challenges art historical claims that Chicano/a murals painted after 1975 were merely decorative and apolitical. As José Montoya remarked, “To us, the irony of L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. is the fact that we reclaimed a territory that was ours on K Street, which had Mexican stores and restaurants. That was the connecting thoroughfare to Old Sacramento—to the river” (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). The design, redesign, and renovation of L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. are integral parts of the RCAF’s history and of the broader history of Chicano/a art. But they are also relevant to the history of public art controversies in the United States as the civil rights movements ended and the grassroots, community-driven murals subsided by the end of the twentieth century.

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C h ap t e r 5

From Front to Force The RCAF’s Air Force Persona and the Performance of an Archive If you don’t exploit your own sense of what is humorous, you’re going to be defeated. So our sense of humor, which we call our locura, our insanity, was precisely what allowed us to move on and to accomplish the things that we accomplished. José Montoya, in Pilots of Aztlán (LaRosa 1994) I was the pack rat. I put stuff away. . . . I had all the stuff I needed, so that was good, but I never knew why I was doing it. Ricardo Favela, interview, July 20, 2004

R

icardo Favela created Huelga! Strike!—Support the U.F.W.A. in 1976, a silkscreen poster that visualizes the central political context in which the RCAF’s air force persona took shape. Adding “¡Boycott Gallo Wines!” and “¡Boycott Sunmaid Raisins!” to the lower left and right borders of the poster, Favela announced multiple requests for viewers to not buy nonunion foods and revealed that the RCAF held the lines of the United Farm Workers (UFW) union over time and amid numerous campaigns for labor equality (see plate 21). Aestheticizing a photograph made by Harold Nehei, Favela used blocks of primary color to dramatize the picture of Royal Chicano Air Force members riding in a military jeep 232

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and dressed in leather jackets, aviator sunglasses, and officers’ hats.1 RCAF members recall that the group had been driving through Woodland, California, and after making a stop, they accidentally drove into a Mother’s Day parade. They later received word that they won second place in the parade’s float competition (LaRosa 1994).2 The poster adhered to the jeep’s grille and the number 213 in the corner of its windshield suggest that there is more to the story. The RCAF’s air force persona began as an accident shortly after the group’s founding. Asked one too many times if they were the Royal Canadian Air Force by people who encountered their acronym on posters or at art shows, members began to announce they were a Royal Chicano Air Force (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). Ricardo Favela adds that sometimes they even embellished their mistaken identity with witty one-liners: “Yeah, we fly adobe airplanes, man, we make them out of earth” (LaRosa 1994). The artists extended the air force persona through visual art like Favela’s poster, which he adapted in 1989 for In Search of Mr. Con Safos, the announcement poster for his MFA exhibition. The image appeared again in 2007 as the announcement for R.C.A.F. Goes to College, a retrospective exhibition at California State University, Sacramento (CSUS). While the different versions of Favela’s poster reflect the RCAF’s intersecting histories of labor activism and artistic production, it also recalls the institutional exclusions to which the group’s air force persona responded. Certainly, calling their CSUS retrospective show R.C.A.F. Goes to College, nearly forty years after the group’s founding on that very campus, was tongue in cheek. The RCAF had always been at college and, specifically, at CSUS. The title was sardonic in the sense that it spoke to the absence of institutional acknowledgement of the RCAF— from collection, display, and analysis of their artwork to recognition of their contributions to the intellectual environment at CSUS. While the RCAF developed the air force persona through visual puns in their art, quips in the media, and impromptu performances, the air force persona was also supported by the Chicano/a community. Like La Cultura (1970), the mural painted on CSUS’s campus with the intention of bridging the gap between Chicanos/as and the university through artistic collaboration, the Royal Chicano Air Force was built through collaboration within the Chicano/a community. Ricardo Favela recalled that “everybody contributed to the mythmaking of what the RCAF was. It was very easy to do because it was all in fun” (LaRosa 1994). Some of the fun the community had with the RCAF, according to José Montoya, was in the selection of their wardrobe

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and props: “People began to bring us things that made us look even more air force–ish: uniforms, flying helmets, bandoliers, leather jackets, jeeps. The regalia that was provided for us became a natural thing for us to use in our locura” (LaRosa 1994). Locura, or craziness, was a key term for the RCAF, whose members used it in interviews with the media and in conversations with each other to solidify the air force persona. “Our sense of humor,” José Montoya explains, “which we call our locura, our insanity, was precisely what allowed us to move on and to accomplish the things that we accomplished” (LaRosa 1994). But the air force persona also positioned craziness as a survival tactic for the sociopolitical ills of the Chicano movement. The RCAF used the air force identity to support the UFW and, specifically, to protect César Chávez when he and the UFW campaigned in Sacramento and surrounding areas. Subsequently, the history of the RCAF’s air force persona reveals a selfmythologizing process that responded to real danger. An artistic anomaly, the air force persona fit somewhere between security patrols performed by Brown Berets during Chicano/a community events in Sacramento, El Teatro Campesino’s farmworker actos, and vanguard Chicano/a performance art. This chapter examines each of these aspects of the RCAF’s air force persona to account for its artistic evolution as well as the larger contexts to which it responded. Using humor “as a means of resistance,” which Ricardo Favela describes as “doing something to your oppressor where he doesn’t understand or know what you’re doing to him,” the RCAF’s air force persona engaged performance art elements, but ones that were rooted in a Chicano/a theater tradition (LaRosa 1994). I briefly compare the RCAF’s air force persona with street performances by Asco, as well as a theatrical performance by the RCAF Band in conjunction with El Teatro Campesino in 1978, to track the RCAF’s theatrical progression in dialogue with other Chicano/a theater productions. As a response to institutional invisibility, the air force persona became the mode through which the RCAF presented their art, history, and political orientations. The chapter concludes with an examination of the RCAF collections and archives at universities that make analyses of the air force persona possible. Prior to the establishment of an RCAF collection at UC Santa Barbara’s California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives (CEMA), the RCAF preserved its own archive because members carried, stored, and, really, embodied the history of the collective in the absence of institutional recognition (Taylor 2003).3 By “institutional recognition,” I mean invitations

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for RCAF members to deposit their records, which include visual art, photographs, film, oral histories, and a prolific collection of administrative documents, all of which play a role in the canonization of an artistic movement. In the late twentieth century, the Chicano/a art collections at UC Santa Barbara’s CEMA led to the RCAF’s broader visibility through inaugural exhibitions of Chicano/a visual art. Now, in the twenty-first century, the access provided by Calisphere, the Online Archive of California, and other web-based tools make analyses of the RCAF’s contributions to American art, poetry, history, and culture possible. Most significantly, what the institutional collections reveal about the RCAF is that members like Ricardo Favela started saving materials from meetings alongside posters. The collections further reveal that the RCAF did not create the air force identity in a vacuum, but rather in dialogue with Chicano/a theater taking place on the front lines of the farmworkers’ strike and inside community centers where RCAF members taught, made art, and served breakfast to children. Thus, the chapter concludes by providing another level of mapping to the RCAF’s history, fostering a virtual map of Chicano/a art that expands Guisela Latorre’s (2008) notion of the Chicano/a mural environment. Ultimately, the RCAF’s virtual mural environment, which includes posters and photographs of theater and performance, does what the RCAF intended with the collections they deposited at CEMA: it makes art for people’s sake.

The Pilots of Aztlán In 1994, a documentary film entitled Pilots of Aztlán: The Flights of the Royal Chicano Air Force produced by Steve LaRosa aired on Sacramento’s PBS station. The film opens with footage of a UFW procession on April 24, 1994, which the film captions “Peregrinación” to explain the pilgrimage made by thousands of marchers reenacting the 343-mile march from Delano, California, to the state capitol building in 1966. The march commemorated the life of César Chávez by marking the first anniversary of his death and signaling a recommitment to UFW goals.4 Opening shots from the film capture RCAF member Juan Carrillo walking amongst the procession. Several minutes later, UFW president Arturo Rodriguez comments that “the Royal Chicano Air Force has been once again tremendously supportive of this effort, as they have been throughout the years of the United Farm Workers. They’re making flags, making T-shirts. They’ve helped us by getting food and getting housing and getting all the arrangements made here” (LaRosa 1994).

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The RCAF was able to help coordinate the march in 1994 because individual members had been active in the farmworkers’ strike from its inception. The majority of RCAF members navigated several front lines throughout the 1960s and 1970s. Members served in the armed forces during the Korean War and Vietnam War, leading to their antiwar activism; they were Brown Berets and community activists committed to building Chicano/a community infrastructure through breakfast, art, and cultural programs; they were student organizers at CSUS as Mexican American Education Project (MAEP) fellows or undergraduate students involved in Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA) and its forerunner at CSUS, the Mexican American Youth Association (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004); but, most importantly, several members grew up in farmworking families and were active in the farmworker movement prior to joining the RCAF. They came together as an art collective in support of Chávez and the UFW. Late Sacramento mayor Joe Serna Jr. recalls that “César would give us impossible tasks and we would fulfill them” (LaRosa 1994). RCAF member Juanita Ontiveros (Polendo) elaborates that “it could’ve been two o’clock in the morning or midnight” when Chávez called the RCAF, and the group would coordinate housing and food for union farmworkers who descended on Sacramento for an event, a protest, or a rally (LaRosa 1994). Mass-producing posters to announce UFW actions, Ricardo Favela and Luis González made UFW flags with the “Mayan-inspired American eagle” (Calisphere, n.d.), a Chicano/a fusion of a pre-Columbian symbol with a hegemonic sign of the nation.5 Aside from infrastructural support, several RCAF members served as security personnel for Chávez when he campaigned in the Sacramento area. RCAF photographer Hector González explains that “César Chávez and the RCAF were brothers. Every time he came to town, he would always call on them for security” (LaRosa 1994). The significance of this job was not lost on Hector’s brother Luis González, who recalls, “Here we are, a group of crazy artists doing security for one of the most important Chicano leaders we ever had. Many nights we would stand watch in cars, in bushes, all night long, just amazed that we were here doing this for César Chávez” (LaRosa 1994). Resonating with the Brown Beret motto, “To Serve, To Observe, and To Protect,” the capacity in which RCAF members supported Chávez overlapped with the objectives of other Chicano/a organizations in the 1960s and 1970s. As discussed in chapter 2, Irma Lerma Barbosa’s activism in the Chicano movement began with the Brown Berets as she worked security at

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community events in Sacramento, an experience she recorded in her poster Sacramomento (1987). RCAF members quickly discovered that working as security for the UFW could be as dangerous as fighting on any battlefield. Juan Carrillo remembered an occasion where he was guarding César Chávez at a local speaking engagement in Davis, California, and someone was spotted with a rifle. “There’s certainly enough stories of people dying in this country on freedom marches of one kind or another,” Carrillo reflected, adding, “there’s a sense of your mortality when you’re involved in politics in this country . . . but you’re moved by the spirit of knowing that that’s the only way change comes: if you put it on the line” (LaRosa 1994). Serving as Chávez’s security was a response to real danger for the RCAF, but it should also be explored for its performance elements because it took place in the context of dramatic social events (Elam 1997, 25). Harry Elam Jr. writes that the drama of the 1960s and 1970s included “protest demonstrations, draft card burnings, and acts of civil disobedience on the Delano picket lines,” which were “public performances before audiences,” placing “actual bodies in live performance” (1997, 25). The RCAF’s performance falls into this category. Working as security for Chávez was both real and theatrical, performing and participating in the drama and reality of the picket line (Huerta 1982, 13). The RCAF’s performance of a security force also resonates in early El Teatro Campesino (ETC) performances, which dramatized “the politics of survival” through farmworker actos (Huerta 1989, 5). Collaborating with farmworkers as actors and as a primary audience, Luis Valdez formed ETC in 1965 after he approached César Chávez and Dolores Huerta about creating a farmworkers’ theater (Elam 1997; Huerta 1982). ETC staged performances that were live actions, relying on physical gestures, performers’ bodies, and comedic timing (Elam 1997, 3). Neither scripted nor written down, actos were created collectively and, Harry Elam Jr. writes, “used to dramatize the social inequities of the farm labor system and to generate support for the Grape Strike” (Elam 1997, 20; Broyles-González 1994, 5–10). Originally presented on the flatbeds of farm trucks, actos were flexible: they could be performed on-site in the agricultural fields and be improvised, with props being pantomimed (Elam 1997, 75). In addition to flexible staging, the physical comedy used in actos also defined ETC’s performances. Luis Valdez described the troupe’s comedic techniques as a “serious humor” because they were pedagogical and political; the humor served a utilitarian purpose for the UFW by offering the

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morale needed to sustain the striking farmworkers (Bagby 1967, 77). Seeing the everyday exploitation of farmworkers acted out had a way of “turning on” farmworker audiences because it publicly acknowledged their social reality (78). The humor of actos also responded to immediate threats of violence during ETC performances. In the presence of police, farm owners, and growers, as well as union members attempting to persuade nonunion workers to leave the fields and join the strike, farmworkers who crossed over to El Teatro’s stage often faced brutal consequences (Elam 1997, 76). Luis González’s and Juan Carrillo’s recollections of guarding César Chávez parallel the experiences of farmworker audiences amid the dangers of the picket lines (Elam 1997, 76). Both men were aware of the risks in performing their duties as they watched it unfold around them (Huerta 1982, 13). The idea that as security guards, González and Carrillo simultaneously watched and participated in the dangerous scene brings to mind Tiffany Ana López’s (2003, 33) notion of “critical witnesses” in contemporary Chicana/o and US Latina/o theater, where audiences “understand themselves to be distinctively implicated in the fate of the person or persons they are watching.” As he was “moved by the spirit of knowing that that’s the only way change comes” (LaRosa 1994), Carrillo, along with González, put his life on the line to protect Chávez, bearing witness to the farmworkers’ demands for social and economic justice amid threats of personal harm. Further, the RCAF produced visual art with a sense of urgency on the front lines of UFW events that in turn informed the collective’s air force persona. With their mass production of silkscreen posters for UFW activities, the RCAF made posters in front of their target audience. “The poster was probably the fastest way that we were able to get the point across to the people,” José Montoya explained, adding, “we could set it up in a Volkswagen van and start putting out multiples of images, announcing important events: who’s coming to town, what route is going to happen, there’s a band here, and so on” (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). Montoya’s memory of setting up silkscreen stations in Volkswagen Buses suggests that poster production was a performance. Volkswagen vans became traveling studios and were “easily transportable to each new performance site” (Elam 1997, 75). Just as the ETC staged actos on the beds of farm trucks, the RCAF moved silkscreen poster production out of the academy and into Volkswagen Buses, identifying the collective’s art as political labor and a rebellion against traditional notions of where art can happen (see plate 22).

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From Front to Force: The Content and Form of “El Sol y los de Abajo” During the RCAF’s era of protecting César Chávez and making posters on the front lines of UFW events, members worked as an art front for the UFW’s political platforms and the culturally nationalist principles of the Chicano movement, all of which were at the center of their collective praxis of making art for people’s sake. But through the group’s air force identity, the RCAF simultaneously produced art in service to the Chicano movement and engaged in elements of performance art. This is evident in the transformation of individual members’ work into shared representations of a Chicano/a air force. The RCAF encompassed members who composed music, poetry, and prose alongside their creation of visual art. The free association of RCAF members allowed the collective to do many things to support different endeavors and to create chains of artistic repetition and succession. Put another way, the RCAF made different types of art and authored individual works, many of which were brought back together to produce collaborations that now document the centrality of the air force persona. José Montoya’s long poem “El Sol y los de Abajo” exemplifies how individual works were re-created under the collective brand. Written and recited before it was published and used as the title of his first book of poetry in 1972, Montoya’s verse is well known in Chicano/a literary studies (Binder 1985, 129–130).6 While the poem was critiqued by José Limón (1992, 97) for its “prosaic language” and Limón’s claim that it “opens with little to recommend it is a poem, at least in the first thirteen lines,” its style actually demands that it be read out loud. Mapping the historical evolution of the Chicano/a farmworker from the nineteenth-century Mexican hacienda system, the Bracero Program, and the pre-Columbian past, Montoya charts the Chicano/a farmworker’s social reality by invoking several cultural forms of expression that permeated the Chicano/a farmworker’s sensory and psychological experience in the 1960s and 1970s. Montoya does so because he had been a farmworker. Like poster production in VW vans on the front lines of UFW protests and other Chicano/a events, Montoya’s poem came into being amidst his labor in the fields and the labor of his mind. Montoya’s struggle with “El Sol y los de Abajo,” then, was how to make visual sense of his acoustic rhythms, or what he said and heard, on the

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printed page. Montoya mixes elements of the modern long poem and corridos—the border ballads that disseminated through northern Mexico and its territories that became the US Southwest—with visual references to architecture of the pre-Columbian past. He also responds to popular portrayals of Mexican America in the US mainstream media. He brings each of the cultural influences together not so much to fuse them into a Chicano/a poem, but to position them as the fragments that Chicanos/as pieced together psychologically, socially, and politically in the 1960s and 1970s, fragments that are reflected in the “quadrangle shapes” he used in the poem’s publication (Limón 1992, 97). Thus, the textual organization of the poem’s stanzas visually echoes Montoya’s spoken lament over the cultural fractures and spiritual disconnects that were yielded by colonial forces of racism turned classism in the era of the farmworkers’ exploitation (Limón 1992, 97). Montoya says, Darker than most Lighter than others— Moreno enough not to have Made it as an haciendado[sic] Como Don Ramon Hidalgo Salazar. Descendant soy de los de abajo arrastrandome voy por la vida y arrastrado fue mi padre like his own before—except that my compounded the grief by abandoning his land for another so foreign and at once so akin as [to] be painful. (J. Montoya 1972, 34)7

Montoya initiates a Chicano/a origin story within a Spanish colonial order and the great land tracts owned by criollos, a term that in Mexico’s colonial period referred to Spanish landowners born in Mexico. But while Montoya refers to Don Ramon Hidalgo Salazar, a light-skinned hacendado born into colonial privilege, that is not whom Montoya really describes.8 Rather, it is Montoya’s Chicano/a ancestor whom he describes as a person who lives in the shadows of the landed elite, too dark to reap what he sows, and working the land for someone else’s economic prosperity. Don Ramon Hidalgo

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Salazar is an abridgement of the colonial law and order of pre-1821 Mexico and the racial hierarchy of colonial Spanish rule that reverberates in the Chicano/a collective memory. In the next stanza, which is visually set apart from the first section by a double indentation, Montoya skips ahead two generations (his grandfather and father), and turns to the twentieth century’s Bracero Program that created the impetus for the farmworkers’ movement. But he acknowledges the nineteenth-century US annexation of northern Mexico to remind Chicano/a listeners that they are both physically near to and far from a homeland made foreign not only by annexation, but also through landlessness and exclusion in the era of Don Ramon Hidalgo Salazar. Thus, the “compounded” grief Montoya claims as his own, or the legacy of his father’s “abandoning his land for another,” is abstract and psychological. Montoya states elusively, “so foreign and at once so akin / as [to] be painful” (1972, 34). In performances of the poem, Montoya pronounced “akin” as “aching,” an aural element that is lost in reading the published poem because it omits the bilingual wordplay that conveys the embodiment of the figurative loss of land felt by Chicanos/as as they struggled to define their identity as native people in the United States. To establish Chicano/a indigeneity, Montoya turns to a fleeting memory, or a dreamlike state of magnificence and grandeur: “I have dragged / Myself and soul in some / Unconscious, instinctive / Search for the splendor / De los templos del sol” (1972, 34). The dream of splendor is an escape as well as a nightmarish longing amid the reality of “los de / Abajo,” whom Montoya tells listeners they will find in “the gutters / The prisons, the battlefields, / y los files de algodón” (34–35). These visual allusions to desolate locations build in later stanzas when Montoya addresses the traps of social diagnoses and mainstream portrayals of Chicanos/as in the United States, or the “patronizing / Do-gooders who understand / Us—or rather an image of / Us—decomposed and rearranged / Between eye-piece and lens” (35). In the images of objects for looking and inspection—the eyepiece and lens—Montoya signals the medical observations and social diagnoses of Mexican American degeneracy alongside the literary and popular stereotypes. “How often have I performed / Inside that ocular tube?” Montoya asks in the next stanza, building his resentment in front of the lens of entertainment and of scientific study. He then travels through the “societal telescope” (Limón 1992, 98), mapping several locations of the Chicano/a experience:

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I have squirmed in Logan Heights and in Barelas. In the fields of Fresno and the orchards del condau de Yuba y con guardia nacional De Nuevo Mexico en Las Filipinas Y en las cantinas deje mi Primavera—en la cantina de La China en Fowler, and the Boulevard Tavern in Honolulu— Y en las prisiones también (J. Montoya 1972, 35)

Referring to his own experiences in California’s San Joaquin Valley and service in the US Navy during the Korean War, Montoya becomes every Chicano/a everywhere—from residents of San Diego’s Barrio Logan who fought back against spatial encroachment to the downtrodden workers in a railroad community in Barelas, a barrio in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that Rudolfo Anaya explores in the novel Heart of Aztlán (1976). Montoya’s “prosaic listing” of “unmediated memories of oppression dominate here,” Limón writes (1992, 98), but in listing them in such a way, Montoya ensures that the memories of oppression not only dominate the lines of the poem but that they dominate Chicano/a listeners with an unrelenting history of forces beyond their control. While I underscore the oral and aural elements of Montoya’s poem, key to my analysis of “El Sol y los de Abajo” is its publication as a book because it reflects the transformation of individual RCAF artworks into a collective creation that revolved around the group’s air force persona. Montoya and his RCAF colleagues designed a book format that was inspired by the group’s collective values and air force persona. For the cover of the anthology, Montoya’s RCAF colleague Armando Cid adapted a photograph made by Hector González of Montoya dressed in aviator sunglasses, a flying cap, and a pilot headset (see fig. 5.1). In its interior, the anthology includes drawings by Cid interspersed between Montoya’s verses. The book is also reversible; if one flips it over and begins at the end, the anthology includes poetry and prose by Alejandro Murguia, whose text is complemented by photographs by Adal, a photographer given the byline “New York Puerto Rican” (J. Montoya 1972, 37). The poetry collection, then, reveals that RCAF members extended their collective praxis to other art-

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ists to explore nonconventional textual forms Figure 5.1. Cover of José Montoya’s El Sol Y Los De and publication designs. In its fusion of poetry, Abajo and other R.C.A.F. poems drawings, and photography, the book requires (1972). Author’s collection. readers to become viewers and to physically change their orientation of the text to read the verses—literally to move the book in order to finish reading it. El Sol Y Los De Abajo and other R.C.A.F. poems was a prototype for future Chicano/a publications that contemplate the tactile experience of reading poetic lines.9 The RCAF artists merged the verbal with the visual to reorient the reader-viewer experience of Chicano/a cultural production, necessitating physical engagement with poetry beyond the traditional act of reading.

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The cover image of José Montoya as a pilot also illuminates the role of the air force persona in the RCAF imagination, since they reproduced the image in different visual mediums for several purposes. As discussed in chapter 3, Armando Cid created the mural Por la Raza United Flight (1973) on the window of La Raza Bookstore (see plate 23). Under the word “libros,” Cid replicated his version of Hector González’s photograph of José Montoya dressed as a pilot. The repetition of the image of Montoya in both Cid’s mural and on the cover of his poetry anthology brings together the RCAF’s different encounters with military service, anti–Vietnam War activism, and the Chicano movement’s culturally nationalist claims. In Cid’s mural, for example, a young Chicano wears a UFW emblem and is connected to the pilot through a system of breathing tubes, which are also linked to a pre-Columbian warrior. The past and present are part of the Chicano/a air force’s dream of community enlightenment, much in the way that Montoya ends “El Sol y los de Abajo” with a vision of the Chicano/a future in the pre-Columbian past (J. Montoya 1972, 40). Further, the pilot’s attachment to the pre-Columbian warrior and Chicano activist in Por la Raza United Flight was an intentional duality posed by Cid. The pilot’s relationship to the young Chicano and the pre-Columbian warrior suggests that his “flight” not only takes place though political activism, or as Juan Carrillo recalled, putting one’s body “on the line” for political change (LaRosa 1994), but it also occurs through intellectual elevation. In other words, while the pilot is airborne amid contemporary political struggle, or between the war at home and the war abroad, the mural shows viewers on the street that there is a way out—an “outer space.” Through “libros,” the Spanish word for books, Cid signaled that the books inside the store are Chicano/a ones. Knowing that the portrait of the pilot is based on a photograph of José Montoya further expands the meaning of the mural. In purchasing a copy of El Sol Y Los De Abajo and other R.C.A.F. poems, Chicano/a audiences were buying the image of Montoya and the RCAF as an air force, but one charged with a different kind of mission and service.

Against the “Ocular Tube”: The Air Force Persona as Creative Counterpoint The multiple uses of Hector González’s photograph of José Montoya as a pilot of Aztlán offered Chicanos/as in Sacramento’s barrio an alternative image of themselves. The desire to represent Chicanos/as differently is a

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central theme of “El Sol y los de Abajo,” contextualizing Montoya’s references to the eyepiece, lens, and ocular tube through which he resents being observed and interpreted. The RCAF’s construction of the air force persona was a creative parallel to the Chicano movement’s call for a self-determined identity. The persona combined the historical context—both the Vietnam War abroad and the antiwar movement at home—with the experiences of RCAF members who were veterans of war. The air force identity allowed the collective to appropriate the military stance of the state to undo state power. One way the RCAF did so was through creatively lampooning media coverage of the Chicano movement and popular portrayals of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in literature and film. In 1979, for example, a photograph of the Royal Chicano Air Force ran in the Los Angeles Times alongside an article by staff writer Charles Hillinger. Captioned “Generals,” the photo shows RCAF members decked out in captain’s hats, flight goggles, bomber jackets, and aviator sunglasses. Two members, Esteban Villa and Juanita Polendo (Ontiveros), hold opposite ends of a plaque emblazoned with the RCAF’s acronym and a pair of pilot’s wings. In the article, Hillinger quotes José Montoya on the origins of the group’s name, and Montoya recounts the familiar story of the confusion that was caused by the collective’s acronym (Hillinger 1979). Writing nearly a decade after the RCAF’s founding, Hillinger reports on the Chicano/a art infrastructure that the group helped build in Sacramento—El Centro de Artistas Chicanos, the Barrio Art program, Breakfast for Niños, and the RCAF’s prolific muralism. But the photograph of the air force generals, smiling at the camera and at each other while proudly displaying their RCAF insignia, suggests an ironic inside joke that reverberates in Montoya’s closing remarks on the origins of the group’s name. “It is a serious organization,” he quips, “but we use this RCAF kind of insanity to keep from getting too serious” (Hillinger 1979). Montoya’s statement is a circular one, concluding where it begins, intentionally remaining elusive on the meaning and function of the air force persona and performing in English what the motto “locura lo cura” means in Spanish (see fig. 5.2). The RCAF balanced the more serious side of the air force persona with a routine that relied on humor and farce to pose a creative counterpoint to state power. Well-known amongst Chicano/a artists for their locura, the RCAF gestured to their motto in legendary ways. In a 1989 tribute, Luis Valdez described an RCAF performance at a statewide gathering of artists in San Juan Bautista, California.10 As discussed in chapter 4, Luis Valdez, along

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Figure 5.2. “Generals.” From L: Esteban Villa, Elias Alias, Lala Polendo (holding child), Ricardo Favela, José Montoya, Malaquias Montoya, and Juanita Polendo (Ontiveros). Photograph by Fitzgerald Whitney. Copyright © 1979 Los Angeles Times. Reprinted with permission.

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with the RCAF and other Chicano/a artists, established El Concilio de Arte Popular in 1976. Meeting in different cities during the council’s formation, the RCAF arrived in San Juan Bautista “one night in ’71,” Valdez recalls, as a bunch of vatos dressed up as World War II pilots . . . in a noisy squadron of Volkswagen Buses and parking in an empty lot, one by one, as José Montoya, wearing goggles and one of those dog-eared pilot’s caps, flagged them in, vigorously, like a flagger on some aircraft carrier at sea. It was brilliant vacilada, a little sardonic and more than satirical, but a helluva a lotta laughs . . . que curada. In fact the motto of the RCAF said it all: locura lo cura. Craziness heals. (Valdez 1989)

Complete with squadron gestures and a runway-style entrance, the RCAF circled the gathering of artists and parked. They opened the van doors and, as Juan Carrillo recalls in Pilots of Aztlán, spilled out “wearing World War II helmets. It was like instant theater” (LaRosa 1994). Their routine echoed El Teatro Campesino’s early performances of farmworker actos because it was ad-libbed, physical, and pantomimed. The gathering of artists, Ricardo Favela explains, had come together “to discuss how we were going to use and implement our art to help our people” (LaRosa 1994). In the midst of listening to a lecture by Andres Segura, a captain of Aztec dancing from Mexico who helped catalyze the cultural tradition in the US Southwest during the Chicano movement (Ceseña 2009, 80–96), Juanishi Orosco recalls that there was “a nice fire and moonlight. [It was] very magical . . . and we come in crazier than hell, tooting our horns, yelling and screaming” (LaRosa 1994). Interrupting Segura’s presentation, RCAF artist Rudy Cuellar jumped out of a van and relieved himself on the fire (LaRosa 1994). The impromptu performance captivated Luis Valdez, who agreed with Juan Carrillo that it was instant theater, adding that “the entire RCAF pose was performance art” (Valdez 1989). Just as El Teatro Campesino’s actos turned on farmworkers in the early years of the farmworkers’ strike, Valdez was enthralled by the brash and absurd arrival of the Chicano air force (Bagby 1967, 77). Although they had stunned their audience in San Juan Bautista, the RCAF’s performance actually began before they arrived. While traveling to the meeting, the artists started performing the air force persona for each other. Recalling the incident in the documentary Pilots of Aztlán, Orosco explains that as they were driving to San Juan Bautista, the group was

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“getting pretty crazy.” “That’s when we went into our flight formations,” Rudy Cuellar recalls, adding, “I know this might sound strange, but we were into Volkswagen Buses and vans.” Ricardo Favela remembered that “Volkswagen Buses, for José, especially those old ones .  .  . where you slide the window back and forth—that was José’s cockpit on his V-29. And he had his hat on, his officer’s hat on, and he had his earphones and little mouthpiece” (LaRosa 1994). Getting into character prior to their performance in San Juan Bautista, the “flight formations” that Montoya, as an RCAF general, commanded and other members, as pilots, implemented also suggest that the artists were taking their cues from each other, responding to their adlibbed gestures and synchronizing their actions. They not only acted out the air force persona but they witnessed it. Members were the performers and the audience, using the protocol and training that some had learned in the military to serve other ends—namely testing the creative potential of their mistaken identity as the Royal Canadian—now Chicano—Air Force. Luis Valdez’s claim that the entire RCAF pose was performance art resonates in the work of another groundbreaking Chicano/a art collective in the 1970s. Better documented in Chicano/a art scholarship for early interventions on the genres that came to define Chicano/a art,11 Asco was a Los Angeles–based group whose street performances continue to influence the work of contemporary artists (Shaked 2008, 1059). Asco members witnessed the front lines of Chicano/a youth activism and the high school student walkouts that led to the formation of the Brown Berets.12 Stations of the Cross (1971), for example, pushed definitions of performance and Chicano/a art when Asco members dressed in “outlandish make-up and costumes,” simulating the “Mexican Catholic tradition of the Posada” as they proceeded down Whittier Boulevard and placed a fifteen-foot cross at the door of a US Marines recruitment center (Chavoya 2000, 242–243). First Supper (After a Major Riot) (1974) involved Asco members eating dinner at a table placed on a traffic island on Whittier Boulevard, the site of an earlier violent clash between the police and protestors (Noriega 2010). Asco mixed and matched artistic mediums in order to disrupt state surveillance and police enforcement of public space, producing art that was not defined by genre (Noriega 2010). The year before painting Black and White Mural (1973), for example, Asco recognized the performance element of “mural making as an art form in itself,” Marcos Sanchez-Tranquilino (1993, 98) asserts.13 In Walking Mural (1972), Asco fashioned themselves as familiar images from Chicano/a murals, “seeking to free themselves from

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their formal and cultural restrictions as they walked down Whittier Boulevard” (Sanchez-Tranquilino 1993, 98). Asco also created Instant Mural, a guerrilla-style street performance in which Gronk taped Patssi Valdez and Humberto Sandóval to a wall, challenging the one-dimensional form of Chicano/a murals (98). Testing the boundaries of Chicano/a visual art, Asco also challenged the patriarchal or heteronormative limitations of artistic production during the Chicano movement through their glamorous poses, dramatic makeup, and gender-bending fashions, often captured in Harry Gamboa Jr.’s photography. The RCAF, on the other hand, performed and visualized the air force persona within the patriarchal ethos of the Chicano movement. The air force persona aesthetically functioned inside dominant codes of military imagery and attitudes as members used a vocabulary of rank to communicate their artistic contributions to the Chicano movement and, literally, to defend Chicano movement leaders. But the RCAF’s air force persona did not serve a state agenda or defend dominant political ideologies in the group’s reconfiguration of androcentric and fraternal ethos. Instead, the RCAF created a verbal-visual persona within the dominant codes of the military that burlesqued the state’s power, a power that had deeply impacted their lives. The RCAF’s air force persona was a Chicano fantasy in the 1970s, comprised of myth and aesthetic possibility, as well as a desire for political visibility. In the same way that the Chicano/a community played a role in creating the air force persona from its inception, Chicano/a artists beyond Sacramento also participated in its self-fashioning. In the fall of 1976, a photograph appeared in Chismearte, a Chicano/a art magazine produced for several years through the Concilio de Arte Popular and that the RCAF helped found.14 The photograph accompanies Carlos Almaraz’s essay “The Artist as a Revolutionary” and parodies the idea of a “flight,” or a small unit of personnel that is part of a larger air force squadron. The idea is conveyed by the three rows in which the men stand and sit in front of an airplane.15 The men wear military attire, and the propeller plane that is parked behind them has the acronym “RcAf” superimposed on its front. While the image quality is poor (perhaps intentionally), one can tell that the letters have been added to the photograph after the fact and that the men’s mustaches have been drawn on, signaling Tomás Ybarra-Frausto’s (1991b, 156) description of “rasquache” in Chicano/a art as an aesthetic strategy of “resilience and resourcefulness” that comes “from making do with what is at hand.” The photograph, possibly a stock image, and its alterations demonstrate the

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cropping, splicing, and photomontage techniques that reshaped Chicano/a serigraphy in the 1960s and 1970s (Davalos 2008, 40–44). Drawing on the visual conventions and tools of dissemination for underground press in the 1960s and 1970s, the RCAF’s locura permeates the picture, as a handwritten and misspelled caption informs viewers that it is of the “RCAF members while on a secreat [sic] mission” (Almaraz 1976, 53) (see fig. 5.3). A doctored photograph such as this one, however, was not merely funny or satirical in its homage to the RCAF’s persona. The altered photograph appropriates symbols of state power, disseminating a fraternal vision of the collective. The androcentric structure of the US armed forces adhered to the patriarchal ethos of carnalismo, or the sense of brotherhood that military service taught and demanded, which aligned with Mexican American cultural values of manhood through military service. But, as Lorena Oropeza (2003) and George Mariscal (2004) have written, the traditional pastime of Mexican American military service and Chicano/a antiwar activism converged in the 1970s as the Chicano Moratorium protested the disproportionate death toll of Chicanos and other men of color serving as GIs. Chicana activists proclaimed “¡La batalla está aquí!” in a pamphlet entitled Chicanos and the War (1970) that repositioned expressions of Chicano masculinity in service to Chicano/a communities (Oropeza 2003, 210–211). Drawing parallels between third world solidarity, colonized peoples, and Chicano/a autonomy in poetry, posters, plays, and processions, Chicano/a artists redefined Chicano masculinity by exposing the risk and reality of using military service as a means by which to achieve full citizenship (Mariscal 2004, 116–117). In the space of an art magazine for artists and, more than likely, Chicano/a ones, the photograph was a copy of the real thing—a simulacrum, literally a “flight” simulation—tinged with humorous undertones that did not showcase state power. Instead, the image appropriated the visual codes of the military arms of the state to make Chicano/a artists laugh—many of whom were veterans of war. Stepping back from the photograph’s context, its appearance in a Chicano/a art magazine in 1976, and turning to the mainstream culture and social reality in which Chicano/a artists created art, the Vietnam War ended for the United States in 1975 with a demoralizing death toll of GIs and Vietnamese civilians. Media coverage of Vietnam changed American impressions of war, and it was the most heavily documented and broadcast war in US history. The impact of the Vietnam War, coupled with violence during

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the Chicano Moratorium, sent a message to Figure 5.3. Fall issue of Chismearte 1:1 (1976), 53. Chicanos/as, and to artists in particular: govAppears in Carlos Almaraz’s ernments, their militaries, and their wars were essay “The Artist As a crazy, with their “annihilating epidemics” that Revolutionary.” No Photo were both physical (think napalm, police vioCredit. In library collection at Cornell University. lence, and M16s) and ideological (economic agendas of capitalist imperialism masquerading as patriotic campaigns against communism) (Muñoz 2000, 100); the photograph made sense in its strangeness. The anonymity of the group of air force men and the seriousness of their expressions behind sunglasses and handlebar mustaches, coupled with the handwritten caption addressed to Carlos, committed to the fantasy of a Chicano air force and struck a chord for Chicano/a artists in 1976. The US government had pursued anticommunist wars through the red scare of the 1950s, first with the Korean War and then with the Vietnam War. Both wars coincided with the uprising of disenfranchised communities in the United States who adapted military uniforms, symbols, and militant personas to dismantle the master’s house with his own tools. The Black Panthers, Brown Berets, and Young Lords used elements of the US armed forces to protect

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themselves and to serve their communities; so did the RCAF, but in 1976, in a photo-fantasy of a Chicano air force, the exaltation of the earlier fraternal vision of Chicano/a decolonization was more than a nostalgic escape into the earlier years of the Chicano movement. It was a performance of memory, romanticizing the past to critique the present and what the Chicano movement had not achieved for Chicanos/as by 1976 (Muñoz 2000, 97–114).16 Moreover, Chicano/a artists needed a break by 1976, and not only from the real dangers of the Chicano movement, but from its mainstream depictions. Examining the negligible coverage of issues facing Mexican American communities in the early years of television, Randy Ontiveros (2010, 904) writes that César Chávez and the California grape strike was the first Chicana/o story and possibly the only one “that networks covered substantively.” But the mainstream media’s focus on Chávez was not in service to the farmworkers’ movement or the progressive politics of the Chicano movement. Rather, it broadcast a visual binary in which Chicanas/os were perceived either as suffering saints or as dangerous revolutionaries. “On one side was the figure of Chávez,” Ontiveros observes, and “on the other side were those violent, undifferentiated masses threatening to bring the American experiment to an end” (2010, 904, 909). The lack of coverage and historical contextualization of the Chicano movement also undermined the credibility of Chicana/o activists. Ontiveros cites ABC Television’s report on land rights activist Reies López Tijerina and his “theatrical effort to make a citizen’s arrest” of Supreme Court nominee Warren Burger in 1969 (908). López Tijerina staged the event to draw attention to his organization, the Alianza Federal de Mercedes (also known as Alianza Federal de Pueblos Libres) and the ongoing struggle for Hispano/a land rights in New Mexico (Rosales 1997, 154–170). But in the television news story, López Tijerina “came across as a lunatic,” Ontiveros (2010, 908) writes, and made his cause seem absurd. Between Chávez, the docile saint who staged a hunger strike in 1968, and López Tijerina, the threatening militant who attempted to arrest a Supreme Court nominee, the media projected the madness of the Chicano movement. It was this visual binary to which the RCAF responded. After all, craziness cures. RCAF air force performances offered a solution to an important issue for Chicana/o artists; or, rather, they offered them a cure for the insane notion that Chicana/os, and gatherings of Chicana/os, posed a threat to US society. Acting out the mantra locura lo cura, the RCAF mocked the media’s portrayal

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of the Chicano movement’s militant madness as well as depictions of its passivity (via the sanctified Chávez) for Chicano/a audiences well aware of the mainstream assumptions versus their social reality. Thus, the RCAF’s air force persona united members and other artists like Carlos Almaraz in a “symbolic overthrow of oppression” from the mainstream media’s depictions (Elam 1997, 17). The artists lampooned news reports of Chicano/a activism that, in essence, were part of a long line of literary and cultural stereotypes of Mexicans and Mexican Americans as “not only ‘aliens,’” Alicia Gaspar de Alba (1998, 40) writes, “but dirty, thieving, lazy, drunken, lecherous, treacherous, ignorant ‘mess-cans.’” The RCAF’s locura, as it was utilized in the San Juan Bautista performance, exemplifies the “resistance aspect of the Chicano movement” that Gaspar de Alba claims was “both a reaction against these derogatory stereotypes and a counteraction to the assimilationist tactics of the dominating culture” (40). One way to defeat the oppression of a dominating culture is to make fun of it. The RCAF captured this sentiment in San Juan Bautista but also eight years after that performance, in 1979, when members posed as an air force for the Los Angeles Times and José Montoya teased that the RCAF was a serious organization but used its RCAF insanity “to keep from getting too serious” (Hillinger 1979, 20). Through their dynamic visualizations, performances, and articulations of the air force persona, RCAF members mirrored the visual irony that Asco’s mural performances encompassed. Concerned with form and style over messages of cultural nationalism, Asco’s mural performances anticipated what was to come in Chicano/a art, or the emphasis on the “postmodern art forms (parody, irony) by Chicana and gay artists” (R. García 2006, 213). The RCAF’s air force persona also gestured to postmodernism in Chicano/a art because group members mixed and matched dramatic, visual, and poetic genres and styles in a collective production of their public persona. The group’s air force performances transformed over time from defensive acts (guarding César Chávez) to acts of resistance (guarding their humanity) amid disparaging and reductive representations of Mexican America. While there are numerous points of rupture in Chicano/a art history concerning postmodern aesthetics, and what is camp or what is rasquache, a genealogical relationship exists between the tactics and strategies of 1960s and 1970s Chicano/a artists and contemporary queer Chican@ and Latinx artists.

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Performance in the Archive: Xic-Indio y el Fin del Mundo Understanding the genealogical relationship between the RCAF and contemporary Chicano/a theater and performance is only possible through the RCAF collections that have been digitized and made available online. Moreover, the institutional collections reveal other Chicano/a performances in Sacramento that influenced the RCAF’s air force persona early on. While RCAF members performed the air force persona for different reasons, it remained attached to the Chicano movement values of community service, and this element of the air force persona was bolstered by the Chicano/a theater taking place in community spaces where RCAF members taught art, made art, and watched art happen. Within the RCAF’s online archive, several photographs document a theater showcase in October 1978 held as a fundraiser for Breakfast for Niños. According to a slide notation, “The evening’s entertainment included a poetry reading by José Montoya, a performance of a segment of Freddy Rodriguez’s ‘Xic-Indio,’ and Teatro Campesino’s performance of ‘El Fin del Mundo.’”17 What is noteworthy about the evening of Chicano/a performances is that while it was produced to support one of the RCAF’s original community services, it presented new directions in Chicano/a theater, from different types of drama by El Teatro Campesino to a Chicano/a rock opera conceived by a musician and founder of the RCAF Band, Freddy Rodriguez (see fig. 5.4). Rodriguez founded the RCAF Band in the early 1970s following his service in the Vietnam War and activism in Sacramento’s Brown Berets. Music was always a major part of the RCAF’s environment and the spaces they created in Sacramento’s Chicano/a community. Several members, including José Montoya and Esteban Villa, wrote and played original music, joining with Rudy Carrillo to form Trio Casindio and producing the album Chicano Music All Day (1985). But in the early 1970s, a large ensemble named the RCAF Band became a local staple at Chicano/a community events. José Montoya recalls in the film Pilots of Aztlán that the band performed a variety of musical genres, from cumbia to blues and, most loudly, rock and roll, and they “did an incredible number of benefits, fund-raisers, for all kinds of organizations and causes” (LaRosa 1994).18 For the fund-raiser in October 1978, the Cultural Affairs Committee, an affiliate of the RCAF working under the Centro de Artistas Chicanos, organized the theater showcase. Juan Carrillo was a committee member at the time of the fund-raiser and recalls that the major event was El

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Figure 5.4. Royal Chicano Air Force and Breakfast for Niños program fund-raiser, El Teatro Campesino’s performance of El Fin del Mundo (1978). Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

Teatro Campesino’s performance of El Fin del Mundo. By 1978, El Teatro Campesino (ETC) was an award-winning theater troupe, having left the front lines of the farmworkers’ movement in 1967 to establish a permanent location, where they began teaching and honing “a more aesthetically astute company of actors” (Huerta 1982, 43). Outside the immediate context of the farmworkers’ movement, ETC also inspired the formation of other Chicano/a theater groups (Huerta 1994, 38). Changes in the original venue and audience altered the subject matter of farmworkers’ actos and reshaped their form.19 Jorge Huerta, for example, directed and produced Guadalupe (1974) and La Víctima (1976) with Teatro de la Esperanza, a company composed of students at UC Santa Barbara.20 Both plays were a new type of Chicana/o theater called docudrama (Huerta 1977, 37–46; 1989, 210). Docudramas restaged actual events within the Chicana/o community and examined issues beyond a shared labor experience. Luis Valdez also pushed the bounds of Chicana/o theater, creating Zoot Suit in 1979 and adapting it to film in 1981.

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For the troupe’s performance of El Fin del Mundo in Sacramento, ETC “came in and set up the stage with an enormous calavera assembled from parts,” Juan Carrillo recalled. “Their work was crisp and well-rehearsed, with music, dance and storytelling in their physical theater style. It was a spectacular show. The main character was called Mundo, so the meaning of the play, as I remember, was a double meaning of the end of the world and the end of the person” (Juan Carrillo, e-mail to author, December 30, 2014). Luis Valdez’s El Fin del Mundo (1978) follows the main character, Mundo Mata, who overdoses from drugs and enters the world of the dead, encountering former acquaintances that are condemned to repeat their actions. The premise paralleled the plot of the RCAF Band’s Xic-Indio rock opera, which dealt with the perils of drug abuse, following the demise of its antihero, Xic-Indio. On one level, both Luis Valdez’s play and Freddy Rodriguez’s rock opera served a pedagogical purpose, as both communicated the consequences of drug abuse beyond the individual. On another level, the costumes, sets, lighting, and other effects reflected the evolution of Chicano/a theater and the shift from ad-libbed gestures, pantomimed props, and unscripted lines to ornate scenery, costumes, and well-rehearsed productions (see fig. 5.5). As a Cultural Affairs Committee member, Juan Carrillo volunteered to “handle the spotlight from the back of the auditorium to follow the performers in Xic-Indio” (Juan Carrillo, e-mail to author, December 30, 2014). Moving from his earlier role as a security guard for César Chávez and one who both witnessed and risked the danger of the front lines of the farmworkers’ strike, Carrillo, along with other RCAF members, now witnessed the evolution of a theatrical tradition imbued with the “air of urgency” that had inspired farmworker actos (Huerta 1994, 38). There was no imminent threat or danger involved in helping to produce the theater showcase, but the subject matter was still urgent, and, further, the play and rock opera were both performed to raise funds for an immediate need in the Chicano/a community. While it had changed, Chicano/a theater was still necessary (Huerta 1989). Moreover, this was the first time that the RCAF saw Xic-Indio. Carrillo explained that while the RCAF Band had always performed choreography during concerts, “this was a musical with costumes and a story line” (Juan Carrillo, e-mail to author, December 30, 2014). In Pilots of Aztlán, Juanishi Orosco recalls the RCAF Band’s concerts at Southside Park, one of which is briefly shown in the documentary. He remarks that Freddy Rodriguez “had whole crews of dancers doing this whole thing behind the music . . .

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Figure 5.5. Xic-Indio, a Chicano/a rock opera (1980). Royal Chicano Air Force Archives. The California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives. Special Collections Department, the University of California, Santa Barbara Library.

in costume. [It] just was wild. .  .  . I guess at that point, [Rodriguez] was warming up in his mind probably for Xic-Indio, the Chicano rock opera” (LaRosa 1994). In many ways, the RCAF Band emerged in the same way as El Teatro Campesino and the RCAF, on the front lines of the Chicano movement and in support of its sociopolitical platforms. Hearing the same call put forward in “El Espiritual Plan de Aztlán” (1969) to create art that was “appealing to our people,” Freddy Rodriguez and the RCAF Band evolved their musical shows into an elaborate staging of a social drama that mirrored many of their lives, particularly that of Rodriguez. In a rare interview with Rodriguez in Pilots of Aztlán, he explains that Xic-Indio is “a story that goes in every culture” because it centers on a self-fulfilling prophecy through Xic-Indio’s demise. “I and the band wrote some things,” he explained and added that “I am living it, and some of my friends and family that wrote it and played it are in jail right now doing what Xic-Indio did. We all knew the story line, but we did it

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anyway” (LaRosa 1994). In 1980, the RCAF Band performed Xic-Indio in its entirety at the Sacramento Community Theatre for a national conference of bilingual educators that was later aired on local PBS.21 In footage from the 1980 performance that is included in Pilots of Aztlán, an actor in a calavera costume dances around several actors, holding a large syringe. Representing death, the calavera communicates the perils and ripple effects of drug abuse as each of the actors fall to the ground upon contact with the syringe. The RCAF Band plays in the background. Like later forms of Chicano/a theater, Xic-Indio demonstrated the social problems in the Chicano/a community beyond the labor and economic injustices in California’s agricultural fields (Huerta 1989, 7–8). But as a theatrical art form that developed out of the struggles of oppressed people, the necessary theater that emerged on the front lines of the farmworkers’ strike was not limited to the farmworkers’ cause. Instead, it used performance to direct audience attention to various types of social injustice and ongoing societal ills, like gang warfare and drug abuse. While the humor with which Chicana/o theater informed people about their rights and united them as an audience remained essential to its dramatic structure, the absence of specific dangers present in the original context of the farmworkers’ acto allowed other societal dangers to be performed, contemplated, and witnessed by Chicano/a audiences who were still committed to Chicano movement goals (Huerta 1989). Without the photographs and the documentary film Pilots of Aztlán, the 1978 theater showcase in Sacramento and the RCAF Band’s rock opera would be lost to posterity, omitting an important part of the milieu in which the RCAF developed the air force persona. Xic-Indio is integral to the story of the RCAF’s air force persona—along with El Teatro Campesino’s staging of El Fin del Mundo—because it reflects the experimental performances with which the artists were surrounded, as well as the development of Chicano/a theatrical forms in the post-front-lines phase of the Chicano movement. One wonders what impressions the combinations of music, costuming, and scripted lines had on RCAF members, many of whom rehearsed air-forceinspired one-liners over the decades, adapted photographs of air force performances in multiple visual art mediums, and created art based on shared memories of air force–inspired events.

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Archival Instincts and Institutional Recognition, 1989–2007 The RCAF’s institutional collections at UC Santa Barbara’s California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives (CEMA) reflect an important shift in Chicano/a art history that has been explored by scholars for the transition it marks in the 1980s, when the Chicano/a poster’s intrinsic political value was eclipsed by a new market value based on institutional interest (S. Goldman 1984; Gaspar de Alba 1998; Romo 2001). Scholars do not necessarily agree that the changes in value or function of Chicano/a art, and specifically of posters, is completely accurate or total, especially in regard to the historical periods that have typified the transition from a political to a culturally celebratory art (Davalos 2008). The issue certainly impacted the RCAF, but their art, produced well into the twenty-first century, attests to more permeable boundaries between political purpose, cultural affirmation, and institutional recognition in the work they made at the height of the Chicano movement and in subsequent decades. Furthermore, since its founding, the RCAF had always been a part of a university in Sacramento, displaying Chicano/a art whether or not it was exhibited in compliance with institutional customs. Several members other than José Montoya and Esteban Villa also instructed in the Art Department and ethnic studies programs at California State University, Sacramento (CSUS), and surrounding community colleges and schools after earning degrees.22 While the RCAF’s relationship to CSUS had been a fraught one—from departmental exclusions and attacks against the RCAF’s campus murals in the 1970s, to an ongoing lack of awareness on campus about the group’s contributions to university history—the RCAF was in dialogue with institutional processes, including art and historical canons as well as academic procedures for archival documentation. This is an important point to make because in foregrounding the RCAF’s core values of making art in service to the Chicano/a community, it is important to not position the RCAF outside of institutional systems of knowledge. The RCAF was part of the political demands for educational access and parity at CSUS, and the collective maintained a deep concern for Chicano/a identity formation based on the rethinking of geopolitical and intellectual borders throughout the late twentieth century. Influenced by traditions of knowledge production at the university, the RCAF had also witnessed itself

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as an art collective on the front lines of the Chicano movement, particularly through the group’s development of the air force persona. The air force persona was unique and special, and the RCAF knew this. Members like Ricardo Favela also knew it had to be preserved. Favela began collecting his RCAF colleagues’ doodles from “every Wednesday Centro meeting” early in the 1970s. Referring to El Centro de Artistas Chicanos, he added, “What I would do is I’d clear the table, and I’d put a clean piece of butcher paper on it and leave pencils there, and then we’d have our meeting. And then at the end of the meeting, I’d take off the butcher paper, and I had all these drawings that were done by the artists.” Favela stored his colleagues’ drawings, explaining that he “was the pack rat,” or “the person who has the stuff. [It] worked out real well, because for my art show, I had all the stuff I needed, and then for other things, I had all the stuff I needed, so that was good, but I never knew why I was doing it” (Ricardo Favela, interview, July 20, 2004). While Favela claims he didn’t know why he was collecting his colleagues’ drawings, he actually did know why. He was surrounded by reasons at CSUS, where he worked within a university and was exposed to academic processes and collecting culture. He was also in the middle of building Sacramento’s Chicano/a art infrastructure through the Centro de Artistas Chicanos, and the documentation of historic meetings at a historic Chicano/a art center mattered. In his recollections of holding on to RCAF ephemera, Favela mentions his MFA art show, which benefitted from his proclivity for collecting; thus, the RCAF’s archive actually started when the group formed and Favela began storing its records, especially RCAF posters. Favela’s poster collection was exhibited for the first time in October 1989, when he coordinated In Search of Mr. Con Safos, an exhibition of RCAF serigraphy from the 1960s to the 1980s. He developed the show as the final project for his graduate degree and in doing so, established the RCAF’s first comprehensive poster catalogue and finding tool. Favela also prepared a historical synopsis of the RCAF’s posters in which he commented on changing attitudes toward Chicano/a art in the late twentieth century: As galleries and museums begin to open their doors, Chicanismo will undeniably become a distinct and unique asset to the American art scene. The RCAF Retrospective Poster Art Exhibition allowed the public awareness, exposure, understanding and appreciation of Chicano art, as

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well as insight into Chicano art heritage by seeing and meeting the artists which were actually involved with the production of the posters. (Ricardo Favela 1990, 5)

The preservation of Chicano/a art’s historical past, and specifically the history of the RCAF during the Chicano movement, was the central objective of Favela’s show. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, the “multicultural” movement in the United States had yielded an academic and somewhat mainstream audience for Chicano/a art, especially in California and the US Southwest. Although Favela welcomed new audiences for Chicano/a art, he did not want to forsake “Chicano art heritage,” or the community for which it was created and that it first served. “The subsequent appeal and enjoyment of the exhibit,” Favela concluded, “added insight into a culture little known in the ‘art world.’ But more importantly the exhibition acknowledged the past and existing artistic Chicano accomplishments” (Ricardo Favela 1990, 5). Favela’s exhibition goals later resonated in the thematic intentions of Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation, 1965–1985 (CARA), the first nationally touring exhibition of Chicano/a art in the 1990s (Gaspar de Alba 1998, 96). Favela’s curatorial objective and context for the exhibition also centered on the RCAF’s air force identity, which he visualized in the poster he designed and printed with Luis González to advertise the show. In Search of Mr. Con Safos (1989) was based on Favela’s earlier announcement poster Huelga! Strike!—Support the U.F.W.A. (1976), in which RCAF members ride in a World War II–era jeep through a Safeway parking lot in Woodland, California, later learning that they won second place in a Mother’s Day parade. In Search of Mr. Con Safos announced Favela’s exhibition in October 1989 at the Lankford and Cook Gallery in Rancho Cordova, California. As was typical of early RCAF art shows, all donations and money from poster sales went to the Barrio Art program and its “Art Student Supply and Materials Fund,” grounding the show in Chicano movement values (see plate 24).23 In Search of Mr. Con Safos reappeared again as the advertisement for the RCAF’s 2007 show, R.C.A.F. Goes to College. The exhibition in CSUS’s University Library Gallery from February to March 2007 featured a collection of RCAF posters and contemporary works. The brief exhibition also included an RCAF artist roundtable discussion and several scholarly lectures on Chicano/a art. While there had been smaller shows on campus and certainly self-produced exhibitions by the collective throughout the 1970s and 1980s,

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Figure 5.6. Announcement card for R.C.A.F. Goes to College exhibition, February–March 2007. Author’s collection.

this institutionally supported retrospective of RCAF art and contemporary work was the first major survey of RCAF art at CSUS in eighteen years, following Ricardo Favela’s MFA show (see fig. 5.6). The RCAF’s lack of recognition at CSUS reflected the larger predicament of Chicano/a art in the 1980s and 1990s. The RCAF had made many strides in regional visibility, but CSUS did not seem to notice. In fact, the CSUS library made no major efforts to collect RCAF art or historical records until 2007, long after the group had donated its collection to UC Santa Barbara on May 5, 1988. Ricardo Favela “signed for the RCAF” when archivist Salvador Güereña approached the collective about depositing their records (Salvador Güereña, e-mail to author, February 22, 2010).24 In 2001, Favela explained why the RCAF decided on UC Santa Barbara as a depository: “Number one was very simply, they asked us. And this is something that CSUS can’t get over. They never ask us. If they would have asked us, they would have had it. But they never asked us because we were hidden in plain sight” (Lemon

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2001). Despite the RCAF’s visibility on campus through student murals, art shows that broke art world rules, and reactions to the university’s policies against campus murals in the 1970s, the RCAF seemed to fly under the university’s radar. The presumption of simple oversight, however, is highly suspicious given that by 1989, the RCAF had major public artworks in Sacramento, including Southside Park Mural (1977), Metamorphosis (1980), and L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. (1984). Nevertheless, depositing their collection at UC Santa Barbara’s CEMA proved to be a good decision for the RCAF because it contributed to the group’s regional visibility in the first multi-city Chicano/a poster show between 2000 and 2003. Organized by UC Santa Barbara’s University Art Museum, ¿Just Another Poster? Chicano Graphic Arts in California relied heavily on the RCAF posters in the CEMA collection. The exhibition toured the University of Texas at Austin, the University Art Museum at UC Santa Barbara, and Sacramento’s Crocker Art Museum.25 The title of the show, Just Another Poster was based on Luis González’s 1976 silkscreen This Is Just Another Poster, which also adorns the cover of the exhibition catalogue.26 But there was another RCAF poster circulated by UC Santa Barbara as the announcement for the ¿Just Another Poster? show held at the University Art Museum in January 2001. The poster that advertised the Santa Barbara show was one that Ricardo Favela created for El Centro de Artistas Chicanos in 1975. The serigraph features two calaveras dressed in contemporary clothes. One of the calaveras holds a frame, still dripping with paint, up to the other’s face, playfully suggesting the production as well as the exhibition that took place at the Centro. Intended as a business advertisement, Favela’s poster also notes the services provided, “Posters, Murales y Clases de Arte Para la Gente,” as well as the Centro’s address on S Street and its phone number (see plate 25). In its original context as an advertisement for El Centro de Artistas Chicanos, Favela’s poster gestured to the “spiritual support” that the center offered artists and the community who used it (S. Goldman 1990, 35). In the central image of two comical calaveras attempting to hang a picture, Favela included dual cosmological symbols that reference the cardinal directions in Mesoamerican thought—north, east, south, west, and most important, the center, which is indicated by smaller circles within larger circles. While all Mesoamerican civilizations referenced the cardinal directions, in Aztec representations, the center symbolized the “fifth sun,” or the current epoch. Juan Carrillo recalls “that the year [Favela] did this poster was possibly the

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same year we all went to New Mexico to visit. It was ’75 or ’76.” Adding that the symbols on the poster “always reminded me of the symbol in the New Mexico state flag,” Carrillo noted that Favela’s “reference to the four corners is stark. Through our growing knowledge at that time of indigenous spiritual and cultural traditions we learned of the greater meaning of the four directions” (Juan Carrillo, e-mail to author, November 17, 2014). A fusion of Mesoamerican and Pueblo spiritual signs, Favela’s poster documents his “growing knowledge” of indigenous spiritual orders and the Chicano/a sense of place in the Western Hemisphere. Making a visual pun on the idea of the center— through his representation of two small circles within larger circles—Favela’s poster advertised the location of the Centro de Artistas Chicanos while signifying its importance to the RCAF and the people who made art in it. As an announcement for a university exhibition of Chicano/a art, Favela’s poster also takes on another meaning, as one of the skeletons attempts to capture the other in a frame that still drips with paint. In this new context— advertising a Chicano/a poster show in 2001—the image comments on the new appeal and collectability of Chicano/a art in the twenty-first century. Ironic and bittersweet, the poster in this context resonated with the uncertainty that many RCAF members felt concerning institutional collections. Amidst the success of their records at UC Santa Barbara’s CEMA, the RCAF grew increasingly aware of their lack of recognition at CSUS, which directly related to their historical absence in the university’s archives and collections. Echoing Favela’s sentiment that CSUS never asked them for their records, José Montoya remarked on the uneven development of Chicano/a art collections in general: We’ve been interviewed and researched, and there’s very little out there that we can send our students to go and read those books—even at Sac State. For all of the things that we accomplished as the Royal Chicano Air Force, they’re finally—just barely—beginning to say, “Well, you guys came from here. Why is your archive in Santa Barbara?” Well, no one asked. Now they’ve got new librarians [at CSUS] who are saying, “You have to have your stuff here.” So I’m having to, you know . . . give them some of the Barrio Art materials because it’s still going on and still a CSUS affiliated program. The poster making—Favela, who teaches in the Art Department, has turned the collection over to them, or set up an archive. Nothing is as expansive, or close to having everything we’ve ever done, like Santa Barbara. (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004)

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As Montoya indicates, institutional efforts Figure 5.7. Events during R.C.A.F. Goes to College, 2007. to collect RCAF art and records at CSUS did L: José Montoya introducing not get underway until their CEMA collection documentary film by Joe was well established at UC Santa Barbara. Camacho. R: Esteban Villa Sheila O’Neill was one of the “new librarat screening. Author’s photograph. ians” whom Montoya refers to as advocates of RCAF archives at the CSUS university library. O’Neill joined the CSUS faculty as director of the special collections and university archives in 1999 and oversaw the processing of the Joe Serna Jr. Papers, which became available to the public on October 21, 2007. During the same month, the CSUS library hosted an exhibition titled Our Mayor Forever: Joe Serna, 1939–1999 (Sheila O’Neill, e-mail to the author, October 1, 2009). Along with the Joe Serna Jr. Papers, O’Neill and her staff prepared the Sam Rios Jr. Papers, which include documents from the formation of the Chicano/a studies program at CSUS, the early years of Breakfast for Niños, and the development of the Washington Barrio Education Center (see fig. 5.7). During this moment of institutional focus on the RCAF, including the planning and exhibition of R.C.A.F. Goes to College, the CSUS university library made another important acquisition related to the group. Between August 2006 and January 2007, La Raza Galería Posada donated its poster collection to the CSUS library.27 The collection includes numerous works by the RCAF and other Chicano/a artists of the region. In March 2008, the University Library Gallery exhibited a selection of 150 Chicano/a posters.28 Terezita Romo, a former La Raza Bookstore worker and a founder of Galería Posada, played an active role in the 2008 exhibition of the posters.

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Romo also participated in the 2007 R.C.A.F. Figure 5.8. RCAF artist roundtable, March 1, 2007. L: Goes to College show, presenting an abbreviStan Padilla reading petition to ated version of her 2001 catalogue essay from save Barrio Art, sitting next to ¿Just Another Poster?, discussing the impact Juanishi Orosco. R: Armando that “fine art” status made on the iconography Cid and Lorraine GarcíaNakata. Author’s photographs. and production of Chicano/a posters once university museums and libraries came calling (see fig. 5.8).29 Commodification of Chicano/a posters in the 1980s and 1990s resulted in a fundamental shift in their function and value. Several factors were involved in moving the Chicano/a poster out of the barrio and into galleries, museums, and university collections. Romo was sensitive to all of these conditions in her talk but paid particular attention to an important, and perhaps unexpected, aspect: the “nature” of Chicano/a art. The Chicano/a poster, Romo (2001, 112) explained, “also contributed to the development of the Chicano art movement’s unique course. The early poster workshops at various universities attracted participants from other disciplines [and] posters created within centros also solidified the community-building aspects of the movement.” The production of Chicano/a posters had always involved an exchange of ideas and a blending of images and techniques resultant from the free association of the artists who made them. Further, the poster collaborations took place in shared and multipurpose space; whether the spaces were in centros or within university art classrooms, the making of Chicano/a posters produced concepts that ranged from interdisciplinary ones to community-driven philosophies. Thus, the conceptual process inherent to Chicano/a art influenced its transition from art for the people to art for art’s sake. In terms of a Chicano/a aesthetic, then, Romo contends

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that the 1980s shift was not necessarily negative, but reflected another stage in the poster’s evolution: “The poster format offered artists the freedom to transmit messages solely by aesthetic means—to intentionally create poster art” (2001, 112). Despite the conceptual nature of Chicano/a posters, Romo concedes that “it was multiculturalism and the art market of the 1980s and 1990s that forever changed” their value, or how they are valued (112). Multiauthored works, which reflected critical collaborations, did not inform the system within which Chicano/a art was collected.30 In other words, Chicano/a art became more collectible during the 1980s and 1990s, but only on an individual basis. While multiculturalism had promised more diversity in US art museums and galleries, the category remained based on Western market values of art; thus, collective art practices and community-based ideas of production did not produce fine art according to the status quo. The RCAF’s art show in the University Library Gallery in 2007 sent mixed messages. While the RCAF had been officially allowed inside one of the university’s premiere exhibition spaces, the display of RCAF posters and contemporary works was occurring amidst a funding crisis for Barrio Art, the community-based art program conceived by José Montoya in the early 1970s and directed by Ricardo Favela from 1977 to 2007. On the evening of the artists’ panel discussion, Sam Rios Jr. started the conversation by circulating a petition to save Barrio Art, a program that had been operational for over thirty years. The contradiction was palpable. Although CSUS had recognized the RCAF and Chicano/a art, the university did not value the processes or community spaces in which the RCAF made art, taught art, and passed on Chicano/a art traditions (see fig. 5.9). The RCAF’s response to the institutional attention and accolades during 2007 further substantiates the persistence of their collective theory and praxis over time—despite the multicultural art market for their work. Following the momentum of the R.C.A.F. Goes to College, several RCAF members established the R.C.A.F. Centro Dos.31 “We’re reviving the Centro,” Juanishi Orosco explained in an update to the Pilots of Aztlán documentary (LaRosa 2008). The RCAF envisioned a center like their earlier Centro de Artistas Chicanos; it would encompass a working studio and resource center for professional artists and would include space for arts classes and workshops. On August 3, 2007, the RCAF held their first art auction and fundraiser at their new centro location in the Brickhouse Gallery and Studios

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on Thirty-Sixth Street and Broadway in SacFigure 5.9. Petition to save Barrio Art, distributed by Sam ramento.32 In the company of friends, collecRios Jr. during R.C.A.F. Goes to tors, and longtime members, several RCAF College and artist roundtable. artists auctioned off their “fine art” to raise Author’s photograph. money for the burgeoning center. Centro Dos activities continued through 2008 with events like Chicano Movie Night at the Guild Theater on Thirty-Fifth Street and Broadway.33 The evening featured documentary films by Sam Quiñones that captured Chicano/a ceremonies at Southside Park in the 1970s and 1980s. The feature film was Joe Camacho’s El Pachuco: From Zoot Suits to Lowriders (ca. 1983), which chronicles the planning, implementation, and opening night of José Montoya’s 1977 exhibition Pachuco Art: A Historical Update in downtown Sacramento. The Centro Dos lasted for two years, but the RCAF’s decision to establish a center during a wave of institutional recognition reveals how their previous “experience of marginalization and displacement proved to them that urban space was never neutral or devoid of meaning” (Latorre 2008, 141). The RCAF’s community art practice had been a response to circumstances that were not always their choice, but it became essential to the group over

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time, and in 2007, they returned to the idea of creating alternative space for Chicano/a art production, suggesting that during a period of institutional visibility, they needed a home base.

Future Flight Paths: The Photography of Hector González Alongside posters and administrative records, the RCAF deposited a number of photographs at UC Santa Barbara’s California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives (CEMA) that provide a comprehensive record of the neo-indigenous ceremonies, the art workshops, and the making of RCAF murals.34 For the majority of photographs, however, authorship is unknown. Hector González is listed as the photographer on only a handful images. As mentioned in preceding chapters, Hector González was a principal photographer in the RCAF, but the scant traces of his name on the collection at CEMA make one wonder about the context and the formal choices that were made in the digitization of the photographs now available on Calisphere. These questions resound in Harry Gamboa Jr.’s (2011, 63) essay on Oscar Castillo’s 2011 photography exhibition Icons of the Invisible, in which Gamboa observes that “only a few photographers of this culture . . . have successfully shared their images with a global audience.” Remarking on the likelihood that many of the pictures at CEMA were taken by Hector González, RCAF artist Lorraine García-Nakata raised an important point about changing definitions of photography in the late twentieth century and the different roles photography serves in scholarship across academic disciplines. “A lot of photographs were taken as documentation in the 1960s and seventies,” she explained, “literally documenting the movement, and unfortunately, this is how the photographs often continue to be thought of” (Lorraine García-Nakata, conversation with author, September 15, 2013). While Chicano/a art scholarship now considers the aesthetic qualities of documentary photography from the Chicano movement, RCAF artists had already noted the visual potency of Hector González’s work in the 1970s. RCAF artists used González’s photographs in their silkscreen posters, from his portraits of José Montoya organizing for the United Farm Workers union to his action shots of Chicana RCAF members in tense exchanges with the police. As discussed in chapters 2 and 3, both Luis González and Ricardo Favela adapted Hector González’s work in their posters, aestheticizing the photographs to draw attention to what he observed through his lens. Both

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Luis González’s Announcement Poster for International Women’s Year (1975) and Ricardo Favela’s Announcement Poster for Veteranos (1981) cite Hector González as the central image maker. In fact, the image description on Calisphere for Luis González’s Women’s Year poster reveals that he did not sign the serigraph but rather credited his brother’s image.35 The description tells a story about the photograph, or rather, a story about Luis and Hector González. It states, “Unsigned. Inscription on the purple area located in the lower right corner of the image area reads: ‘Photo Hector Gonzalez, RCAF, Sacra.’” The RCAF used “Sacra” as shorthand for “Sacramento,” but it was also a bilingual wordplay. Used here, it evokes the RCAF collective and their homeland or home base in Sacramento. The sacredness the word conjures and its appearance at the end of the photo credit suggests that Luis was paying homage to Hector, who, as Harry Gamboa Jr. (2011, 66) observes when discussing Oscar Castillo in Los Angeles, “produced an extensive body of work that enhances our understanding of a complex and nuanced culture that has often been relegated to invisibility by mainstream media and cultural regulators.” Along with photo credits given to Hector in Luis González’s and Ricardo Favela’s posters, three pictures of an auto shop cite Hector González as the photographer and capture a glimpse of RCAF artist Juan Cervantes’s mural Aeronaves de Aztlán (1979).36 The automotive co-op was administered by the RCAF’s Centro de Artistas Chicanos. Painted on the garage’s facade, Cervantes’s mural “depicted a proud Chicano mechanic holding a wrench,” Shifra Goldman (1990, 35–36) writes, adding that the figure was “surrounded by billowing clouds, a blazing sun, and an eagle.” The Aeronaves de Aztlán mural fused pre-Columbian imagery with Chicano/a iconography, announcing that a Chicano/a establishment was open and ready for business, but it also sent a particular message to Chicano/a viewers about autonomous labor in (or as) Aztlán (Sanchez-Tranquilino 1995, 59).37 The Chicano mechanic’s outstretched arm anticipates the arrival of the eagle that hovers to his left, recalling a pre-Columbian motif on the founding of Tenochtitlan, or the image of an eagle perched on a cactus with a serpent in its mouth. In Cervantes’s mural, the founding story of this pre-Columbian city is reconfigured to address the spatial needs of a Chicano/a storefront and “the more concrete claims for public space that their work required” (Latorre 2008, 141) (see plate 26). Cervantes’s mural is fascinating because it beckons the militant posture of the earlier years of the Chicano movement. On the mechanic’s out-

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stretched arm, he wears a United Farm Workers flag as an armband. The hand in which he holds his wrench is clenched, reminiscent of the power fist associated with the Chicano movement as well as the Black Panther Party. The mechanic’s posture is one that is familiar in historical photographs of 1960s civil rights protests, connoting a militant performance or a frontline stance, further adding insight into what the auto co-op meant to the RCAF as the political fervor of the Chicano movement subsided and the institutional collecting of Chicano/a art began.

The RCAF’s Virtual Mural Environment in the Twenty-First Century Through access provided by online archives, the implications of seeing RCAF art, including murals like Aeronaves de Aztlán (1979) that have been destroyed, expand the spatiotemporal map of Chicano/a art history. Sacramento becomes a major site of Chicano/a art history through the RCAF’s online collection, or one of the “mural environments” that Guisela Latorre (2008) locates in San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Mural environments are areas with “a series of murals in close proximity to one another,” Latorre writes; they are not “supposed to be seen as single works of art, but rather their position and iconography should be understood in function of the surrounding murals and in relation to the space in which they reside” (142). Sacramento offers an important Chicano/a mural environment because many of the RCAF’s murals correspond with the conditions Latorre describes. Numerous RCAF murals were located in the Alkali Flat district, a Chicano/a barrio in the late twentieth century. RCAF murals were commemorative of spatial takeovers in Sacramento, they were in close proximity to one another, and several of them have been renovated or changed. On the other hand, the RCAF created a mural environment that is unique to Sacramento, especially in regard to their murals outside Chicano/a barrio space, like Metamorphosis in 1980, and L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. in 1984, renovated in 1999. Both of these murals were created in public spaces with municipal funds and are viewable on Calisphere.38 Over time, RCAF murals were not exclusive to a particular area of the city, and in a sense, all of Sacramento is the RCAF’s mural environment. Because of the digitization of RCAF art on Calisphere, the framework of the mural environment takes on more meaning because it simultaneously creates a more accurate history of Chicano/a art and a virtual mural

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environment in itself. After all, through CaliFigure 5.10. Esteban Villa sitting at Joe Serna Jr. and sphere, Chicano/a murals in Sacramento, Los Isabel Hernández-Serna Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco are in Memorial Fountain (2001). close proximity to each other, creating new Author’s photograph. spatial relationships that are available for comparative analysis—and not only analysis of murals, but also of posters, theatrical performances, and communityrelated events. Access to the virtual mural environment, in conjunction with images of RCAF air force performances and other art productions, is the backdrop of the RCAF’s murals in the twenty-first century, the Memorial Fountain for Joe Serna Jr. and Isabel Hernández-Serna (2001) and Eartharium (2003). If the online collections function as gateways to the past, or living histories that continue to shape historical consciousness and understandings of Chicano/a art, the RCAF’s mural environment includes these twenty-first-century works that merge contemporary design with early Chicano/a iconography. On October 5, 2001, the Serna Memorial Fountain was dedicated at CSUS. Following the death of Joe Serna Jr. and that of his wife, Isabel, nearly a year later, Esteban Villa and Ricardo Favela designed the fountain for the Serna Plaza located at the east entrance of the CSUS campus (Wagar 2001). The fountain is actually a three-dimensional mural, incorporating bold col-

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ors, an aerial view of the San Joaquin Valley, and other identifiable objects that not only honor Joe and Isabel Serna but commemorate the local Chicano movement. Both sides of the fountain, for example, have brick benches that hold two open books. The pages of the books contain poems written for Joe and Isabel by English professor Olivia Castellano and José Montoya, who were classmates in the Mexican American Education Project (MAEP) and colleagues at CSUS. According to Ricardo Favela, the books “signify the fact that they were scholars and academic people” (Wagar 2001), but they also symbolize the Chicano movement’s call for educational equality through a visible presence on college campuses as well as in the figurative spaces of US history (see fig. 5.10). The fountain’s brilliantly tiled basin presents an aerial view of Sacramento’s agricultural lands. In collaboration with Larry Ortiz and Scott Conlin, Esteban Villa and Ricardo Favela produced three hundred tiles that depict “vineyards, farm fields and produce” (Wagar 2001). Water pours down into the pool from overarching columns painted white and blue at their bases to emulate the sky and clouds. The tops of the columns are crowned by two strikingly black United Farm Worker (UFW) eagles. The presence of the huelga birds, along with the books and the tile mosaic of Sacramento’s agricultural fields, is not lost on the knowing viewer. From educational equality to labor rights, the social and political mandates of the Chicano movement are incorporated into the monument. Where once numerous student and Chicano/a murals were whitewashed and destroyed, now a bold, colorful, three-dimensional mural honors the Sernas’ legacy and the legacy of the UFW at a major entrance to the Sacramento campus of the state university. Following the Serna Memorial Fountain’s dedication in 2001, Esteban Villa, Stan Padilla, and Juanishi Orosco created Eartharium in the lobby of the State of California’s General Services Department, located at Sixteenth and L Streets in Sacramento.39 Completed in January 2003, Eartharium was “the first 360[-degree] mural that we’ve ever done,” Villa remarked (Esteban Villa, interview, June 23, 2004). Juanishi Orosco was contacted by an Art in Public Places consultant after she heard about the RCAF’s successful renovation of Southside Park Mural in 2001.40 Orosco met with Stan Padilla to develop a landscape motif that would accurately represent the four directions: “We were true to the purpose,” Orosco explained, adding, “east is east and west is west.” Orosco painted the landscape’s skyline, complete with references to the “Hopi Twins,” a detail he incorporated into the south wall renovation of L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. in 1999. Padilla painted the landscape and

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a rainbow. Villa designed the agricultural lands of the Sacramento Valley (Juanishi Orosco, interview, July 6, 2004). Eartharium is a nature mural and seems pretty tame in comparison to earlier RCAF murals. Its motif recalls the controversy that surrounded Metamorphosis in 1980 over the latter’s apolitical imagery. But Eartharium engages a Chicano/a perspective of space and the complexity of that space’s construction—from land, the history of land, and one’s sense of belonging to both. Juanishi Orosco made this point when he emphasized that the four directions are accurate in relation to the mural. The precision of the mural’s location, according to the Artists’ Statement, was central to the concept of Eartharium as a “bio-compass” for “the Sacramento Valley and beyond, from the Sierra foothills to the Pacific coast.”41 The design centered on Sacramento as a place where the rivers meet, creating a “sacrament,” referencing the city’s name after European colonization. Understanding nature as the origin of all health is certainly a political point of view in the twenty-first century, but the artists’ attention to the four directions gestures to the indigenous peoples who lived in the Sacramento Valley prior to European contact. Moreover, their recognition of the Spanish renaming of the “Feather River” to “Rio del Santissimo Sacramento” in 1808 reveals that the artists valued the convergence of these civilizations, and the resulting spiritual and religious mixtures that create the Chicano/a worldview (see plate 27). The artists’ emphasis on Eartharium as a “bio-compass” for the Sacramento Valley and beyond raises another point of consideration about the mural’s location. Eartharium is housed in a state government building directly across the street from the state capitol. In 2004, I stood next to Esteban Villa in the building’s lobby as we looked at the mural. I sensed the officialdom of the space. Across the street from the building in which I stood, the state capitol is preceded by the capitol park, which features a garden full of native plants from the “Golden State,” war memorials honoring Californians killed in service during foreign wars, and a statue of Junípero Serra standing on top of a bronze carving of the state of California. As I looked at Eartharium, Villa pointed to the locations that he and his RCAF colleagues painted. “We’re standing in Sacramento,” he explained, “and you’re looking at the four directions.” “You can see the Sierra Nevada over there,” he continued, “and the river, the American River, coming up there towards where you live, and then some of the foliage—like a poppy, the state’s flower.” Referring to my parents’ home in Auburn, California, Villa next turned south and

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added, “That’s where the sun is at high noon. Up there, you see the sun sets south. It’d be like looking towards San Diego and then moving up. And then we’re looking west, and you see the buttes and you see Contra Costa [and] Mount Diablo over there.” Then Villa lowered his voice as he pointed to the section he painted. “See this green valley?” he asked me, “just off the record here, you see those quilted patches? The fields, and there’s the thunderbird— there’s an eagle. . . . See the tail down below and way up at the top, the head of the eagle? Very subtle. So it’s like, la vida de las farmworkers.” Villa had painted a UFW eagle within the agricultural lands of the Sacramento Valley. “It’s a pretty safe mural,” he remarked, but “even still, I put the huelga eagle where I wasn’t supposed to, but it’s still hidden . . . in a green field” (Esteban Villa, interview, June 23, 2004). The eagle is discernable through brushstrokes and shadowing in the patchwork of Villa’s green field. The triangular shape of the bird’s tail and the rounded angle of its head are the most prominent details of its body. Once detected, the angles of the eagle’s wings become clear. The UFW symbol’s presence in the “nature” mural is profound. In the lobby of a government building, within walking distance of a hegemonic symbol of public space, visibility, and power, a Chicano/a symbol flies under the radar, honoring Chicano/a labor and contributions to the building of California’s capital city (see plate 28).

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Notes

Preface 1. The excerpt is from Gloria Anzaldúa’s (1999) interview with Karin Ikas in the second edition of Borderlands/La Frontera. 2. I do not mean to suggest that my lack of knowledge of Chicano/a art was the experience of numerous children and students of Chicano/a artists who had educated people for decades. Rather, there was (and is) a clear disconnect between Chicano/a art history and the curricula of public schools in the United States. Alicia Gaspar de Alba’s (1998) encounter with the exhibition Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation, 1965–1985 (CARA) in the 1990s echoes Saldívar’s experience of regional hegemony in South Texas and my experience in 2000. Despite what Gaspar de Alba had learned “on the road to becoming ‘Doctor’ Gaspar de Alba,” she writes, “I knew relatively little of the political history and cultural production of Chicanos/as.” During her third year in college, she “took one of the only Chicano Studies courses offered at the University of Texas at El Paso,” and she connects her introduction to Chicano/a art with self-discovery: “At the same time that I was decolonizing my mind through poetry and fiction, I was coming out as a lesbian” (xiv).

Introduction 1. The RCAF was founded between 1969 and 1972. Most RCAF members date the collective’s founding to 1969, which coincides with Montoya and Villa’s arrival at CSUS. Juan Carrillo explains that “the seeds were planted” when he and Montoya were enrolled “in the Master’s Program at CSUS in June of 1969. . . . Villa was hired to teach in the art department at CSUS that year. . . . Favela was enrolled as an art student at the time. There was a great deal of interaction with other Chicanos on campus (as well as off campus)” (Juan Carillo, e-mail to author, October 31, 2013). 2. “El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán” was written and endorsed in 1969 at the National Chicano Youth Liberation Conference in Boulder, Colorado. At another conference a few months later in Santa Barbara, Chicano/a students adopted a platform for higher education. “El Plan de Santa Barbara” was an important step in creating Chicano studies

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programs and establishing the student organization Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán. 3. The name fluctuates in archival records and artists’ memories between Light Art in Sacramento, Energy Resources In Unlimited Movement and Motion (“Dedication,” n.d.; Romero 1999). 4. Noriega and Tompkins Rivas’s (2011) essay is part of the L.A. Xicano catalogue, which documents four art shows in Los Angeles that were part of the Pacific Standard Time initiative led by the Getty. 5. The “Korean Conflict” was phrased as a police proceeding in order to bypass the official steps needed for a declaration of war by Congress. I choose to use “Korean War.” 6. Following the directorship of Clark Taylor, the MAEP’s directorship was shared by professors Clarence Johnson and Steven Arvizu in 1970. Professor Duane Campbell was hired in 1969 to develop MAEP curriculum and became codirector in 1970, replacing Johnson (Morris 1973, 1). 7. Sam Rios Jr., CV, 2007. Courtesy of Christina Ramírez-Rios. 8. Overly determining who was and was not a member does not serve the historical record of the RCAF. The RCAF was a fairly insulated community, but membership was fluid. Members participated in other organizations and pursued other interests. Some members extend the RCAF identity to artists who studied and trained with them and also to their own children. 9. I discuss the assumption that the RCAF was solely based in the Chicano/a community and unconcerned with institutional knowledge in chapter 4. 10. The four major arms of the US government’s art programs, which overlapped or succeeded one another, were the Public Works of Art Project from 1933 to 1934, the Treasury Section of Painting and Sculpture from 1934 to 1943, the Treasury Relief Art Project from 1935 to 1939, and the Works Progress Administration’s Federal Art Project from 1935 to 1943 (O’Connor 1969, 58–79). The programs under each of these entities created public art in public buildings, establishing the idea of government-funded public arts in the United States (64). Relevant to the RCAF, the 1934–1943 Treasury Section of Painting and Sculpture appropriated 1 percent of funds “allocated by Congress for the constructions of public buildings . . . for artistic decoration” (61). The allocation resonated in the 1970s, when art in public places ordinances were adopted in many cities, including Sacramento. 11. Dolores Hayden (1997, 84) founded the Power of Place organization in 1984 to recover the histories of “invisible Angelenos” through public art in downtown Los Angeles. The preservation projects included the Biddy Mason Memorial, the Embassy Auditorium workshops in the 1990s that focused on 1930s and 1940s Latina and Russian Jewish labor leaders, and the preservation of a remaining block of Little Tokyo, which was devastated by Japanese American internment during World War II. 12. The founding date of El Centro de Artistas Chicanos varies. I use 1972, the year they incorporated as a nonprofit organization. 13. Andy Warhol created Pop Art that commented on the vacancy of mass culture, or the alienation of sameness, repetition, and mindless consumption, but he maintained the individual artist’s role in the painted form. Audiences of his Campbell’s Soup Can series looked at debased images through his individual genius, and they continue to do so in

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the elevated space of the modern art museum or high-end gallery. While he extended the process of repetition to his Marilyn Monroe portraits, which combined painting and silkscreening, they were most recently lauded for their “multiplicity of meanings” through the “chance variations in inking and printing: none of the fifty faces are exactly alike” (Paglia 2012, 152). The connotation is that each is an individual work of art by a single artist. 14. Poet and antiwar activist Manuel Gómez claimed that the Vietnamese and Chicanos/as were “branches of the same tree” in his letter to the draft board in December 1969. The letter was republished in several Chicano/a and antiwar newspapers (Oropeza 2005, 91, 89). 15. The redevelopment of downtown Sacramento comprised several plans and two major phases. The second phase took place in 1972 with the Alkali Flat Redevelopment Plan, 1973–1990. Numerous Chicanos/as lived in the Alkali Flat and faced encroachment on their homes and community spaces. Residents like Armando Cid and Sam Rios Jr. joined Tim Quintero on the Alkali Flat Project Area Committee to work with the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency in creating lower-income residences and public spaces in the redeveloped portions of the Alkali (Alkali Flat Review 1975, 4). I also use Marois (2003), “An Economic History of Alkali Flat.” An unpublished paper for Community and Regional Development 241 at UC Davis, it was available on the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency website. 16. The spelling of Cid’s Olin mural varies. It is listed as Ollin on Calisphere and in California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives photographs, but Josephine Talamantez recalled that Olin is the correct spelling in an e-mail correspondence on May 18, 2016. A press release for the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission (August 17, 2010) also lists the name of the mural as Olin. 17. See Cid’s mural on Calisphere: http://content.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/hb8779p43r. 18. In the CARA catalogue, Goldman and Ybarra-Frausto (1991, 83–95) excerpt the time periods “from 1968 to 1975 to 1981 and beyond” from Arte Chicano in their essay “The Political and Social Contexts of Chicano Art.” 19. To view González’s poem and the RCAF mural on Calisphere, see https://calisphere.org/item/ark:/13030/hb9199p4hz/. 20. Hector and Luis González are noted on the Smithsonian American Art Museum website as being born in Mexico City in 1945 and 1953, respectively; see http://americanart.si.edu/collections/search/artwork/?id=34703. 21. Juan Carrillo and José Montoya completed a joint thesis for their individual master’s degrees that analyzed the influence of nineteenth-century Mexican illustrator José Guadalupe Posada on Chicano/a artists, establishing antecedents beyond Eurocentric ones (J. Montoya 1980, 48–53). Sam Rios Jr. amassed a collection of slides for presentations on a community-centered history of the RCAF’s Southside Park Mural (1977). Ricardo Favela’s MFA show in 1989 exhibited RCAF posters, supported by a thesis that tracked Chicano/a posters’ transition from the front lines of the Chicano movement to their display on gallery walls (Ricardo Favela 1990, 5). Terezita Romo completed her master’s thesis on the RCAF’s Southside Park Mural, offering visual analyses of the multipanel work (Romo 1996). 22. González used Art Abstracts and Art Index Retrospective, produced by the H. W.

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Wilson Company, and the Union List of Artists’ Names (ULAN), developed and maintained by the Getty Research Institute (R. González 2003, 2). 23. There are numerous Chicano/a posters to think about in this way. Rupert Garcia’s ¡Cesen Deportación! (1973) mirrors twenty-first century cries to “cease the deportations” that fracture families and people’s lives. The barbed-wire fence with which Garcia cuts through the poster’s red block of color and its bold declaration could easily have been made today. In fact, Garcia and Jesus Barraza teamed up to reproduce the poster in 2011 for a fund-raiser for the Ethnic Studies College at San Francisco State University. 24. Lippard is careful not to minimize “the economic and psychological toll of racism in this country,” or exaggerate “the strengths that have resulted in survival,” but, she argues, “it is still possible to recognize the depth of African, Native American, Asian and Latino cultural contributions” because of the “mixed blessing” of exclusion (2000, 5). 25. Speech scrolls are pre-Columbian signs and, specifically, “Aztec symbols of speech (from the codices),” according to the slide annotation on Calisphere for Bilingual Education Says Twice As Much. See https://calisphere.org/item/ark:/13030/hb7b69p4h9/.

1. Building a Verbal-Visual Architecture 1. Hasta La Victoria Siempre, c/s can be viewed at http://americanart.si.edu/collections /search/artwork/?id=34703. 2. RCAF counterclaims to racial and cultural stereotypes of Mexicans and Mexican Americans are addressed by Guillermo Hernández (1991) in his seminal study of José Montoya’s prose and poetry. In “Archives and Manuscripts: Historical Antecedents to Contemporary Chicano Collections,” Salvador Güereña (1988) provides a concise review of American literary history, addresses the potential reasons for exclusions of literature written in Spanish, and notes early attempts to redress the misrepresentation of Mexican Americans in American literature. 3. Founded by Frederick Meyer in Berkeley in 1907 during the US Arts and Crafts movement, the college was originally named the School of the California Guild of Arts and Crafts. The institution was renamed the California School of Arts and Crafts in 1908 and then, in 1936, renamed the California College of Arts and Crafts. In 2003, “Crafts” was dropped from the name (California College of the Arts, n.d.). 4. On April 7, 1954, President Eisenhower held a press conference to explain the growing threat of communism after the Viet Minh defeated the French at Ðiê. n Biên Ph . A communist-dominated nationalist coalition that formed in 1941, the Viet Minh fought for Vietnamese independence from French occupation. Members of the Viet Minh later joined with the Viet Cong. James Willbanks (2013, 49) adds that “the domino theory was also certainly influenced by the fall of China to the Communists in 1949 and the Korean War (1950–1953), which attempted to prevent a domino effect in East Asia.” 5. Montoya met Salvador Torres at San Diego City College. Torres also attended CCA in Oakland, graduating in 1964. He returned to San Diego to pursue a master’s degree in painting at CSU San Diego and in 1973 “became involved in the creation of Chicano Park [and] what he has called the Monumental Public Mural Project” (University of California, Santa Barbara Library, 2014).

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6. Shifra Goldman connects what Latorre (2008, 10) terms the “politicized modernist vocabulary” of the Mexican mural tradition to the “Mexican American scholars and artists today, who are revising US history by mandating the inclusions of Mexicans, Mexican Americans, and Native Americans as the original occupants and bearers of culture” (S. Goldman 1994, 106). The revising of US history through murals was not exclusive to Mexican American scholars and artists. For example, “deeply immersed in the history and culture of black Americans,” Charles White had a deep “knowledge of Mexican art” that “helped him to understand how art could be used to promote social change” (Coleman 2000, 19). After studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and being “accepted for the WPA arts program,” White painted The Contribution of the Negro to Democracy in America (1943), creating “a visual history of black America from the colonial era of Crispus Attucks to the mid-twentieth-century era of Paul Robeson” (Coleman 2000, 19). Like Rivera’s The Epic of the Mexican People, painted between 1929 and 1935 in the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City, which visualizes Mexican history from pre-Columbian civilization and Spanish conquest to the early twentieth-century Mexican Revolution, White’s mural was revolutionary because it told US history with the African American experience at its center. 7. In a 1933 letter, American artist George Biddle encouraged his friend President Franklin Delano Roosevelt “to view the Mexican mural movement as a model.” Praising the murals as “the greatest national school of mural paintings since the Renaissance,” Biddle added that “Diego Rivera tells me that it was only possible because President Obregón allowed Mexican artists to work at plumber’s wages in order to express on the walls of the government the social ideals of the Mexican Revolution” (Jackson 2009, 51). 8. John Pitman Weber (2003, 4) adds that the “community mural movement also excited interest abroad, including in Mexico, where US muralists received early encouragement from both Siqueiros and Chávez Morado. Arnold Belkin, considered by some as Mexico’s last important muralist, participated in the US movement during the early 1970s in New York City.” 9. Shifra Goldman (1994, 268) argues that despite documented encounters between Mexican, African American, and Chicano/a artists throughout the twentieth century, modern Latin American art “has been held in low esteem and considered as ‘second class’ to that of Europe and the United States, except at very special junctures.” The “special junctures” represent overarching geopolitical concerns like access to natural resources, and she organizes the junctures into “four periods” of “strong US interest in the art of Mexico and Latin America.” Goldman begins with the Great Depression and New Deal legislation. The next moment of cultural exchange occurs in 1940, with “Roosevelt’s ‘Good Neighbor’ policy, one year before the United States entered World War II and two years after Mexico had nationalized the US oil companies. Third, during the 1960s renewed US interest in Latin America followed in the wake of the Cuban Revolution and the development of the Alliance for Progress” (269). Goldman contends that during the fourth period, in the 1970s “amidst the Chicano art movement,” US interest in Mexico pertained to US “energy needs” (269). Wanting to harness the Mexican oil boom, the United States “used Mexican art as a means to court their southern neighbor under the guise of ‘cultural awareness’” (269). Goldman’s “special junctures” challenge lofty assumptions of art as

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an apolitical corpus of achievement by exposing the economic and political interests that create national art canons. 10. Extracting the processes of mestizaje and diaspora from conquest and colonization to stage them as formal elements of Chicano/a art, Karen Mary Davalos (2001, 11) proposes “organic theories” that “are not predicated on nationalism or imperialism, colonial anthropology or realist/positivist social science.” Organic theories of mestizaje and diaspora avoid “containment of representational practices and do not pretend to gather all the ‘facts’ and ‘objects’ through a rhetoric of ‘description’ and ‘truth’” (11). Mining mestizaje and diaspora’s transformative processes, Davalos contends that used as “organic theories,” mestizaje and diaspora are active artistic channels, “‘neither denying ambiguity nor endorsing it, neither subverting subjectivity nor denying objectivity, expressing instead their interaction is the subjective creation of ambiguous objectivities that enable unambiguous subjectivity’ (Tyler 1986, 136)” (quoted in Davalos 2001, 11–12). 11. The title of the poem is “Cortés Poem,” and other documentation uses this title. See Steve LaRosa’s film Pilots of Aztlán (1994). Carlos Jackson (2009, 91) adds that “Cortés Poem” “was printed as both a silkscreen color print and as a monochromatic calendario image.” Other versions of the poster in collections date to 1974. 12. There are several versions of the poster on Calisphere. See https://calisphere.org /item/ark:/13030/hb9w101276/. 13. To view Announcement Poster for DQU Benefit, see https://calisphere.org/item /ark:/13030/hb7580112x/. 14. Afro-Mexicans only became recognized as a distinct category on Mexico’s national census in 2015; until 2015 Mexico was one of two Latin American countries (the other was Chile) that did not recognize blacks as part of its citizenry (Thompson-Hernández 2015). While the Mexican government acknowledged Africa as the “third root” of the nation in 1992, amid the “500th anniversary of the ‘encounter’ with Spain,” it was an empty gesture (Lozano 2006). Henry Louis Gates Jr. (2011, 66) “discovered” Mexico’s “third root” in 2011, and his assessment that “blackness was okay, if it was part of a blend, an ingredient that doesn’t exactly disappear but [remains] present through a trace” is accurate for the status quo of the United States and Mexico. 15. Eurocentric history of the nineteenth-century US annexation of the northern territories of Mexico also facilitated a denial of citizenship for Afromestizos (Menchaca 2007). Twentieth-century platforms against segregation reinforced the disappearance of blackness in Mexican American communities. Lorena Oropeza (2003, 204) cites the 1950s alliance between the American GI Forum and LULAC that argued “successfully against the segregation of Mexican-descended people on the grounds that they were ‘white.’ Instead of mounting an attack on segregation itself, these organizations asserted that segregation should not apply to Mexican Americans.” The coalition to end segregation for Mexican Americans reinforced “one great racial divide between black and white” in the United States (205). 16. When seven Latino activists were accused of murdering a police officer in 1969, Yolanda López and others formed Los Siete de la Raza in San Francisco’s Mission District (Davalos 2008, 39).

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17. To view the poster Committee to Abolish Prison Slavery, see https://calisphere.org /item/ark:/13030/hb2w1007f3/. 18. The mural in Detroit was titled the Wall of Dignity (1968). When Walker and colleagues participated in Murals for the People in 1971 at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, they released “The Artists’ Statement,” signed by Walker, Eugene “Edaw” Wade, Mitchell Caton, John Pitman Weber, and Mark Rogovin (Harris 2000, 45). Described as a “real manifesto” (45), the statement emulates the Black Panther Party’s “Ten-Point Plan” by taking up its aural poetic, but focuses on art as a tool for black liberation: “Our murals will continue to speak of the liberation struggles of Black and Third World peoples; they will record history, speak of today, and speak of an end to war, racism, and repression; of love, of beauty, of life” (Cockcroft, Weber, and Cockcroft 1998, 13). 19. To view the poster Royal Order of the Jalapeño, see https://calisphere.org/item /ark:/13030/hb4199p216/. 20. This information is taken from Montoya’s interview with Raúl Villa on July 29, 2004, in collection at the Chicano Studies Research Center at UCLA. 21. The San Francisco Mime Troupe also utilized the “dramatic structure” of the acto (Jiménez 1975, 194). Valdez approached Chávez and Dolores Huerta in 1965 about creating a farmworkers’ theater (Huerta 1982, 1994). 22. In 1969, when the separate racial and ethnic student organizations at UC Berkeley joined the Third World Liberation Front, Carrillo was involved in the shared effort. The collective call for a third world studies program resulted in UC Berkeley’s Ethnic Studies Department later on that year (Department of Ethnic Studies UC Berkeley, n.d.). 23. The Brown Berets later modified the “Ten-Point Program” into the “‘ThirteenPoint Program.’ Modeled after the Panthers’ Ten-Point Platform and Program, the Berets’ program echoed eight of the ten demands of the [Black Panther] Party” (Ogbar 2006, 257). 24. Coleman (2000, 10) surveys the theme of hope in African American cultural production, including spirituals, James Weldon Johnson and Rosamond Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and the “jeremiad of recent hip-hop.” 25. Read at the Wall’s dedication, Lee’s poem is as follows: “A black creation / Black art, of the people, / For the people, Art for people’s sake / Black people / The mighty black wall” (Harris 2000, 24). 26. Romo (2011, 39) quotes Tomás Ybarra-Frausto from “Quemadas y Cuadas: Notes on Chicano Art” (unpublished paper, n.d.), and from his collection, Tomás Ybarra-Frausto Research Material on Chicano Art, 1967–2008, at the Smithsonian Archives for American Art. 27. In Spanish, Vasquez (2006, 64) writes to a Mexican and Mexican American audience about the Chicano movement: “Hoy en día oímos mucho de ‘El Chicano,’ ‘La Raza,’ ‘El Nuevo Chicano,’ ‘la Raza Cósmica.’ Y también algo sobre ‘El Movimiento.’ Y muchos nos ponemos a pensar, ‘¿Qué es esto?’ ‘¿Quién soy yo?’” 28. Monika Kaup (1997, 363) explores the “shift in symbols” in Chicano/a literature in the 1980s, asserting that the built environment assumed the role that the natural environment earlier provided “for the symbolic expression of collective identity.” What Kaup’s

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claim makes room for in the “ancestral houses” of the 1960s and 1970s Chicano movement is representations of Chicanas and queer Chicanos/as. Emergence, after all, visualized the birth of the Chicano struggle (371). 29. One example is El Teatro Campesino’s Soldado Razo, performed in 1971 in Fresno, California, for the Chicano Moratorium.

2. Performing La Mujer Nueva 1. The mural has been referred to by many titles, including Female Intelligentsia and Women Hold Up the Universe, but in an interview during restorations to the mural, Celia Herrera Rodríguez explained “that the title has always been Women Hold Up Half the Sky” (G. Pérez 2012). 2. I am referring to Esteban Villa’s comment to Tomás Ybarra-Frausto (1991a, 130) on the MALA-F in “The Chicano Movement / The Movement of Chicano Art” that I quote in chapter 1. 3. MAEP fellows at CSUS were part of a transformative year in the Chicano movement as “El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán” was endorsed at the National Chicano Youth Liberation Conference and another conference took place at UC Santa Barbara, where a platform for higher education was developed and adopted. “El Plan de Santa Barbara” was an important step in establishing Chicano/a studies programs and the student association Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA). 4. Lerma Barbosa shared her school transcripts from CSUS with me. She was admitted on September 22, 1969, with credit earned from American River College for coursework completed during the 1967–1968 school year and the spring semester of 1969. She took courses at CSUS until fall 1971, and she returned on September 19, 1972, taking courses through spring 1973, fall 1973, and spring and fall 1974. She completed courses in spring 1975 and was “advanced as Candidate for Master of Science in Counseling: 5–24–76.” 5. Lerma Barbosa and I created a photographic addendum to augment the transcript of her June 26, 2013, interview. Lerma Barbosa sent me images and information via e-mail and text messages on July 30, 2013, and from August 26–29, 2013. 6. Spellings of Freddy Rodriguez’s name vary. While the Wikipedia entry under “Royal Chicano Air Force,” largely maintained by Juan Carrillo, spells his name Freddie Rodriguez, the image records on Calisphere use Freddy Rodriguez. In Pilots of Aztlán (LaRosa 1994), a caption spells his name as Freddy Rodrigues. 7. Photographic addendum to the transcript of Lerma Barbosa’s June 26, 2013, interview. 8. Neither the RCAF nor residents of the Southside neighborhood “mobilized” against local authorities for access to the park; there were no public protests or disputes to reclaim and then defend the land against various city intrusions like the mobilizations that took place in Logan Heights in 1970 (R. Villa 1993, 208; 2000, 189). As Raúl Villa (2000, 186) writes, the park had fallen into disrepair amid the construction and opening of the downtown plaza in 1971, and the reconstruction of Sacramento’s K Street and the West End district, also in the late twentieth century. 9. According to William Burg (2013, 96), the stage was constructed in 1934 and named

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for “Robert E. Callahan, a former Southside Park resident when it was an Irish neighborhood who later became a community leader, city commissioner and Sacramento county supervisor.” 10. Saldívar (1997) cites Juan Bruce-Novoa’s essay “The Space of Chicano Literature,” written in 1974, updated in 1978, and anthologized in 1990 in Retrospace: Collected Essays on Chicano Literature. 11. “South Side Park Mural Soon to Return to Its Glory,” a 2001 press release from the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission, mentions that the renovations to the mural were sponsored by the city of Sacramento’s Neighborhoods Department and the Parks and Recreation Department and funded by the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency. 12. The one-page document was loose in the folder but appears to be an attachment to a grant proposal or a planning document for official review (“Southside Park Mural,” n.d.). 13. James “Jimmy” Long became a superior court judge in Sacramento after practicing law for several years following his teaching career at CSUS. 14. Photographic addendum to the transcript of Lerma Barbosa’s interview, June 26, 2013. 15. Ibid. 16. Ibid. 17. Along with Lupe Portillo, who is listed as the “Vice Chairman,” Rosemary Rasul is listed as “Sec. Treasurer.” Terezita Romo and Melinda Santana are listed as board members. 18. The location of Breakfast for Niños changed a great deal because it began as a grassroots operation. After moving from the Washington neighborhood, it was housed across the street from Southside Park in the Holy Angels School Building next to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church (“Sacramento Walk for Development Project Proposal,” n.d.). The breakfast program returned to the Washington neighborhood in the Alkali Flat in 1978 (Valadez and Rasul 1972). 19. Burg (2013, 59–70) paraphrases Bobby Seale from his 1970 book Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton. 20. According to files on El Centro de Artistas Chicanos, while the Centro was established on Franklin Boulevard in the 1980s, it “received CETA employment monies under Title II and VI. They also received money from various city and county sources, from revenue sharing, from the National Endowment of the Arts, California Arts Council and small contributions” (Centro de Artistas Chicanos, n.d.[a]). Further, from 1980–1981, the Centro had a representative on the Sacramento Arts Commission, as evidenced in a 1976–1983 timeline of Centro activities. 21. García-Nakata and I discussed Where We Are Now and its professional and intellectual components on June 3, 2015. 22. Upon finishing her presentation on Chicano/a posters in the University Library Gallery at CSUS, Romo was asked by the audience to comment on her history with La Raza Bookstore and Galería Posada (Romo 2007). The talk was given in conjunction with the exhibition R.C.A.F. Goes to College: A Collection of R.C.A.F. Posters and Contemporary Art.

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23. To view Announcement Poster for International Women’s Year, see https:// calisphere.org/item/ark:/13030/hb8p301220/. 24. Information taken from image description on Calisphere; see https://calisphere .org/item/ark:/13030/hb8p301220/. 25. The photographs in Black Panthers 1968 come from Bingham’s assignment for LIFE magazine with a “reporter from New York named Gilbert Moore” (Bingham 2009, 19). Attending “‘breakfast for children’ programs,” Bingham writes, they “went to ‘Free Huey’ rallies, we went to jail to see Huey and we went to court.” The article and photographs never ran in LIFE. After taking “all those pictures, thousands and thousands of them,” Bingham explains, “the great irony is that LIFE magazine . . . never got around to running the article” (20). 26. To view the black-and-white version of the poster International Women’s Year in the Smithsonian collection, see http://americanart.si.edu/collections/search /artwork/?id=34724. 27. Information from Calisphere image description; see https://calisphere.org/item /ark:/13030/hb3779p1q2/. 28. James Scott and Tom Tolley (2010, 44) caption photographs in “Alkali Institutions” as the “dedication ceremonies at Emiliano Zapata Park on August 11, 1975. The park’s establishment was cosponsored by the Alkali Flat Project Area Committee and the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency.” 29. Date and author unknown, but the typewritten document was included with the Cultural Affairs Committee meeting minutes that Gina Montoya kept for the March 1976 meeting. 30. Laura Pérez (2007, 20) locates “spirit work” in the art of Chicana artists in which “the ‘spiritual’ is not an abstract or romantic notion, reproducing the idea of a binary split between baser material, physical, and social reality and a nobler, separate realm of spirit, ideals, and intellect.” 31. Information from Calisphere image description; see https://calisphere.org/item /ark:/13030/hb3779p1q2/. 32. Villa thought intentionally about priming the cement pillar and not painting the woman’s body in a particular color. He continues to claim, however, that the mural was painted white because “I ran out of time, paint, and our assistants and apprentices” (Esteban Villa, letter to author, April 18, 2014). The woman’s incompleteness supports reading the mural as a formulation of Chicano/a identity through a fusion of political ideologies and third world consciousness. Villa seems to agree with this possibility, as he also adds that because of her lack of color, “she comes from the cosmos. Cosmic space is like infinity, no borders, no boundaries. She appears like white light, the absence of color” (Esteban Villa, letter to author, April 18, 2014). 33. Villa used a female body to mark his territory (read: Aztlán), an impression that is encouraged by a poem that flanks Mujer Cósmica on the left side of the column (Latorre 2008, 119). The poem begins with “C/S,” meaning “con safos,” at the top, painted in black cursive highlighted in white and written on a red background. These color choices are important, as pre-Colombian texts were written in black and red ink, advancing the visual connection to the notion of Aztlán. The poem commands, “Mírame / con / esos ojos /

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porque / te quiero besar / la cara . . . / Dime / que sí / con esa mirada / porque / quisiera / que / me amaras.” In photographs of Mujer Cósmica available at CEMA, the poem is not visible because of the shape of the freeway pylon. Villa recalls that RCAF members drove to San Diego in 1975 to assist on the murals, including Luis González, whom Villa believes wrote the poem on-site as Mujer Cósmica was being painted. Thus, the poem was sitespecific public art, with line breaks created by the width of the pylon’s surface. The poem’s metaphysical concept, concealed in a love poem written in cursive, resounds in Guisela Latorre’s (2008, 119) reading of Mujer Cósmica as a fusion of pre-Columbian signs and symbols in the evolution of graffiti art and Chicano/a calligraphy. To view the poem on Calisphere, see https://calisphere.org/item/ark:/13030/hb496nb4xw/. 34. Between 2011 and 2012, several RCAF artists who painted murals at Chicano Park returned to restore their works. Villa “hired Stockton muralist Carlos Lopez as my apprentice” (Esteban Villa, letter to author, April 18, 2014). Lopez and Villa changed the skin color of Mujer Cósmica “from a Titanium white to a beautiful golden color.” They also changed the tattoos that adorn the woman’s body, along with her facial features. José Montoya’s Chicano Park mural, Leyes—La Familia, depicts a farmworking family, with a muscular and shirtless father in the background and a mother in overalls with her arms around her son who holds a book. They stand behind a cropped UFW flag. The mural was restored in 2011 by Montoya’s son, Tomás Montoya, and Malaquias Montoya’s son, Maceo Montoya. Meanwhile, Orosco’s mural, originally entitled Mandala, was renamed Inlakesh, but like Montoya’s mural, it was restored with the same content, if not the same color spectrum. Orosco was assisted by his sons and Sam Quiñones. His mural entwines a female body with a male counterpart, and both figures emerge from a stalk in an agricultural field. Lerma Barbosa, Herrera Rodriguez, and Palacios also restored their mural, Women Hold Up Half the Sky, with help from San Diego artists Galindo Sanchez and Vera Sanchez (G. Pérez 2012). The female flutists were replaced by a woman holding a water jug outside of what appears to be a store with a stucco facade. A bulletin is posted on the store’s wall: “El Agua es Sagrada / Agua es Vida.” The original musical notes of the former female flutists remain and frame the image of the building. 35. “Venceremos” echoed the earlier civil rights mantra of “we shall overcome” for African Americans, which was also used in posters and rallies for the United Farm Workers union. The word referred to a 1970 Chilean song and was the name of an early Chicano/a political organization from 1969. 36. Rodriguez founded the RCAF Band in the early 1970s. The band often performed on the Southside Park stage and included singers Gloria and Irma Rangel. I discuss the RCAF Band in chapter 5. 37. Gaspar de Alba (1998, 121) notes that “Judith Baca produced Woman’s Manual: How to Assemble Scaffolding, which Shifra Goldman tells us, ‘was intended to help remedy women’s socialization,’ by instructing women artists on the logistics of ‘working outdoors on a large scale . . . and knowing how to handle tools and successfully construct such large objects as one- or two-story scaffolds.’” Gaspar de Alba cites Shifra Goldman’s (1994, 215) “Mujeres de California: Latin American Women Artists,” in Dimensions of the Americas: Art and Social Change in Latin America and the United States. 38. Raúl Villa (2000, 184–192) likens the RCAF’s reclamation of Southside Park to

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a similar pattern of community actions in the 1960s and 1970s that resulted in several “People’s Parks,” primarily established by people of color and the urban poor. 39. Exploring the radical “resistance” of Pachuco fashion in Luis Valdez’s 1979 play and 1981 film Zoot Suit, Chon Noriega (2001a, 2) contends that the zoot suit was “extraordinarily useful in early Chicano cultural expressions.” Pachuco fashion foregrounded the “external phenomena of social type through costume, a strategy that thereby keeps any ‘essential’ claims about identity on the surface” (2). 40. Catherine Ramírez (2002, 12) elaborates on the gender norms Pachucas subverted: “Mexican-American women were to remain invisible. As Ruiz’s work has shown, numerous young Mexican-American women in the first half of the twentieth century were not permitted to leave their parents’ homes unless they were accompanied by a chaperone, especially at night.” 41. Ramírez (2002, 20) reports that mainstream media “declared that pachucas not only behaved like men; they dressed like men.” During the zoot suit riots in 1943, the Los Angeles Herald-Express “stressed that many of the pachucas who were arrested for allegedly attacking servicemen wore pants. Moreover, it announced that some pachucas cross-dressed” (20). Ramírez cites stories from 1943 in the Los Angeles Herald-Express that reported that Pachucas “‘wear the peg-topped slacks and the long coats of their masculine counterparts.’ In another story, it asserted that ‘girl gangsters who can afford it have taken to wearing custom made slack suits—the exact replica of the boys’ suits’” (20). 42. Pachucas paid dearly for upstaging gender traditions in public space; they “were the ones that took the brunt of the rejection from the parents,” José Montoya recalled (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). Ramírez (2002, 24) writes that Pachucas committed “crimes of fashion” because they were perceived as cultural deviants within Mexican American families and an immoral danger to the nation’s health in the mainstream press. Despite their syncretic acts, Pachucas—and the Chicanas who performed as them— were “excluded from narratives of Chicano style and resistance” in the 1960s and 1970s, “erased from much Chicano historiography, literature, theater, and visual art. Just as her body was unintelligible to American nationalism during World War II, the pachuca’s body, unlike that of the pachuco, was (and remains) unintelligible to Chicano cultural nationalism” (Ramírez 2002, 24–25). 43. Article provided by Irma Lerma Barbosa. 44. Organized by the University of Santa Barbara’s Art Museum and incorporating numerous RCAF posters from UC Santa Barbara’s CEMA collection, ¿Just Another Poster? traveled to the Blanton Museum at the University of Texas at Austin, the University Art Museum at UC Santa Barbara, and Sacramento’s Crocker Art Museum between 2000 and 2003. The exhibition at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento June 20– September 14, 2003, was cosponsored by La Raza Bookstore and Galería Posada. 45. Photographic addendum to the transcript of Lerma Barbosa’s June 26, 2013, interview. 46. Her series of face masks included ones of Esteban Villa, Carmen Lomas Garza, Ester Hernández, Ray Patlán, Irene Pérez, Amalia Mesa-Bains, René Yañez, and herself. Rodriguez made the masks over several years in the 1970s and exhibited the series in 1980 at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in San Francisco (Patricia Rodriguez,

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e-mail to author, May 26, 2014). Only her face mask of José Montoya was featured in CARA.

3. Heroic Foundations 1. To view Aquí Estamos .  .  . Y No Nos Vamos!!!, see https://calisphere.org/item /ark:/13030/hb996nb6ps/. 2. Information taken from image description for Compañeros Artistas on Calisphere; see https://calisphere.org/item/ark:/13030/hb3n39p08g/. 3. The details of Montoya’s image are taken from the image description on Calisphere; see https://calisphere.org/item/ark:/13030/hb9q2nb9mt/. 4. By colonial mappings of the Chicano/a world, I refer to Emma Pérez’s (1999, 8) notion of the “Great Events of US History” that elide Chicano/a historical experiences while also yielding powerful influence over periodization and interpretive approaches to Chicano/a history. Pérez claims “Great Events of US History” are “marked by dates such as 1776, the signing of the Declaration of Independence; 1861–1865 the Civil War; 1942–45 World War II, etc.” (132n26). Chicano/a history falls “outside of these great events,” since a clear preference for the “regional history of the eastern seaboard” dominates “how US history is taught and written” (132). She supports her claim of “East Coast–centrism” in US history by reminding readers that the “Civil War is privileged as the historical moment that changed the face of the Union. The Southwest, however, had already been changed drastically by the US-Mexican War of 1846–48, but this split is not recognized in US history” (132n26). 5. Emma Pérez (1999, 15) writes that “literature published in the 1960s and 1970s signaled Mexicans as the forgotten heroes and heroines of the frontier.” 6. Emma Pérez (1999, 8) draws on Hayden White’s Metahistory (1973) to “argue that the deep structure of the historical imagination of contemporary Chicano historians has constructed a distinct knowledge of Chicano history. . . . As I reviewed the development of Chicano/a historical consciousness since the 1970s, I was intrigued with White’s tropes and their usefulness to history’s categories.” White based his relativist approach to history on Kenneth Burke’s A Grammar of Motives. 7. Attempting to counter the demonization of Mexican Americans after the USMexican War (1846–1848), Emma Pérez (1999, 15) claims that Chicano/a writers moved “towards oppositional history” in prose that “denounced works by Walter Prescott Webb, for example, who valorized the Texas Rangers. Américo Paredes’s With His Pistol in His Hand and Julian Samora’s Gunpowder Justice vehemently disparaged the Texas Rangers’ anti-Mexican, racist practices. As these Chicano scholars condemned historical injustices, they also constructed the heroes, such as Paredes’s Gregorio Cortez.” Américo Paredes’s 1958 case study of Gregorio Cortez not only fashioned a hero for Chicano/a history, but rendered Paredes an intellectual hero of Chicano/a history. 8. Constructing a Chicano/a historical consciousness through heroes was central to Chicano/a art during the movement. Latorre (2008, 163) notes that one “purpose of the iconographic project in Chicano Park was to provide the community with a pantheon of heroes with whom the Logan community could identify. . . . These heroes, of course, would

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be protagonists of a revised version of US history that included the participation of Mexican and Chicana/o figures.” 9. In “Coloring Class: Racial Constructions in Twentieth-Century Chicana/o Historiography,” Vicki Ruiz (2007, 169–179) provides a historiography of the ideological perspectives that shaped Chicana history over the late twentieth century. 10. Emma Pérez (1999) examines Mexican women involved in the Mexican Revolution, especially in the state of Yucatan during the 1910s. She highlights Hermila Galindo and her secretarial service under President Carranza (1917–1920) and the publication of her magazine La Mujer Moderna in 1951 (E. Pérez 1999, 43–45). Pérez turns to Mexican and Mexican American women in the United States who participated in the Partido Liberal Mexicano. She focuses on Tejana activism through social clubs and associations during the 1920s and 1930s. Each location of Mexicana and Mexican American women’s activism, Pérez claims, anticipates Chicana feminism in the 1960s and 1970s Chicano movement. 11. Pérez draws on Homi Bhabha’s Location of Culture (1994, 37) and what he calls the “Third Space of enunciation” that disrupts the “structure of meaning and reference” in the cultural knowledge of a Western nation, challenging “our sense of the historical identity of culture as a homogenizing, unifying force, authenticated by the originary Past, kept alive in the national tradition of the People.” 12. To view When Your Mother Asks You Who You Are, see https://calisphere.org/item /ark:/13030/hb9199p4hz/. 13. To view the detail from When Your Mother Asks You Who You Are, see https:// calisphere.org/item/ark:/13030/hb7779p40w/. 14. To view the detail from When Your Mother Asks You Who You Are, see https:// calisphere.org/item/ark:/13030/hb9489p4b1/. 15. Poem quotation taken from description on Calisphere; see https://calisphere.org /item/ark:/13030/hb9199p4hz/. 16. The notion that Chicano/a identity begins in the 1960s and 1970s results from modes of interpretation that Emma Pérez (1999, 8) claims organize Chicano/a history. The term “Chicano/a,” for example, is typically historicized as emerging in the 1960s with the unionization of farmworkers that became the United Farm Workers (UFW) union. Alma Garcia (2002, 136) claims the UFW’s political victories over agricultural industries coincided with other participants in the Chicano movement. UFW struggles for labor equality were complemented by the Crusade for Justice, which was the “first Chicano civil rights organization,” as well as by student walkouts in East Los Angeles in 1968 (Jackson 2009, 60). Harnessing the momentum of the moment, political activist Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzáles organized the National Chicano Youth Liberation Conference in 1969 to endorse the principles of the Chicano movement. 17. The first wave of Mexican immigrants relied on “the railroad system built under the Díaz regime [that] transported the mass migration of Mexicans to the American southwest. Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans made this trip across the Rio Grande. . . . The 1930 Census shows that the total population of Mexican immigrants actually grew from 367,510 in 1910 to 700,541 in 1920” (A. Garcia 2002, 16). Escaping social and economic

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upheaval resulting from the Mexican Revolution, Mexicans migrated to California, Texas, Utah, and surrounding states in the 1920s and 1930s. 18. To view Agosto 7, see https://calisphere.org/item/ark:/13030/hb3f59p064/. In an informal conversation with Rudy Cuellar on February 3, 2015, he indicated the image he used is of his grandmother washing a window during the World War II era, and the other photograph is of his uncle on a steam train. 19. The Hermanos Mayo collection is located at the Archivo General de la Nacíon in Mexico City. 20. In Border Matters, Saldívar (1997) asserts a south-to-north trajectory for a remapped American cultural studies, but he notes other scholars who have contemplated the historical presence of peoples of Mexican descent living in the region that became the US Southwest prior to annexation. For example, George J. Sánchez’s 1993 book Becoming Mexican American examines the “ambivalent Americanism” of Mexican American communities that moved “back and forth” between the border before and after the MexicanAmerican War (quoted in Saldívar 1997, 27). Saldívar (1997, 29) writes that Becoming Mexican American “deserves our attention not only because of the way it fundamentally debunks Oscar Handlin’s traditional ‘uprooted’ model of American urban ‘ethnogenesis’ in Chicago and New York City but also because it spatially remaps what Shelley Sunn Wong calls the universal myth of the American Bildung.” Sánchez’s work uproots the “cultural and sociospatial myth” that Ellis Island is the “central immigrant space in the nation” and presents “an alternative American Bildung” with Los Angeles International Airport (Saldívar 1997, 28–29). 21. Mexican rule was succeeded by the United States at the conclusion of the Mexican-American War and finalized by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which guaranteed Mexicans living in the annexed territories their land and citizenship rights within the United States. The treaty was violated within a year of its ratification as the US government “ascribed to Mexicans different legal rights on the basis of race. Mexicans who were white were given full legal citizenship, while mestizos, Christianized Indians, and afromestizos were accorded inferior legal rights” (Menchaca 2007, 315). Amidst the economically and politically driven system of slavery in the United States, Congress “barred afromestizos from obtaining citizenship, given that they were black and also of Indian descent. In California and Arizona, citizenship was only extended to white males” (315). This was an enormous social transformation for Mexican and Mexican American communities since, before the “Mexican-American War, Mexico had abolished slavery and extended citizenship to all people living in Mexican territory irrespective of race” (315). For native peoples in new states of another nation, it was advantageous to be “politically identified as Mexican” because they “did not have to fear being placed in reservations,” and while “not all Mexicans had been given citizenship,” only “Mexicans and Anglo-Americans were allowed to certify their land grants under US law” (316). Native Americans living in California lost their land under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, and “thousands of Christian Indians were left homeless due to their inability to confirm their Mexican land grants” (316–317). Pueblo people in New Mexico, however, were exempt from this process because New Mexico’s “Mexican-controlled territorial legislature” granted citizenship “to

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all former citizens of Mexico, including Indians and blacks”; yet in 1853, the US Congress revoked this decree, denying Native Americans and Afromestizos/as citizenship (315). 22. I invoke Gary Okihiro’s (1981, 42–43) assertion that US history is a “Colonized History” because it overemphasizes “the elite at the expense of the masses and . . . this imbalance has resulted in the writing of mythical histories.” Underscoring the notion of myth in the canonized history of the nation, Okihiro adds that the “primary characteristic of ‘colonized’ history is that it is the view of the outsiders and not the people themselves” (45). Demonstrating Okihiro’s claim, Antonia Castañeda (2001, 117) personalizes the consequences of colonized history’s “primary characteristic” when she poses a question that challenges who gets to tell history: “In the battle over history, which is fundamentally about who gets to define the stories being narrated, will the defining come from the realities of lived experiences, like those of my mother and other Tejana farmworkers, or will it come from the abstract principles that have ordered and organized US history to date?” 23. Emma Pérez (1999, xv) voices her concerns over the continued invisibility—the othering—of Chicana history in Chicano/a studies. She writes, “Voices of women from the past, voices of Chicanas, Mexicanas, and Indias, are utterances which are still minimized, spurned, even scorned. And time, in all its dialectical invention and promise, its so-called inherent progress, has not granted Chicanas, Mexicanas, Indias much of a voice at all. We are spoken about, spoken for, and ultimately encoded as whining, hysterical, irrational, or passive women who cannot know what is good for us, who cannot know how to express or authorize our own narratives. But we will. And we do.” Pérez embodies the voice she seeks to make audible in Chicano history as she plots an alternative course for Chicana history. While her “study appears to be a provocation to the discipline of history,” one that disrupts and dismisses the male-centered, Anglocentric tradition, Pérez claims it actually “emerges from my love of history” (xv). Pérez weaves herself into the theoretical paradigm and comparative analyses of Mexicana, Tejana, and Chicana histories in the late twentieth century because, as she alludes, love is a decolonial act, ultimately restoring the subjective experience to the “objective” historical field. 24. Irma Lerma Barbosa shared with me a letter she composed on May 1, 1974, as a coordinator for the National Education Task Force de la Raza, detailing the conference and its workshops. 25. Mexican workers were mostly needed in the agricultural industries because of US involvement in World War II and later, in the 1950s, the Korean War. Alma Garcia (2002) notes that the Bracero Program did not exclusively bring new immigrants or “illegal” ones to work in US agricultural fields. Rather, it transformed a number of existing temporary workers into permanent residents. “During the years of the Bracero Program,” Garcia writes, “approximately 350,000 changed their status from temporary workers to immigrants living on a permanent basis in the United States” (31). 26. Castañeda borrows phrasing from David J. Weber’s 1973 book Foreigners in Their Native Land: Historical Roots of the Mexican Americans. 27. Montoya’s “upbringing in Roman Catholic New Mexico, with strong Native American ties, was certainly a major influence in his orientation” (Hernández 1991, 83). Hispano/a culture in New Mexico is unique because, as Rafaela G. Castro (2001, 123) writes, “there was less migration to this territory than to other parts of the Southwest.”

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“Located primarily in northern New Mexico,” Hispanos/as descend from “the Spaniards who settled during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.” Intermingling with Pueblo and other indigenous peoples, Hispanos/as remained “pastoral and agricultural, and very Catholic” because of their isolation from Spanish rule in Mexico City. These cultural dynamics did not change after Mexico ruled the territory for twenty-seven years, following Mexico’s War of Independence in 1821 (123). 28. Noriega (1995) writes about Chicano/a narrative photography for his exhibition From the West, held at the Mexican Museum from December to March 1995. 29. To view Viva la Huelga, see https://calisphere.org/item/ark:/13030/hb8x0nb8vz/. 30. “La Jefita” can be read as an allegory for class politics within the Mexican American diaspora during the twentieth century. In analyses of Chicano/a musical traditions, tracing class distinctions through rhythms, instruments, and compositions is a key strategy for locating musical origins, their unique structures, and dissemination histories (Limón 1992; Saldívar 1997; Pérez-Torres 2006). Examining the distinct rise of Chicano/a musical genres, Rafael Pérez-Torres (2006) cites Manuel Peña’s 1985 study The Texas-Mexican Conjunto, in which Peña claims that conjunto music can be understood as a cultural product of the working class that resists middle-class tastes, like orquesta music, which exemplifies the assimilationist desires of middle-class Mexican Americans (Pérez-Torres 2006, 93). Pérez-Torres writes that Peña concludes that conjunto is more “organic” to the “working class and working poor of Mexican descent, while orquesta music . . . represents a type of cultural disloyalty—an act of betrayal or malinchismo. This disloyalty stems from the contradictory position of an emergent Chicano middle class that does not identify with the working class but that, in turn, is not accepted by a xenophobic American society” (Pérez-Torres 2006, 93). The intra-ethnic cultural tensions of conjunto and orquesta music contextualize “La Jefita”’s working class solidarity. Making audible what he believed were debased or unrecognizable sounds (separated by kitchens, bedrooms, etc.) to middle-class Mexican American ears, Montoya used sound as a source of resistance to middle-class Mexican American desires for social, cultural, and political acceptance in the United States in 1969. 31. To view Ruben’s Graffiti, see https://calisphere.org/item/ark:/13030/hb5v19p2gg/. 32. To view Por la Raza United Flight, see https://calisphere.org/item/ark:/13030 /hb729009sj/. 33. Describing the “first large-scale antiwar protest by Mexican Americans” in Los Angeles, Lorena Oropeza (2003, 201) writes that “some seventy Brown Berets” marched down Michigan Avenue, and “demonstrators at the front of the line shouted, ‘Raza Si!’ prompting those behind to thunder in return, ‘Vietnam No!’ The call-and-response captured the most central theme of Chicano antiwar protest, that Chicanos and Chicanas should struggle at home for their raza, their fellow Mexican Americans, not fight and die in the war in Vietnam.” 34. Schwartz (1986, 565) notes that the “express purpose of the GI Bill is ‘restoring lost educational opportunities to those service men and women whose careers have been interrupted or impeded by reason of active duty.’” 35. Juan Cervantes elaborated on his job at the CSUS Equal Opportunity Program in the early 1970s in a conversation on December 18, 2009.

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36. “GI Chicanos” greatly influenced the organization of Chicano/a student groups. In an interview with F. Arturo Rosales (1997), Brown Berets leader Carlos Montes touched on the role of Chicano veteran students in Chicano/a political associations. A nineteenyear-old student at Los Angeles College in 1967, Montes became involved in student government as a “student body parliamentarian” and “Associate Student Vice President.” He recalled that he saw a sign announcing an organizational meeting for the Mexican American Student Association on campus. “So I went to one of the first meetings,” he informed Rosales, which was “organized by older, GI Chicanos . . . going to college on the GI Bill” (Rosales 1997, 178). 37. Charles B. Nam (1964, 28) writes that “almost half of all veterans of World War II and the Korean Conflict used the benefits for education and training. . . . Of special significance is the fact that some of the veterans may have not attended school at all if it were not for the GI Bills.” Montoya was one such student, explaining that “the reason that we were able to afford the best art schools in the world was simply that we were veterans. We fought in Korea. So we could pick and choose.” For Montoya, art was not only a creative process but a future occupation. Since “commercial art was the only thing I knew anything about and . . . what I had been instructed in high school,” he geared his artistic tastes toward “illustrations in Colliers or some of those old magazines. . . . The biggest of all was to go work for Walt Disney” (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). 38. Villa explains his unit was “part of the atomic bomb testing in the Pacific in 1950 and ’51, and so that was kind of interesting that we participated in all the atomic bomb testing. I saw two of those giant mushrooms go off and somehow was not contaminated with radiation. Although we had radiation tests all the time. It was pretty secret and pretty dangerous, high-risk work. . . . I felt more like a sailor in the army because of what we were doing. It was in the Water [Division of the] Army Transportation Service, the army transportation department” (Esteban Villa, interview, January 7, 2004). 39. After being honorably discharged from the service, Villa returned to the San Joaquin Valley in 1953, taking art classes at Bakersfield Junior College. He met visiting instructors from the California College of the Arts (CCA), who told him he was “a good painter, a good artist. They said, ‘Why don’t you apply over here?’ . . . I was twenty-three when I finished the junior college and twenty-five when I started at CCA. I just went to school on the GI Bill full time with little jobs here and there” (Esteban Villa, interview, January 7, 2004). Jobs during college were necessary because of changes to the Korean War GI Bill. The Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act of 1952 differed from the 1944 law, which had allowed for forty-eight months of education. The 1952 GI Bill only paid for thirty-six months and did not directly cover college tuition. “Instead, veterans were paid subsistence checks, which were also to cover their college expenses. The effect of the changes was that the benefit no longer completely covered the cost of the veteran’s education” (Schwartz 1986, 569–570). Allotments continued to be decreased for Vietnam veterans by way of inflation: “The $110 per month allowance for Korean-era veterans in 1954 was considerably greater, relative to tuition costs, than the $220 per month allowance for Vietnam veterans in 1972. . . . The original GI Bill provided a monthly subsistence allowance of $75 plus tuition and expenses. Over time, the monthly allowance has been

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maintained at roughly 35 percent of average monthly earnings. Tuition payments have been eliminated even though average tuition costs have risen faster than average monthly earnings” (569–570). 40. To view Announcement Poster for Veteranos, see https://calisphere.org /item/ark:/13030/hb0h4nb3rw/. To view Los Vatitos, see https://calisphere.org/item /ark:/13030/hb2d5nb3jr/.

4. Between the Aesthetic and the Instrumental 1. The Art in Public Places program was authored by Senator Alan Sieroty and signed into law by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 1976 (Cook 1982). 2. “The site specificity of murals,” Latorre (2008, 141) writes, “implied that the space was a critical component of the artwork to the degree that the mural would be incomplete without it.” Latorre’s understanding of “site specificity” for 1970s Chicano/a murals applies to all public art and, in particular, the late twentieth century’s public art controversies. 3. For a thorough but short overview of the history of public art controversy in the United States, see Hallinan 1994; see also Heins 1994; Senie 2001; Serra 1994. 4. Alicia Gaspar de Alba (1998, 92) notes the denial of the first planning grant proposal for CARA by the National Endowment for the Humanities because “funders were uncomfortable with [the] term Chicano.” The late 1980s and 1990s, Gaspar de Alba observes, “was the heyday of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) controversy when conservatives in Congress targeted the work of gay and lesbian artists . . . as ‘obscene,’ ‘vulgar,’ ‘immoral,’ ‘indecent,’ and therefore unworthy of federal support” (94). 5. La Cultura was renovated during the summer of 1998 and rededicated in the fall of 1999 (Arceo 1999). 6. The undated and anonymously authored document is attached to a letter from Henry Lopez to President Bond, dated June 15, 1977. 7. The California Arts Council was founded after governor Jerry Brown dissolved the fifteen-member California Arts Commission that had been in existence since 1963 (Svenson 1980, 35). 8. Eduardo Carrillo was not an RCAF artist but was connected to the collective and fondly remembered in many interviews I conducted. Montoya explained that Carrillo “taught muralism and taught Barrio Arts classes for children, high school students, and senior citizens” (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). An active contributor to local and campus murals, Carrillo also held positions at UC San Diego before becoming faculty at UC Santa Cruz in 1972. Carrillo’s works have been exhibited nationwide, including in the 1990s CARA exhibition. 9. The dates of Villa’s professorship are taken from a resume he made available to me. The dates of Montoya’s MA degree and subsequent professorship are taken from CEMA’s online guide to the José Montoya Papers (Online Archive of California, n.d.). 10. In the effort to legitimatize the “ethnopoetic Chicano practice” in remapping American cultural studies, Saldívar (1997, 58) reinvests in the “Anglocentric literary tra-

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dition” by privileging print culture over other venues of distribution. “Montoya’s early poems,” he writes, brought “readers into electrifying contact with social forms wholly different from Anglocentric ones.” 11. Saldívar (1997) underscores the importance of early Chicano/a print culture in the establishment of the Chicano/a literary canon. Montoya “gave nearly all of his early poems to the Chicano academicians Herminio Ríos and Octavio I. Romano,” Saldívar writes, “for their volume, El Espejo—The Mirror (1969),” the first anthology of Chicano literature (1997, 58). Saldívar claims that “although little is known of the occasions for the poems, one thing is certain: one can see in them the emergence of a major Chicano poet offering a counterpoetics of aesthetic resistance and cultural critique” (58). Assuming “little is known of the occasions for the poems” diminishes the historical value of the works as “social texts,” or the history of their recitation. 12. See Alurista 1971, 37. 13. Pietri “saw no distinction between these roles” of poet and community activist as “he helped to found and sustain the Nuyorican Poets Café” (Monthly Review 2004). 14. Villa’s Emergence mural was financed by the Washington Neighborhood Center board and the Chicano/a community. Cid’s murals Olin and Sunburst were funded by the Alkali Flat Project Area Committee and the Sacramento Concilio, Inc., through a revitalization grant provided by the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency. According to redevelopment agency files (in the collections at the Center for Sacramento History) from 1976 and 1978 that detail “Project No. 6” of the Alkali Flat Neighborhood Development Program (NDP), “$825,000 was used to carry out NDP activities for the first year in a two-block target area bound by 8–10–D–E Streets. One hundred and forty three new apartments for low and moderate income families were built to replace the 62 substandard dwelling units and warehouses formerly in the area” (“Alkali Flat N.D.P.” 1976). Ricardo Favela recalled that the RCAF received “the very first Art in Public Places building. Armando Cid was the one that did it. . . . It was a grant for $10,000 for a mosaic on Zapata Apartments at Zapata park down in the Washington neighborhood . . . two mosaic panels that are still there; it was the very first one implemented, and we did that” (Lemon 2001). Olin and Sunburst pre-date Sacramento’s 1977 Art in Public Places ordinance that designates “2% of eligible City and County capital improvement project budgets be set aside for the commission, purchase, and installation of artworks” (Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission 2016). 15. To counter the barrio as a zone of “segregation and repression” and to reframe it as “an ethnically bounded sanctuary, and the spiritual zone of Chicano/a and Mexicano/a identity” (D. Diaz 2005, 3), Latorre (2008, 142–164) argues that Chicanos/as created mural environments that are defined by murals in relation to each other, the specific design of the space, and the community that uses the space. 16. Latorre (2008) claims that Chicanos/as negotiated the colonial-turned-national boundaries between Indigenism and indigeneity, where “Indigenism” refers to the claiming of an indigenous identity for political purposes, while indigeneity is the ancestral expression or biological reality. Latorre argues that the Chicano movement and the political consciousness it raised were at once Indigenist and indigenous—both the “politically motivated” and the “organically manifested” (2008, 5). This was the core of

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the decolonial method and praxis in Chicano/a art, evidenced by the reclaiming of the swastika in Chicano/a murals. In Reno’s Mural, Cid incorporated a swastika; it was also a prominent image in the 1971 mural Quetzalcoatl at Chicano Park. Latorre explains that the swastika was placed “between the two Maya figures to reclaim the symbol . . . and recall its original meaning of prosperity and good fortune that originated in India. This symbol also occurred in the Americas and was often used by the Maya and Diné (Navajo)” (160). 17. The Alkali Flat was home to several canneries and mills from the late nineteenth century to the late twentieth century. For more on the Alkali Flat’s industrial history, see Avella 2003; Special Collections of the Sacramento Public Library 2010; and Madrid 1984). 18. Details on Hector González were taken from “Cesar and Me,” an Artist Statement from his photography exhibition at Spanglish Arte, Sacramento, March 9–April 6. The statement is no longer available online. 19. The authors briefly compare the People’s Painters with the “collective experiments in revolutionary theatre and music (e.g. Teatro Campesino and El Grupo),” claiming that “more important in their work than either consistency, quality, or permanence are an ideological commitment to artistic anonymity, group effort, and political education and struggle through mural messages and current issues” (Cockcroft, Weber, and Cockcroft 1998, 68). Their comparison implies that the latter collectives did not make good art, choosing instead to advance political ideas and agendas. The comparison also relies on a presumption that each collective comprised untrained members—from student muralists to untrained farmworker actors and novice musicians. Luis Valdez studied several forms of theater in college at CSU San Jose. Likewise, El Grupo was a Nuyorican musical group with “ties to the Puerto Rican Socialist party and to El Grupo Taoné” (Hickman 2008, 148), a band from Puerto Rico with several members contributing to a new genre of ballads in English known as la nueva trova (Orovio 2004, 151). Nuyorican poet Sandra María Esteves sang with El Grupo and recited poetry, and many of their recordings became anthems for the Nuyorican movement (Kanellos 2002, 266). Esteves graduated from the Pratt Institute in 1978. Recalling her time with El Grupo, Esteves stated that the members were “political individuals. . . . I began to become aware of what it means socially and politically to be Puerto Rican” (Hickman 2008, 148). 20. Toward a People’s Art makes no substantial mention of the RCAF other than a note on Esteban Villa’s style being influenced by Siqueiros and Orozco (Cockcroft, Weber, and Cockcroft 1998, 255). Moreover, the authors conclude that since they “are discovering each month new centers of vigorous growth in community murals—places like Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Sacramento . . . the examples of art style and artist organization provided in this chapter must be viewed as a limited, although representative, selection” (70). 21. Although Cockcroft, Weber, and Cockcroft recognize that a uniform artistic style in art collectives of the era “is not universally accepted as necessary,” they do not provide examples other than Las Mujeres Muralistas in San Francisco, which they cite as a collective working like “a musical ensemble . . . individuals in the group work each in her own style on separate sections of the mural” (1998, 70). In defining Las Mujeres Muralistas in this way, they account for their diversity but exclude them from their political definition of the collective idea in the New Left art organizations.

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22. In regard to “people in prison,” Armando Cid, Rudy Cuellar, Juan Cervantes, Ricardo Favela, and Lorraine García-Nakata facilitated art classes at regional incarceration centers. In 2002, Armando Cid served as the artist facilitator for the California State Prison at Solano (“Armando Cid: Just Having Fun” 2002). Ricardo Favela “taught at the CYA—California Youth Authority” for fifteen years, as well as at Folsom State Prison and Mule Creek State Prison (Ricardo Favela, interview, July 20, 2004). Lorraine GarcíaNakata served as a program director and lead artist for the San Quentin Arts Program from 1988 to 1990, working with the warden and his staff in planning a mural project. Details provided by Lorraine García-Nakata and her artist’s CV made available to me. 23. The date of the Barrio Art program’s establishment is listed differently across available sources. CEMA states that Montoya is recognized “for his involvement in the 1974 program called Art in the Barrio” (Online Archive of California, n.d.). Yet in his interview, Montoya recalled that Barrio Art began in 1972 (José Montoya, interview, July 5, 2004). 24. The concept of In Lak’ech was articulated in Luis Valdez’s poem “Pensamiento Serpentino” (1971). Basing his poem on the origin story from the Popol Vuh, Valdez uses In Lak’ech to reorient listeners toward a holistic valuing of art, faith, and knowledge. He asserts that spiritual and earthly knowledge were not separate realms for the ancient Maya; rather, they “were one thing,” rooted in a “moral concept” (Valdez 1994, 173). “In Lak’ech” means, “You Are My Other I,” a responsibility to a collective and not individual self (174). Valdez articulates the Chicano/a desire for a pre-Columbian connection as a restorative one, echoing the premise of his term “Indigenous America” that I explore in chapter 1. 25. Johnson (1977) notes that the Centro moved in the early 1970s to Folsom Boulevard, at which time RCAF artist Max Garcia became its director. In 1975, the Centro “moved to its present headquarters in the Our Lady of Guadalupe School, 730 S St.” Further, at the school location, the Centro “shared office space with Breakfast for Los Niños” (Johnson 1977). According to a “Personnel Directory of the Centro de Artistas Chicanos, Inc.,” and a narrative that precedes the address listings, “in 1978, the Centro de Artistas Chicanos lost its sanctuary at Our Lady of Guadalupe’s Holy Angels School and was forced to move its operation to several other locations” (Centro de Artistas Chicanos, n.d.[b]). By 1982 it was located on Franklin Boulevard. 26. Upon further inquiry, Barnett (1984, 433) learned “the state chancellor’s office in 1979 had no recall of these events but pointed out that it had retained the authority to approve all exterior art on campuses between 1973 and 1977 when it delegated this responsibility to the presidents of the individual universities and colleges.” 27. As early as November 1974, the Sacramento Concilio, Inc., expressed concern for the mural following Bond’s public art policy. A memo was sent to campus administrator Norm Better asking about the “status of the mural due to remodeling plans.” In December 1974, Better sent a memo back assuring “that there were no plans for removal of mural” (“I. Mural Chronology” 1977). The chronology of events leading up to La Cultura’s destruction also adds that “Members of the Art Department sent a letter to the campus planning committee in December 1974” objecting “to murals being removed without their consent” (“Mural Proposal” 1977).

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28. The undated and anonymously authored document is attached to a letter from Henry Lopez to president James Bond, dated June 15, 1977. 29. I found no information about the dedication phrase that Rios recalled in his interview; however, the mural committee meeting minutes indicate that an original dedication phrase painted on the first La Cultura mural was a quote by Benito Juárez: “In fact, the inscription by Benito Juarez, President of Mexico, at the bottom read, El Respeto al Derecho Ajeno es la Paz (The route to peace is respecting the rights of others)” (“II. Statement of Need” 1977). 30. After the termination of the Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project, the General Services Administration was created in 1949 and the National Endowment for the Arts was established in 1965. Public art became regulated in the late 1970s after the Department of Labor implemented the 1973 Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA). CETA “introduced hundreds of young artists to muralism, bringing public art to the ‘heartland’ for the first time since the 1930s” (Cockcroft and Barnet-Sanchez 1993, 14). With CETA programs hiring and training artists, the National Endowment for the Arts funded state arts councils, which in turn funded metropolitan arts commissions that hired local artists to create public art and art programs. Ricardo Favela explained that RCAF members’ connections with city officials aided the collective’s involvement in the Art in Public Places ordinance: “It used to be where redevelopment and corporate agencies could get away with . . . incorporating landscaping and calling it art. So we kind of narrowed it down and said, ‘No, this is for actual artwork. You’re gonna support artists, and you’re gonna pay them for art.’ . . . We had to do this politically . . . through then city councilman Lloyd Connely, who’s now a judge, Phillip Isenberg, who was councilman . . . and then Joe Serna [who] was our inside man because he was RCAF” (Lemon 2001). 31. There is no date on the announcement, but the deadline listed was October 28, 1977. Art in Public Places funds made four locations available for public art on or around the parking structure. Jane Goldman (1980a, 41) reported for Sacramento magazine that “the four works represent a total expenditure of $165,000. Roughly 2 percent of the cost of the [project was] constructing the garage itself.” 32. Padilla painted the bottom and top levels. Orosco painted the second level, and Villa was in charge of the third level (J. Goldman 1980b). 33. Rancho Seco was a nuclear power generating station owned by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. It was closed by public vote in 1989. 34. In Our Lady (1999), Lopez recast La Virgen de Guadalupe as an Indigena wearing roses “but also the Coyolxauhqui robe of the pre-Columbian moon goddess and warrior” (A. Lopez 2002, 90). Below her and holding up the crescent moon on which she stands is a “butterfly angel” that Lopez states is actually a “Viceroy butterfly. For survival purposes, the Viceroy butterfly mimics the Monarch, which is well known for its migrations between the United States and Mexico” (90–91). 35. In a 2013 documentary film, Voice of Art, Migration is Beautiful, Rodriguez claims the monarch butterfly as part of a campaign to symbolize “the beauty and dignity of migrants.” 36. In the 1950s, “the city established the Sacramento Redevelopment Agency to take advantage of new federally funded urban renewal programs and thus began a forty-year

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undertaking to restore the central city,” Deb Marois (2003, 19) writes. The original plan was broken into three major phases, and the redevelopment of Sacramento’s West End— the quarter adjacent to the Sacramento River—was first on the list. In the 1960s, city planners reconfigured the riverfront district into a historic center known as Old Sacramento. Marois notes that by 1965, nearly $19 million of new construction was completed or underway within the area along the capitol mall (2003, 23). 37. The initials “gm” appear on handwritten minutes from an April 21, 1983, meeting at the Centro de Artistas Chicanos. More than likely, they stand for Gina Montoya. 38. The murals span approximately 193 feet on both tunnel walls (Romero 1999). 39. In July 1982, the SMAC commissioners included John Hansen, Jackie Caplan, Robert Else, Marjorie W. McLain, David Rible, Terezita Romo, Thomas E. Small Jr., Jaqueline Springwater, and Sharon A. Walbridge. In April 1983, with Bill Moskin still serving as executive director, the remaining original commissioners were Rible and Caplan. By August 1983, Rible was the only original commissioner still left, with Moskin still acting executive director. During the 1982 to 1984 negotiations, Jennifer Dowley served as Art in Public Places coordinator. This information is taken from SMAC letterhead from 1982–1983, courtesy of the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. 40. Avella (2003, 12) writes that the two major indigenous peoples who “dominated the region were the Nisenan and Miwok. . . . The Nisenan, the group that occupied most of the area later encompassed by the city of Sacramento, was a branch of Maidu (sometimes referred to as the Southern Maidu).” In 1808, Gabriel Moraga explored the “American River between present-day Rancho Cordova and Folsom” (15). Moraga was responsible for naming the Feather River “the Rio del Santissimo Sacramento—the River of the Most Blessed Sacrament” (16). 41. Emma Pérez (1999, 4) detects more than the arrangement of epochs and regions in categories like “the Trans-Mississippi West, the frontier, the Renaissance, the Progressive Era, the Great Depression, the sixties.” These terms reflect an ordering of US history that privileges certain spaces and times over others, eliding indigenous and preexisting voices from the historical record. According to Gaspar de Alba (1998, 10), historical tropes remained central to the “exhibition agendas of mainstream museums” in the 1990s, maintaining the “ethnocentric academic practice of categorizing” to frame “indigenous cultures as ‘subcultures’ or objects of discovery.” Tropes like “the frontier” and “the West” were reproduced in the built environments of California cities such as Sacramento through the gold rush and railroad motifs of its historical districts. 42. Roger Scott’s prisms were not well received by SMAC or local officials from the city’s Department of Engineering (“Internal Memo from Department of Engineering to City Manager’s Office” 1980). 43. In meeting minutes handwritten by Gina Montoya, some of the Art in Public Places committee members are identified by nicknames: “D. R.” for David Rible, and “sangrona,” which in Spanish means pretentious. In later meeting minutes taken by “gina” (Gina Montoya) on May 11, 1983, “Pam Johnson / David Rible” are identified. 44. The document from the SMAC archives has no date but offers a timeline from 1979 until 1983 of all the negotiations, concluding that “painting of the mural . . . will be begun in August and completed in August 1984.”

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45. Orosco refers to David Rible and Pam Johnson as artistic peers and to Robert Else as the art professor from CSUS, according to records of the committee meetings. Rible is a well-known glass artist and a recipient of Art in Public Places commissions; he created several sandblasted glass sculptures for Sacramento’s Hyatt Regency Hotel. Robert Else was a longtime professor of art at CSUS, from 1950 to 1979, and he served on the board of trustees of the Crocker Art Museum. 46. L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. was renovated in 1999 due to poor condition and graffiti (Eifertsen 1997). 47. Constance Cruz’s (2002) analysis of Chicano/a art in San Antonio, Texas, offers a critique of pseudohistorical tourist centers, which she describes as “fictive” space. San Antonio’s River Walk is similar to Old Sacramento. Cruz explains that “fictive means the construction of space that caters to tourism. . . . Service positions are generally filled with Chicano/a workers, which have led to an economic vitality within the community, but at a ‘price.’ The cultural aspects of the community that seem to be valued by visitors are packaged in a manner that often times perpetuate[s] stereotypes. This reductive view of Chicano/as can only lead to further misunderstandings of contemporary Chicano/a identities” (Cruz 2002, 36). 48. Sacramento’s West End was impoverished by the 1960s. Once a thriving center for commerce between the waterway and railroad, the West End was also home to “single men living in flophouses [who] provided a huge labor pool” (Marois 2003, 23). 49. Mestizaje is at once a performance, articulation, visualization, and pathway for Chicano/a artistic production. In other words, mestizaje creates “what Homi Bhabha has called ‘the Third Space of enunciation,’” allowing “us to see that what appeared to be an either/or situation is in reality a situation of both/and” (quoted in Patell 1999, 177). I am aware of the implications of using mestizaje only in an aesthetic sense, disregarding the racial hierarchy and heteronormativity it suggests. Christina Beltrán (2004, 597, 606) asserts that because “mestizaje represents a central trope in Chicano and Latino thought,” it will “always fall short as an alternative approach to theorizing so long as it continues to reify categories rather than calling our understanding of subjectivity into question.” But Rafael Pérez-Torres (1998) argues that “the term mestiza is not a fixed signifier but serves as ‘a tactical subjectivity with the capacity to recenter depending upon the kinds of oppression to be confronted’” (Sandoval quoted in Pérez-Torres 1998, 157; emphasis in original). Mestiza consciousness is a strategy that is always moving, mixing, and redefining. As a process, and not a fixed status or actual subjectivity, it performs “self-definition” in several capacities “to effect change through the various systems of power—discursive, repressive, militarized, ideological—[that] mestizos contest” (Pérez-Torres 1998, 157).

5. From Front to Force 1. Hector González informed me of the photographer whose work Favela used in the poster (Hector González, e-mail to author, September 7, 2011). 2. Pedro Arroyo (1997, 14) lists the RCAF members in the poster as Esteban Villa, José Montoya, Ricardo Favela, and Pete Hernández. Hernández was one of the original founders of La Raza Bookstore and served as a chair of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de

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Aztlán (MEChA) at CSUS (Romo 2007). Hector González recalled in an e-mail that it was David Tafoya who drove the jeep (Hector González, e-mail to author, September 7, 2011). 3. In 2005, Ricardo Favela deposited a collection with the library at California State University, San Jose. See http://www.oac.cdlib.org/findaid/ark:/13030/kt1v19r5t3. Also, between 2015 and 2016, Lorraine García-Nakata deposited her records and artwork at Stanford University. 4. The “UFW Chronology” states that “some 17,000 farm workers and supporters” made the pilgrimage in 1994. See http://ufw.org/_page.php?menu=research&inc=_page .php?menu=research&inc=history/01.html. 5. To view an image of an RCAF UFW flag by Ricardo Favela and Luis González, see https://calisphere.org/item/ark:/13030/hb0199n93x/. 6. Montoya is quoted in Binder (1985) as saying he wrote it around 1967. José Limón (1992, 97) cites Guillermo Hernández’s claim that “at the moment of its writing, circa 1965 (Hernandez 1991: 53), it captures well all of our alienation and incapacities.” 7. In the original publication of the poem, “hacendado” is written as “haciendado.” Also, Montoya writes the line “los files de algodón” (J. Montoya 1972, 35), and, as opposed to a typo, I assume “files” is a caló term for “fields.” In recitals of the poem, Montoya says, “as to be painful,” which is different from the printed line, “as so be painful” (34). See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yr4_0pbKBYo. 8. In “The Roots of Migration,” Ernesto Galarza (1972, 128) examines the hacienda system in Mexico in the nineteenth century, a process that “had begun in the 16th century and was consolidated in the 17th with the royal confirmation of grants, the subjection of peones, the seizure of village lands and the autarchy of the landed estates. In these fiefs the hacendado,” Galarza surmises, “ruled a subsistence economy which yielded him and his backwoods court enough surplus to maintain status and dominion.” Galarza’s essay was published in Luis Valdez’s 1972 anthology Aztlán, but I believe that Montoya’s figure of Don Hidalgo Salazar is a poetic example of Galarza’s psychological and historical analysis of the persistence of subjugation of Mexicans from Spanish colonial rule to the US Bracero Program. 9. In 2012, Eduardo C. Corral published Slow Lightning, a collection of poetry in which several verses reference 1960s and 1970s Chicano/a poets and artists, grounding his design choices in a verbal-visual experience that preceded his collection by several decades. Many of the poems’ titles suggest the imprint Chicano/a visual artists made on his poetic form. From “Our Completion: Oil on Wood: Tino Rodríguez: 1999” and “Watermark, La Pelona: Mixed Media: Ester Hernández: 1980,” to meditations on border crossings entitled “Border Triptych,” Corral presents entire poems sideways, and breaks spaces and lines in different ways to disrupt the Western eye’s familiar way of reading poetry. Often when “we talk about reading images,” we implicate our most familiar method of reading (which is reading prose), “but that’s not right because viewing visual images is simultaneous—not sequential,” Eliza Rodriguez y Gibson (2013) commented in reference to Corral’s reorientation of the poetic line to a visual one. Clearly, there’s dialogue between Montoya’s and Corral’s choices regarding the visual, textual, and aural experience of poetry.

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10. Valdez’s tribute was written for Ricardo Favela’s In Search of Mr. Con Safos MFA show in 1989. 11. See Chavoya 2000; González, Fox, and Noriega 2008; Shaked 2008; Latorre 2008; Noriega 2010; Chavoya and Gonzalez 2011. 12. A student at Garfield High School during the Chicano/a student blowouts in March 1968, Harry Gamboa Jr. was an organizer for “some ten thousand students [who] walked out of six East Los Angeles high schools, protesting racially biased policies and inadequate public education” (Noriega 2010). 13. In 1973, Gronk and Willie Herrón painted Black and White Mural at Estrada Courts, documenting the violence of the 1970 Chicano Moratorium march. 14. Chismearte focused on Chicano/a and Latino/a artists who represented new directions in public art, encouraged the relationship between art and sociopolitical engagement, and served as a forum for communication among artists statewide (Noriega and Tompkins Rivas 2011, 100n16). 15. I would like to thank my father, David Diaz, a US Air Force Vietnam War veteran (1969–1973) who served in-country from 1971–1972 and who shared with me several photographs of the flight, or “FLT,” he was a part of for CH-53s and explained the structure of the USAF squadron. 16. Performances of memory find nostalgia and romanticism useful for the recitation of self and reassertion of agency through “ways of being from the past, in the service of questioning the future, a future without annihilating epidemics, either viral or ideological” (Muñoz 2000, 100). 17. See image description, https://calisphere.org/item/ark:/13030/hb0r29n962/. 18. See “Royal Chicano Air Force” 2016 (2014 entries). The RCAF Band featured Gloria Rangel as a lead singer and her sister Irma “Cui Cui” Rangel. The RCAF Wikipedia entry is primarily maintained by Juan Carrillo, but other members, including Rene Villa, Esteban Villa’s son, also contribute to the page. I confirmed the information posted on the page with Juan Carrillo via e-mail. 19. Huerta (1982, 38–39) notes that Teatro Libertad in Tucson, Arizona, performed Los Pelados, a comical piece deemed a “superacto” because it was “directly related to that Valdezian form” but was much longer than the original actos. He adds that Teatro Libertad formed in 1975 out of an earlier group, El Teatro del Pueblo. 20. In 1970 Huerta became director of El Teatro de la Esperanza (est. 1969), a theater group composed of students at UC Santa Barbara (Huerta 1977, 37). 21. Per “Royal Chicano Air Force” 2016 (2014 entries). 22. RCAF members who instructed at community colleges, alternative programs, and universities include Rudy Cuellar, Armando Cid, Ricardo Favela, Juan Cervantes, and Juan Carrillo. Sam Rios Jr. was a professor in the ethnic studies program at CSUS, teaching Chicano/a studies courses. Joe Serna Jr. taught in the Mexican American Education Project and continued teaching government courses at CSUS until his death in 1999. 23. The show was held at Lankford and Cook Gallery in Rancho Cordova, California. It traveled to the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos, New Mexico, in January 1992 (Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission 1989).

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24. I would like to thank CEMA director Salvador Güereña for clarifying the date of the accession of the RCAF archives at UC Santa Barbara. Mr. Güereña explained, “The date that the RCAF archives were established here was May 5, 1988. Ricardo Favela signed for the RCAF. At that time CEMA had not yet come into existence, and my archival work was being done through the Colección Tloque Nahuaque. In your dissertation you date the acquisition of the RCAF archives to 1993; that was the date when we expanded our reach to the four ethnic groups, but the RCAF came in five years earlier than that based on the signing of the gift agreement” (Salvador Güereña, e-mail to author, February 22, 2010). 25. The ¿Just Another Poster? exhibition was hosted at the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art at the University of Texas at Austin June 2–August 13, 2000. The show was exhibited at UC Santa Barbara’s University Art Museum January 13–March 4, 2001. It was hosted at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento June 20–September 14, 2003. La Raza Bookstore and Galería Posada cosponsored the exhibition. 26. In the catalogue for ¿Just Another Poster?, Chon Noriega (2001b, 20) provides an insightful review of González’s poster and its role in the exhibition, reading “the upper case silhouetted letters that float over a multicolored background” as “juxtaposing two predominant and somewhat antithetical artistic styles: the abstract and the conceptual.” The interplay that Noriega reads in the poster originates in the syncretic nature of Chicano/a art, or the mixing of multiple artistic techniques—from the fine art essence of the brush stroke of the letters to the visual wordplay. 27. During the R.C.A.F. Goes to College show, Montoya hosted a film screening at CSUS of Joseph R. Camacho’s El Pachuco: From Zoot Suits to Lowriders (ca. 1983). Upon his passing, Camacho bequeathed his documents and films to Stanford University. Until this 2007 screening, Montoya had never seen the film. He stated this fact at the CSUS screening. 28. The University Library Gallery at CSUS held the exhibition of RCAF posters from the library’s collection March 14–April 19, 2008. La Raza Galería Posada delivered its poster collection to the CSUS library for preservation between August 2006 and January 2007. The posters are on permanent loan. The library invited Terezita Romo to curate the exhibition. 29. During her presentation on February 22, 2007, Romo outlined temporal categories that echoed Shifra Goldman’s earlier framework, but Romo sharpened the characteristics of posters from the “1965 period.” She emphasized their political dimension, since Chicanos/as primarily created the “graphic work for the UFW.” Romo added that by the 1970s, most Chicano/a posters were created through “artist collectives.” In the essay version, Romo’s (2001) temporal designations include: “To Seize the Moment: The Chicano Poster, Politics, and Protest, 1965–1972”; “Synthesis: The Chicano Poster and Cultural Reclamation, 1972–1982”; and “Selling the Vision: The Chicano Poster as Art, 1983– Present.” Like Goldman, Romo contextualizes Chicano/a posters with Chicano/a murals as the major artistic developments of the Chicano movement. Both were message-based art forms that functioned primarily for working-class Chicano/a communities, but, as Romo writes, “the poster became the prominent voice for many Chicano/a artists due to its accessible technology, portability, and cost-effectiveness” (2001, 92). After “the demise

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of CETA and the decrease in government arts funds, the centros began to seek alternative funding sources” (108). 30. Although Romo (2001, 112) terms 1983 to the present as “Selling the Vision,” she argues that the introduction of new (or nonpolitical) imagery into Chicano/a art, as well as the ability to make individually serving creations, did not diminish the art form. Rather, the “greater artistic freedom claimed by Chicano poster artists in recent years has not only expanded the study of Chicano iconography, but has also contributed to the continuing redefinition of ‘Chicano art.’” 31. During the summer of 2007, José Montoya, Juanishi Orosco, Juan Cervantes, and Stan Padilla, as well as other RCAF members, including Juanita Ontiveros and Sam Rios Jr., formed Centro Dos. The Centro Dos also included second-generation RCAF members like Tomás Montoya. 32. This information came from a personal copy of a handout I obtained at the August 3, 2007, art auction for Centro Dos. 33. This information came from my personal copy of a program distributed at “RCAF Centro Dos Presents: Chicano Movie Night at the Guild Theatre,” June 26, 2008. 34. Information about the RCAF poster collection at CSUS is listed online through the Online Archive of California, but no items are available to view online. 35. Announcement Poster for International Women’s Year (1975) can be viewed at https://calisphere.org/item/ark:/13030/hb8p301220/. 36. To view a photograph that lists Hector González as the image maker and shows part of Aeronaves de Aztlán, see https://calisphere.org/item/ark:/13030/hb9c6011fj/. 37. I’m employing Marcos Sanchez-Tranquilino’s (1995, 59) notion of the “barriodeveloped conventions for encoding information,” or the placa-system, which “provides timely and vital details in a quick visual format to the inquiring street reader.” 38. Latorre (2008, 144) accounts for this type of mural production when she refers to the flexibility of the spatial and temporal borders that determine Chicano/a mural environments, which continue a “radical critique of the urban policies of space in California and elsewhere.” 39. The building houses several state government agencies and is a part of the Capitol Area East End Complex, built on land purchased by the state in the 1960s. The complex was developed and voted upon throughout the 1990s. 40. The consultant, Tamara Thompson, was appointed by the Art Selection Panel, the committee organized to oversee the Art in Public Places contracts for the new Capitol Area East End Complex (Juanishi Orosco, interview, July 6, 2004). 41. The Artists’ Statement was formerly available online: “For the Capitol Area East End Complex project they designed a figurative mural, painted on the ten-foot-high soffit at the Block 171 building’s exit to L Street, representing holistic health in the form of a bio-compass of the Sacramento Valley and beyond, from the Sierra foothills to the Pacific coast. The design, incorporating vital color representing spirit, creativity, healing, and elements of earth, air, fire, water, motion and light, the four seasons, sun and moon, the balance of cycles, is centered on Sacramento as a place where the rivers meet, creating a ‘Sacrament,’ a special place.”

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Bibliogr aphy

Interviews with Author Carrillo, Juan. July 13, 2004. Favela, Ricardo. July 20, 2004. Lerma Barbosa, Irma. June 26, 2013. Montoya, José. July 5, 2004. Orosco, Juanishi. December 23, 2000 and July 6, 2004. Padilla, Stan. July 12, 2004. Rios, Sam, Jr. April 24, 2007. Villa, Esteban. December 23, 2000; January 14, 2004; June 16 and June 23, 2004.

Archives Center for Sacramento History, Sacramento Archives and Museum Collection Center. Abbreviated CSH. Christina Ramírez-Rios, personal collection. Abbreviated CRR. Royal Chicano Air Force Archives, 1973–1988, CEMA 8. Special Collections Department, University of California–Santa Barbara Library. Abbreviated RCAF-CEMA 8. Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission Archives. Folders for Art in Public Places, L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M., and Metamorphosis. Abbreviated SMAC. Special Collections and University Archives, California State University, Sacramento. Includes Sam Rios Jr. Papers. Abbreviated SCUA-CSU.

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Index

Photos and illustrations are indicated by italicized page numbers. Plates are indicated by “pl.” and the respective plate number.

A

actos: ETC, 66–67, 121, 237–238, 255–256, 303n19; naming and, 121 Aeronaves de Aztlán (J. Cervantes), 270–271, pl. 26 African Americans, 283n24; as artists, 40, 45–46, 48, 50, 57–61, 67, 69–70, 216–217; decolonial thought and, 57. See also Black Panther Party (BPP) Afro-Chicanidad, 33, 46–50, 59, 109 Agosto 7 (R. Cuellar), 152–154, 159–162, 291n18, pl. 13 air force persona, 12–13, 26–27, 87, 135; archives and, 234–235, 254–269, 255, 257, 262, 265–266, 268; J. Carrillo and, 235, 237–238, 247, 254–256, 263–264; as creative counterpoint, 244–253, 246, 251; R. Favela and, 236, 247–248, 260–262, 269–270; Huelga! Strike!— Support the U.F.W.A. and, 35, 232–233, 261, 301n2, pl. 21; humor in, 232, 234, 237–238, 245, 252–253; J. Montoya and, 233–234, 238, 253–254, 264–265, 265, 273; J. Orosco and, 247–248, 256–257, 267; patriarchy and, 249–250; photography and, 269–271; Pilots of Aztlán and, 100–101, 232, 235–238; L. Valdez and, 237–238, 245, 247–248, 255; E.

Villa and, 245, 254, 265; virtual mural environment and, 271–275, 272 Alianza Federal de Mercedes, 59, 82 Alkali Flat Project Area Committee, 20–21, 25, 279n15 Almaraz, Carlos, 249–252, 251, 253 Alston, Charles, 46–48 Alurista. See Urista, Alberto Alvarez, Luis, 131, 135 Announcement Poster for Breakfast for Niños (E. Villa), 106, 107 Announcement Poster for the Committee to Abolish Prison Slavery (J. Cervantes and L. González), 59–61 Announcement Poster for Día de la Raza (R. Cuellar), 4, pl. 1 Announcement Poster for DQU Benefit (L. González), 53–54 Announcement Poster for El Centro de Artistas Chicanos (R. Favela), 263–264, pl. 25 Announcement Poster for Fiesta de Maíz (J. Orosco), 118, 119 Announcement Poster for International Women’s Year (L. González), 117–118, 270 Announcement Poster for Lowrider Carrucha Show (R. Cuellar), 5, 7

323

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Announcement Poster for Recuerdos del Palomar (J. Montoya), 131–133, 132 Announcement Poster for Veteranos (R. Favela), 179, 180, 270 Aquí Estamos . . . Y No Nos Vamos!!! (R. Favela), 33, 139–141, 140, 144, 176, pl. 12 archives: air force persona and, 234–235, 254–269, 255, 257, 262, 265–266, 268; CEMA, 35, 234–235, 259, 262–265, 269, 304n24; poster for, 265–267, 304n28 art: appropriation of, 28–29; in Chicano/a art history, 13–27; definitions of, 1; relational, 207; transnationalism in, 48–50; work, Chicana, 33–34, 88–89, 99–102. See also Chicano/a art; murals; posters; public art Arte Chicano (S. Goldman and T. YbarraFrausto), 23, 218 art history. See Chicano/a art history of RCAF art infrastructure, 245, 260; Art in Public Places and, 187, 215, 218, 222–224, 227– 228, 230–231; J. Carrillo and, 182–183, 184, 190–191; collective brainstorming and, 202–206; El Concilio de Arte Popular and, 190–192; decolonization and, 198, 206–214, 210–211; R. Favela and, 183, 185, 299n30; free association and, 186–187, 201–206, 220; L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. and, 187–188, 222–231, 223, 227–229, pls. 18–20; Metamorphosis and, 25, 215, 215–222, 217, 221; monolingual literary tradition decentered in, 193–198; sense of place in, 198–202, 201, pls. 16–17; E. Villa and, 182–183, 184–185, 188 Art in Public Places: art infrastructure and, 187, 215, 218, 222–224, 227–228, 230–231; SMAC and, 16, 25, 187, 215, 218, 222–224, 227–228, 230–231 “Artist As a Revolutionary, The” (C. Almaraz), 249–252, 251 artists: African American, 40, 45–46, 48, 50, 57–61, 67, 69–70, 216–217; military service influencing, 175, 178; Native American, 40, 44–45, 53–54, 59. See also Chicano/a artists Asco, 35, 39, 42, 234, 248–249, 253

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avant-garde movements, 42–44 Aztlán, 5–6, 7, 75, 83, 89, 270; “El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán” and, 17, 81, 102, 197, 277n2, 284n3; performance of, 199–200; in verbal-visual architecture, 38–39 Aztlán: An Anthology of Mexican American Literature (L. Valdez), 51–52, 72

B

Baca, Jennie, 100, 103–104, 112, 123 Baca, Judy, 15, 134, 287n37 Barbosa, Jaime, 107, 108 Barnet-Sanchez, Holly, 45, 146, 217 Barnett, Alan, 95, 124, 212, 298n26 Barraza, Jesus, 6, 8, 8 “Barrio Artist/Teacher, The” (J. Montoya), 206–209 Barrio Art program, 206–209, 261, 267, 268, 298n23 Barrio Logan, 84–85 barrios, 199, 219, 296n15 Batalla Está Aquí, La (L. Ybarra and N. Genera), 92, 124 Bauhaus, 44 Bernal, Antonio, 143, 145–147 Bilingual Education Says Twice As Much (R. Cuellar and E. Ortíz), 30, 31, 32 bilingualism, 30, 31, 32, 73, 196–198 Bingham, Howard, 117, 286n25 Black in Latin America (TV broadcast), 41, 57–61 Black Panther Party (BPP), 58–60, 90, 117, 286n25; Breakfast for Niños and, 88, 103, 105, 107–108; masculinity and, 142; “Ten-Point Program” of, 69, 93, 283n18, 283n23 Blackwell, Maylei, 120, 127, 135, 176 Bond, James, 189, 210, 212–213, 298n27 BPP. See Black Panther Party (BPP) Bracero Program: farmworkers in, 16, 26, 144, 152–153, 159–163, 167, 292n25; military service and, 159–160 Breakfast for Niños, 254, 255, 285n18; announcement poster for, 106, 107; Black Panther Party and, 88, 103, 105, 107–108; Chicanas and, 88, 102–110, 104, 106, 108–110

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Index Brown Berets, 58–59, 69, 107, 178, 283n23; in Emergence of the Chicano Social Struggle in a Bi-Cultural Society, 74, 76, 78, 105; Lerma Barbosa in, 88, 90–95, 93–94, 98–99, 103–105, 104, 129, 138, 203, 236–237; in Sacramomento, 90–93, 91, 93 Burg, William, 107, 284n9 butterfly, symbol of, 221–222, 299n35

C

CAC. See California Arts Council (CAC) calavera (skeleton), 60, 133, 141, 148, 258 calendars, 150–154, 166–167, pls. 13–14 California Arts Council (CAC), 182–183, 184, 190–192 California College of the Arts (CCA), 42–44, 62, 65–66, 280n3, 294n39 California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives (CEMA), 35, 234–235, 259, 262–265, 269, 304n24 California State University, Sacramento (CSUS): Chicano/a student body at, 188– 190, 192–193; La Cultura and, 189–190, 198, 204, 212–213, 233, 298n27, 299n29; RCAF and, 8–11, 23, 40, 90, 103–104, 104, 175, 186, 189–190, 198, 203–204, 209, 212–213, 233, 259, 262–265, 267, 298n27, 299n29, 304n28. See also Mexican American Education Project CARA. See Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation, 1965–1985 (CARA) carnalismo, 33, 81, 102, 250 Carrillo, Eduardo, 207, 209, 295n8 Carrillo, Juan, 10, 26, 73, 170, 205, 277n1, 279n21; air force persona and, 235, 237–238, 247, 254–256, 263–264; art infrastructure and, 182–183, 184, 190– 191; ETC and, 66; Imagenes de Ayer, 110, 112; institutional access and, 190–191; La Raza’s Quinceañero and, 110, 111, 112; in Quinto Sol, 71; TWLF and, 68–69 Castañeda, Antonia, 102, 163, 165, 167, 291n22 Castellano, Olivia, 11, 138, 273 Castillo, Oscar, 269–270 Castorena (Rivera), Mariana, 91–92, 103–105, 104

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 325

CCA. See California College of the Arts (CCA) CEMA. See California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives (CEMA) Centro de Artistas Chicanos, 16, 112–114, 118, 209, 224, 285n20; announcement poster for, 263–264, pl. 25; founding date of, 278n12 Centro Dos, 267–268, 305n31 ceremonies, 118–122, 119, 200 Cervantes, Juan, 11, 170, 175, 203, 205, 298n22; Aeronaves de Aztlán, 270–271, pl. 26; Announcement Poster for the Committee to Abolish Prison Slavery, 59–61; Southside Park Mural and, 95, 97, 100 CETA. See Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) Chávez, César, 78, 234, 236–238 Chavoya, C. Ondine, 42, 248 Chicanas, in RCAF: art work of, 33–34, 88–89, 99–102; Breakfast for Niños and, 88, 102–110, 104, 106, 108–110; ceremonial performances of, 118–122, 119; in Chicano/a art history, 1–2, 83; food preparation and, 100–110, 104, 106, 108–110; historical interpretation of, 1–2, 122–127, 127–128; leadership by, 85, 89, 99; J. Montoya and, 33, 115–116, 123–124, 129–130, 135–136; Mujer Cósmica and, 82–83, 85–86, 86, 89, 124–125, 149, 286nn32–34, pl. 6; Pachuca performances of, 128, 129–134, 132–133; Rios on, 84, 118; sexism and, 83, 87, 89, 113, 123, 137; Southside Park Mural and, 95–99, 96, pls. 7–8; sweat equity of, 110–117, 111, 115; verbal-visual architecture of, 89; Women Hold Up Half the Sky and, 83, 86–87, 87, 89, 101, 124, 126, 158, 284n1, 287n34, pl. 6. See also mujer nueva, la Chicano/a art: absence of, 41–46; Chicano/a artists before, 61–65; A. Gaspar de Alba on, 40, 50, 122–123, 127, 134, 202, 277n2, 287n37, 295n4, 300n41; Noriega on, 6, 8, 42, 102, 186, 202, 211–212, 304n26. See also Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF)

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326 

Index

Chicano/a art history of RCAF, xii, 28–32, 35; art made in, 13–27; Chicanas in, 1–2, 83; preservation of, 260–261, 278n11; RCAF membership and, 8–13, 40, 278n8; RCAF name and, 3–10, 7–8, 12, 26–27, 203; relationship building in, 17–22; time frame of, 23–27 Chicano/a artists: before Chicano/a art, 61–65; CSUS student body and, 188–190, 192–193; identity formation of, 65–70; professionalization of, 113; split existence of, 42, 61–65, 74. See also specific artists Chicano/a identity, 63, 82, 121, 191–192, 206; architecture of, 18–19, 38–39, 65–70; formation of, 65–70, 290n16; heroes and, 154–155, 164, 167; pre-Columbian civilization and, 225–226 Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation, 1965–1985 (CARA), 2, 34, 40, 122–123, 188, 261 Chicano movement, 138, 202, 208, 283n28; civil rights and, 12, 14, 108–110, 170; heroes in, 144, 289nn7–8; Mexican Revolution and, 72–73; patriarchal norms of, 33, 83, 87–89, 123–124, 127; RCAF and, 12, 14, 16–17, 23, 25, 29, 245 Chicano Park, 284n8; documentary, 33, 84–86, 89, 101, 123, 135; murals, 23, 33, 82–83, 85–87, 86, 89, 123–124, 127, 135, 289n8, pl. 6 “Chicanos en Korea” (J. Montoya), 176–178, 180 Chismearte, 249–250, 251, 303n14 Cid, Armando, 18, 26, 116, 203, 206, 242, 298n22; educational background of, 11, 205; La Resurrección de los Pecados, 140, 141, 176; Olin, 19, 21, 186, 198–199, 279n16, 296n14; Para la Raza del Barrio, 199, 201, 201–202, pl. 16; Por la Raza United Flight, 172, 173, 198–199, 244, pl. 23; Reno’s Mural, 15, 186, 199–201, 296n16, pl. 17; Sunburst, 19, 21, 22, 120, 186, 198–199; J. Talamantez married to, 85; in Vietnam War, 9, 171 5 de Mayo con el Royal Chicano Air Force Arte Musica Poesia (E. Villa), 238, pl. 22 citizenship, 70–74, 82–83, 148, 177–178

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civil rights, 54, 68, 80, 287n35; Chicano movement and, 12, 14, 108–110, 170; RCAF and, 10–12, 14, 27–28, 102–103, 196; right to assembly and, 70–71 Cockcroft, Eva, 45, 217; on community murals, 41–42; Toward a People’s Art, 182, 186, 204–205, 297nn19–21 Cockcroft, James: on community murals, 41–42; Toward a People’s Art, 182, 186, 204–205, 297nn19–21 collective: brainstorming, 202–206; institutional background and, 204–205, 208–209; power of, 62–63; RCAF’s theory and praxis of, 16, 34, 187, 202–206, 268–269; values of, 3, 86–87, 187 colonization: “Chicanos en Korea” and, 176–177; geopolitical borders based on, 5; symbols of, 149. See also decolonization Comadres Artistas, 136 communism, 64, 124–125 community: activism, military service and, 92, 94, 173–176, 178, 180; leaders, 85, 89, 99, 176–180, 179, 181; mural movement, 13–15, 41–42, 46–47, 75, 216, 231, 281n8 Compañeros Artistas (R. Favela), 140, 141 Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA), 112–113, 217, 299n30 Concilio de Arte Popular, El, 190–192, 247 Conferencia Femenil flyer (I. Lerma Barbosa and K. García), 143, 157, 158 Congreso de Artistas Chicanos en Aztlán, 76–77 Corral, Eduardo C., 302n9 Cortés Nos Chingó In A Big Way The Hüey (L. González and R. Favela), 50–52, 54–57 “Cortés Poem” (L. González), 50–51, 54–56, 58, 282n11 craziness (locura), 63–65, 234, 245, 250, 252–253 CSUS. See California State University, Sacramento (CSUS) Cuellar, Rodolfo “Rudy,” 11, 18, 203, 205, 247, 298n22; Agosto 7, 152–154, 159–162, 291n18, pl. 13; Announcement Poster for Lowrider Carrucha Show, 5, 7; Announcement Poster for Día de la Raza, 4, pl. 1; Bilingual Education Says

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Index Twice As Much, 30, 31, 32; Equal Opportunity Program and, 175; Fiesta de Maíz pyramid, 20, 21 Cultura, La (E. Rivera): CSUS and, 189–190, 198, 204, 212–213, 233, 298n27, 299n29; destroyed, 189, 212–214, 298n27 Cultural Affairs Committee, 88, 102, 118, 121, 254, 256

D

Davalos, Karen Mary, 23–24, 57, 59, 114, 159, 282n10 decolonial imaginary, 142, 147 decolonization, 3, 6, 22, 39, 51; African Americans and, 57; art infrastructure and, 198, 206–214, 210–211; ceremonial performances and, 118; “El Plan Espiritual de Aztlán” and, 81; heroes and, 142–143, 147, 151, 162, 167; la mujer nueva and, 87–88, 94, 134; MALA-F and, 81–82; right to assembly and, 70–74 Deganawidah-Quetzalcoatl University (D-Q U), 53–58 Desmangles, Barbara, 107, 108, 127. See also Women Hold Up Half the Sky Día de la Raza (R. Cuellar), 4, pl. 1 diaspora, 50, 153, 159, 165, 282n10 Diaz, David R., 199 docudrama, 255 domino theory, 43, 280n4 Douglas, Emory, 59 Down with the Whiteness (R. Garcia), 28 D-Q U. See Deganawidah-Quetzalcoatl University (D-Q U)

E

Eartharium (E. Villa, S. Padilla, and J. Orosco), 273–275, 305n41, pls. 27–28 Elam, Harry, Jr., 237 Elliot, Emory, 48–49 El Teatro Campesino (ETC): actos, 66–67, 121, 237–238, 255–256, 303n19; El Fin del Mundo performed by, 254–256, 255, 258; murals, 143, 145–147; L. Valdez and, 66–67, 283n21 Emergence of the Chicano Social Struggle in a Bi-Cultural Society (E. Villa), 74–81, 77, 79, 105, 198, pl. 5

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 327

Epic of American Civilization, The (J. Orozco), 79–80 Equal Opportunity Program, 11, 174–175 ETC. See El Teatro Campesino (ETC)

F

family: heroes and, 141, 152–158, 157, 163– 169, pl. 13; histories, 26, 143, 152–159, 163–167, 170, 193, 292n27; mothers, 143, 158, 167–169 farmworkers, 2, 38, 43–44, 189, 236; in Bracero Program, 16, 26, 144, 152–153, 159–163, 167, 292n25; “El Sol y los de Abajo” and, 137, 138, 239–245, 302nn6–8; heroes and, 143, 148–150, 152–154, 159–162, 166–170; mothers as, 167–169; patriarchy and, 167. See also El Teatro Campesino (ETC); United Farm Workers (UFW) Favela, Ricardo, 18, 174, 203, 277n1, 279n21, 296n14, 298n22; air force persona and, 236, 247–248, 260–262, 269–270; Announcement Poster for El Centro de Artistas Chicanos, 263–264, pl. 25; Announcement Poster for Veteranos, 179, 180, 270; Aquí Estamos . . . Y No Nos Vamos!!!, 33, 139–141, 140, 144, 176, pl. 12; art infrastructure and, 183, 185, 299n30; Barrio Art and, 207; Compañeros Artistas, 140, 141; Cortés Nos Chingó In A Big Way The Hüey, 50–52, 54–57; educational background of, 11, 205; Emergence of the Chicano Social Struggle in a Bi-Cultural Society and, 75; farmwork and, 161–162, 167; Huelga! Strike!—Support the U.F.W.A., 35, 232–233, 261, 301n2, pl. 21; In Search of Mr. Con Safos, 233, 260–262, 262, pl. 24; Memorial Fountain for Joe Serna Jr. and Isabel Hernández-Serna and, 272, 272–273; Royal Order of the Jalapeño, 64–65; Southside Park Mural and, 99–100; vatitos of, 180, 181; “Los Vatos” and, 193–194, 196, 198; When Your Mother Asks You Who You Are, 147–152 fictive space, 301n47 Fierro, Frank, 76–77 Fiesta de Maíz, 20, 21, 118–121, 119, pl. 9

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328 

Index

Fin del Mundo, El (L. Valdez), 254–256, 255, 258 first voice, 108 Flores (Pérez), Gloriamalia, 191 food preparation, 100–110, 104, 106, 108–110 Francisco, Christina, 128, 129 free association, 6, 34, 239; art infrastructure and, 186–187, 201–206, 220; collective brainstorming and, 202–206 Fregoso, Rosa Linda, 101 Friends No Matter What (L. García-Nakata), 109, 109–110

G

Galarza, Ernesto, 218–219, 302n8 Gamboa, Harry, Jr., 269–270, 303n12 García, Eva, 113 García, Kathryn, 113; Conferencia Femenil poster by, 143, 157, 158; performances by, 88, 128, 129–131 Garcia, Max, 11, 18, 112, 203, 298n25 García, Ramón, 253 Garcia, Rupert, 28, 280n23 García-Nakata, Lorraine, 11, 68, 88, 205, 269, 298n22; Black Panthers and, 107–108; Friends No Matter What, 109, 109–110; Southside Park Mural and, 96, 97, 100, pl. 8; What We Are Now, 113, 115 Gaspar de Alba, Alicia, 52, 253; on Chicano/a art, 40, 50, 122–123, 126–127, 134, 202, 277n2, 287n37, 295n4, 300n41; on collectivism, 202 gender equality, 83, 89, 102, 135, 288nn40– 42 Genera, Nina, 82, 92, 124 GI Bill, 9, 171, 174–175, 293n34, 294nn36–37, 294n39 Godinez, Francisca, 114, 117 Goldman, Shifra, 6, 8, 220, 270, 279n18, 281n6, 281n9; Arte Chicano, 23; “How, Why, Where, and When It All Happened,” 4 Gómez, Manuel, 71–72, 279n14, pl. 4 Gonzáles, Rodolfo, 19, 73, 146 González, Hector, 9, 11, 26, 203, 236, 279n20; photography of, 18, 37, 117, 173, 175, 180, 242, 244, 269–271; verbal-visual architecture and, 37–38

Diaz_6805_BK.indd 328

González, Joe, 15, 24, 199, 201, 201–202, pl. 16 González, Luis, 11, 116, 203, 205, 236, 279n20, 286n33; Announcement Poster for the Committee to Abolish Prison Slavery, 59–61; Announcement Poster for DQU Benefit, 53–54; Announcement Poster for International Women’s Year, 117–118, 269–270; birth of, 26; Cortés Nos Chingó In A Big Way The Hüey, 50–52, 54–57; “Cortés Poem,” 50–51, 54–56, 58, 282n11; Hasta La Victoria Siempre, c/s, 33, 37–38; poetry and, 19, 25, 50–51; Royal Order of the Jalapeño, 64–65; Sacramomento and, 110; When Your Mother Asks You Who You Are, 147–152; “When Your Mother Asks You Who You Are,” 25, 149–150 González, Rita, 27, 279n22 González, Tanya, 70, 101 government funding, 15–16, 216–218, 278n10, 296n14 Great Wall of Los Angeles, The, 15 Grito, El: A Journal of Contemporary Mexican-American Thought, 47, 51, 71, 76, 78 Grito del Norte, El, 59, 73–74, 82 grupo installations, 122, 126–127 Güereña, Salvador, 262, 280n2, 304n24 Guevara, Che, 38, 77 Gutíerrez, Marisa, 116

H

Harris, Michael D., 216–217 Hasta La Victoria Siempre, c/s (L. González), 33, 37–38 Hermanos, Stop Gang War (G. Luján), 150 Hermanos Mayo, 153–154, 159 Hernández, Guillermo, 280n2 Hernandez, Nancy, 6, 8, 8 Hernández, Pete, 114, 116, 301n2 Hernandez (Serna), Isabel, 213, 272, 272–273 Hernández-Trujillo, Manuel, 65 heroes: in Agosto 7, 152–154, 159–162, pl. 13; Aquí Estamos . . . Y No Nos Vamos!!! and, 34, 139–141, 140, 144, pl. 12; Chicano/a identity and, 154–155,

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Index 164, 167; in Chicano movement, 144, 289nn7–8; decolonization and, 142–143, 147, 151, 162, 167; family and, 141, 152–158, 157, 163–169, pl. 13; farmworkers and, 143, 148–150, 152–154, 159–162, 166–170; in Mexican Revolution, 144–145, 290n10; mothers, 167–169; patriarchy and, 141; preColumbian civilization and, 145–152; veterans, 170–180, 172, 176–180, 179, 181; in Viva la Huelga, 166–167, pl. 14; war and, 141, 143–147, 170–180, 172, 179, 181, pl. 15 Herrera Rodríguez, Celia, 11, 88, 113, 127, 203. See also Women Hold Up Half the Sky Hillinger, Charles, 245 History of California calendar, 152–154, 166–167, pls. 13–14 hombre nuevo (new man), 81–82 “How, Why, Where, and When It All Happened: Chicano Murals of California” (S. Goldman), 4 huelga eagle: hidden, 275, pl. 28; UFW and, 51, 78, 149, 166–167, 202, 230, 273, 275, pl. 28 Huelga! Strike!—Support the U.F.W.A. (R. Favela), 35, 232–233, 261, 301n2, pl. 21 Huerta, Jorge, 121, 255, 303n19

I

identity. See Chicano/a identity Imagenes de Ayer (J. Carrillo), 110, 112 immigration policy, 43, 152, 163 Indian Land (J. Barraza and N. Hernandez), 6, 8, 8 Indigenous America, 51–54, 57, 298n24 indigenous peoples, 96, 97, 126, 296n16, 300n40, pl. 8; ancestries, 25–26, 41, 72, 220, 225–226, 241, 263–264; first voice and, 108 “In Lak’ech” concept, 208, 298n24 In Search of Mr. Con Safos (R. Favela), 233, 260–262, 262, pl. 24 institutional access, 190–192 Isenberg, Phil, 183, 185, 214, 299n30

Diaz_6805_BK.indd 329

 329

J

Jackson, Carlos, 53, 145, 150, 281n7, 282n11 “Jefita, La” (J. Montoya), 143, 167–169, 193, 196, 293n30 ¿Just Another Poster? Chicano Graphic Arts in California, 133, 263, 266, 288n44, 304nn25–26

K

Keppel, Ben, 182, 186 Kinsey, Bernard, 117 Korean War, 39, 278n5; in “Chicanos en Korea,” 176–178, 180; J. Montoya, in, 9, 64, 175–178, 242, 294n38; E. Villa, in, 9, 175, 178–180, 294n38 K Street tunnel, 182–183, 188, 214, 222. See also L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M.

L

Labyrinth of Solitude, The (O. Paz), 55 land, aerial and terrestrial views of, 4–5, 8, 22, pls. 1–2 Land of Two, 54, 58 La Raza Bookstore, 111, 114–117, 173, 198, 244, 265 “La Raza Bookstore—The Early Years” (J. Montoya), 115–116 La Raza Galería Posada (LRGP), 111, 112–113, 115–117, 265–266 La Raza’s Quinceañero, 110, 111, 112 L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. (Light Art in Sacramento, Energy Resources In Unlimited Movement) (J. Orosco and E. Villa), xi, 5, 271, 278n3, pl. 2; in art infrastructure, 187– 188, 222–231, 223, 227–229, pls. 18–20; rejected designs of, 187–188, 224–225 Latorre, Guisela, 38, 146, 151, 198, 289n8, 296n16; on Mexican murals, 47; on mural environments, 199–200, 235, 271, 295n2, 296n15, 305n38 Lerma Barbosa, Irma, 26, 205, 284n4; Breakfast for Niños and, 88, 103–105, 104, 107; in Brown Berets, 88, 90–95, 93–94, 98–99, 103–105, 104, 129, 138, 203, 236–237; clothing of, 136–138; Conferencia Femenil flyer by, 143, 157, 158; family of, 26, 143, 155–158; la mujer nueva and, 33–34, 84, 88, 90–95, 91, 93–94, 98–99, 103–105, 104, 107, 108,

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330 

Index

Lerma Barbosa, Irma (continued) 110, 112, 124, 126, 127–128, 129–138, 133; La Raza’s Quinceañero and, 110, 111, 112; MAEP and, 10, 90–95, 103, 203; Pachuca performances of, 128, 129–134, 132–133; Recuerdos del Palomar, 133–134, pl. 10; Sacramomento, 90–94, 91, 93, 110, 112, 136; Warriors of the New Day, 138, pl. 11. See also Women Hold Up Half the Sky Liberate Puerto Rico Now! (R. Garcia), 28 Light Art in Sacramento, Energy Resources In Unlimited Movement. See L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. (Light Art in Sacramento, Energy Resources In Unlimited Movement) Limón, José E., 168–169, 239, 242 “Lion Roars, The” (Alurista), 196–197 Lippard, Lucy, 30, 45, 62, 280n24 literature, 75, 193–198, 283n28 locura (craziness), 63–65, 234, 245, 250, 252–253 Long, James, 103, 285n13 Lopez, Alma, 221, 299n34 López, Tiffany Ana, 238 López, Yolanda, 24, 59, 123–124, 134, 282n16 López Tijerina, Reies, 252 LRGP. See La Raza Galería Posada (LRGP) Luján, Gilbert “Magú,” 150

M

machismo, 87, 142 MAEP. See Mexican American Education Project (MAEP) MALA-F. See Mexican American Liberation Art Front (MALA-F) Martínez, Betita, 82 masculinity, 81–82, 87, 92, 142, 180 Memorial Fountain for Joe Serna Jr. and Isabel Hernández-Serna, 272, 272–273 Menchaca, Martha, 165 Mendoza, Antonia, 127. See also Women Hold Up Half the Sky Mesa-Bains, Amalia, 122 mestizaje (miscegenation), 230–231, 282n10; defined, 41, 301n49; verbalvisual architecture and, 41, 52, 57–58, 61

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mestizo/a, 52. See also New World mestizo/a art Metamorphosis (E. Villa, S. Padilla, and J. Orosco), 25, 215, 215–222, 217, 221, 271 Mexican American Education Project (MAEP), 32, 189, 278n6, 284n3; I. Lerma Barbosa and, 10, 90–95, 103, 203; J. Montoya, and, 9–11, 40, 90, 103, 190, 192; E. Villa, and, 10–11, 40, 90, 190, 192 Mexican American Liberation Art Front (MALA-F), 9, 90, 203; decolonization and, 81–82; verbal-visual architecture and, 65–67, 70–74, 81–82 Mexican-American War, 164–165, 289n7, 291n21 Mexican Revolution, 3, 14, 72–73, 144–145, 290n10 Mexico, 281n9, 282nn14–15; migration from, 152–156, 290n17; murals and, 3, 14, 45, 47–50, 62, 65–66, 73, 81, 145, 281nn6–8 military service, 9, 11–12, 19, 39, 64; artists influenced by, 175, 178; Bracero Program and, 159–160; community activism and, 92, 94, 173–176, 178, 180 miscegenation. See mestizaje Montoya, Gina, 104, 112, 121, 123, 300n37 Montoya, José, 32, 75, 174, 205, 279n21, 287n34, 301n2; air force persona and, 233–234, 238, 253–254, 264–265, 265, 273; Announcement Poster for Recuerdos del Palomar, 131–133, 132; “The Barrio Artist/Teacher,” 206–209; Chicano Park murals and, 85–87, 89, 135; “Chicanos en Korea,” 176–178, 180; in Compañeros Artistas, 140, 141; “El Padre Nuestro and the Park,” 21–22; “El Sol y los de Abajo,” 137, 138, 239–245, 302nn6–8; El Sol Y Los De Abajo and other R.C.A.F. poems, 173, 239–244, 243; family history of, 26, 163–166, 193, 292n27; founding of RCAF and, 203–204, 277n1; in Hasta La Victoria Siempre, c/s, 33, 37–38; in Korean War, 9, 64, 175–178, 242, 294n38; “La Jefita,” 143, 167–169, 193, 196, 293n30; “La Raza Bookstore—The Early Years,” 115–116; La Resurrección de los Pecados, 140, 141, 176; L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. and, 231; “Los Vatos,” 193–198, 200; MAEP and,

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Index 9–11, 40, 90, 103, 190, 192; Metamorphosis and, 218–219; Pachuco Art: A Historical Update, 133–134, 268; in Pilots of Aztlán, 100–101, 232, 254; poetry and, 19, 21–22, 200, 295nn10–11; RCAF Chicanas and, 33, 115–116, 123–124, 129–130, 135–136; Southside Park Mural and, 95, 96, 100; verbal-visual architecture and, 37–38, 40, 43–45, 47–49, 53, 62–66, 71, 75 Montoya, Malaquias, 9, 65, 67, 70–72; Murió Una Muerte Natural, 29, pl. 3; screenprint of Manuel Gómez by, pl. 4 mothers, 143, 158, 167–169 Mraz, John, 153 Mujer Cósmica (E. Villa): Chicanas and, 82–83, 85–86, 86, 89, 124–125, 149, 286nn32–34, pl. 6; Southside Park Mural and, 95 Mujeres Muralistas, Las, 49, 122–123, 297n21 mujer nueva, la: absence of, 81–82; decolonization and, 87–88, 94, 134; I. Lerma Barbosa and, 33–34, 84, 88, 90–95, 91, 93–94, 98–99, 103–105, 104, 107, 108, 110, 112, 124, 126, 127–128, 129–138, 133 Mulford, Marilyn, 33, 123 murals: African American, 216–217; appearance of, 186; Chicano Park, 23, 33, 82–83, 85–87, 86, 89, 123–124, 127, 135, 289n8, pl. 6; in community mural movement, 13–15, 41–42, 46–47, 75, 216, 231, 281n8; controversial, 83, 187–188, 274; dedication ceremonies of, 200; depoliticization of, 216–218; destroyed, 187–190, 198–199, 209–214, 298n27; environments of, 35–36, 199–200, 235, 271–275, 272, 295n2, 296n15, 305n38; ETC, 143, 145–147; Mexico and, 3, 14, 45, 47–50, 62, 65–66, 73, 81, 145, 281nn6–8; New Deal, 14, 45–47; periodization of, 24–25; as symbolic takeovers of space, 187, 190; titles inserted in, 75–77; unauthorized, 183, 185; Washington Square Apartments, 19, 20–21, 22, 25. See also specific murals Murió Una Muerte Natural (M. Montoya), 29, pl. 3

Diaz_6805_BK.indd 331

 331

N

Native American artists, 40, 44–45, 53–54, 59 Nepantla, xii New Deal muralism, 14, 45–47. See also Works Progress Administration (WPA) new man (hombre nuevo), 81–82 New Symbols for La Raza Nueva, 71–73, 81 New World mestizo/a art: Black in Latin America and, 41, 57–61; patriarchy and, 125–126; in verbal-visual architecture, 40–41, 50–61, 83, 230–231 Noriega, Chon, 130, 166, 288n39; on Chicano/a art, 6, 8, 42, 102, 186, 202, 211–212, 304n26; free association and, 186, 202

O

Ogbar, Jeffrey O. G., 142 Okihiro, Gary, 292n22 Olin (A. Cid), 19, 21, 186, 198–199, 279n16, 296n14 O’Neil, Sheila, 265 Ontiveros, Randy, 29, 252 Operation Wetback, 43, 163 Orale Raza (F. Fierro), 76–77 Oropeza, Lorena, 178, 250, 293n33 Orosco, Juanishi, 9, 11, 85, 162, 203, 213, 301n45; air force persona and, 247–248, 256–257, 267; Announcement Poster for Fiesta de Maíz, 118, 119; calendars and, 150; Eartharium, 273–275, 305n41, pls. 27–28; GI Bill and, 174; Metamorphosis, 25, 215, 215–222, 217, 221, 271; in Pilots of Aztlán, 100–101, 256–257, 267; Southside Park Mural and, 95, 96, 100; Viva la Huelga, 166–167, pl. 14. See also L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. Orozco, José Clemente, 47–48, 79–80, 125 Ortíz, Enrique, 30, 31, 32, 209–210, 210 Ott, John, 46, 48 Our Lady, Lupe & Sirena (A. Lopez), 221, 299n34 Our Mayor Forever: Joe Serna, 1939–1999, 265

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332 

P

Index

Pachuco Art: A Historical Update (J. Montoya), 133–134, 268 Pachucos/as, 95, 194–196, 288n39–42; Paz on, 55–56; performances of, 128, 129–134, 132–133 Packard, Emmy Lou, 49 Padilla, Roz, 68 Padilla, Stan, 50, 68, 95, 100, 139, 170; Eartharium, 273–275, 305n41, pls. 27–28; education of, 11–12, 49, 68, 205; Metamorphosis, 25, 215, 215–222, 217, 221, 271; on railroad, 154–155 “Padre Nuestro and the Park, El” (J. Montoya), 21–22 Palacios, Rosalinda, 127. See also Women Hold Up Half the Sky Pandora’s Box (E. Villa), 210–211, 211 Para la Raza del Barrio (A. Cid, Y. Tarin, J. González, K. Munguia, and J. Torres), 15, 24, 199, 201, 201–202, pl. 16 patriarchy: air force persona and, 249–250; Chicano movement and, 33, 83, 87–89, 123–124, 127; farmworkers and, 167; heroes and, 141; New World mestizo/a art and, 125–126 Paz, Octavio, 55–56, 58, 81 People’s Painters, 204, 296n19 Pérez, Emma, 142, 144, 147, 166, 289nn4–7, 290nn10–11, 292n23 Pérez, Irene, 49–50 Pérez, Laura E., 120, 286n30 Pérez-Torres, Rafael, 39, 52, 61, 113, 226, 230, 293n30 photography: of H. González, 18, 37, 117, 173, 175, 180, 242, 244, 269–271; Hermanos Mayo, 153–154, 159 Pietri, Pedro, 197, 296n13 Pilots of Aztlán: air force persona and, 100– 101, 232, 235–238; on RCAF, 100–101, 232, 235–238, 247, 254, 256–258, 267 “Plan de Santa Barbara, El,” 190–191, 277n2, 284n3 “Plan Espiritual de Aztlán, El,” 17, 81, 102, 197, 277n2, 284n3 poetry, 20, 146; J. Montoya and, 19, 21–22, 200, 295nn10–11; performance, as symbolic takeover of space, 187, 190, 195–198

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Polendo (Ontiveros), Juanita, 112, 117–118, 123, 134, 236, 245 Pop Art, 17, 124, 278n13 Por la Raza United Flight (A. Cid), 172, 173, 198–199, 244, pl. 23 Posada, José Guadalupe, 60, 116, 132, 140, 141, 279n21 posters, 280n23; archives of, 265–267, 304n28; New World mestizo/a art, 50–52, 54–57, 59–60; T. Romo on, 266–267, 304n29, 305n30; silkscreen, 13, 17–18, 23–24, 238. See also specific posters pre-Columbian civilization, 41, 45, 51–52, 62; Chicano/a identity and, 225–226; Fiesta de Maíz and, 20, 21, 118–121, 119, pl. 9; heroes and, 145–152; imagery, 3, 20–21, 25, 95, 151–152, 199–200, 223–226, 244, 270, 280n25, 286n33; language, 30, 31 Prometheus (J. Orozco), 79 public art, 47, 278n10; controversy, 34, 188, 231; New Deal muralism, 14, 45–46; in Sacramento, xi–xii, 15–16, 24–25, 74–75, 271, 273–275, 305n41, pls. 27–28 public space: access to, 186, 212, 279n15; in barrios, 199, 219, 296n15; entry of RCAF into, 214–219, 215, 217; fictive, 301n47; metamorphosis of, 219–222; monolingual literary tradition in, 193–198; reclaimed, 98–99, 219, 287n38; symbolic takeovers of, 187, 190, 195–198 “Puerto Rican Obituary” (P. Pietri), 197 Pulido, Laura, 60

Q

Quiñones, Sam, 100, 268, 287n34 Quinto Sol, 71

R

railroad, 152–156, 159–160, 170, 290n17 Rangel, Gloria, 120–121, pl. 9 Rasquache, 249, 253 Rasul, Rosemary, 99–100, 104–105, 112, 123 “Raza Cósmica, La” (J. Vasconcelos), 57 RCAF. See Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF) R.C.A.F. Goes to College, 233, 261–262, 262, 265, 265–266

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Index Rebel Chicano Art Front. See Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF) Recuerdos del Palomar musical revue, 131–134, 132–133, pl. 10 Recuerdos del Palomar painting (I. Lerma Barbosa), 133–134, pl. 10 relational art, 207 relationship building, 17–22, 207 Reno Club (or Reno’s Club/Reno’s Café), 137, 186, 198–202 Reno’s Mural (A. Cid), 15, 186, 199–201, 296n16, pl. 17 Resurrección de los Pecados, La (J. Montoya and A. Cid), 140, 141, 176 right to assembly, 70–74, 82–83 Rios, Sam, Jr., 100, 175, 201, 209, 267, 279n21; Breakfast for Niños and, 104–105; educational background of, 9–11, 205; on La Cultura, 189, 213; on RCAF Chicanas, 84, 118 Rivera, Diego, 47–50, 281nn6–7 Rivera, Ed, 189–190, 212 Rodriguez, Arturo, 235 Rodriguez, Favianna, 221 Rodriguez, Freddy, 91–92, 93, 129, 254–258, 257 Rodriguez, Patricia, 49–50, 134, 288n46 Rodríguez, Richard T., 141 Rodriguez y Gibson, Eliza, 70, 101 Romano, Octavio I., 71 Romo, Terezita, 51, 65, 70, 76, 150, 200; Breakfast for Niños and, 104; La Raza Bookstore and, 114–116, 265; on Pachuco Art: A Historical Update, 133; on posters, 266–267, 304n29, 305n30; on Southside Park Mural, 95, 97, 279n21 Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF): administrative positions in, 99–102; as agents of change, 9–10; Band, 129, 254–258, 287n36; Centro Dos of, 267–268, 305n31; Chicano movement and, 12, 14, 16–17, 23, 25, 29, 245; civil rights and, 10–12, 14, 27–28, 102–103, 196; collective theory and praxis of, 16, 34, 187, 202–206, 268–269; CSUS and, 8–11, 23, 40, 90, 103–104, 104, 175, 186, 189–190, 198, 203–204, 209, 212–213, 233, 259, 262–265, 267, 298n27, 299n29, 304n28; founding of, 4, 8–9, 40, 90, 203–204,

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 333

277n1; future of, 206; grupo installations, 122, 126–127; image vocabulary of, 39, 219–220; institutional background of, 204–205, 208–209, 233–234, 259– 260, 278n9; institutional recognition of, 234, 259–269; membership, 8–13, 40, 278n8; name of, 3–10, 7–8, 12, 26–27, 203; philosophy of, 6; Pilots of Aztlán on, 100–101, 232, 235–238, 247, 254, 256–258, 267; professional advancement of, 190–192; public space entered by, 214–219, 215, 217; sexism and, 83, 87, 89, 113, 123, 137; spatial issues and, 22, 70, 97–98, 120, 140, 274; UFW and, 2, 13, 37–38, 78, 95, 97, 232–239. See also air force persona; archives; art infrastructure; Chicanas, in RCAF; Chicano/a art history of RCAF; heroes; verbal-visual architecture Royal Order of the Jalapeño (L. González and R. Favela), 64–65 Ruben’s Graffiti (E. Villa), 172–173, pl. 15 Ruiz, Vicki, 130, 147

S

Sacramento: in Eartharium, 273–275, 305n41, pls. 27–28; as mural environment, 271; public art in, xi–xii, 15–16, 24–25, 74–75, 271, 273–275, 305n41, pls. 27–28; as Sacraztlan, 5, 118; urban redevelopment, 98, 121, 187, 279n15, 299n36. See also California State University, Sacramento (CSUS); L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M. Sacramento Concilio, Inc., 148, 298n27 Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission (SMAC), 183; Art in Public Places and, 16, 25, 187, 215, 218, 222–224, 227–228, 230–231; commissioners, 300n39 Sacramomento (I. Lerma Barbosa), 90–94, 91, 93, 110, 112, 136 Sacraztlan, 5, 118 Salas, Elizabeth, 147 Salazar, Ruben, 74, 171–172 Saldívar, José David, xi–xii, 98, 195, 199–200, 291n20 Sanchez-Tranquilino, Marcos, 42, 65, 248 San Diego, 84–85 Santana (Rasul), Melinda, 104 Santos, Phillip “Pike,” 114–116

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334 

Index

Schmidt Camacho, Alicia, 161 Schreiber, Rebecca M., 48 self-portraits, 134, pl. 10 Serna, Joe, Jr., 10, 162, 214, 236, 265, 299n30. See also Memorial Fountain for Joe Serna Jr. and Isabel Hernández-Serna sexism, 83, 87, 89, 113, 123, 137 Shahn, Ben, 47–48 Siete de la Raza, Los, 59, 282n16 silkscreen posters, 13, 17–18, 23–24, 238. See also specific posters Siqueiros, David Alfaro, 47, 77 site specificity, 188, 295n2 skeletons (calaveras), 60, 133, 141, 148, 258 Slow Lightning (E. Corral), 302n9 SMAC. See Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission (SMAC) Smith, Tommie, 67 Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC), 15–16 “Sol y los de Abajo, El” (J. Montoya), 137, 138, 239–245, 302nn6–8 Sol Y Los De Abajo and other R.C.A.F. poems, El (J. Montoya), 173, 239–244, 243 “Southside Park” (E. Villa), 97–98 Southside Park Mural, 95–101, 96, 187, 279n21, pls. 7–8 Souza, Rosalie, 117 SPARC. See Social and Public Art Resource Center (SPARC) spatial issues: RCAF and, 22, 70, 97–98, 120, 140, 274; in Sacramomento, 93–94. See also public space speech scrolls, 30, 280n25 spirit work, 120–122, 286n30 Story/Visions from the Cactus Tree, 136 strikes: by students, 68–69; by UFW, 37–38, 78, 121, 236–238 student strikes, 68–69 Sunburst (A. Cid), 19, 21, 22, 120, 186, 198–199 “sweat equity,” Chicana, 110–117, 111, 115

T

Talamantez, Josephine, 22, 33, 83, 85, 116 Taylor, Clark, 9–10, 278n6 “Ten-Point Program,” 69, 93, 283n18, 283n23 testimonio, 159–162, 168

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Third World Liberation Front (TWLF), 68–69, 283n22 Tlaloc (E. Ortíz), 209–210, 210 Tompkins Rivas, Pilar, 6, 8, 102, 186, 202, 211–212 Torres, Javier, 15, 24, 199, 201, 201–202, pl. 16 Torres, Salvador, 85, 280n5 Toward a People’s Art (E. Cockcroft, J. Weber, and J. Cockcroft), 182, 186, 204–205, 297nn19–21 TWLF. See Third World Liberation Front (TWLF)

U

UC Santa Barbara CEMA, 234–235, 259, 262–263 United Farm Workers (UFW), 65, 146, 175, 214, 287n35, 290n16; in Hasta La Victoria Siempre, c/s, 37–38; huelga eagle emblem of, 51, 78, 149, 166–167, 202, 230, 273, 275, pl. 28; Huelga! Strike!— Support the U.F.W.A. and, 232–233, pl. 21; RCAF and, 2, 13, 37–38, 78, 95, 97, 232–239; in Southside Park Mural, 95, 97; strikes, 37–38, 78, 121, 236–238 urbanization, 68 urban redevelopment, 98, 121, 187, 279n15, 299n36 Urista, Alberto (pseud. Alurista), 196–197

V

Valadez, Senon, 103–104 Valdez, Luis, 19, 146, 296n19; air force persona and, 237–238, 245, 247–248, 255; on CAC, 191–192; El Fin del Mundo, 254–256, 255, 258; ETC and, 66–67, 283n21; Indigenous America and, 51–54, 57, 298n24; miscegenation and, 57–58 Valdez, Patssi, 39, 249 Valdez, Valentina, 82 Vallen, Mark, 28 Vasconcelos, José, 57 Vasquez, Enriqueta, 73–74, 82 Vásquez, Tiburcio, 140, 141 vatitos, 180, 181 “Vatos, Los” (J. Montoya), 193–198, 200 Vélez Storey, Jaime, 153

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Index Venegas Arroyo, Arsasio, 116 verbal-visual architecture: absence of, 41–46; Afro-Chicanidad and, 33, 46–50, 59; Aztlán in, 38–39; Chicana, 89; of Chicano/a identity, 18–19, 38–39, 65–70; D-Q U and, 53–58; Emergence of the Chicano Social Struggle in a Bi-Cultural Society and, 74–81, 77, 79, pl. 5; Hasta La Victoria Siempre, c/s and, 33, 37–38; MALA-F and, 65–67, 70–74, 81–82; mestizaje and, 41, 52, 57–58, 61; Metamorphosis representing, 220; J. Montoya and, 37–38, 40, 43–45, 47–49, 53, 62–66, 71, 75; New World mestizo/a art in, 40–41, 50–61, 83, 230–231; right to assembly and, 70–74; sense of place and, 198–202, 201, pls. 16­–17; split existence in, 42, 61–65, 74; E. Villa and, 37, 40–45, 49, 53, 62, 65–66, 71, 74–83, 77, 79 veterans: GI Bill for, 9, 171, 174–175, 293n34, 294nn36–37, 294n39; heroes and, 170–180, 172, 176–180, 179, 181 Vietnam War, 10–12, 14, 39, 66, 250–251; death rate, 42; domino theory and, 43, 280n4; GI Bill and, 9, 43, 171, 174, 294n39; protests, 170–171, 178, 293n33 Villa, Esteban, 162, 174, 205, 277n1, 301n2; air force persona and, 245, 254, 265; Announcement Poster for Breakfast for Niños, 106, 107; art infrastructure and, 182–183, 184–185, 188; Barrio Art and, 207–208; 5 de Mayo con el Royal Chicano Air Force Arte Musica Poesia, 238, pl. 22; on collective, 16, 203; in Compañeros Artistas, 140, 141; Eartharium, 273–275, 305n41, pls. 27–28; Emergence of the Chicano Social Struggle in a Bi-Cultural Society, 74–81, 77, 79, 105, 198, pl. 5; in Korean War, 9, 175, 178–180, 294n38; K Street tunnel and, 182–183, 188, 214, 222; MAEP and, 10–11, 40, 90, 190, 192; Memorial Fountain for Joe Serna Jr. and Isabel Hernández-Serna and, 272, 272–273; Metamorphosis, 25, 215, 215–222, 217, 221, 271; Pandora’s Box, 210–211, 211; on pre-Columbian imagery, 151–152; Ruben’s Graffiti, 172–173, pl. 15; “Southside Park,” 97–98; Southside Park Mural and, 95, 100; verbal-visual

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 335

architecture and, 37, 40–45, 49, 53, 62, 65–66, 71, 74–83, 77, 79; When Your Mother Asks You Who You Are, 147–152. See also L.A.S.E.R.I.U.M.; Mujer Cósmica Villa, Raúl, 97–99, 287n38 Villanueva, Tino, 196 virtual mural environment, 35–36, 271–275, 272 Viva la Huelga (J. Orosco), 166–167, pl. 14

W

Walker, William, 46, 69, 217, 283n18 Wall of Respect, 46, 69–70, 74–76, 80, 283n25 Wall of Truth, 60 war: heroes and, 141, 143–147, 170–180, 172, 179, 181, pl. 15; at home and abroad, 170–176, 172. See also military service; veterans Warriors of the New Day (I. Lerma Barbosa), 138, pl. 11 Washington Neighborhood Center, 74–75, 80–81, 105 Washington Square Apartments, 19, 20–21, 22, 25 We Are Not a Minority!!, 76–77 Weber, John Pitman, 41–42, 77, 281n8; critical imagery and, 216, 218; Toward a People’s Art, 182, 186, 204–205, 297nn19–21 Western Hemisphere, reimagined, 4–6, 8, 8, pls. 1–2 What We Are Now (L. García-Nakata), 113, 115 When Your Mother Asks You Who You Are (L. González, R. Favela, and E. Villa), 147–152 “When Your Mother Asks You Who You Are” (L. González), 25, 149–150 White, Charles, 46–47, 281n6 Women Hold Up Half the Sky (I. Lerma Barbosa, G. Herrera Rodríguez, R. Palacios, A. Mendoza, and B. Desmangles): Chicanas and, 83, 86–87, 87, 89, 101, 124, 126, 158, 284n1, 287n34, pl. 6; gender equality and, 83 Woodruff, Hale, 48 Works Progress Administration (WPA), 14, 46–47, 278n10, 299n30

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336 

X

Xic-Indio (F. Rodriguez), 254–258, 257

Index

Z

Zapata Park, 118, 120–121, 186, 198–199

Y

Yañez, René, 65, 71 Ybarra, Lea, 82, 92, 124 Ybarra-Frausto, Tomás, 23, 249, 279n18 “Yo Soy Joaquín” (R. Gonzáles), 73, 146

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