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Paper Tigers
An exhibition of vintage posters from Galería's archives presentig works created by Ralph Maradiaga, Xavier Viramontes, RCAF, Nancy Hom, Louie The Foot Gonzalez, and many others. It was organized by Jaime Cortez.
  Galería Exhibitions We Carry A Home With Us: Post-Immigrant Reflections <2002>
Photographic Memory & Other Shots in the Dark <2002>
Digital Mural Project: Robert J. Sanchez and Richard A. Lou (Los Anthropolocos) <2002>
Tania Bruguera: Performance Night <2002>
Paper Tigers <2002>
Digital Mural Project: Liliana Porter <2002>
Substance of Choice <2002>
The Resurrection of Tigilau <2002>
Digital Mural Project: Armando Rascón <2002>
Viology: Violence of Culture & Cultures of Violence <2002>
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Paper Tigers
By Jaime Cortez

Some posters get tacked up all over the neighborhood and are quickly papered over by other posters. Some get torn down and trashed. Some stay up on walls months after an event has come and gone. The sun, wind and rain take care of those. Some are adopted by admirers and go on to live long lives in good homes. Hundreds have been saved by Galería de la Raza staffers over the past thirty years.

It is fascinating to see what has endured, what has changed and what has disappeared in the past decades. In 1976, the Royal Chicano Air Force featured a Safeway store in a strike/boycott poster for the United Farm Workers. In 2002, Safeway is a sponsor of the annual Cesar Chavez March. A 1980 cholo pieta features a mournful homie carrying his dead carnal. “Mi hermano es tu hermano, (my brother is your brother” it proclaims. Homeboys aren’t wearing platform shoes or derby hats these days, but they are still killing each other for wearing the wrong colors on the wrong streets. A whole series of I hotel posters from the 70s decries the dislocation of tenants in the name of redevelopment and revitalization. A roughly-designed and photocopied poster from 2000, captures the urgent spirit of more recent battles over housing and belonging in San Francisco. “Stop owner move-in evictions!” indeed.

We have been inspired by the remarkable hybridity of style and influences in the works. Bay Area poster artists have been influenced by the poster traditions of places as varied as Mexico, Cuba, Japan and the former Eastern Bloc countries. Cultural/aesthetic movements like El Movimiento, graffiti, punk rock, comic books and the digital revolution are also powerfully present in this show.

Galería is not an art collecting institution, so our process has been organic and irregular. Some posters were saved for their beauty and aesthetic excellence. This is not surprising given that some of the finest artists of the Chicano movement have made posters at one time or another. Others are saved for their powerful engagement of community issues including housing, U.S. military intervention, local violence, farm worker rights, bilingual education and economic justice. Some posters were saved because they captured the vibrant energy and imagination of our art, music, dances, film, writing and performances.

Our information on the works is incomplete. We don’t the artists or years of creation for a number of posters. What we do know is that together, the posters in Paper Tigers constitute a vibrant, energetic record of some of the issues that have compelled artists from the seventies till the present.