The exhibition traverses through the organization's inception born of cultural activism to its current standing as an international forum for examination and expression of artistic concepts central to the Latino/Chicano experience - all from the intersection of 24th and Bryant Streets in San Francisco. PDF CATALOG OF EXHIBITION TEXTS IS AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST (For details, see below).
GALERÍA 4.0, THE CATALOG, INCLUDES ESSAYS BY TERE ROMO AND TOMÁS YBARRA-FRAUSTO AS WELL AS A CHRONOLOGY OF GALERIA 40-YEAR HISTORY. TO REQUEST A PDF COPY, PLEASE EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
Born of the legacy of resistance of the Chicano civil rights movement, el Movimiento, Galería de la Raza was founded in 1970 by a group of artists and community activists —Francisco X. Camplis, Chuy Campusano, Graciela Carrillo, Rolando Castellón, Luis Cervantes, Jerry Concha, Rupert García, Robert González, Carlos Loarca, Ralph Maradiaga, Gustavo Ramos Rivera, Peter Rodríguez, Manuel Villamor, and René Yañez—whose original vision has continued to shape Galería’s identity to this day.
Galería’s history tells the story of Latino/a artists’ commitment to building community, creative activism and cultural pride, social justice, and speaking out and talking back. For the past 40 years, Galería has been actively engaged with Chicano/Latino and Latin American artists and community life within the Mission District. From its early days to today, Galería has maintained a strong artistic vision. Its exhibition history reveals a mix of traditional, experimental, and educational formats that feature a wide spectrum of art-making, from abstract to figurative art and from folk traditions to conceptual practices. It has never shied away from mixing high and low art, formally trained and self-taught artists. It has successfully combined museum quality exhibitions (like the 1972 Diego Rivera, Jose Clement Orozco, and David Alfaro Siqueiros exhibit that Rene and Ralph curated with works from the SFMOMA collection, or the 1987 Recuerdos de Frida exhibit), with Latino street culture (Low Rider art, prison art, graffiti and tattoo art), grassroots struggles and contemporary art practices. Multiple perspectives have always been present, always revealing many artworlds that are not often acknowledged by mainstream institutions. And while the mainstream artworld has slightly opened its doors in the past two decades, Galería’s main purpose very much remains the same: to give Latino artists a space to create and exhibit their work, and to define Chicano/Latino art history in their own terms.
Mixing original artworks with documentation drawn from Galería’s archives and from the personal collections of a few artists, Galería 4.0, A Retrospective seeks to shed light on this history of cultural resilience, self-discovery and affirmation, while revealing the evolving nature of Chicano/Latino art in California. Despite its broad chronological scope, the exhibition does not aspire to be a general survey of Chicano/Latino art. Instead, it is a work in progress, an initial point of entry towards further discovery of a rich and multi-layered history. The exhibition was conceived around seven basic tactics that Chicano/Latino artists have used across generations: converging, asserting, voicing, domesticating, imagining, diverting, and subverting. While these categories have porous borders, they are an organizing strategy to show the innovation and vitality that has characterized Chicano/Latino art and the nurturing role Galería has had with artists over the past four decades.
converge: to tend to a common result — In the early 1970s Chicano/Latino artists started organizations and Centros like Galería throughout the state of California. If ‘white’ institutions didn’t open their doors to Latino artists, then creating their own cultural spaces, in their terms, became the urgent expression of cultural survival. ‘Converging’ thus refers to the building of temporary communities through artistic, cultural, economic, ethnic, racial and other affinities. It refers to the efforts of taking artists out of the isolation of their studios to share, reveal their thoughts, discuss ideas, collaborate, learn from each other, find/develop common codes, common purposes, and to serve as a positive force for their community.
assert: to maintain or defend (claims, rights, etc.); to state as having existence — ‘Asserting’ refers to the strategies Chicano/Latino artists utilized to claim a public space for community and cultural rituals, reclaiming the right to a public identity of difference. As such, ‘asserting’ is a tactic artists used since the early 1970s to create a safe-haven, a time and space, for cultural expressions such as Lowrider culture, community rituals like the processions in honor of those who have passed, or for festivities like Carnaval and Cinco de Mayo that celebrate cultural pride. ‘Asserting’ also refers to the ability to occupy public space, through murals and billboards, and engage in a public dialogue with the neighborhood community in its own terms.
voice: to give utterance or expression to; declare; proclaim: to voice one's discontent. — ‘Voicing’ refers to Chicano/Latino artists’ solidarity with the plight of others, to breaking the silence with images and words that defy denial, oblivion, and rejection. In this section artists across generations give voice to a variety of issues, from farmworker labor rights, to gentrification, racial injustice, indigenous movements, war crimes, and intolerance towards alternative lifestyles and sexual orientation.
domesticate: to take (something foreign, unfamiliar, etc.) for one's own use or purposes; to make more ordinary, familiar, acceptable — ‘Domesticating’ is a common artistic practice adopted by Chicano/Latino artists that speaks of ingenious creativity drawn from modest means. It is best exemplified by the transformation of the familiar, by finding poetry and beauty in ordinary, everyday objects and gestures, in the homemade aesthetics of popular culture, and enhancing it through art.
imagine: to form mental images of things not present to the senses; use the imagination. — The artworks in the section ‘imagining’ reveal creative processes inspired by the unknown, by metaphor and fantasy. Its roots lie in Magic Realism, a perspective of the extraordinary in daily life, an aesthetic often associated with Latin American art.
divert: to turn aside or from a path or course; to draw off to a different course, purpose, etc.; to distract from serious occupation; entertain or amuse. — ‘Diverting’ refers to the many ways that Chicano/Latino artists utilize humor as a critical device. It can be a survival skill that follows the motto “Laugh now, cry later” often depicted in Cholo art, or a sharp tool for political satire. ‘Diverting’ is also a strategy used to visually synthesize a difficult issue to make it more palatable for viewers, yet with a sharp wit to spark reaction, reflection and debate.
subvert: to overthrow something established or existing — ‘Subverting’ refers to the tactic of turning icons on their head. Whether it’s the reclamation of the Virgin of Guadalupe as a feminist icon, or the irreverence or icon fatigue expressed towards imposed heroes, subverting speaks of Chicano/Latino artists claiming the right to simultaneously be iconophiles and iconoclasts.
Carolina Ponce de León, Executive Director/Curator / Raquel de Anda, Associate Curator
Participating Artists: The exhibit spans artworks from 1970 to 2010 and features works by Mitsy Avila Ovalles, the Border Arts Workshop, Robert C. Buitron, José Antonio Burciaga, Francisco X. Camplis, Graciela Carrillo, Victor Cartagena, Luz Elena Castro, Jaime Cortez, Culture Clash, The Date Farmers, Lou Dematteis, Dignidad Rebelde, Veronica Duarte, emael, Ana T. Fernandez, Juan R. Fuentes, Rupert Garcia, Lorraine Garcia Nakata, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Pablo Guardiola, Ester Hernandez, Juana Alicia, John J. Leaños, Carlos Loarca, Carmen Lomas Garza, Yolanda Lopez, Amanda Lopez, Geraldine Lozano, Ralph Maradiaga, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Jose Montoya, Julio Cesar Morales, Juanishi V. Orosco, Robin Lasser and Adrienne Pao, Tatiana Parcero, Irene Perez, The Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF), Patricia Rodriguez, Favianna Rodriguez, Jos Sances, Xavier Viramontes, Rene Yañez, Rio Yañez, and many others.