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In this document, Amalia Mesa-Bains details the development of the Galería de la Raza [Gallery of the People], an important San Francisco cultural institution established in 1970 in the midst of the Chicano Movement. Mesa-Bains describes the ways in which the Galería programming served, and continues to serve, the interests and needs of artists and community members who wanted art to mirror realities of everyday life while being accessible to all public sectors. She emphasizes that the Galería attempts to reach beyond the local community to serve the greater Chicano/Latino population of the Southwest, as well as other interested parties, and that its programmatic scope has expanded throughout the years in response to demographic and cultural shifts. Mesa-Bains details the participation of numerous and varied artists in the Galería roster of exhibitions and activities, including New Mexican santeros [religious carvers], ASCO, as well as artists Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Emily Hicks, David Avalos, Ester Hernandez, Yolanda M. Lopez, and many others. 


Amalia Mesa-Bains is an artist, curator, and cultural critic who wrote extensively on Chicano/Latino art. This essay was written for the 20th anniversary of the Galería de la Raza, one of the earliest and most important visual arts centers of the Chicano Movement. Along with providing a historical chronology of the establishment and development of the Galería, Mesa-Bains delineates some of the key attributes that set it apart from other Chicano community art galleries, including its openness to exhibit non-Chicano/Latino art as well as a multidisciplinary approach to programming. The essay is also historically important for documenting the diversity of artistic approaches within the Chicano art movement from its early beginnings.

Chicano Studies Research Center, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA
Courtesy of Dr. Amalia Mesa – Bains, San Juan Bautista, CA