Just another poster? Chicano graphic arts in California. -- Santa Barbara, California, USA : University Art Museum, University of California, 2001.
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In this bilingual essay, Chicano artist and poet José Montoya reflects on the creative history behind the poster titled José Montoya’s Pachuco Art: A Historical Update [El arte pachuco de José Montoya: Una actualización histórica] for the 1977 exhibition Pachuco Art: A Historical Update. He recalls 1977 as the heyday of the RCAF/Royal Chicano Air Force, the community group he helped form, and describes the collective effort to spur social change with art as the organizing force. Montoya explains that in the 1970s, Chicano/a students strove to discover the true Chicano history and to disseminate that history to the community. Drawing from his own experience, he traced history back to the 1940s to reveal the misrepresentations of Chicanos in the media as lazy and morally deprived, particularly during the Zoot Suit Riots of 1943. Montoya describes the collaborative effort to create the exhibition poster and explains his desire to honor his own inspirations, José Guadalupe Posada and Ralph Ornelas, a pachuco [Mexican-American urban youth] from his childhood. Rather than view posters as autonomous art objects, Montoya urges the reader to consider the history of this particular poster and, in turn, the histories behind all posters, to better understand why they were made.
José Montoya wrote this essay for the exhibition catalog of Just Another Poster? Chicano Graphic Arts in California/¿Sólo un cartel más? Artes gráficas chicanas en California, organized by the University Art Museum at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2000. Curated thematically and with an interdisciplinary approach, it was the first exhibition to position the Chicano poster within a historical and aesthetic framework. The show traveled nationally for three years and featured posters created by individual artists and those within the major Chicano cultural centers (Self Help Graphics, Los Angeles; Centro Cultural de la Raza, San Diego; Galeria de la Raza and La Raza Silkscreen Center, San Francisco; and RCAF/Centro de Artistas Chicanos, Sacramento). As the co-founder of the RCAF/Centro de Artistas Chicanos in Sacramento—an internationally renowned artist collective known for its poster production—Montoya’s essay recounts how the group collaborated in the conceptualization, design, and production of the poster for his Pachuco Art exhibition. Aside from the interesting logistical information, the essay reflects on Montoya’s sociopolitical ideology as an “artist-activist.” Even in the computer age, he believes the poster remains a fundamental medium for communication within a community.