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    8. Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano Art : Two Views / Jacinto Quirarte
    p. [132]- 136
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays
    Quirarte, Jacinto. "8. Mexican, Mexican American, Chicano Art: Two Views." In Mexican American Artists. Austin and London: University of Texas Press, 1973.
    Casas, Mel
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In this text, Jacinto Quirarte interviews artists who led Chicano art movements in San Antonio and the California Bay area during the late 1960s and early 1970s, asking them questions about what motivated their efforts and about, more generally, what they believe constitutes Chicano art. Quirarte introduces his discussions with Mel Casas, Emilio Aguirre, Rudy Treviño (of San Antonio), and Esteban Villa (of Sacramento) by explaining that “Mexican American” artists, even though they are trained in the same styles as any contemporary American artist, have recently been consciously emphasizing their “ties” with Mexico. Quirarte begins by asking the group of artists from San Antonio about the importance of their background, their interest in Mexican mural painters, and the development of a Chicano art movement in San Antonio. The artists respond differently to these questions. For example, Casas embraces the idea of his art as propaganda, while Treviño rejects it; and all are reticent to underscore their Mexican identity over their identity as artists. In a second section of the text, Quirarte asks Villa about his role in the formation of MALAF (Mexican American Liberation Art Front) in the Bay area (San Francisco) in 1970, and Villa describes MALAF’s dual goals as promoting Chicano art (including poetry and theater) in the mainstream, and developing symbols of Chicano identity. Quirarte concludes the text with a final section in which he informs the reader that, although Casas before expressed reticence about joining a Chicano art movement, he has since become the leader of the group C/S (Con Safo) in San Antonio, Texas.


San Antonio-based art historian Jacinto Quirarte included these interviews with various members of Chicano art movements in San Antonio and the Bay area (San Francisco) in his book Mexican American Artists, which was published by the University of Texas Press in 1973. The first two interviews included in this text—Quirarte’s conversations with the San Antonio-based artists Mel Casas, Emilio Aguirre, and Rudy Treviño and Sacramento-based Esteban Villa—were conducted by Quirarte during the summer of 1970. Quirarte adds an epilogue to these interviews, in which he recounts that since he interviewed Casas in 1970, the artist has become the leader of a group of artists in San Antonio dedicated to promoting and supporting the production and exhibition of Chicano art. Quirarte also reproduces the position paper, or manifesto, of C/S (Con Safo), in which they declare their purpose to promote a Chicano identity that resists assimilation to mainstream Anglo culture in the United States. Overall, Quirarte’s interviews and the historical context he provides about the circumstances motivating the artists in Chicano art movements in San Antonio and the Bay area during the late 1960s and 70s reveal that artists simultaneously sought mainstream acceptance as well as spaces to develop and display Chicano identity as distinct from the mainstream.

International Center for the Arts of the Americas, MFAH, Houston, USA
Courtesy of Jacinto Quirarte, Helotes, TX
From MEXICAN AMERICAN ARTISTS by Jacinto Quirarte, Copyright © 1973. Courtesy of the University of Texas Press