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Jacinto Quirarte’s essay provides an overview of the development of Chicano art from its beginnings as a cultural wing of the Chicano socio-political movement. Quirarte focuses specifically on artists groups, cultural centers, and alternative publications, providing examples of each to highlight the foundational elements of Chicano art. He discusses the provenance of numerous artist groups and examines how the names of these groups reflect various considerations including artists’ backgrounds, a collective sense of place and identity, social and political views, location, and even humor. Quirarte discusses important cultural centers like Galería de la Raza in San Francisco, California, and Casa Aztlán in Chicago, Illinois, and their role in providing a sense of identity, solidarity, and community within the Chicano movement. Lastly, Quirarte looks at alternative publications such as the Revista Chicano-Riqueña and Chismearte, which dealt with issues in the visual, literary, and performing arts. He concludes that along with artist groups and cultural centers, these publications can be seen as an important vehicle for communicating the varied goals and ideals of the Chicano art movement.


Jacinto Quirarte is one of the foremost Chicano art historians and one of the earliest to write about Chicano art history, such as in the groundbreaking book Mexican Americans Artists published in 1973. The first of its kind, Mexican Americans Artists prompted a traveling exhibition featuring artworks by the artists featured in the book and the extensive media coverage received helped form a national network of Chicano artists. This essay served as the introduction to Chicano Art History, a book edited by Quirarte and published through the Research Center for Arts and Humanities in San Antonio, Texas, and introduced the various essays included that ranged from mission architecture in the Southwest to essays by artists regarding Chicano art. It also offers a valuable list of the regional configuration and significant number of artist groups, cultural centers, and alternative publications that had flourished by the mid-1980s. It is noteworthy that the publication was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, which attests to Quirarte’s scholarship and signals the beginning of national recognition for the value of Chicano art history scholarship.

Tere Romo
Chicano Studies Research Center, UCLA, Los Angeles, USA
Courtesy of Jacinto Quirarte, Helotes, TX