University of California, Santa Barbara
Department of Special Collections
California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives
GALERÍA DE LA RAZA
GUIDE TO THE ARCHIVES
Galería de la Raza (GDLR) is a non-profit community arts organization that promotes Chicano and Latino art and culture in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond.
Founded in 1970, the GDLR was, like many other such centros, a product of the Chicano civil rights movement in the 1960s and 1970s. The movement called for artistic emphasis on everyday lives and on community activities of the Chicano/Latino people. These principles guided the GDLR and set it apart from mainstream art organizations in terms of philosophy and organization. Throughout its history, the GDLR has striven not only to make art accessible to the community, especially in the largely Chicano/Latino Mission District of San Francisco, but also to involve the public in the very creation of art works.
The origin of the GDLR can be traced to a Spring 1969 exhibition in Oakland, "New Symbols for La Nueva Raza," by the Mexican American Liberation Art Front (MALAF). Aimed at "integrating art into the Chicano social revolution sweeping the country," MALAF brought together four Chicano/Latino artists, Esteban Villa, Manuel Hernandez, Malaquias Montoya, and René Yañez. In 1970, a larger group established the Galería de la Raza as an artistic collective, on 14th Street in San Francisco's Mission District. Members of that group included Rupert García, Peter Rodríguez, Francisco Camplis, Graciela Carrillo, Jerry Concha, Gustavo Ramos Rivera, Carlos Loarca, Manuelo Villamor, Robert González, Luis Cervantez, Chuy Campusano, Rolando Castellón, Ralph Maradiaga, and René Yañez. Later, Maradiaga became the administrative director and Yañez the artistic director. In 1972, GDLR moved to its present location on 24th Street at Bryant Street in the Mission District. In 1985, Humberto Cintrón became administrative director following Maradiaga's death. Enrique Chagoya succeeded Yañez in 1987 as artistic director. In 1990, María Pinedo became executive director of the GDLR, and was succeeded in 1993 by Liz Lerma. She was followed by Gloria Jaramillo in 1995, and by Carolina Ponce de Leon in 1999.
In its first decade, the GDLR devoted itself to reclaiming the images and practices of popular Mexican/Latino traditions. It helped introduce and popularize the Mexican artist and political activist Frida Kahlo and the celebration of El Día de los Muertos ("The Day of the Dead"). In 1980, the GDLR started its second decade with the founding of Studio 24, a gift store. Studio 24 has served as a means to generate revenue for the GDLR in face of cuts in federal funds for arts, and as an experiment in a new form of community art organization. During the 1980s, the GDLR expanded its international coverage, with exhibitions on the crises in South Africa, the Caribbean, and Central America. The GDLR has in the early 1990s further expanded its commitment to the Chicano/Latino community by focusing on not only race, but also gender and sexual identity. In 1995, the GDLR launched the (Re)Generation Project with a variety of programs, to celebrate its 25th anniversary and to promote inter-generational dialogs among Chicano(a)/Latino(a) artists. Also that year it mounted a retrospective exhibition “The Defiant Eye” at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Gardens, curated by Teresita Romo.
The Galería de la Raza Collection (GDLR) consists of seven series distributed among 68 archival boxes that occupy about 37.5 linear feet of space. Also, there are 304 silkscreen prints, housed in flat metal cabinets, and 2,737 slides slides in 10 albums. There are separate guides to the silkscreen prints and the slides. The archival material includes business records, grant applications, exhibition descriptions and flyers, correspondence, miscellaneous publications and photographs. They cover the period of 1969-1996. The early years of the GDLR are minimally represented due to fire loss and accidental disposal prior to their arrival in CEMA. The collection is divided into seven series. Within each series, folders (and boxes) generally follow the alphabetical order of the titles that were assigned to them by the GDLR. Folders with the same subject are usually arranged either alphabetically or chronologically.
Series I: Administrative Records, 1971-1985. Series I consists of two subseries and is housed in 13 archival boxes. The first subseries, History, Staff, and Organization 1971-1985, includes documents from the earliest period of the GDLR, information about its staff, and several re-organization efforts. The second subseries, Business and Financial Records, 1976-1984, consists of tax returns, budgets, some business transactions, and payroll journals. The records provide information about the efforts by the GDLR and Studio 24 to develop a self-sustaining route as a non-profit community arts organization.
The third subseries, Grants, 1976-1986, includes grant applications and award (or rejection) letters that document the successes and failures of the GDLR in seeking support from governmental funding agencies and private philanthropies. The National Endowment for the Arts and the California Arts Council were among the major sources of such grants. Most of the grant applications were for GDLR's own projects and programs. Sometimes, GDLR acted as fiscal agent to apply for grants on behalf of other organizations or individuals. In those cases, the folder titles identify these organizations and individuals, in contrast to the majority of folders in this subseries where titles follow the funding agencies. The grant applications usually include valuable information about the GDLR’s activities as GDLR summarized its various programs in the grant proposal narratives.
Series II: Programs, 1968-1989. Series II consists of three subseries. The first subseries, Exhibitions, 1968-1989, is the largest subseries and the heart of the archival material in the collection. It encompasses a variety of materials associated with the set up of exhibitions at GDLR, including correspondence, floor plans, brochures and flyers, exhibition catalogs, photographs of the art works and of the exhibition scenes, introductions, captions, news clippings, and guest comments. They are a rich source of information on the artistic activities at GDLR and beyond.
The second subseries Exhibitions Supplement (1982 – 1996) was retrieved in 1999 and expands on the materials related to exhibitions held at Galeria de La Raza. Because of its late retrieval date, the boxes numbered 53–68, are included in the exhibition subseries out of sequence to better reflect their relation to Series II. The Exhibitions Supplement contains collected documentation for exhibitions from 1982 to 1996. The subseries is arranged chronologically, according to subject, to the folder level. Within each folder, the order is generally established by the donor and depending on the subject matter of the exhibition, will be found in the following arrangement: 1) Announcements, including press releases and public service announcements (PSA) for radio. 2) Art originals for announcement brochures and invitations. 3) Artists’ backgrounds, resumes or statements. 4) Correspondence related to the exhibition. 5) Lists of art in the show, gift agreements, loan agreements, condition reports, pricelists, etc. 6) Publicity: news clippings and tear sheets. 7) Originals, including slides, photos and negatives as well as some original art contributions. 8) Research: related material to the exhibition, background material on subjects or artists. 9) Miscellaneous items not easily characterized otherwise.
The third subseries, Exhibitions Supplement II 1967-1999; is contained in 18 oversize boxes and stored among the oversize section of CEMA. The subseries is arranged chronologically with not dated materials placed in the beginning. The largest section of the subseries Earthquake in Mexico: Tragedy and Hope. February 21-March 29 1986, covers the 1986 Mexican earthquake and contains an alphabetically arranged listing of artists who photographed the event and were subsequently displayed at the Galería. Cross references have been added throughout the guide to exhibitions or artist’s work that is included within this subseries. This subseries is primarily visual arts, and photography and does not include documentation for the many exhibitions it covers. Any information available from the images has been listed in this subseries.
The third subseries, Special Programs, 1972-1984, covers non-exhibition events at GDLR, such as workshops, receptions, festivals, classes, and contests. Although small in volume, this subseries shows the community service aspects of the GDLR.
Series III: Subject Files, 1966-1986. Series III includes reports, papers, publications, application materials, and other documents related to non-GDLR organizations and events not directly sponsored by the GDLR. These materials represent the GDLR's professional networking activities and its social and political environments.
Series IV: Correspondence, 1973-1987. Series IV contains both incoming and outgoing letters that were not integrated within the other series. These include inquiries to the GDLR and letters of recommendation and support, both from and for the GDLR. Unfortunately, due to a fire during the early years and later in 1985 due to the disposal of Maradiaga's papers by family members immediately following his death, the correspondence series is a very small one. Maradiaga had been custodian of the GDLR’s earlier records. Much valuable correspondence can be found, however, in the other series, such as the subseries on exhibitions.
Series V: Clippings, Publications, and Flyers 1969-1987. Series V contains various clippings on GDLR and its programs from newspapers and magazines, publications by other organizations, publicity and announcement flyers for GDLR exhibitions, and catalogs. Like the subject files, these materials provide glimpses of the GDLR's interactions with the community and its social and professional environment.
Series VI: Photographs and Slides. Series VI contains a small collection of photographs that were not integral to any of the specific GDLR projects. The series’ prominent feature is a large collection of slides. Housed in ten albums, these slides provide visual images of various art works such as assemblage, graphic arts, drawings, indigenous Chicano art, installation art, murals, paintings, performance and conceptual art, photographs, and sculptures related to the GDLR, and of center activities and programs. These slides are an unusually rich source of Chicano art and culture originally assembled as part of the California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives' Proyecto CARIDAD (Chicano Art Resources Information Development and Dissemination). A separate catalog is available for this slide collection in Appendix A
Series VII: Graphic Arts Collection. Series VII is an invaluable collection of serigraphs and posters that were produced by artists working at or in association with the GDLR. The collection contains 304 silkscreen prints and off-set posters. Many of these prints and posters were created as announcements for community events and GDLR programs. Some were made into calendars for sale through the GDLR's Studio 24. The high quality of these art works and their practical uses point to the very essence of the GDLR's goal of bringing art and the community together.
The collection features many of the prominent Chicano(a)/Latino(a) artists, such as Juana Alicia, Rodolfo (Rudy) Cuellar, Alfredo De Batuc, Ricardo Favela, Gilbert Luján (Magu), Ralph Maradiaga, Juanishi Orosco, Irene Pérez, Patricia Rodríguez, and René Yañez. The inclusion of works by artists who were affiliated with other Chicano art centros indicates strong ties existed among the Chicano artist community in California. A separate catalog is available for this series in Appendix B.
Oversize. Aside from the slide and graphic arts and poster collections, there are other oversize materials (which include but are not limited to posters and flyers) in the GDLR collection. They are too large to be included in legal size archival boxes and have been moved from their original series and placed in a flat box for preservation purpose. If an item has been removed from its original series and placed in oversize, a note indicating its location in oversize has been left in the original place of the item.
Related Collections. Related to the GDLR archives in CEMA are the archives of several other Chicano arts centers, such as the Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF), based in Sacramento, the Self-Help Graphics and Art, Inc. (SHG), in Los Angeles, the Centro Cultural de la Raza in San Diego, as well as collections of individual Chicana/Chicano artists such as Yolanda López, Ralph Maradiaga, and José Montoya.
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Design; Alexander Hauschild, 2006