January 23, 2007

R.C.A.F. exhibition opens at University Library Gallery

“R.C.A.F. Goes to College,” an exhibition of the work of the Royal Chicano Air Force (R.C.A.F.) opens Feb. 2 at Sacramento State’s University Library Gallery.
    
Organized by members of R.C.A.F. and Phil Hitchcock, director of the University Library Gallery, this exhibition will include approximately 30 posters spanning the collective’s work from the ‘70s to the ‘90s along with newer pieces, including paintings, prints, sculpture and photographs.
           
The exhibition posters were selected from Sacramento State’s collection of almost 200 works donated by the R.C.A.F. in 2002.

R.C.A.F. is an artistic collective based in Sacramento. Initially named the Rebel Chicano Art Front, R.C.A.F. was founded in 1969 to express the goals of the Chicano civil rights and labor organizing movement of the United Farm Workers. Its mission was to make available to the Chicano community a bilingual/bicultural arts center where artists could come together, exchange ideas, provide mutual support and make available to the public artistic, cultural and educational programs and events. Their iconic posters, often infused with dark humor, helped to focus attention on the Chicano movement and can be seen in major museum exhibitions around the world.
           
The members of R.C.A.F. comprise an impressive list of Chicano artists, professors, activists and community leaders who have inspired a generation of young artists to follow in their footsteps. They include founders José Montoya, a Sacramento State professor emeritus of art and former Sacramento poet laureate, and Esteban Villa, professor emeritus of art, Ricardo Favela, professor of art, Juan Carrillo, Celia Herrera Rodriguez, Rudy Cuellar, Armando Cid, Hector Gonzalez, Stan Padilla, Juanishi Orosco, Lorraine Garcia-Nakata and Juan Cervantes, all of whom are lending work to the exhibition.
           
R.C.A.F.’s long history at Sacramento State began in the ‘70s with the hiring of Montoya and Villa. Because of their strong ties to the community, they wanted to extend their teaching beyond the college classroom. Their students – among them Cuellar, Orosco, Favela, and Cervantes – soon became part of the collective.

“It was a time when everyone was mobilized,” explained Montoya. “We were community organizers from different academic departments committed to
community change. We came up with the concept of communiversity – that a university could connect with its community by bringing its artists, teachers, and students to them.” 
           
This idea led to the creation of vital community programs in Sacramento, most notably the Barrio Art Program, a longstanding collaboration between the University, a local elementary school and a senior center. In celebration of this partnership, the exhibition will highlight some of the work of the Barrio Art Project.
According to Montoya, “the creative activity initiated by the collective is alive today through projects like the Barrio Art Program.”

An opening reception at the gallery will be held on Friday, Feb. 2 from 5 to 8 p.m. Admission is free. Accompanying the exhibition will be a series of evening events, which include a poetry reading, lecture, artists’ talk and film.

University Library Gallery hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, contact the gallery at (916) 278-4189.
           
For media assistance, contact the Public Affairs office at (916) 278-6156.