July 20, 2007

Art community mourns death of Sacramento State professor

Ricardo Favela, as captured in this art by Xico Gonzalez, his former student. Ricardo Favela, as captured in this art by Xico Gonzalez, his former student.

Ricardo Favela, co-founder of the renowned Royal Chicano Air Force art group and a Sacramento State art department instructor and alumnus, died July 15 in Dinuba. He was 62.

Favela helped found the RCAF, formerly Rebel Chicano Art Front, in 1969, to further the Chicano civil rights movement and efforts of the United Farm Workers.

While best known for mural paintings and poster art production, the RCAF also was involved in a number of community programs, including La Raza Galleria Posada and the RCAF Graphics and Design Center.

Born Jan. 19, 1945, Favela began his relationship with Sacramento State as a student, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1971 and his master’s in studio art in 1989. In the 1980s he taught on an occasional basis for the art department and was hired as a full time faculty member in the fall of 1997.

Well known for serigraphy, or silk-screening, Favela also participated in the collaborative design and installation of Sacramento State’s “Symbiosis,” the fountain honoring the contributions of the late professor and mayor Joe Serna and his wife, Isabel Hernandez-Serna.

He and several other students joined in the formation of the Royal Chicano Air Force with Esteban Villa and Jose Montoya, now retired art professors at Sacramento State. The group painted murals throughout Sacramento and launched community art workshops such as the Barrio Art Program for children and the Anciano Art Project for the elderly.

Funeral services were held Thursday in Dinuba.

A memorial service also will be held today, Friday, July 20, at 7 p.m. at the opening of Dos Generaciones, an art show organized by Favela and two former students, Xico Gonzalez and Manuel Rios. It is being held at the Toyroom Gallery at 907 K Street, Sacramento. An altar in Favela’s memory will be exhibited and participants are invited to bring poetry, music and palabras to share.

“Favela’s students will miss him dearly and, through the use of serigraphy, they will keep his vision of community empowerment alive,” Gonzalez says.

Catherine Turrill, chair of the art department, also will miss her colleague. “I was impressed by his humility and generosity,” Turrill says. “He gave a tremendous amount of his time to his students and to the community.”

Favela himself summed up his life’s mission in his Sacramento State biography: “My vision for the future is to have the next generation carry the torch in establishing equality for people of all races, so that the diversity of our nation is also reflected in the enrollment of our universities.”

Favela’s passing has had a far-reaching impact. Alejandra Bologna, the consul general of Mexico, expressed her condolences in a letter to Turrill. Noting Favela’s unique contributions, Bologna described him as “one of the most prolific and emblematic members of the Mexican-American arts movement.”

For media assistance, contact Sacramento State’s Public Affairs office at (916) 278-2970.