(Photo: Carlos Sandoval)
The Chicano movement has deep roots and a rich history in the Southwest, especially here in Colorado. The Crusade for Justice of the 60s and 70s didn’t just inspire a new wave of political activism; it also gave birth to a new generation of Chicano artists.
These artists claimed a unique style that was closely bound to the sociopolitical movement of the time and often used land rights as a central point of focus. Art and revolution were inherently reciprocal.
Their work wasn’t readily recognized by the rest of the country and it was largely misunderstood, but these chingónes created a new legacy and sowed the seeds that would allow other Chicano artists to flourish.
“The Legacy Project” exhibit that opened at Museo de las Americas last night commemorates that artistic legacy and celebrates the Chicano movement’s contributions to contemporary art.
Curated by artist and executive director of Museo, Maruca Salazar, this exhibit brings ten internationally-recognized Chicano artists together for an exhibit as culturally rich as it is diverse.
“It honors those Chicano artists who took the very important first steps to really start this social movement,” says Salazar, “It’s really a privilege to be able to honor my peers.”
Peers like Carlos Sandoval who studied art in Europe before settling in the San Luis valley; or Emanuel Martinez, most famous for his creation of the Mestizo Head – a tripartite that represents the Chicano identity as a mixture of opposing cultures; and John Encinias, a self-taught artist whose paintings of landscapes in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado have earned him a spot on the list of top 20 landscape artists in the country.
The exhibit also features the work of seven other profoundly-talented artists: John Flores, Ernie Gallegos, Arlette Lucero, Stevon Lucero, Carlos Martinez, Daniel Salazar, and Fransisco Zuñiga.
Their artwork will be a tribute to iconic crusaders like César Chávez, Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, and Dolores Huerta.
Also among those being honored are Denver art collectors Luis and Martha Abarca for their contributions to the Chicano artist movement. Mr. Abarca passed away last year in July, but is admired and remembered most for his commitment to the Chicano community.
Museo strives to educate the community about the diversity of Latino Americano art and culture – from ancient to contemporary – through innovative programs just like this exhibit. They’ve kept the legacy of Chicano artists alive since 1991.
“The Legacy Project” will be up on display until May 26. Museo de las Americas is located at 861 Santa Fe Drive in the Art District on Santa Fe.
This article originally appeared in 303 Magazine.