Galería de la Raza Home

Group Exhibition

Saturday, March 28, 1970 | 12:00 am

Galería opened in 1970 on 14th Street and Valencia. It was established by a Chicano/Latino collective that included Rupert García, Peter Rodriguez, Francisco X. Camplis, Gustavo Ramos Rivera, Carlos Loarca, Manuel Villamor, Robert Gonzalez, Luis Cervantes, Chuy Campusano, Rolando Castellón, Ralph Maradiaga, and René Yañez.

Founded in San Francisco, California in 1970, Galería de la Raza is a non-profit community-based arts space that supports Chicano/Latino artists working in the visual, literary, and performance arts.

Like many cultural institutions of its kind in the country, Galería was born of the admirable legacy of cultural activism. It was founded by a group of Chicano artists and community activists in San Francisco's Mission District, which included Rupert García, Peter Rodríguez, Francisco X. Camplis, Graciela Carrillo, Jerry Concha, Gustavo Ramos Rivera, Carlos Loarca, Manuel Villamor, Robert González, Luis Cervantes, Chuy Campusano, Rolando Castellón, Ralph Maradiaga, and René Yañez. Peter Rodríguez gave Galería de la Raza its name. René Yañez and Ralph Maradiaga later become the artistic and administrative directors, respectively.

Initially, Galería operated in a storefront on 14th street and Valencia; then, in l972, Galería moved to its current home on 24th street and Bryant. In 1985, Humberto Cintrón became the administrative director following Maradiaga's death. Enrique Chagoya succeeded Yañez in 1987 as artistic director. In 1990, María Pinedo became the executive director. Liz Lerma succeeded her in 1993 and was followed by Gloria Jaramillo in 1995 and, in 1999, by Carolina Ponce de León.

When Galería opened in 1970, El Movimiento Chicano —the Chicano civil rights movement— was its galvanizing and unifying force. The movement aimed to enhance the everyday lives of the Chicano community through exhibitions, community art programs and cultural activities while making art accessible to the largely Chicano/Latino population of San Francisco’s Mission District.

From the outset, Galería defined itself as a place of cultural affirmation and self-discovery for the founding Chicano community. In the 1970s, Galería was at the forefront of reclaiming images and practices from popular traditions that not only reflected but formed El Movimiento. For example, Galería was responsible for establishing the Mexican celebration of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) as an articulation of Chicano/a and Latino/a aesthetics. Throughout its history, Galería has emerged as an international forum for the examination and expression of artistic concepts central to the Chicano/Latino experience —concepts such as community memory, popular culture, ceremony, family and social activism.

During the 1970’s, Galería organized the first community mural program in the United States, re-introduced Frida Kahlo's work to the American public, and established Día de los Muertos as an important American annual cultural celebration. In the eighties, Galería began presenting public art on a large billboard attached to the outside wall of its venue and launched its gift shop, Studio 24, as an alternative fundraising resource in face of cuts in federal funds for arts, and as an experiment in community entrepreneurship.

In the mid-nineties, artist and board member, Amalia Mesa-Bains, developed the ReGeneration Project, a program aiming to provide emerging artists with exhibition and professional development opportunities and to directly involve young Latino artists in the planning and management of Galería activities. Participants in this project created the Digital Mural Project, an ongoing public art program, which replaced the painted temporary murals on our Bryant Street billboard with computer-generated images. In recent years, performance and public event series have been developed to address the educational needs of diverse populations—seniors, adults, adolescents, and students.

In 2000, Galería completed an intensive, institutional self-study and long-range plan. Board, staff, and consultants reviewed and re-affirmed Galería's mission and program, setting out concrete objectives for institutional and program development. In addition, Galería produced its first Long Range Financial, Fundraising, and Marketing Plans. The board and the director have established several task forces, composed of board, staff, and advisors, to focus Galería's efforts to ensure systematic application of professional standards to each of Galería's core programs and special initiatives.

In 2001, Galería established an eleven-member intergenerational Art Advisory Board composed of prominent artists, cultural leaders, and scholars of Latino descent.

In 2003, Galería began its Youth and Public Media program, a mentorship program for college art students and youth of color directed by Julio C. Morales. College students are trained in arts education, mentorship and community-based public art/social justice practices. The students also develop and teach multi-media workshops to youth participants. Participants explore the potential uses of artwork in a social context and the role of the artist as a citizen in public life. College students are trained in arts education, mentorship and community-based public art/social justice practices. The students also develop and teach multi-media workshops to youth of color such as video and sound editing and computer graphics.

Galería's founding values entailed an aspiration to transform the Chicano/Latino community’s social and cultural environment into a place of justice and equality. To this day, the legacy of the Galería’s founders continues within the broader framework of contemporary society.


Galería de la Raza: an Interdisciplinary Chicano/Latino Space for Art, Thought and Activism
2857 24th Street, San Francisco, CA 94110 click here for directions to galería