Galería de la Raza

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Galería de la Raza, January 1, 2007

Galería de la Raza (GDLR) is a non-profit art gallery and artist collective that serves the heavily Latino population of San Francisco's Mission District. GDLR mounts exhibitions, hosts poetry readings, workshops, and celebrations, sells works of art, and sponsors youth and artist-in-residence programs. Exhibitions mounted at the Galería tend to feature the work of minority and developing country artists and concern issues of ethnic history, identity, and social justice.

History[edit]

The Galería was founded by Chicano Movement artists Ralph Maradiaga, Rupert García, Peter Rodriguez, Francisco X. Camplis, Gustavo Ramos Rivera, Carlos Loarca, Manuel Villamor, Robert Gonzalez, Luis Cervantes, Chuy Campusano, Rolando Castellón, and René Yañez in 1970 as a place for Mexican American and other Latino artists to show their work. It developed into a community arts center that painted many murals, sponsored youth programs, and gained national and international recognition for its commitment to serving underrepresented communities.

Galería de la Raza was an outgrowth of the 1969 exhibition "New Symbols for La Nueva Raza", held in Oakland, which featured the work of such artists as René Yáñez, Esteban Villa of the Royal Chicano Air Force, Malaquías Montoya, and others. The artists later regrouped into a collective based in a studio on San Francisco's 14th Street. Maradiaga became administrative director and Yáñez the artistic director.

In 1972, GDLR relocated to a space on the corner of 24th and Bryant, where it has remained ever since. There, artists appropriated a street-level billboard just outside the gallery which became the canvas for a succession of murals featuring announcements of exhibits, cultural activities, and positive social messages.

In 1980, the Galería opened Studio 24 to sell works of affordable art for the members of the community. The same year marked an expansion in the range of topics covered by Galería artists and in GDLR exhibitions. Broadening their horizons from the Chicano Movement, artists began focussing on international issues such as Apartheid in South Africa and United States support for Central American dictators.

In the mid-nineties the ReGeneration Project was started to facilitate the involvement of the next generation of artists. ReGeneration provides emerging artists with exhibition and professional development opportunities as well as opportunity to help plan and manage of Galería activities. One of the most visible contributions of the ReGeneration Project is the updating of the temporary murals on the Bryant Street billboard. Through the new Digital Mural Project computer-generated images are created and displayed in lieu of the traditional painted murals.

Programs and exhibitions[edit]

Throughout its history, GDLR has given workshops in filmmaking, animation, muralism, digital art, and sponsored artists-in-residence. Important exhibitions have included "Cartelones del Cine Mexicano", which exposed Chicano artists to the styles and techniques of Mexican commercial lithographers, "The Peter Rodriguez Collection of Santos from the Mexican Museum", an exhibition of early New Mexican santos, and "Low 'n Slow", a lowrider-themed exhibit.

GDLR was also instrumental in reviving the indigenous Mexican tradition of Day of the Dead in the San Francisco Bay Area and in popularizing the work of the Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and José Guadalupe Posada among movement activists.

External links[edit]