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Carlos Villa

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Carlos Villa
Born(1936-12-11)December 11, 1936
DiedMarch 23, 2013(2013-03-23) (aged 76)
EducationSan Francisco Art Institute
Mills College
SpouseMary Valledor
AwardsAmerican Academy in Rome (1987, 2000),
Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award (1997)
Guggenheim Fellowship (2012)

Carlos Villa (December 11, 1936 – March 23, 2013) was a Filipino-American visual artist, curator and faculty member in the Painting Department at the San Francisco Art Institute.[1][2] His work often explored the meaning of cultural diversity and sought to expand awareness of multicultural issues in the arts.

Early life and education[edit]

Carlos Villa was born on December 11, 1936, in San Francisco, California, to immigrant parents in the Tenderloin District.[2] He was introduced to art when taking lessons with his cousin, Leo Valledor,[3] who taught him to study etchings by Matisse.

Villa started to display his work in 1958 and went on to receive a B.F.A. in Education in 1961[2] from the California School of Fine Arts (now known as San Francisco Art Institute), and a subsequent M.F.A. degree in painting in 1963 from Mills College.[4] He studied under Richard Diebenkorn, Elmer Bischoff, Frank Lobdell, and Ralph DuCasse.[5]

Art career[edit]

During (1982) at the Smithsonian American Art Museum in 2023

In the early 1960s, Villa was associated with the Park Place Gallery Group in New York City and worked as a minimalist, focusing on textures.[6][7] He moved back to San Francisco in 1969, ready to approach his work in a new manner.[6]

Villa created multimedia projects and performances that he called "Actions"; these were often group collaborations that dealt with multicultural topics. In 1976, Villa curated a multidisciplinary, multiethnic exhibition entitled Other Sources: An American Essay, that showcased work by Bay Area artists of color.[8] This exhibition was an alternative celebration of the United States Bicentennial, and focused on people of color and women. It showcased artists including Ruth Asawa, Bernice Bing, Rolando Castellón, Claude Clark, Robert Colescott, Frank Day, Rupert García, Mike Henderson, Oliver Lee Jackson, Frank LaPena, Linda Lomahaftewa, George Longfish, Ralph Maradiaga, José Montoya, Manuel Neri, Mary Lovelace O'Neal, Darryl Sapien, Raymond Saunders, James Hiroshi Suzuki, Horace Washington, Al Wong, René Yañez, Leo Valledor.[8] Live performances by Winston and Mary Tong, Mark Izu and Ray Robles, poetry readings by Janice Mirikitani, Jessica Hagedorn, and Al Robles, and numerous others.[8]

In 1985, he had a retrospective exhibition, Carlos Villa:1961–1984, held at the C.N. Gorman Museum (now Gorman Museum of Native American Art), and at the Memorial Union Art Gallery at the University of California, Davis.[7]

In 1995, Villa published Worlds in Collision, a book on multiculturalism in the arts. The contents were transcriptions of presentations and discussions held during the San Francisco Art Institute's symposia series entitled Sources of a Distinct Majority (1989-1991).[9] The Worlds In Collision project continued in subsequent symposia, web projects and courses until 2013.

In 2010, Villa organized Rehistoricizing Abstract Expressionism in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1950s-1960s, a web project, symposium and exhibition at the Luggage Store Gallery that focused attention on contributions by women and artists of color (primarily abstract expressionist painters) that were overlooked by art history.[2]

In 2011, Villa had a solo retrospective of his work entitled Manongs, Some Doors and a Bouquet of Crates at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in San Francisco.[10] In 2020, Villa was part of the group exhibition Prospect.5: Yesterday We Said Tomorrow at Prospect New Orleans.[11]

He was also the subject of the book Carlos Villa and the Integrity of Spaces (Meritage Press, 2011) an anthology of essays about his work and influence edited by Theodore S. Gonzalves, featuring essays and poetry by Bill Berkson, David A.M. Goldberg, Theodore S. Gonzalves, Mark Dean Johnson, Margo Machida, and Moira Roth.[12]


Villa was a faculty member in the Painting Department at the San Francisco Art Institute where he started teaching in 1969.[2] In the 1970s, Villa taught at California State University, Sacramento.[13][14]


Villa died March 23, 2013, in San Francisco from cancer and is survived by his wife, Mary Valledor, daughter Sydney and stepson Rio Valledor.[2] Mary's first husband and the father of Rio was Leo Valledor, Carlos' cousin.[15][16]




  1. ^ "Faculty Member, Carlos Villa". San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). Archived from the original on 7 April 2014. Retrieved 5 April 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Carlos Villa, artist and teacher, dies". SFGate. San Francisco Chronicle. April 16, 2013. Retrieved November 9, 2014.
  3. ^ Asian/American/Modern Art: Shifting Currents, 1900-1970. University of California Press. 2008. p. 118. ISBN 9780520258648.
  4. ^ a b "Carlos Villa, 2012 - US & Canada Competition, Creative Arts - Fine Arts". John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. 2012. Retrieved 2014-11-09.
  5. ^ a b "Hearst Art Gallery Opens Carlos Villa: Retrospective". Saint Mary's College. 2007. Archived from the original on 2021-05-03. Retrieved 2021-09-14.
  6. ^ a b "Villa's Remarkable Range Shown at b. Sako Garo". Newspapers.com. The Sacramento Bee. April 25, 2004. p. X25. Retrieved 2020-10-25.
  7. ^ a b c Schlesinger, Ellen (3 February 1985). "Hybridization of Objects, Symbols". Newspapers.com. The Sacramento Bee. p. 253. Retrieved 2020-10-25.
  8. ^ a b c Johnson, Mark (September 11, 2013). "1976 and Its Legacy: Other Sources: An American Essay at San Francisco Art Institute". Art Practical. Archived from the original on 2013-09-24. Retrieved July 13, 2021.
  9. ^ Villa, Carlos (2012). "Carlos Villa". Guggenheim. Guggenheim. Archived from the original on 2014-04-07.
  10. ^ "Manongs, Some Doors, and a Bouquet of Crates". Art Practical. 2011. Archived from the original on 2021-09-14. Retrieved 2021-09-14.
  11. ^ "Prospect New Orleans Announces Artist List for Prospect.5". Artforum.com. March 2, 2020. Archived from the original on 2020-03-03. Retrieved 2021-09-14.
  12. ^ Carina del Rosario, “Carlos Villa and the Integrity of Spaces” (review) International Examiner, August 1, 2012.
  13. ^ "Museum Shows, "Paintings Off The Stretcher"". Newspapers.com. Oakland Tribune. 9 January 1972. p. 143. Retrieved 2020-10-25.
  14. ^ "New Art Exhibits". Newspapers.com. The Sacramento Bee. 24 May 1972. p. 26. Retrieved 2020-10-25.
  15. ^ "Cooperative Endeavor: Daniel Phil Gonzales and Mary Valledor in Conversation with Jerome Reyes". Open Space. October 8, 2020. Retrieved 2020-10-25. both Leo Valledor and Carlos Villa [Mary's first and second husbands]
  16. ^ "WEDDINGS; Diane Shaw, Rio Valledor". The New York Times. 2001-05-27. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-07-12.
  17. ^ Johnson, Charles (16 October 1977). "The Sea Returns". Newspapers.com. The Sacramento Bee. p. 49. Retrieved 2022-02-03.
  18. ^ "'About Faces' Celebrates Portraiture, Preserve Interest in Ourselves". Newspapers.com. Oakland Tribune. 22 September 1987. p. 32 (C-3). Retrieved 2022-02-03.
  19. ^ a b Ch’ien, Letha (June 16, 2022). "S.F. artist Carlos Villa was told there was no such thing as 'Filipino art.' So he made history". Datebook. Retrieved 2022-06-19.
  20. ^ a b "Expansive catalogue illuminates the social and cultural roots of Carlos Villa's artwork". artdaily.com. January 2, 2022. Retrieved 2022-02-03.
  21. ^ a b Who's Who in American Art 2007–2008. Marquis Whos Who. 2006. p. 1315. ISBN 978-0-8379-6306-8.

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