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Esteban Villa (born August 3, 1930, in Tulare, California) is a nationally recognized artist and muralist. A professor emeritus at California State University, Sacramento, his teaching career began in 1962 at the high school level and includes assignments at Washington State University, D–Q University, University of California, Davis, and numerous lecture and slide presentations, art exhibits and mural projects at universities mainly in California and surrounding states. He has served as an art consultant to schools and organizations including Centro de Artistas Chicanos, and has done art programs in the prison system. He is a founding member of the Royal Chicano Air Force, a collective of artists, professors and students, which was formed amid the Chicano Movimiento's push for social and political rights.
Villa's work is frequently shown in Sacramento at the Crocker Art Museum, Galeria Posada, and Luna's Cafe. He can also be found performing as a singer and guitarist. The Sacramento Bee spoke of Villa as "an extraordinary man: a mural artist, musician, teacher and community leader who is known for his barrio art, which played a role in the Chicano movement of the late 1960s and 70s. The movement in many ways asserted the positive value of Mexican culture."
Some of Villa's most recognized works and exhibitions have included La Super Chicana, La Arte Cosmica de Esteban Villa, Los Olvidados (The homeless), Menudo Eaters, Portraits, and murals at Southside Park, the underpass to Old Sac., Macy's parking lot (downtown Sacramento). Projects include a three-day workshop for the Mental Health Department resulting in a 4-by-9-foot (1.2 by 2.7 m) canvas triptych painting titled, Please Help (about suicide intervention and prevention), and a similar triptych in tribute to the late César Chávez shown in a Fresno group art exhibit. Both of these triptychs were seen at Luna's Cafe in October and November, 1993. Villa exhibited his 1993 sabbatical series of acrylic paintings at California State University, Sacramento, opening on August 8, 1994 and closing on October 2, 1994.
In addition, Villa has been involved in the production of the KVIE-TV documentary Pilots of Aztlán, a film about the Royal Chicano Air Force, which he co-founded. This film, in which he appears along with other RCAF members, was aired on KVIE in January, 1995. He exhibited a major survey of his paintings and related works at the Galeria Posada in February through March, 1995, titled The Art of Esteban Villa, and was in a group art show at Encina Art Gallery during Feb/March, 1995.
Villa was involved in the planning and design of a mural developed by schoolchildren, Freeport Elementary School, and SMAC on the Freeport Elementary School site in the spring of 1995. The mural no longer exists.
In 2011, Villa began a restoration of a mural he painted in 1975 at Chicano Park in San Diego, CA. The Chicano Park Mural Restoration Project began the week of June 20. It was officially completed in August 2012.
Villa's most recent work is in its design stages. In September 2016 he was asked to work on a mural as part of a team with Stan Padilla for the newly opened Golden1 Center in downtown Sacramento, California.
His work continues to show several times each year throughout California and abroad.