La Raza Silkscreen Center S.F.

1977 Pablo Neruda Calendar - La Raza Silkscreen Center S.F. 1976 AP1650

Regular price $250.00

A wonderful example of engaged Chicano art. Unsigned. Possibly by either Tomás Morales or Oscar Melara, but we can't verify that.

Measures 17 1/2" x 23".

As early as 1970, La Raza Silkscreen/La Raza Graphics Center was producing silkscreen prints by Chicano and Latino artists. The organizers and artists of what was originally called La Raza Silkscreen Center designed and printed posters in a makeshift studio in the back of La Raza Information Center
La Raza Information Center, which was incorporated in 1968, was one of many nonprofit organizations that dotted 24th street. The “Los Siete” Defense Committee was housed in the adjacent storefront; both were near 24th and South Van Ness. The “Los Siete” Defense Committee was established to raise support for seven Mission District youth who were all falsely accused of shooting a San Francisco policeman. [MELARA] The La Raza Information Center began operating in the summer of 1970 in the vacant storefront next to “Los Siete.” The latter was running many programs, including Centro de Salud, a free breakfast program, a community newspaper, and the main program, the “Los Siete” Defense Committee. There was a “Pinto” (ex-convict) named "Mike" who had been writing to a lot of his friends who were still in “La Pinta” (prison) and once they left prison, they would congregate at the office in search of employment and try to be helpful. Tomás Morales was the artist who was involved in silk-screening posters and the “Pintos” would help him. At that time there was a great deal of sporadic energy around making posters but there was nothing organized at that time, either around the “Pintos,” or on the making of posters. Poster production actually began in 1968-1969 in the back of the offices of the “Los Siete” and then in 1970, in both the back of “Los Siete” as well as at La Raza Information Center. In 1971, Al Borvice and Harold Ortega, two members of La Raza Information Center, were delegated to organize two new programs, a "Pinto" program and a new La Raza Silkscreen Center. The two went on to organize the "Pinto” program with “Mike” along with a handful of “Pintos” and Tomás Morales.
At the same time the La Raza Silk Screen Center was organized, in April 1971 it moved into its first offices on 16th and Guerrero streets opening its doors in its own space. In 1971 Al Borvice, Oscar Melara, and Pete Gallegos officially founded La Raza Silkscreen Center. During these early years, Eileen Starr was part of the team, and Jos Sances was also a member, as was Michael Rios. Rios completed a CAC Artist-in-Residency, producing a series of posters for the Center. Once the offices were opened (a converted house) some of the “Pintos” lived in the back room. The Pinto program, however, failed because the “Pintos” required much greater specialized care than anticipated. Drunkenness was a recurring problem with the “Pintos” and their behavior had put La Raza Silk Screen Center at risk; thereafter that program was discontinued. During this time Harold Ortega dropped out of the organizing of the Silk Screen Center and Al Borvice asked Oscar Melara to help do this.
Volunteers flowed between the La Raza Information Center and the “Los Siete” Defense Committee; the interior doors between the two storefronts were always open. These organizations and others needed to announce events, fundraisers, meetings, and demonstrations. The need for posters grew and those who worked or volunteered with the two organizations and were interested in visual images began to print them in the two storefronts. Printing was a nocturnal function. Posters were spread out over the floors and furniture to dry. Some of the inspiration to use the silkscreen process to create posters came from Tomás Morales and others from the Pinto Program of Los Siete. The volunteers soon gained a reputation for producing beautiful and functional poster work at a very low cost, and in some instances, for free. One individual sometimes did the poster artwork, from design to finished print and in other instances the effort was a collective labor of love. It was not uncommon for one artist to work on the design, another on preparing the stencils and screens and yet still another artist doing the actual printing with assistance from neighborhood youth. In the early days, the artist (s) signed none of the posters, and if credit was given it usually was a simple acknowledgement stating “Printed by la Raza Silkscreen Center". Tomás Morales and Oscar Melara were the first artists of La Raza Silkscreen Center.
Oscar Melara, artist and SamTrans busdriver, is a founding member of renowned La Raza Silkscreen Center, founded in 1969 to design and print silkscreen posters on local and international political issues and recognize community concerns and events. He served as the Center�s co-director from 1969 to 1982. In 1994, after having begun work as a SamTrans driver, Melara began the cartoon series �Side Swipes,� which describes the trials and tribulations of his fellow bus operator�s work lives. He also creates illustrations for labor newsletters and offset posters for community organizations. Selected Group Exhibitions �Klak* Pow! Whine!: Comix, Cartoons and Manga from City College of San Francisco,� Madeleine Haas Russell Gallery, Rosenberg Library, City College of San Francisco (2001) �Arte Chicano,� Casa de las Americas, Havana, Cuba (1988) �Buscando America,� Mission Cultural Center, San Francisco, CA (1987) �A Traves de la Frontera,� Universidad Aut�noma de Mexico, Tijuana, Mexico and Mexico City, traveling exhibition (1983) �Raza Poster Artists,� Self-Help Graphics, Los Angeles, CA (1982) �Nuestro Calendario,� Galer�a de la Raza, San Francisco, CA (1980) �The Fifth Sun, Contemporary/Traditional Chicano and Latino Art,� University Art Museum, University of California, Berkeley, CA, traveling exhibition (1977) �Images of an Era: The American Poster, 1945-1975,� Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., traveling exhibition (1975) Collaborative Projects �Our Work Life,� (with Kate Connell) (2001-2004) �The Nacimiento Project,� (with Kate Connell), San Francisco, CA (1995-2006) Collections California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA Ethnic Studies Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA Experience Cartoonist, Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1574 Newsletter, (1990-present) Art Director, Channel 58, Sacramento, CA (1988-1990) Freelance graphic artist, accounts included Kodak, Caltrain (1980-1990) Founding member, Co-director, Educator and Artist, La Raza Silkscreen Center, San Francisco, CA (1969-1980)  

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