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If you had wandered on to the new site of La Raza Galería Posada (LRGP) on the morning of its grand opening celebration, you would have seen vendors setting up, an artist in the midst of an installation, and heard a sound check in progress.
Near the stage was a small group that included a poet, a local café owner and former LRGP board member, and a young student (and occasionally a community reporter). This group was not planning a performance or discussing marketing strategy, they were blowing up balloons to draw traffic to the venue. Executive Director, Marie Acosta, was directing cars, among other things. That is the sort of teamwork that exemplifies the spirit of LRGP.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of La Raza Galería Posada. It began as La Raza Bookstore, on F Street between 12th and 13th streets, as an effort by students from California State University, Sacramento (CSUS), with help from their professor of government, Joe Serna Jr. Their mission was to make alternative writing and writers more available, especially pertaining to the emerging Chicano movement. It quickly became a social hub for students and meeting place for activists supporting the United Farmworkers.
Because many of the young people — including Jose Montoya, a Sacramento Poet Laureate emeritus - crossed between activism and art, it was a natural progression for La Raza Bookstore to eventually grab the space next door and incorporate it as gallery space to showcase their work.
Many of the founding members of La Raza — now renamed to acknowledge eminent Mexican Artist, Jose Guadalupe Posada — were members of the legendary RCAF, long known as the Royal Chicano Air Force.
And the origin of the RCAF, which included Montoya, former Galeria curator and executive director, Tere Romo, and other renowned Chicano artists and writers including Esteban Villa, Philip Santos, Armando Cid and Juanishi Orosco?
A military connection, one would assume, a pride in serving as a unit.
In the 70s, the group, made up of numerous graduate art students, worked on barrio art projects, traveled to other cities to support public art, and continued to support the United Farmworkers as they staged their protests for the right to unionize with original posters and fliers. It was joked that the Farmworkers had their own security force: the Rebel Chicano Art Front, RCAF.
Unfortunately, there seemed to be a lot of confusion between RCAF and the Royal Canadian Air Force. Eventually, amused, Montoya and Villa rechristened the group Royal Chicano Air Force, as it remains to this day; a group that includes artists from painters to poets to ballet choreographers.
La Raza Galería Posada continues to offer and support Latino/Chicano and Native arts exhibitions, art education programs, workshops, films and concerts and serve as a community gathering place for a variety of other events. It’s latest move to Front Street, near Miller Park, will allow it more gallery space, as well as room for outdoor events and parking, a notable improvement from the previous venue on 22nd Street.
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Image by: Art Luna
The “Celebrate in the Park,” which took place on Saturday, June 23, showcased a variety of the arts that might be seen and heard at LRGP, including poetry, music, dance and the latest art installations. The grand opening was a benefit for the Academia de las Artes Education Program.
Image by: ej Image by: ej
La Raza Galería Posada is located at 2700 Front Street and can be reached at (916) 446-5133. For more information about entertainment or education programs, to donate or to learn about exhibits, visit www.larazagaleriaposada.org.