Political posters founded in Sacramento


Sri Sherrell

Juan Carrillo standing in front of his favorite piece “Una Noche de Salsa”

Thalia Avila and Thalia Avila

There’s always a story behind art, and sometimes that story is an important part of history.

An art exhibit in honor of Cesar Chavez Day and Cinco de Mayo, “Look to the Sky,” by the Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF), highlights the history of farm workers and Mexican Americans. The exhibit will be held in the The Kaneko Gallery through today.

“A lot of it comes from their heart and soul. A lot of it is like a message against the world trying to tell us how to look, how to do and this other stuff,” RCAF member Juan Carrillo said.

RCAF is a movement that started out in Sacramento in 1969 for the United Farm Workers. It came together as a whole to bring equality to the Mexican-American culture, and to provide an avenue to express art and education.

The posters have a political orientation and express culture that was popular during the Chicano rights movement in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Many of their posters had to do with important political moments in history they took part in, like being in a parade, or having posters done for Cinco de Mayo parades.

“As a Chicano, our culture has a lot to do with art,” Carrillo said.

Although RCAF originally stood for ‘Rebel Chicano Art Front,” people kept confusing the group with the Royal Canadian Air Force. The group turned itself into its own “air force,” according to Carrillo.

“It’s history right here,” art major Carrie Reyes Cruz said. “A lot of the stuff we can do now is because of how they protested, how they got the word out and how they helped the farm workers and Cesar Chavez and stuff. It’s something to be remembered and admired for.”

Many of the artwork on the murals in downtown Sacramento have been done by RCAF members like Juanishi V. Orosco, the late Don Jose Montoya and Esteban Villa.

A collaboration of American River College and the California State University, Sacramento Department of Special Collections and University Archives, allows the posters to be viewed in the comfort and convenience of ARC’s Kaneko Gallery.

“It’s very colorful. Very detailed,” said business hospitality major Ashlie Heu.

A representative from RCAF said the group’s work is on display at the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum, located in Washington, D.C.

“It’s a nice way to connect,” art new media major Alexandra Villareal said. “I love how the gallery reaches out to different communities and all sorts of different student cultures and tries to incorporate them into the student body.”

The gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Fridays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. or by appointment by calling (916) 484-8399.