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Guide to the Royal Chicano Air Force poster collection, 1973-1988
MSS 2001/05  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Processing Information note
  • Accruals note
  • Acquisition Information
  • Organizational History
  • Other Finding Aids note
  • Preferred Citation note
  • Conditions Governing Use note
  • Conditions Governing Access note
  • Scope and Contents note

  • Title: Royal Chicano Air Force poster collection
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 2001/05
    Contributing Institution: California State University, Sacramento Special Collections & University Archives
    Language of Material: Spanish; Castilian
    Physical Description: 10.0 Linear feet (171 posters)
    Date (inclusive): 1973-1988
    Languages Represented: Collection is in English and Spanish.
    Abstract: The collection consists of silkscreen posters by various artists within the artistic collective, Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF).

    Processing Information note

    Processed by Special Collections staff, 2006-2013. Supervised by Sheila O’Neill, Head of the Department of Special Collections and University Archives. Descriptive content for most posters based upon California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives (CEMA), UC Santa Barbara’s on-line description for RCAF posters. Final finding aid completed in 2013.

    Accruals note

    No additions are expected.

    Acquisition Information

    The Royal Chicano Air Force Poster collection was given to the CSUS Special Collections and University Archives by Ricardo Favela in 2001.

    Organizational History

    The Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF) is an artistic collective based in Sacramento, California. Initially formed at the California State University, Sacramento in 1970 as the Rebel Chicano Art Front, the RCAF was founded to express the goals of the Chicano civil rights and labor organizing movement of the United Farm Workers. The founding members of the RCAF included José Montoya, Esteban Villa, Juan Orosco, Ricardo Favela, and Rudy Cuellar. Montoya and Villa met each other while students at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. During the Chicano Movement students pressured colleges and universities to diversify their faculties. As a result, Villa was hired as a professor of art in 1969 and Montoya as professor of art eduction in 1970 at CSUS. Their academic positions gave them the creative freedom to initiate programmatic exchanges between the university and the community. Through this effort they initiated many programs including the Barrio Art Program, which required university students to go out into the community, including senior centers, to teach art courses. The RCAF moved off-campus in 1972 and established the not-for-profit organization, Centro de Artistas Chicanos. Its mission was to make available to the Chicano community a bilingual/bicultural arts center where artists could come together to exchange ideas, provide mutual support, and make available posters, educational programs and cultural events to the public. The RCAF artists are best known for their mural paintings, poster art production, and individual artistic contributions. The artists of the Centro produced murals and exhibited throughout the U.S. Southwest. Over the ensuing years, the RCAF became the umbrella for various Sacramento community programs, such as the Aeronaves de Aztlán (Automotive Repair Garage), RCAF Danzantes (Aztec Dance group), Barrio Art Program, and the RCAF Graphics and Design Center. In 1977, the Centro de Artistas Chicanos and Breakfast for Niños Program (a community non-profit organization that fed children before school) joined other community organizations, such as La Raza Bookstore (with its Galería Posada) and the Alkali Redevelopment Office, to create the Cultural Affairs Committee. The CAC organized annual community cultural events, including the Fiesta de Colores (March), Dia de la Madres (May), Fiesta de Maiz (June), Dia de los Muertos (November) and Operation Christmas Unity (December). While the "RCAF" originally stood for the “Rebel Chicano Art Front,” people confused the letters with the acronym for the Royal Canadian Air Force. The artists recognized the humor within the misunderstanding and adopted the name Royal Chicano Air Force. This new identity found its way into their wardrobe, as well as their highly successful silkscreen poster program, which began to disseminate the World War I aviator and barnstorming bi-winged planes as icons. Throughout its history, the RCAF gained a well-deserved reputation for outrageous humor, screenprint posters, murals, and community activism.
    Tere Romo Program Officer, Arts and Culture, The San Francisco Foundation. Author of the monograph, Malaquias Montoya

    Other Finding Aids note

    A digital version of the collection is available.

    Preferred Citation note

    [Identification of item], Royal Chicano Air Force Poster Collection, Department of Special Collections and University Archives, University Library, California State University, Sacramento.

    Conditions Governing Use note

    Copyright is protected by the copyright law, Chapter 17 of the U.S. Code. Requests for permission to publish, quote, or reproduce from collections must be submitted in writing to the Head of the Department of Special Collections and University Archives. Permission for publication is given on the behalf of the Department of Special Collections and University Archives, The Library, California State University, Sacramento as the owner of the physical item and is not intended to include permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

    Conditions Governing Access note

    Collection is open for research.

    Scope and Contents note

    The Royal Chicano Air Force Poster Collection consists of 171 screenprints produced from 1970s through 2001. The collection consists of prints created by artists associated with the collective and spans three “generations:” professors, José Montoya and Estevan Villa; their CSUS students, Rodolfo “Rudy” Cuellar, Ricardo Favela, Louie “The Foot” Gonzalez, Juan Orosco; and the apprentices in the community, including Raul Suarez, Francisco González, and members of the Impudent Young Pilots (Jesus Barela, David Buenrostro, Ruben Lerma, José Lott, José Felipe Magdaleno, and Pascual Marquez.)
    The collection was appraised in 2001. The identification of creators in this collection is based upon the original appraisal report. Posters are arranged by artist’s last name, then by year. In the case of multiple artists, items are arranged by the year of creation, then alphabetized by the title. Poster entries indicated with an asterisk (*) refers to the possibility of multiple artists.
    The print collection is representative of the prolific production of the RCAF, especially during the late 1970s. The majority of prints are by practicing artists, but a few are by university students. Reflective of their community focus, the posters serve as announcements for a broad range of community activities, including fundraising dances, cultural events, United Farm Worker initiatives, and university and college programs. Artistically, the technical aspects of the posters range from simple one-color posters to elaborate multi-colored and photosilkscreen prints.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Caro, Manuel
    Carrillo, Juan
    Carrillo, Patricia Dunsmore
    Cervantes, Juan
    Cid, Armando
    Cuellar, Rodolfo "Rudy", Jr.
    Diaz, Manuel
    Favela, Ricardo
    Felix, José
    Garcia, Eva
    Royal Chicano Air Force.
    Art, Modern -- 20th century -- California
    Mexican American artists -- California
    Mexican Americans
    Mexican Americans -- Civil rights
    Mexican Americans -- California -- Poltics and government -- 20th century
    Screen printing.