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Guide to the Esteban Villa Papers CEMA 50
CEMA 50  
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Collection Details
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  • Access restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement

  • Title: Esteban Villa Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: CEMA 50
    Contributing Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara, Davidson Library, Department of Special Collections, California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 5.0 linear feet
    Date (inclusive): 1974-2002
    Abstract: Villa [Esteban] Papers, 1974-2002. Original sketches, correspondence, exhibition announcements, collected writings, and research files of the Sacramento Chicano artist and muralist, and one of the founding members of the Royal Chicano Air Force, an artists' cultural collective. (CEMA 50).
    Physical location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
    General Physical Description note: 18 boxes and one series of flat files for oversize art
    General Physical Description note: 5 linear feet (18 boxes and one series of flat files for oversize art).
    creator: Villa, Esteban

    Access restrictions


    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the Department of Special Collections, UCSB. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Special Collections. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Department of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained.

    Preferred Citation

    Villa, Esteban Papers, CEMA 50, Department of Special Collections, University Libraries, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Acquisition Information

    Donated by Esteban Villa December 2001.


    Born August 3, 1930 in Tulare California, Esteban Villa is a nationally renowned Chicano artist and muralist. He is considered one of Sacramentos most respected artists. Villa is also known as one of the founding members of the Royal Chicano Air Force, an artists cultural collective created amidst the Chicano movements battle for social and political rights and recognition.
    Villa describes himself as a muralist, printmaker, art educator and community activist. His work sometimes contains surrealist elements through his inclusion and references to such things as the flying jalapeo, flying burrito brothers, and tortilla art. The use of the religious iconography of La Virgen de Guadalupe and El Dia de los Muertos ground him well within the creative Chicano lexicon. Though his works can easily be categorized with the mainstream of fine art, he once stated, Chicano artists do Chicano art. Call it fine art if you like. The Chicano artist brings this iconography to your attention. If we don't do it, no one else will.
    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 Sacramento, and Macy's Parking Lot (downtown Sacramento).
    Villas teaching career began in 1962. He started teaching at the high school level and then took assignments at Washington State University, D-Q University, and University of California, Davis. He is currently Professor Emeritus at California State University Sacramento. He has served as an art consultant to many schools and organizations such as The Royal Chicano Air Forces (RCAF) Centro de Artistas Chicanos, and has done art programs in the prison system. Villa's work is frequently shown in Sacramento at the Crocker Museum, Galera Posada, and Luna's Cafe. Villa can also be found occasionally performing as a singer and guitarist. The Sacramento Bee once called Villa, an extraordinary man: a mural artist, musician, teacher and community leader who is known for his barrio art.
    In addition, Villa was involved in the production of "Pilots of Aztlan", a video documentary about the Royal Chicano Air Force, where he appears along with other RCAF members. The documentary was originally aired in January 1995. Villa was involved in the planning of a mural developed by the schoolchildren of Freeport Elementary School and the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission on the Freeport Elementary School site in the Spring of 1995.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The collection is housed in 18 boxes, and one flat file for artwork. Boxes 1-3 are dedicated to his papers such as correspondence, exhibition announcements, collected writings, and subject matter collected as background research material for Villas many projects. A considerable portion of the collection, Boxes 4-20, contains some of Villas original sketches. A prolific artist, over 6000 sketches are currently found in the collection and more are being added.


    Series I Personal Biographical. Eight folders, containing correspondence separated into communication with institutions or individuals. All material related to Villas work at CSUS has been arranged together and all material within this series unless otherwise noted has been arranged chronologically. In addition, the series contains several of the many awards Villa has received throughout his career.
    Series II Exhibitions. Two folders, the first portion of the series is devoted to exhibitions or events that Villa was either featured in or figured prominently in. The second portion is a collection of invitations to exhibitions arranged chronologically. Together the two portions document a remarkable Chicano art history and showcase hundreds of Chicano artists.
    Series III Writings. Two folders, containing an interesting variety of collected notes and writings from several artists as well as Villa.
    Series IV Research Files. Two boxes, arranged chronologically. Over the course of his career, Villa collected many articles, clippings and reference materials for a wide range of artistic or Chicano issues. This series includes material relevant to several Chicano organizations as well as providing context for Villas professional connections to Chicano organizations.
    Series V Photographs and Slides. Three folders, containing a dozen or more personal photos and more then 80 slides of Villas works including posters, painting, and murals. See Appendix A for catalog of slides
    Series VI Artwork. Boxes 4-20, contain sketches donated by the artist. Series begins with material related to murals and mural projects the artist was involved with, spanning two folders. Over 6000 sketches spanning boxes 4 through 20 [arranged chronologically from the early eighties to the late nineties]. This series illustrates the myriad styles Villa blends into his work. See Appendix B for catalog of sketches.
    Series VII Oversize. Eight oversize folders, with original prints, flyers and posters are arranged chronologically beginning with undated items. The series contains promotional posters for exhibitions Villa participated in with other artists as well as his solo work.
    Series VIII Audio Visual Materials. Arranged chronologically with undated materials his listed last. The audiovisual series provides a broad overview of Villas art, methods and history.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Mexican American artists -- California
    Mexican Americans -- California -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
    Mexican Americans -- Civil rights
    Villa, Esteban -- Archives