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Royal Chicano Air Force Archives
CEMA 8  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access Restrictions
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Organizational History
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Royal Chicano Air Force Archives
    Dates: 1973-1988
    Collection number: CEMA 8
    Creator: Royal Chicano Air Force
    Collection Size: 15 linear feet (34 document boxes and 2 oversize boxes). 550 prints, 4200 slides.
    Repository: University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. California Ethnic and Multicultural Archives
    Santa Barbara, CA 93106
    Abstract: Extensive collection of slides and silkscreen prints, along with administrative records, news clippings, correspondence, exhibition descriptions and flyers, photographs, creative writings, and miscellaneous publications of the Sacramento-based artists collective. Founding members of the RCAF include José Montoya, Esteban Villa, Juanishi V. Orosco, Ricardo Favela, and Rudy Cuellar (CEMA 8).
    Physical location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the library's online catalog.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English spanish
    Selected digitized images from this collection on Calisphere.

    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

    Royal Chicano Air Force Archives, CEMA 8, Department of Special Collections, University Libraries, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Acquisition Information

    Donated by Royal Chicano Air Force, 1988.

    Organizational History

    The Royal Chicano Air Force (RCAF) is an artistic collective based in Sacramento. Initially named the Rebel Chicano Art Front, the RCAF was founded in 1969 to express the goals of the Chicano civil rights and labor organizing movement of the United Farm Workers. Its mission was to make available to the Chicano community a bilingual/bicultural arts center where artists could come together, exchange ideas, provide mutual support, and make available to the public artistic, cultural, and educational programs and events.
    The founding members of the RCAF include José Montoya, Esteban Villa, Juanishi V. Orosco, Ricardo Favela, and Rudy Cuellar. Montoya and Villa knew of each other through their involvement in the Mexican American Liberation Art Front and the California College of Arts and Crafts. During the Chicano Movement students pressured colleges and universities to diversify their faculties. As a result, Montoya and Villa were hired as professors of art at California State University, Sacramento. Their academic positions gave them the creative freedom to initiate programmatic exchanges between the university and the barrio 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 created in 1972 the not-for-profit Centro De Artistas Chicanos. This community based organization became the spring-board for all types of Sacramento community programs, such as La Nueva Raza Bookstore (with its Galería Posada), Aeronaves de Aztlán (Automotive Repair Garage), RCAF Danzantes (Cultural Dance venue), Barrio Art Program, and the RCAF Graphics and Design Center. By 1977, the Centro de Artistas Chicanos and Breakfast for Niños Program (a community non-profit program that fed children before school) joined forces to create the Cultural Affairs Project, which further funded their many community services.
    The RCAF is best known for its mural paintings, poster art production, and individual artistic contributions. The artists of the Centro have produced murals and exhibitions from San Diego to Seattle. RCAF is significant as a collective that has maintained a twenty-five year history of engaging communities to express their Chicano culture, history and struggle for equal rights.
    While the "RCAF" originally stood for the Rebel Chicano Art Front, people confused the letters with the acronym for the Royal Canadian Air Force. Montoya and his fellow officers capitalized on the misunderstanding, and in good humor adopted the name Royal Chicano Air Force. This new identity found its way into their wardrobe, as well as their highly successful silk screen poster program, which began to disseminate the World War I aviator and barnstorming bi-winged planes as icons. The RCAF gained a well-deserved reputation for outrageous humor, fine art posters, murals, and community activism. Their pioneering spirit throughout the 1970s and early 1980s was well-known in the California Chicano community, and continues to the present.
    The RCAF Archives complement the work of CEMA's Proyecto CARIDAD (Chicano Art Resources Information Development and Dissemination), the archival cataloging of Chicano visual arts slide images. Together, these projects document the visual art production and social history of important Chicano art collectives in California.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Royal Chicano Air Force Archives consists of eight series distributed among 43 archival boxes that occupy approximately 20 linear feet of space. In addition, there are 550 prints housed in 22 archival boxes, and 4200 slides in 14 albums. A current guide to the silkscreen and slide collections are available through CEMA. The archival material includes, administrative/personnel records, grant applications, news clippings, correspondence, exhibition descriptions and flyers, photographs, creative writings, color copies, 2-D artwork and miscellaneous publications. The RCAF Archives cover the period between 1972-88. Series are arranged with emphasis upon the Center’s activities, and folders generally follow an alphabetical order according to the titles given to them by the. When necessary, titles were assigned to folders that lost their labels or to items that were loose or unfoldered. Folders with the same subject are usually arranged alphabetically or chronologically.


    Series I: Administrative Records, 1973-1984. Series I include four subseries housed in 17 archival boxes. The first subseries, History and Founding Documents , consists of the earliest documents from the RCAF, by-laws, and Articles of Incorporation. The second subseries, Business and Financial Records , contains tax returns, board and staff meetings, financial statements and expense reports. The third subseries, Grants , includes grant applications, related reports, and evaluations. The California Arts Council, County of Sacramento, City of Sacramento, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission are major sources of such grants. The fourth subseries, Staff , holds documents on members and staff of RCAF and Centro De Artistas Chicanos such as résumés, announcements (of exhibitions individual artists were involved in), and ephemera. The Breakfast for Niños program has been documented in both the Grants and Staff subseries.
    Series II: Programs, 1973-1984. Series II includes seven subseries. The first subseries, Centro Activities , consists of material related to cultural events, such as Cinco De Mayo, Dia De Las Madres, Dia De Los Muertos, Fiesta De Maiz, and Xic-Indio. The second series, Dance Programs , contains documents related to the Centro’s involvement in Folklorico de Sacramento, Danza Quezalcoatl, and performances outside California. The third subseries, Exhibitions , includes art shows that the Centro members sponsored or were participants in, as well as, José Montoya’s Pachuco Art-A Historical Update , What We Are.... Now a women’s art exhibit, and other international presentations. The fourth subseries, Mental Health Programs , holds relevant materials concerning the Centro’s activities in mental health projects that promoted and disseminated information related to government health commissions. The fifth subseries, Muralismo (magazine), consists of preliminary and working drafts, as well as a final draft of the Centro De Artistas Chicano’s magazine devoted to murals. The sixth subseries, Mural Programs , contains the documentation of mural projects completed by the RCAF. The seventh subseries, Theater Programs , includes information on Leyendas de Aztlan, Teatro Campesino, Teatro De Calle, Teatro Latino, as well as, other theater groups. This series is a rich resource on the cultural activities that the RCAF initiated, and the Chicano/Latino events that enriched the community.
    Series III: Correspondence Files, 1973-1984. Series III has both an Incoming and Outgoing subseries, which are arranged chronologically. The series includes inquiries to the RCAF, Centro De Artistas Chicanos, and Breakfast for Niños, as well as, letters of recommendation and support, thank you letters and various correspondence from city, county and federal governments.
    Series IV: Subject Files, 1972-1984. Series IV contains the Centro’s source materials used to support their programs, grant writing and professional networking activities, such as, application materials, reports, interviews, public announcements, and promotionals. These material represent the RCAF’s social and political interests. The highlights of this series are: the Interview with Francisco Salazar (a Tarahumara Indian, by James J. Melina), José Montoya’s Pachuco Art , and Interviews with the RCAF conducted by the Southwest Center for Educational Television.
    Series V: Flyers, News Clippings, Publications, 1973-1985. Series V includes five subseries. The first subseries, Flyers , contains many examples of Centro/RCAF text and image advertisements, press releases, brochures, and art exhibition invitations. The second subseries, News Clippings , consists of news collected by the Centro that cover diverse topics from Chicano art murals, public reviews, art commentaries to political cartoons, editorials, reports on Latin America, and community based news. The third subseries, Publications , holds the RCAF’s resource library, such as journals, articles, essays, and art catalogs--a highlight of this subseries is Los Sembradores by the Galería De La Raza. The fourth subseries, Newsletters , includes various pieces of news that encompass many areas including, poetry and Chicano indigenous art. The fifth subseries, Magazines , contains an assortment of literature concerning the Arts and Chicano/Latino community issues.
    Series VI: Color Copies, Photographs, Slides, 1978-1983. Series VI includes five subseries. The first subseries, Color Copies , contains various images that documented events and some items that were used as colorful support materials. The second subseries, Photographs , consists of various proof sheets, black and white images of RCAF artists’ artwork, and an assortment of miscellaneous photos. The third subseries, Photo Negatives , is a brief collection of images related to RCAF activities, such as Mural Magazine . The fourth subseries, Miscellaneous Slides , holds a small collection of documentary materials. The fifth subseries, Slides , is a comprehensive collection that documents the many activities and artistic output of the RCAF. A separate Catalog of Slides for this important collection is available, see Appendix A
    Series VII: Creative Works, 1974-1988. Series VII includes two subseries. The first subseries, Artwork , contains the original artwork of Ricardo Favela, Esteban Villa, as well as a small group of miscellaneous silkscreened flyers. The second subseries, Creative Writings , consists of published and unpublished pieces that cover a range of interests including songs, art, and poetry.
    Series VIII: Graphic Arts Collections. Series VIII includes two subseries. The first subseries, Miscellaneous Announcement Posters , contains assorted advertisements in both the silkscreen and non-silkscreen formats. The second subseries, Silkscreen Print Collection , documents a significant facet of the RCAF’s artistic output. A separate Catalog of Silkscreen Prints for this collection is available., see Appendix B
    Related Collections. There are other Chicano art centers and individual artists’ collections within CEMA that complement the RCAF Archives. These include Galería De La Raza Archives, Self-Help Graphics and Art Archives, the Ralph Maradiaga Papers, Ester Hernandez Papers, the Victor Ochoa Papers, Salvador Torres Papers, the Yolanda Lopez Papers, as well as the José Montoya Papers and the Ernesto Palomino Papers.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Royal Chicano Air Force -- Archives.
    Mexican American artists -- California.
    Art, Modern -- 20th century -- California.
    Administrative records.
    Mexican American artists -- California.
    Slides (Photography) -- Catalogs.
    Screen printing.