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Guide to the Salvador Roberto Torres papers CEMA 38
CEMA 38  
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Collection Details
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  • Access Restrictions
  • Use Restrictions
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Title: Salvador Roberto Torres papers
    Identifier/Call Number: CEMA 38
    Contributing Institution: UC Santa Barbara Library, Department of Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 12.0 linear feet (26 boxes, including 2 oversized flat boxes and 4 scrapbook albums, 6 slide albums, audio and video)
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1962-2002
    Date (inclusive): 1934-2002
    Abstract: Salvador Roberto Torres is a Chicano artist who is a cultural activist, educator, and an influential figure in the Chicano art movement in California. Some of Torres' notable artistic contributions in the San Diego area include leadership in the creation of Chicano Park and the use of the Coronado Bridge for murals. His collection includes personal correspondences, photographs, slides, news clippings, reports, sketches, video and audio materials, and silkscreen prints. Materials are contained in 21 boxes and span from 1934-2002.
    Physical Location: Del Norte
    Language of Materials: The collection is in English.
    creator: Torres, Salvador Roberto

    Access Restrictions

    Collection is open for research. Service copies of audiovisual items may need to be made before viewing or listening. Please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

    Use Restrictions

    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

    [Identification of Item], Salvador Roberto Torres papers, CEMA 38. Department of Special Collections, UC Santa Barbara Library, University of California, Santa Barbara.

    Acquisition Information

    Donated by Salvador Roberto Torres, Dec. 12, 1998.

    Processing Information

    Principal processor Susana Castillo, 2002-2003 (papers) and Benjamin Wood, 2004-2006 (slides). Supported by the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States (UC MEXUS). Adam Schnee and Lauren Cain helped migrate the guide into EAD format, 2014.


    Salvador Roberto Torres is a Chicano (Mexican American) artist, born in El Paso Texas, on July 3, 1936. He is considered to be an important and influential figure in the Chicano art movement, owing as much to his art as to his civic work as a cultural activist. Torres' primary media are painting and mural painting. Selected exhibitions that have included his work are "Califas: Chicano Art and Culture in California" (University of California, Santa Cruz, 1981), "Salvador Roberto Torres" (Hyde Gallery, Grossmont College, San Diego, 1988), the nationally touring "Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation: 1965-1985", (Wight Art Gallery, UCLA, 1990-1993), "International Chicano Art Exhibition" (San Diego, 1999), "Viva la Raza Art Exhibition" (San Diego Repertory Theater Gallery, 2000), and "Made in California: 1900-2000" (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 2000).
    Torres has married twice. He has three daughters from his former wife, Carolina Anne Moreno. The oldest daughter is Theresa Sarafina Navarro. She is married to Pablo Daniel Navarro. They have two sons, Ivan Efren Navarro and Blaise Paul Navarro. His second daughter was an identical twin, Dolores Carolina Boxell. Her twin brother Mario passed away in San Diego seven days after birth. Dolores is married to Ronald Boxell. They have a son, Michael Douglas Boxell. Torres' third daughter is Amapola Sabina Martin. She has two children, Saraphina Rose Eberhart and Alexander William Eberhart.
    Torres' second former wife is Gloria Robelledo. Gloria has three children from former marriages. Torres and Robelledo's marriage lasted for about twenty three years. Robelledo developed into a Chicana artist and muralist who worked diligently with Torres on many murals and educational programs in San Diego, California.
    Torres was born in "El Barrio del Diablo" in El Paso, Texas. At the age of three months, his mother Sabina Delgado Torres and father Salvador Torres moved to Los Baños, California. They joined Salvador Roberto Torres' grandmother, Dolores Aguilar Rios Delgado, and his uncle, Daniel Delgado, who recently had moved from El Paso, Texas to Los Baños, California to live at Faucet Ranch. Faucet Ranch was a cotton plantation as well as a cantaloupe, wheat, alfalfa, and dairy farm. Torres lived with Roberto's uncle and aunt, Pedro "Pete" Rios Delgado, and his aunt, Regina Rodriguez Delgado, and cousins Elizardo "Chalo" Delgado, Alexander "Alex" Delgado, Alfred "Freddy" Delgado, and Sofia Delgado. Torres' aunt Luz and Casimiro gave birth to Mario, Pepe, Arturo, and Dora Delgado that lived in Los Angeles in the 1940s and 1950s.
    As a young child Torres moved with his family in 1942 to settle in Logan Heights, San Diego. It was there that Torres attended public schools, and later, San Diego City College where he earned a statewide art scholarship to the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, California, where In 1964 Torres earned the B.A. Ed. in art. In 1973 he earned the M.A. in painting and drawing from San Diego State University. Some positions he has held have included artist, muralist, and Metro Gallery director. Since 1973 he has been a lecturer and tour guide for the Chicano Park Murals. He has taught painting, drawing and ceramics for Springfield College in San Diego. He has taught painting and drawing for the Adult Education Program, Coronado High School. From 1987-1991 he was Assistant Professor in policy studies in language and cross-cultural education at San Diego State University. From 1963-1967 he taught painting and drawing at various institutions, including Diablo Valley Junior College in Contra Costa, California and for the City of Oakland Recreation Department. From 1960 to the present Torres has also been Assistant to the Art Director at XETV Channel 6, in San Diego, in the field of video design. He taught five programs entitled "Arts in the Class" on KGO TV, Channel 7 in San Francisco for the Walnut Creek Civic Arts Center in Walnut Creek, California.
    As a painter, Torres is best known for his compelling 1969 "Viva La Raza", an oil on canvas painting depicting the transformation of the United Farm Workers' eagle into a rising phoenix. A former farm worker, Torres' vivid rendering of the rallying cry "Viva la Raza" was captured in bold strokes and slashes. These visual icons became enduring symbols of the farm worker and the Chicano art movements. Torres describes his work as Chicano art that is "based upon the creative Chicano lifestyle, whose Mexican and American interrelationships and cultural influences form its ideologies and themes." (Chicano art: resistance and affirmation, 1965-1985. Los Angeles: Wight Art Gallery, University of California, Los Angeles, 1991). Torres, a lifelong artist and arts educator in California, is best known as the "architect of the dream" for his crucial role in the creation of San Diego's Chicano Park, the largest collection of Chicano murals in the world, and for being a founder of the Centro Cultural de la Raza, also in San Diego. He became its first director, and later helped form Las Toltecas en Aztlán, a Chicano artist group that was instrumental in eventually converting the Ford Building in Balboa Park into the present cultural arts museum and center, the Centro Cultural de la Raza.
    Torres began his teaching career in 1963 at Berkeley Elementary School and at the Walnut Creek Civic Arts Center, and went on to teach a wide variety of classes to all levels of students. He also participated in and conducted instructional television art classes for several stations in San Francisco. Torres worked and studied in the San Francisco Bay Area for six years. There he met other Chicano artists who were all exploring ways to integrate their Mexican American roots into their work as artists. After returning to San Diego in 1968, Torres began work on his Master of Fine Arts degree at San Diego State University, where he began bringing Chicano artists together to talk about cultural and artistic issues of the Chicano community.
    It was also during this period that Torres became involved in the creation of Chicano Park and conceived of the idea of the Monumental Public Mural Project he later helped create. On April 22, 1970, local residents protesting the proposed use of the land for a new Highway Patrol parking lot occupied the land underneath the Coronado Bridge in the Logan Heights neighborhood of San Diego. Torres proclaimed that, "Chicano artists and sculptors would turn the great columns of the bridge approach into things of beauty, reflecting Mexican-American culture." In search of inspiration and guidance for this project, Torres traveled to Mexico City to videotape the dedication of Siquieros' mural at the Polyforum. Hearing Siquieros speak about the history of his murals and the Congress of Revolutionary Painters, of which Siquieros was a part, propelled Torres to create a similar statement for the people of Logan Heights. True to his word, in 1973, Torres began work on the mural project in the newly created Chicano Park. Inviting artists from San Diego, Los Angeles, and Tijuana to participate, Torres' vision became a reality as the giant pillars of Coronado Bridge were transformed from graffiti-covered eyesores into works of art.
    More recently, Torres assisted in producing an award-winning documentary film on the History of Chicano Park and its Monumental Public Mural Concept. Torres' vision and his art have been described as "uplifting, lyrical, inventive, and often humorous." Recent mural projects have included "The Kelco Historical Community Mural", that Torres completed in 1993 with his former artist wife Robelledo. Situated in San Diego's Barrio Logan, the mural is an evocative historical account of the contributions of the people of Logan Heights and provides a glimpse of the future of the children of that community. In 2000, Torres was commissioned to design and create murals on simulated pillars for an NBC television pilot "Fortunate son" (Stu Segall Productions, San Diego) and also was commissioned by the La Joya Playhouse to create backdrops for the production “The Birth of Corn” based on a Mayan legend. In explaining his life's work, Torres states "I choose these creative experiences to create and discover a new horizon in the history of art, a horizon inspired by the spiritual ideals and realities of La Raza and by other Chicana/Chicano and international artists who are striving to achieve social justice and freedom of self-expression on all artistic levels" (Chicano art: resistance and affirmation, 1965-1985).

    Scope and Content

    The Salvador Roberto Torres Papers consists of personal papers including correspondence, photographs, slides, news clippings, reports and other documents, sketches, one original silkscreen print titled “Viva la Raza”, mural concepts, films, and audiocassettes. Included is one oversize box containing artwork from children Torres worked with. The collection is divided into nine series described below. Each series is organized in alphabetical order while the contents found within each folder are arranged in chronological order. The collection is stored in 21 boxes including one oversize box. The collection spans ten and a half linear feet in linear length.
    Series I Personal and Biographical Information, 1963-1996. This series is made up of five subseries. The first subseries is Education, 1968-1996. The items contained in this subseries are his Baccalaureate exam, his San Diego Graduate Program and his Master Thesis.
    The second subseries is General Biographical Information, 1963-1995, with Torres’ teaching credentials, photographs, newspaper clippings, writings, and his résumés and vitae.
    The third subseries is Legal Matters, 1970-1988, which contains two folders pertaining to court documents and a temporary restraining order by Torres against another artist.
    The fith subsieries is Los Gallos, 1940s-1998, a youth social club that participated in community events such as competive sports with other youth clubs and had joint meetings with female social clubs from other areas of San Diego.
    Series II Professional Activities, 1956-2002. This series is the largest and is housed in six archival boxes. All the information pertains to Torres’ involvement with different organizations in the Barrio Logan area of San Diego and the various projects he was a part of. It is here that information can be found related to the founding of Chicano Park. The series is made up of three subseries and one sub-sub series. The first subseries is Organizations and Associations, 1956-2002. Several organizations found within this subseries are Centro Cultural de la Raza, Barrio Logan, Congreso de Artistas Chicanos en Aztlán (CACA), Museo del Pueblo, and Chicano Park. Contents include minutes and agenda, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and budgets.Chicano Park is broken down into another sub-subseries Committees, 1974-1994. This sub-subseries contains committees such as The Chicano Park Arts Committee, Chicano Park Arts Council and The Chicano Park Mural Committee. The information found here includes their minutes, budget, correspondence, and proposals.
    The second subseries is Other Projects, 1976-1994. This subseries contains Torres’ involvement with programs such as Young at Art, Young Audiences, Junior Achievement, Tierra Amarilla Youth Brigade and two film projects pertaining to Chicano Park and Barrio Logan.
    The third subseries is Publications, 1975-1995. This subseries contains two folders pertaining to Torres’ published artwork. The first folder contains a publication from the Ilan Lael Foundation and the second folder is of miscellaneous published works.
    Series III Teaching, 1970-1992. This series is made up of two subseries and two sub-subseries. The first subseries is Subject Files, 1978-1992, which contains Torres’ teaching materials such as Classroom Ideas, Fine Arts Curriculum Guide, and Disciplined Based Art Education.
    The second subseries is San Diego State University (SDSU), 1988-1990. All files pertain to Torres’ teachings at San Diego State. Information that can be found here are his syllabi, course critique, and information about the College of Education. The first sub-subseries is Classes Taught, 1988-1990. This file contains classes such as Multicultural Education and Teaching Art in Elementary Schools. The second sub-subseries is Student Papers, 1988-1990. These are files pertaining to student work done in the classes taught by Torres. The subjects found within these papers are about Chicano Park, El Centro Cultural de la Raza, and Education.
    Series IV Correspondence, 1955-1997. This series is made up of two subseries. The first subseries is General Correspondence, 1955-1997. The subseries is arranged in two groups: the outgoing correspondence from Torres is arranged chronologically; incoming letters to Torres are arranged alphabetically by sender and then chronologically. When envelopes accompany correspondence, they immediately follow the corresponding letter.
    The second subseries is Miscellaneous Correspondence, 1965-1992. The correspondences included are miscellaneous letters that were not written by Torres nor addressed to him, but that relate to Torres. They are grouped as incoming and are arranged alphabetically by sender and then chronologically.
    Series V Art Work, 1968-1994. This series is made up of two subseries. The first subseries is Mural Projects, 1972-1994. Within this series are the many mural projects Torres was involved in such as the Escondido Mural, Memorial Junior High Mural, South Chula Vista Library Mural and the Kelco Mural. Several other folders pertain to his mural restoration work.
    The second subsereies is Sketches, n.d. This one folder contains various undated drawings and sketches of his artwork and ideas for mural work.
    Series VI Exhibitions, 1967-2002. This series contains the subseries Exhibits Involved In, 1967-1995. Found within this subseries are exhibits such as Chicanarte, Governor Brown’s Exhibit, Chicano Art: Resistance and Affirmation or better known as CARA, and The International Art Show. One folder contains descriptions of the possible artwork he may have displayed in the various exhibits.
    Series VII Research Files, 1934-1996. This series is the second largest of all the series and is housed in five archival boxes. The series is made up of nine subseries. The first of these subseries is Artists, 1971-1991. This subseries contains information about several Chicano artists such as Ramses Noriega, Mario Torero, and Manuel Cruz. Another folder contains information about other artists such as James Jacobs and Diego Rivera. Included are several résumés from artists.
    The second subseries is Chicanos, 1966-1992. This subseries contains information related to Chicanos such as the history of Chicanos, published Chicano art, and writings on Chicano art.
    The third subseries is General Exhibitions, 1968-1995. This subseries contains exhibits not related to Torres but that occurred throughout the years. They are arranged in two folders. The first folder covers 1968-1982 and the second folder covers 1983-1995. Other information found within this subseries is brochures of galleries and an art gallery price list.
    The fourth subseries is Miscellaneous Subject Files, 1965-1995. This subseries contains general information Torres may have collected for future use. Some of the items found is a folder of information regarding copyrights, and a folder containing newsletters from other organizations.
    The fifth subseries is Moya del Pino, José, 1934-1989. This subseries pertains to the Spanish artist José Moya del Pino. The two folders within this series contain information regarding the report from the San Diego Planning Department on preserving the murals of Del Pino but demolishing the San Diego Aztec Brewery Rathskeller once the artwork has been removed. The second folder contains the opposed proposal to turn the Brewery into a historical monument rather than removing the artwork and demolishing the building.
    The sixth subseries is News Articles, 1972-1993. These are newspaper clippings about art, Chicano art, and miscellaneous topics.
    The seventh subseries is Professional Organizations, 1973-1991. These are organizations that Torres took interest in but was not a part of, such as the African Arts Committee, Contemporary Arts Committee, and the Mural Conservancy of Los Angeles.
    The eight subseries is Resource Materials, 1972-1993. This subseries contains folders that Torres used as resources for his many art murals and projects. One such folder contains art resources in which there are booklets for ordering art supplies, another folder contains resources for mural painting.
    The ninth subseries is San Diego, 1974-1996. This subseries contains information regarding the San Diego area where Torres resides. Information found here includes maps of San Diego, the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, San Diego Coast Regional, and the Unified Port of San Diego.
    Series VIII Audio-Visual Recordings, 1967-1997. This series consists of four subseries. A listing of thetitle, content, and date, if applicable, is provided for each of the reels, audiocassettes, videos, and LP’s.This portion of the collection will be reformatted CD's and transcribed at a later date.
    The first subseries is Audio Reels, 1967-1971, which contains information about such artists as Joe Montoya, Manuel Martinez, Steve Villa, and Malakias.
    The second subseries is Audiocassettes, 1970-1997. Within this series is information pertaining to Chicano Park, Neighborhood House of San Diego and various television and radio programs.
    The third subseries is Videos, undated, which contains information pertaining to Barrio Logan and Salvador “Queso” Torres.
    The fourth subseries is LP Albums, 1967-1985, which contains two LP’s with information about DavidAlfaro Siqueros and the Royal Chicano Air Force. These LP’s can be found within the Pegasus Website: (http://pegasus.library.ucsb.edu/catalogs/pegasus/pegasus.html).
    Series IX Slides, 1964-1995. This series consists of two subseries. The first subseries is the Catalog of Slides, 1964-1995. The slides are contained in two slide albums. There are 2,590 slides on various subjects such as Chicano Park, Barrio Logan, Murals of Los Angeles and San Francisco, and Mural Projects. An inventory of the slides is provided that gives an as-yet incomplete description of each slide.
    The second series is Slide Lecture, 1971-2002. This collection of 267slides is what Torres used in his lecture “Evolution of Chicano Murals in Southern California”, on April 8, 2002 at the University of Santa Barbara. The slides are contained in one binder and are also housed in the CEMA office. An audiocassette is also available of his lecture along with the transcription of the audiocassette.
    The Catalog of Slides, 1964-1995 contains 712 records that are organized first according to major categories of art medium, such as "Drawings", "Graphic Arts", or "Murals". Then, within each of these broader categories the individual slides are arranged in alphabetical order by name of the artist. "Artist Unknown" works are listed at the beginning of each section indicating that we do not have information on who created that work. For the sake of clarification the terms "Untitled" and "(title unknown)" are not interchangeable. "Untitled" is a legitimate title of a work given by the artist, while "title unknown" means that we do not have any information about the title. The records are as complete as possible; however, to a certain degree the catalog is a "work in progress." In time, information about the "Artist Unknowns" and "title unknowns" will become known and the catalog will be updated and re-issued.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Chicano Park (San Diego, Calif.)
    Mexican American art -- 20th century
    Mexican American artists