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Guide to the Harry Gamboa Jr. Papers, 1968-1995
Special Collections M0753  
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Collection Details
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Harry Gamboa Jr. Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1968-1995
    Collection number: Special Collections M0753
    Creator: Harry Gamboa Jr.
    Extent: 10 linear ft.
    Repository: Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Access Restrictions:

    Do not reproduce photograph of Cyclona.
    Do not duplicate, broadcast, or computer transmit the following audio tape recordings:
    Audiotape #3, Side A, Program "a"; Telephone conversation: Willie Herron.
    Audiotape #3, Side B, Programs "bb, cc, dd"; Music by the Undertakers.
    Audiotape #2, Side B, Program "c"; TV show broadcast Let's Rap.
    Audiotape #9, Side A, Program "g"; Music by The Brat.
    Do not duplicate, broadcast, or computer transmit the following video tape recordings:
    Videotape #1, Program "e"; "FIRE MEDICINE"
    Videotape #11, Program "b"; "IGNORE THE DENTS"

    Publication Rights:

    Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.


    Purchased from the artist, 1995

    Processing Note:

    This guide describes the first three Gamboa accessions. A final accession (97-147), made on 3 July, 1997, has not been processed and is not included in this finding aide.

    Preferred Citation:

    [Identification of item] Harry Gamboa Jr. Papers, M0753, Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.


    Harry Gamboa Jr. was born in 1951, the first of five children born to Harry T. Gamboa and Carmen Gamboa, a working class Mexican American couple. He grew up in East Los Angeles California, an urban area tormented by poverty, violence and racial conflict. Despite these surroundings, the inadequacy of the East L.A. public schools and his parents' lack of education, Gamboa was encouraged to value education and did fairly well in school. As a teenager he was active in community organizations and politics. As a student at High School (graduated 1969) Gamboa was active in student government and as an organizer of various student-initiated reforms, most significantly the 1968 "East L.A. Blowouts" -a series of protests against the inferior conditions of public schools in poor, non-white areas.
    Gamboa's extra-curricular activities were not, however, limited to politics. Already a developing artist, it was at Garfield High that Gamboa met Gronk (Glugio Nicondra), Patssi (then Patsy) Valdez and Willie Herrón, three of his closest associates in his later career. After the "Blowouts," for his final year of high school, Gamboa dropped out of the political scene in order to dedicate himself to his education. Thanks to these efforts and with the help of the Equal Opportunities Program (EOP) for disadvantaged minority students, Gamboa was able to attend California State University at Los Angeles. From this point his career as an artist -both solo and with Gronk, Valdez and Herrón in the art collective ASCO (Spanish for nausea)-took off.
    Gamboa's work as a writer, photographer, film-maker, performance artist and multi-media creator of "things" is diverse, but in all his efforts (including those as a member of ASCO) his focus has been to reveal the absurdity of urban life and to confront both the dominant white culture and various perspectives within Chicano culture, pointing to the pain and alienation caused by both. This is often achieved by altering the media of the art itself, as opposed to just the subject matter. Gamboa's most significant works include mail art of the 1970s, ASCO's "no movies," the "urban opera" Ignore the Dents and Jetter's Jinx.
    Gamboa has one son, Diego, born c. 1980, a product of his first marriage. In 1993 Gamboa married his second wife, Chicano muralist Barbara Carrasco, after seven years of romantic and professional involvement. Their daughter, Barbara Gamboa, was born in 1994.


    This collection of 8.5 linear feet (10 manuscript boxes, 1 half-sized manuscript box, 4 print boxes and 2 map case folders) of papers and items relating to the career of L.A.-based Chicano artist Harry Gamboa Jr. was purchased from the artist by Stanford University in 1995. The collection includes various materials dating from 1968 to 1995 and covering a broad range of Gamboa's personal and professional life. More than forty original manuscripts, both published and unpublished, produced and unproduced, represent Gamboa's work as a writer of fiction, prose, film, television, theater and performance scripts, interviews and essays. Manuscripts include "Jetter's Jinx," "Ignore the Dents" and many lesser known works. The collection also contains rare copies of Gamboa's mail art of the 1970s and other original art and miscellaneous (original drawings, art lay-out boards, buttons designed by Gamboa, etc.). Nine audio cassettes and thirteen video cassettes contain Gamboa and ASCO performances, productions and interviews, and more than 250 slides provide visual images of Gamboa's work in several media. Exhibition materials (fliers, posters, etc.), catalogues, and brochures document Gamboa and exhibitions and performances. Other publications (including various Chicano art/culture journals such as Raza Art and Media Collective, Regeneracíon, Caminos, Chismearte, and Neworld) contain artwork, photography and writing by Gamboa, as well as interviews and articles relating to Gamboa's work and that of other Chicano artists. Various publications, articles, and clippings discuss Los Angeles Chicano Civil Rights activities of the 1960s and '70s, in particular El Chicano Moratorium and the Garfield High School "Blowout" protests in which Gamboa was a key figure.
    Further insight into the context in which Gamboa is working can be found in his primarily incoming personal and professional correspondence, largely with other Chicano artists. Correspondence includes letters relating to the break up of in 1987, to Gamboa's fallout with friend and collaborator Daniel J. Martinez, and other events of Gamboa's career. Notable correspondents include members Gronk, Patssi Valdez, Humberto Sandoval, and Willie Herrón, Gamboa's wife, Barbara Carrasco, and sister, Diane Gamboa, as well as numerous friends and associates: Carlos Almarez, Max Benavidez, Robert Buitrón, Ralph Cordova, Frances Salomé España, Ramón Favela, Shifra Goldman, Ricardo Gonzales, Magu Lujan, Marcos Sanchez and Holly Barnet-Sanchez, Ruben Trejo, Jesús Salvador Treviño, John Valadez, Willie Varela, and Zaneta and Zaragosa Vargas. The collection also contains correspondence relating to Gamboa's activities within the Los Angeles Chicano community and to a graduate art seminar taught by Gamboa at Cal Arts. Various photographs and clippings are included in the correspondence. In short, the wide range of materials included in the collection provide a detailed summary of Harry Gamboa Jr.'s work as an artist and the social context within which he is working.
    A separate Stanford collection (Photo 177) of .25 linear feet contains 44 original Gamboa photographs, one set of photocopy duplicates and one folder of biographical information.