The Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth is hosting one of the most exciting Latino exhibits of our generation. ¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now includes 119 works, ranging from traditional screenprints to digital graphics of artists of Mexican descent and other artists who were active in Chicano/a networks.
It is fitting that this exhibit came to the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington Metro area [DFWA], now the 7th largest Latino community in the United States with 1.7 million residents, representing 29.3 percent of the region.
E. Carmen Ramos, Claudia Zapata, and their associates at the Smithsonian were organizers of ¡Printing the Revolution! They located the works of graphic artists who “played a pivotal role in projecting this revolutionary new consciousness,” or the beginning of the Chicano Civil Rights Movement.
During the early 1960s and early 1970s, Mexican Americans across the American Southwest and Midwest defiantly adopted the term Chicano as a sign of a new political and cultural identity. The Smithsonian team sought artists who “innovatively used graphic arts to build community, engage the public around ongoing social justice concerns, and wrestle with shifting notions of the term ‘Chicano.’
¡Printing the Revolution! brings together a collection of 74 artists who “affirmed the value of Mexican-American culture and history and questioned injustice nationally and globally.” All of the artwork on view are part of the
Smithsonian American Art Museum’s permanent collection of Latinx art, one of the leading national collections of its kind and one of the most extensive collections of Chicanx graphics in an American art-focused museum.
Over the past decade, my wife Harriett and I have been donors to the Smithsonian collection on Chicano art We were honored to be invited on March 30th to speak to Amon Carter Museum members on the subject of collecting. Spencer Wigmore, Associate Curator of Painting, Sculpture, and Works on Paper and curator of the museums’ presentations asked us specifically to address our acquisition strategy over fifty years of acquiring Chicano art.
As we spoke, we were surrounded by bold, imaginative, and powerful graphics. From the artists’ perspectives, these graphics were used “as a vehicle to debate larger social causes, reflecting the issues of their time period, including immigrant rights, opposition to the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and the Black Lives Matter movement.” The Amon Carter Museum walls were filled with vibrant posters and images that brought to life labor strikes and cultural events reimagined, “national and global histories, and, most significantly, challenged the invisibility of Chicanos in U.S. society.”
The exhibition offers an expanded view of American art and the history of graphic arts, featuring previously marginalized voices from Chicano art, including women and LGBTQ+ individuals. Ramos noted that the “influential Chicano graphics movement has been largely excluded from the history of U.S. printmaking. ¡Printing the Revolution! challenges this historical sidelining of Chicanx artists and their cross-cultural collaborators.”
¡Printing the Revolution! includes iconic works by major Chicano artists, and features works produced at major Chicano print centers, organizations, and collectives located in cities across the U.S. During our five decades of collecting Chicano art, my wife and I cultivated relationships with printers in Austin, Texas; Chicago; and in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Oakland, California.
Spencer Wigmore offered that the “exhibition sheds new light on the aesthetic and political impact of the Chicano graphics tradition from the 1960s to the present day, while simultaneously emphasizing the urgency and vitality of contemporary Chicanx practice.”
Among the works that my wife and I donated to the Smithsonian on display at the Carter Museum were 11 prints by San Antonio artist, Michael Menchaca. Raised in San Antonio, Menchaca celebrates his memories and his Latino heritage by attempting to connect his viewers with history, folklore, and popular culture. Menchaca is a gifted graphic artist and printer and considers his work a reflection of his upbringing, his home, his community, and his family. Many of his paintings are personal stories, including nostalgic memories.
Menchaca’s artistic inspiration comes from many sources, but the visual narratives of artist Carmen Lomas Garza caught his eye early in his career. It should be noted that Lomas Garza also introduces folkloric interpretation in her work. Menchaca’s signature motif is a mustachioed cat that represents the artist and his Latino community. He selected a cat icon for many reasons, but he is particularly influenced by popular culture and pre-Columbian images. Many of his figures are featured in his work wearing ancient masks and are inspired by Aztec and Mayan codices.
Several other Latino artists included in the exhibit, notably Luis Jimenez and Sam Coronado, grew up in Texas. Carmen Lomas Garza, a native of Kingsville, Texas has lived in San Francisco since 1975. The exhibition also recognized the work of El Paso native, Zeke Peña. A self-taught artist, Peña studied art history at the University of Texas at Austin. He credits art historian and a UT Austin art professor at the time, Amelia Malagamba, with introducing him to the ideas of borderland scholarship.
Many of Peña’s artistic narratives reflect border topics, such as the Border Patrol tracking migrants across a desolate environment. Borderland residents have been especially disturbed about the building of a border wall. Since the election of President Donald Trump, Borderland artists have added their voices protesting the construction of such a wall.
Peña employs an interdisciplinary approach to what he considers “universal themes of identity, politics, ecology and social justice by remixing contemporary ideas with reclaimed historical narrative.”
A free, daylong celebration of ¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now is scheduled for April 23. Andrew J. Walker, Executive Director at the Carter addressed the importance of this exhibit with a strong endorsement: “With historic and contemporary work that deeply resonates with social issues we’re grappling with today, we hope this exhibition offers visitors new ways to engage in important conversations for our time.”
Located in the heart of Fort Worth’s Cultural District, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art is a dynamic
cultural resource that provides unique access and insight into the history and future of American creativity through its expansive exhibitions and programming.
The Museum’s premier primary research collection and leading conservation program make the Amon Carter a must-see destination for art lovers and scholars of all ages nationwide. Admission is always free. To learn more about the Carter, visit