José Montoya (1932–2013) was a leading figure in bilingual and bicultural expression drawn from barrio life as a defining feature of US culture. As an artist, poet, and musician, he produced iconic works depicting pachuco and pachuca culture drawn from his experiences as a youth in the post–World War II era. These include the poem “El Louie” as well as thousands of political posters and masterful sketches. Montoya cofounded the art collective Royal Chicano Air Force and helped organize for the United Farm Workers. An influential educator, he established the Barrio Art Program, which continues to offer community art classes in Sacramento, and taught at California State University, Sacramento.
Author Ella Maria Diaz examines a remarkable career that traversed decades, languages, media, and genres. The book is illustrated with reproductions of his work from rarely seen archival slides and documents, as well as from private collections and the Montoya estate. Through oral histories and archival research, Diaz proposes a new model for the study of Latina/o/x artists who reject the boundaries between visual art, poetry, music, education, and community activism.
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