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Oakland Museum Announces New Exhibition Honoring the Contributions and Living Impact of Chicano Artist and Activist Malaquías Montoya

Por el Pueblo: The Legacy And Influence Of Malaquías Montoya Explores the Artist’s Legacy through Five Decades of Prints, Photographs, Historical Ephemera, His Early Works, and Contemporary Artworks by Artists Influenced by Montoya, Particularly Queer and Chicana Voices

(OAKLAND, CA) August 22, 2023 — Por el Pueblo: The Legacy and Influence of Malaquías Montoya, a major exhibition exploring the living impacts of the innovative, influential, and sometimes controversial Chicano artist opens October 6, 2023 at Oakland Museum of California. Montoya’s legacy as a public-serving artist, activist, and community leader serves as inspiration for generations of politically-engaged artists within the Chicano community and beyond. His social and political prints in particular are recognized as iconic examples of art carrying deep and relevant messages uplifting pride, unifying community, awakening action, and underscoring human rights and values.

Por el Pueblo recognizes Malaquías Montoya’s contributions as a founder and leader of the Chicano Arts Movement and explores how his legacy is being lived out by contemporary activist-artists today. Montoya is best known for his silkscreen print posters that incorporate social justice themes. His early work was created at a time when printmaking emerged as a popular medium for activist artists in the 1960s and 70s as it made poster production more accessible, affordable, and efficient. Like Montoya in his early years, artists continue to be marginalized by the mainstream for their identities and speaking their truths to power. In addition to illuminating the work and living legacy of Montoya, Por el Pueblo emphasizes contemporary artists who are lifting up communities most in need of expression and celebration now — queer people and Chicanas, in particular. 

“Malaquías Montoya’s work empowers folks to embrace their Chicano identity, brings attention to the social issues impacting marginalized communities, and lays much groundwork for the more nuanced, intersectional conversations on these topics younger generations are engaging in today,” said Erendina Delgadillo, guest curator of the exhibition. “More than a retrospective, Por el Pueblo asks visitors to consider the roles art plays in building bridges across differences and advancing social justice movements through the lens of Montoya’s life and work.” 

Por el Pueblo invites visitors to consider Montoya’s deeply collaborative artistic process, focus on community, and engagement across generations by exploring his decades long career through photographs, historical and personal ephemera, graphics, prints and mural artworks by the artist, as well as contemporary artwork by artists influenced by Montoya.

The exhibition is organized into four sections. Based on a quote by Montoya, the first section is titled “A history behind me” where visitors will be introduced to the artist through text, audio recordings, photographs and objects that span Montoya’s childhood through his first few years as a working artist. In the section entitled Barrios Became Our Exhibition Halls, visitors will gain insight into the tools, environments, and examples of Montoya’s artistic process.

In Art Has to Have Meaning, the third section of the exhibition, visitors will see artworks that exemplify three of the values driving Montoya career — A Feeling of Pride, For the Love of Humanity, and Awakening the People — that exemplify the impact of Montoya’s work and process. In each of these subsections, the artworks selected represent a range of perspectives and the evolution of the artist’s worldview and technique. The fourth and final section, The Future Before Us, features artists within the Millennial and Gen-Z generations with a range of personal relationships to Montoya and his work. Each artist will have a sampling of artworks on display, focusing on pieces that touch on values shared with Montoya and social justice movements.

Featured artists include Julio Salgado, Elyse Doyle-Martinez, Leslie Lopez, Israel Campos, and Arely Hernández.

Press images are available here.

Major support for Por el Pueblo is provided by The Oakland Museum Women’s Board.