August 16, 2022
“A new era in Chicano art is beginning! ¡DÁLE GAS!”
With this call to action, the artist and curator Santos Martinez Jr. heralded a historic moment. On August 20, 1977, the first major museum exhibition of Chicano art in Texas opened to the public at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH). Dále Gas: An Exhibition of Contemporary Chicano Art brought together the work of thirteen artists: Mel Casas, Jose Esquivel, Frank Fajardo, Carmen Lomas Garza, Luis Jiménez, César Augusto Martínez, Amado Peña, Roberto Rios, José Rivera, Joe Bastida Rodriguez, Jesus (Jesse) Treviño, George Truan, and curator of the exhibition and chief curator of CAMH at the time, Santos Martinez Jr.
Martinez’s introductory essay—in which he traces the history of the Chicano movement in Texas, the genesis of Chicano art, and key artists and collectives in the state—is available in the ICAA’s Documents Project (849251), as is the Houston Chronicle’s exhibition review (849161) by the newspaper’s art critic, Charlotte Moser.
To celebrate the 45th anniversary of this landmark Houston exhibition, explore a selection below of documents in our digital archive related to some of the artists featured in the show. You can see more from the exhibition catalogue here courtesy of CAMH. And, join CAMH on Saturday, August 20 for an in-person Open Studio in honor of Dále Gas!
As Martinez points out in his essay, many of the artists in Dále Gas—Casas, Esquivel, Lomas Garza, César Martínez, Santos Martinez Jr., Peña, Rios, and Treviño, among them—were one-time members of the San Antonio group Con Safo.
Los Quemados was a collective formed after its San Antonio predecessor, Con Safo, broke up in 1975. The group included Garza, César Martínez, Santos Martinez Jr., Peña, Rivera, and Treviño, among others.
Carmen Lomas Garza
César Augusto Martínez
Joe Bastida Rodriguez
Rodriguez organized an earlier exhibition of work by Tejano artists that was hosted at the Houston Lighting and Power Company building, and traveled to other venues in Texas. Mimi Crossley, art critic for the Houston Post at the time, favorably reviewed the exhibition for Art in America.
Lillian Michel is the Digital Experience Specialist at the ICAA.