Califas Legacy Project: Documenting our region’s Chicano/a cultural treasures

In 1982, as a professor of art at UC Santa Cruz, Eduardo Carrillo with Philip Brookman brought together innovative Chicano artists, intellectuals and visionaries at the  UC sponsored conference, “Califas: Chicano art and culture in California.” Drawing inspiration from the spirit of the conference, The Califas Legacy Project is a multi-year, multi-medium, collaborative endeavor launched by Museo Eduardo Carrillo to document the legacy of our region’s Chicano/a cultural treasures: Guillermo (Yermo) Aranda, Amalia Mesa-Bains, Ralph D’Oliveira,  and Carmen León. One medium is not enough to represent them and so the project includes a remarkable handprinted accordion book, a documentary film about the artists, web presence through Museo’s legacy section and a traveling exhibition of the featured artists’ work. 

The development of  Califas The Ancestral Journey/ El Viaje Ancestral  accordion book, December 2019.

Califas: The Ancestral Journey/El Viaje Ancestral

In recognition of this need to focus on the art of the Central Coast Califas: The Ancestral Journey/El Viaje Ancestral is being produced jointly by Museo and Moving Parts Press as an integral part of the Califas Legacy Project. Working with book artist, typographer, and publisher Felicia Rice of Moving Parts Press, the first phase of the project to be completed is a hand-painted, hand-printed, and hand-bound 18” x 18” x 18′ accordion-fold book that intertwines the Mexican-American, Chican/a/x, Peruvian, and Indigenous heritages of five central coast artists. The cover will be a shadowbox assemblage by Amalia. The expressive mural within by Ralph, Carmen and Yermo takes us on a mythic journey. An essay by Watsonville native, Gabriela Rodriguez-Gomez will be included. The book will roll out in a phased schedule between June and September 2020. What has been so gratifying to us all is that the Santa Cruz and Watsonville public libraries have developed a suite of programming for the community around the launch of the book this Summer and Fall. More updates will follow.

Do you already love this book? We plan to print a run of 750 trade edition books that will be distributed free to libraries, schools, universities and colleges and other cultural and social service agencies in our region. And beyond. We recognize the need to bring visibility to the vacant places in our culture’s art history through sharing the work of our region’s leading Chicano/a/x artists.  Books need to be in people’s hands and the art needs to be part of people’s social consciousness.

Califas Legacy Project Documentary

Integral to the Califas Legacy Project is a documentary film by Wallace Boss. He records the artists in their own words and films them in their studio settings. It will complement and enhance the programming this coming summer and fall.

Collaboration with Young Writers’ Program

The sixth book in Hablamos Juntos series will come out this Spring. It will feature the Califas Legacy artists. The annual reading at Bookshop Santa Cruz offered by our long-time collaborator, the Young Writers Program, will feature some of the young authors reading their narratives inspired by the artists’ images. Join us.

Traveling exhibition

Our project continues in 2021, through extended web presence in Museo’s Califas Legacy section. Would you like to see the work in person? A traveling exhibition of the featured artists Amalia Mesa-Bains, Carmen León, Ralph D’Oliveira and Yermo Aranda will be mounted at the Santa Cruz Art League in January and travel to the Monterey Museum of Art in the Spring, uniting our Central Coast communities. Be sure to come see the monographic exhibition of Eduardo’s work at the Sesnon Gallery at UC, Santa Cruz, curated by Shelby Graham, showing concurrently in Winter of 2021.


Thanks to the Arts Council of Santa Cruz County, Santa Cruz City Arts, and hit & run press for their support for this project.


Share your thoughts

Would you like to know more? Please contact us with your questions and thoughts, or post a comment below. We welcome your input.


5 thoughts on “Califas Legacy Project: Documenting our region’s Chicano/a cultural treasures

  1. So good to see Ralph D’Oliveira speaking of his experience in the early days of the Chicano Movement. He and the area artists of the Tortuga Patrol worked in synch with the goals and values of artists from the Royal Chicano Air Force, Galeria de La Raza, Self Help Graphics, Centro Cultural de La Raza, Centro de La Gente, La Brocha del Valle, Casa de La Raza and others in cities and towns across California. These artists along with teatros, poets, filmmakers, photographers, musicians and dancers lifted our communities to incorporate a new vision of ourselves. We of the RCAF salute Ralph and the artists of the coastal region of Santa Cruz and Watsonville.

  2. I was in Teatros Chicanos, from Sonoma CSU in early 70’s, to San Diego’s Centro Cultural de la Raza. We were a part of the artists doing their painting or building. In San Jose, in early 80’s, I was a part of the women’s teatro Teatro Huipil, all beautiful experiences in Chicano/a theatre. We taughts the youth and community about positive roles for Chicanas. Thank you Juan. You were in California Arts, since Juan Felipe Herrera was the Director of Centro Cultural, those many years ago. It was all good

  3. Hi contacting you regarding the legacy progect. I was a member of “La Brocha Del Valle, along with Ernesto Palomino, Sal Garcia, John Sierra, Fernando Fernandez, Lee Orona, John Ibarra, and others…..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *