By Marissa Garcia
Art is not only a decorative piece in your home, art tells the stories of the past, says Chicano Art collector Tomás Sanchez.
“If I buy a piece that hits me—it’s about experience,” Sanchez said at a walkthrough of the exhibit ¡Chicanismo! last weekend at UC Santa Barbara’s Arts, Design and Architecture Museum.
¡Chicanismo! is a small portion of Sanchez’s art collection that reflects the Chicano Movement, Mexican culture and the start of colonization.
Sanchez received his master’s in History in 1975 from UCSB and is now a professor of history at Ventura College. But he started collecting works during his involvement with the Chicano movement.
The Chicano movement was a series of labor strikes and walk-outs during the 1960s-1970s to gain civil rights for Mexican-Americans and labor rights for farm workers.
“Every issue had a poster,” said Sanchez. But he said the one poster he took particular care of after all these years was one of labor leader Cesar Chavez.
Although that poster in particular is not on display, several other works of art have been mounted on the walls of the museum since January 12 and will be on display until December 8, 2019. The collection was mounted in honor of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Chicano/a Studies Department at UCSB.
The collection presents the culture of Mexicanos and Chicanos through the works of notable artists such as Salomón Huerta, Carlos Almaraz, Diane Gamboa, Leo Limón and more.
Leo Limón not only had his art in the exhibition, but he personally attended his friend’s walk-through event.
In the 70s, there were only a few Chicano artists producing art in southern California which made it easy for Sanchez to get to know the artists and make connections.
But purchasing art isn’t just about the connections, he said. It’s about timing, place and strategy.
“Look at who’s the best because they won’t be here forever, but their art will,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez says his love for art is not limited to Chicano Art, but limited financial resources prevent him from expanding into other genres.
“If I had the money I would be collecting different people,” said Sanchez. “I love the Renaissance.”
Collecting art isn’t cheap, but he believes it is money well spent and he was happy to share his collection with UCSB.
“I’m an alum. I wanted to share with the university that gave me so much,” said Sanchez.
¡Chicanismo! is a total of 184 pieces of art, sculptures and paintings. The exhibition will only show a portion of the collection and will rotate pieces throughout the year.
Marissa Garcia is a fourth-year Sociology major and Professional Writing minor at UC Santa Barbara. She is a Web and Social Media Intern with UC Santa Barbara’s Division of Humanities and Fine Arts.