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Mission Gráfica: Reflecting a Community in Print
Published by Pacific View Press, San Francisco, CA
Available Fall 2021
As a community print center of diversity and cultural ferment, Mission Gráfica has produced challenging, aesthetically outstanding artwork of social and political relevance for four decades. Over one hundred full-color screenprints were selected from thousands produced by the many artists who cycled through the studio.
Mission Gráfica was created in 1982 through the joint efforts of René Castro, a political refugee from Pinochet’s coup in Chile, and Jos Sances, a Sicilian American, Vietnam war draft resistor, with a base in commercial printing. Castro’s brilliant graphic design melded with Sances’ technical mastery to create the backbone of the most sought after political poster center in the San Francisco Bay Area, attracting important artists as well as rock stars and guerrilla movements.
During the 1990s Mission Gráfica was reformulated under the direction of Juan R. Fuentes who emphasized community projects and classes. He created a more open workshop that served artists exploring personal visions as well as a springboard for activists in local struggles from gentrification to homelessness.
Through much of its history the dedicated and supportive presence of Calixto Robles has kept the heart of the workshop beating. He brought together political engagement, deep spiritual awareness, and a generous teaching style that opened the doors to screenprint for countless students.
The work here reflects an enormous variety of styles, approaches and sensibilities. The artists range from non-professional and emerging artists to well-known figures such as Enrique Chagoya, Nancy Hom, Rupert Garcia, Mildred Howard, Jean La Marr, Ester Hernandez, Michael Roman, Jesus Barraza, Favianna Rodriguez and the San Francisco Print Collective.
This abundantly illustrated narrative, with an evocative introduction by US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, offers inspiration for new generations of graphic expression and situates Mission Gráfica within the context of the rich history of political posters in the San Francisco Bay Area.