Jesús “Chuy” Campusano (1944–1997) was part of a generation of Latina/o artists in the Mission District who strived to create a cultural infrastructure that would support future generations of artists. He was one of a larger group of artists who founded Galería de la Raza, a pivotal organization for the support of Latina/o artists in the Mission. A key figure in the Mission’s community mural movement during the seventies, Campusano worked collaboratively with Luis Cortázar and Michael Ríos to produce the iconic mural Homage to Siqueiros (1974), housed inside a local Bank of America branch. The production of the mural spawned an important friendship with Emmy Lou Packard, who advised the group based on her previous work assisting Diego Rivera. Packard and Campusano became good friends. Homage to Siqueiros exemplifies aesthetic and ideological links Chicano and Chicana artists drew to Mexico’s Tres Grandes (Diego Rivera, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and José Clemente Orozco). Campusano’s artistic training also connected him to this tradition. Early in his career, he was sponsored by the Casa Hispana de Bellas Artes of San Francisco to spend two years at the Academy of San Carlos in Mexico City studying the techniques and work of Siqueiros. During his time at the academy, he also studied with Pablo O’Higgins, who was a student of Diego Rivera. Soon after his passing in 1997, Campusano’s abstract mural Lilli Ann (1982) was at the center of a legal battle regarding artist rights after the new owners of the building on which the mural was painted decided to whitewash it. Campusano’s family eventually won the court case, which marked an important victory for muralists in California and a small victory for anti-gentrification activists in the Mission District.
Kevin Cruz Amaya
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