Written September 29, 2017
This is a continuation of my adventures with the RCAF, the Royal Chicano Air Force, an art collective from Sacramento State University. Founded in 1970, I met them shortly after, in April 1971. My professors were outrageously funny.On one occasion, we were returning from an educational conference, perhaps it was San Diego, returning to Sacramento. Forty-six years later my memory fails me as to whom all was with us. But, I know it was Jose Montoya, Esteban Villa, Maria, myself and two other students. We were in a Sacramento State vehicle; a van. And, for some bizarre crazy idea, everyone agreed we should make a pit-stop, maybe just to stretch our legs, and surprise my Mama and family in Huron, since we would be passing right near by. I was excited to see my Mama. So here we were driving into Huron unbeknownst to my Mama, in a State of California van with seals on both sides of door, being escorted by dogs as we entered my home town. People fear state vehicles in towns like Huron. They’re viewed as “the chota (the law).” Jose said, “he didn’t realize dogs could read!”My Mama was elated and immediately started doing what she loved; she began cooking for the group. Jose Montoya and Estaban Villa proceeded to do what they do best; they promptly took out their guitars and started singing in gratitude to my Mama. By the time you knew it, it was a continuation of San Diego, another “pachanga.” With food, music, laughter, amigos and familia. We had a few beers and decided to just depart Huron in the early morning. Jose proceeded to write a poem of my hometown, Huron. He read it to us. I don’t recall the title. But, it was about Huron being run by dogs, and that we had been escorted from the entrance of town to my Mama’s house by a pack of barking dogs to even our exit. And, how everyone was curious and leery of whom we were, since we had arrived in a state van. Everyone fell asleep everywhere mainly on the floor in the living room. The next morning bright and early we headed out only to discover the state van had been egged.I wish I had saved that poem, but I didn’t, it’s all recorded in my bank, under beautiful recuerdos of mi Profe. Jose Montoya. Today four years ago from your passing you are flooding my head with recuerdos.
I recall my Professors, Jose Montoya and Esteban Villa with great fondness
September 28, 2017
The Great Tortilla
Yesterday, was four years ago from your passing and the memories continue. When I transferred from Humboldt State to Sacramento State in 1972, I saw Jose Montoya’s innovative Tortilla arte (an iconic humble symbol of our culture) hanging in the Art Department. My mind was blown away; I wasn’t sure if this was a joke or a stroke of genius. His Tortilla art (images burned onto tortillas) and flying jalapeño arte were right up there with his Moco poem, which I had first heard at Humboldt State. Laughter always surrounded him, he saw art in everything, the world was his canvas, and his guitar was never far away. I recall once being at someone’s home, we were a group of young starving college kids who hung out with our professors. And whenever someone invited us over for a free meal we were there.It was a large group that hung out and always changing as to who was available, but there was a definite core group that existed. It was so long ago I don’t specifically recall who all was present, I know Jose Montoya, Esteban Villa, Sonia Lopez, Maria and myself were there. Our host was cooking and warming up tortillas for us on an electric stove (they did not have a comal). The stove grill left an impression of circles and Jose said, “mira tortilla art,” and proceeds to pull out a marker and started to draw and connect lines established by the coils of the electric stove to form a face. He and Esteban Villa, were always drawing on napkins, paper towels, or whatever was accessible. I wish I had saved some of those works of art. Many of you may not even know or care as to who the RCAF was/is, I have only shared but a speck of who they were/are and did. José Montoya and Esteban Villa influenced and fostered my young life in a positive delightful way. These were some of the few life lessons I learned by having had the blessing of being exposed to tortilla and flying jalapeño arte outside of the classroom. They provided the family structure I needed and had left at home. I learned to be more confident in my creativity; to let go; to describe a flower without words, to quench my thirst from a running stream without drinking from it, how to truly see a sunset in my minds eye, to dance without music and so much more. They offered constructive criticism without judgement. I have always made things out of nothing, but I was taught to take more risks. And although determination was always stressed by my family it was reinforced by Mi Amigos of the RCAF, the Royal Chicano Air Force. Gracias to the Great Tortilla and the Flying Jalapeños in my life.
To Be Contnued
Originally Written September 27, 2013
Long live Tortilla Art & Flying Jalapeños!
Awoke to find out Jose Montoyo passed away Wednesday. I met Jose Montoyo and the RCAF in 1970 while at Humboldt State. He was an art professor at Sacramento State University. I invited them to Humboldt State for a cultural faire. The RCAF and specifically Jose Montoya and Esteban Villa were instrumental in I transferring to Sacramento State, in 1971/72. They were my mentors, but even more than that, they were like Familia. I will always have fond memories of you. Descansa en Paz Profe!