René Yañez, the Latino artist, curator, producer, mentor, and community activist who established important bridges between radical politics and art, from the late 1960s to the present. He lived in the Mission District from 1970-2018 and in 1970, he co-founded Galería de la Raza, a non-profit organization and community-focused gallery that features Latino and Chicano artists and their allies. In the early 1970s, he was one of the first curators in the United States to introduce Mexico’s Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) as an important cultural celebration and with a contemporary focus. He was a huge admirer of Frida Kahlo and introduced her art through Galeria de la Raza and many other venues.
His curatorial efforts are hallmarked through leading San Francisco’s annual Dia de Los Muertos events since the early 1970’s, Cheech Marin’s well-received exhibition Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge, Chicano Now! American Expressions, and the well-known Great Tortilla Conspiracy whose legacy lives on through his son Rio Yañez, Jos Sances, and Art Hazelwood.
His relationship with other people of color art organizations is shown through his advocacy of the performance theater group Culture Clash, performance artist Guillermo Gomez Peña, and many other notable artists. He worked with local Latino and Chicano organizations such as ASCO, Royal Chicano Air Force (R.C.A.F.), and The Mexican Museum.