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Creative of the Month


Mel Casas

Posted 6 years 18 days ago ago by

A Tribute to Artist Mel Casas

The Department for Culture & Creative Development (DCCD) is proud to honor the late Mel Casas by selecting him as the Creative of the Month for June 2015. Casas was an influential artist, theoretician, teacher, mentor, and leader of the Con Safo art group. His work will continue to serve as influential pieces for future generations. 

"Mel Casas was more than just a well-known artist and teacher," said Felix Padron, DCCD Director. "His work helped define the Chicano art movement, making him an iconic figure among his contemporaries. But, the work he created also forced mainstream audiences to rethink their cultural views, which made him a figure of influence beyond the art world." 

Four major exhibitions devoted to the Humanscape paintings of artist Mel Casas will be on view at various locations throughout San Antonio between June and October 2015. Casas, who passed away in 2014, was an artist of national and international renown.

These exhibitions offer a unique opportunity for visitors to experience the complete evolution of Casas’ Humanscape cycle of 1965-1989 within thematically focused groupings. Educational programs featuring panels and distinguished lecturers will provide insight into Casas’ art and life, as well as the social and artistic context in which he worked. An accompanying publication is in preparation.

“Mel believed that one couldn’t get the ‘full flavor’ of an artist from just a painting or two,” said Grace Casas, the artist’s widow. “It was always Mel’s dream to have a substantial portion of these paintings on view at one time. Mel said that was the only way one could understand their interconnectedness and grasp their true significance.”

Getting the Big Picture: Political Themes in the Art of Mel Casas, 1968-1977
June 5 - October 24, 2015
Casas is best know for a handful of paintings with Chicano themes. This exhibition provides a full view of Casas' plotically-oriented art, including anti-war paintings and oblique commentaries on Nixon-era politics, censorship, and racial discrimination. More info

Mel Casas: The Southwestern Cliches, 1982-1989
June 11 - September 27, 2015
Casas believed that artists shouldn't merely imitate subject matter or painterly styles emanating from Europe or New York, so he made a series of witty paintings he called "Southwestern Cliches." More info

Sex and Cinema with Mel Casas, 1965-1967
June 25 - August 22, 2015
"Sex and Cinema with Mel Casas, 1965-1967" treats the cinematic origins of the Humanscape series, which began with an embryo and developed into ghostly, monochromatic views of spectators at drive-ins and movie theaters, reflecting the influence of Marshall McLuhan's book The Mechanical Bride (1951). The paintings in this exhibition become increasingly colorful and vivid, leading directly to the Sexual Revolution paintings. More info

Mel Casas: Art about Art, 1975-1981
July 1-31, 2015
Casas made a series of paintings that took art as his subject matter, beginning with Humanscape 74 (Deux Champ Stripped Bare by his Art, 1975), a punning, multilingual reference to Marcel Duchamp and his art. Casas also addresses the art market and the commodification of art in this series. More info 

Learn more about Mel Casas and his life's work at

Humanscape 145 (1987) 

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Friday, June 18, 2021