Hail César

Admit it: You hear the name “César Chávez” and your mind goes straight to farm-worker strikes and cheesy one-liners about boycotting grapes. Who knew that Chávez was linked to a series of gorgeous Pop Art posters of ladies dancing and cool old airplanes? The folks at Tempe City Hall certainly did. As proof, its gallery is presenting the "Art With a Cause" exhibit, a collection of vintage posters promoting benefit dances and traditional ceremonies to raise dough for the Royal Chicano Air Force art collective, usually in support of Chávez and the United Farm Workers.

But there’s more to the show than just jazzy old fundraising posters. A narrative exhibit details Chávez’s life in Arizona, from his era-defining fast in 1972 to the honorary degree handed to him by ASU 20 years later. (Noticeably -- and thankfully -- absent: any jokey references to grape boycotts.) Also on display are examples of contemporary work by local Hispanic printmakers, some of whose work was influenced by the illustrators and painters who captured the color-saturated imagery of the Royal Chicano Air Force placards and promotional posters.

Visit to get a glimpse of some of the cooler posters.

Mondays-Fridays; Mondays-Fridays; Mondays-Fridays. Starts: Jan. 2. Continues through April 4, 2007
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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela