It was with sadness that the farm worker movement and the Chavez family learned of the passing on March 30 of artist and activist Maximino Elias Garcia, 78, a core member of the famed Sacramento-based RCAF (Royal Chicano Air Force) artist collective that for decades championed Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers.
Born in Uruapan in the Mexican state of Michoacán, Max Garcia graduated with a degree from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif. He divided his long career between working as an artist and activism on behalf of Chicano causes. Max pioneered a talk show, “Progresso,” on the Sacramento ABC television affiliate. When hundreds of farm workers frequently travelled from across California for lobbying or protests at the state Capitol, along with his RCAF colleagues Max helped collect and prepare food to feed them all and filled in with whatever tasks needed to be done.
Like other RCAF artists, Max incorporated into his art the iconic images and symbols of the UFW, including the stylized Aztec black eagle. The union often used RCAF members’ artwork to promote farm worker strikes, organizing and political drives. Max had a unique sense of humor and a good nature. Following UFW events in Sacramento, Cesar often asked to “hang out” with him and other RCAF members, enjoying those visits because the civil rights and farm labor leader could let his “hair hang down.”
Max Garcia is survived by his children, Kristen Carlene Price and Daniel Max Garcia; grandchildren Scarlett and Raven Price, and Amelia Hope Garcia; sister Marilyn Alejandre; and nephews Brian and Christopher Alejandre and Jesse Alejandre Jr. A memorial service will be scheduled later when people are able to attend.
Images show the young and old Max Garcia, and a piece of his art created to mark one of Cesar Chavez’s birthdays.