A Finding Aid to the Mel Casas Papers, 1963-1998, in the Archives of American Art

Summary
Collection ID:
AAA.casamel
Creators:
Casas, Mel, 1929-2014
Dates:
1963-1996
Languages:
English
Physical Description:
1 Linear foot
Repository:
The papers of painter and educator Mel Casas measure 1.0 linear feet and date from 1963 to 1998. The collection is comprised of biographical materials that include files on the art collective Con Safo, correspondence regarding business and exhibitions, writings by Casas on Chicano art and by others, printed materials, and photographic materials containing photographs and slides of Casas and others, his artwork, and an exhibition.

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The papers of painter and educator Mel Casas measure 1.0 linear feet and date from 1963 to 1998. The collection is comprised of biographical materials that include files on the art collective Con Safo, correspondence regarding business and exhibitions, writings by Casas on Chicano art and by others, printed materials, and photographic materials containing photographs and slides of Casas and others, his artwork, and an exhibition.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is arranged as five series.
  • Series 1: Biographical Materials, 1975-1996 (Box 1; 4 folders)
  • Series 2: Correspondence, 1975-1993 (Box 1; 4 folders)
  • Series 3: Writings, 1973-1993 (Box 1; 5 folders)
  • Series 4: Printed Materials, 1963-1998 (Box 1-2, OVs 3-4; 0.7 linear feet)
  • Series 5: Photographic Materials, circa 1977 (Box 2; 1 folder)

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Mel Casas (1929-2014) was a painter and educator in San Antonio, Texas. Casas was born in El Paso in the historic El Segundo Barrio. After graduating from El Paso High School, Casas worked a few odd jobs before serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He became wounded by a landmine and subsequently received a Purple Heart. After returning home from the war, he attended the University of Texas at El Paso graduating in 1956. He received a Master of Fine Art in 1958 from the University of the Americas in Mexico City. He began his teaching career at Jefferson High School in El Paso where one of his students was artist Gaspar Enriquez. Casas went on to teach at San Antonio College and was Chair of the Art Department until he retired in 1990.
Casas was a member of the art collective Con Safo. The group was founded by Felipe Reyes under the original name El Grupo. A few of the original members included Jose Esquivel, Rudy Treviño, and Roberto Ríos. The mission of the group was to empower Chicano artists who were largely overlooked in the mainstream art world. In 1968 Casas penned the "Brown Paper Report," a manifesto discussing the meaning of Con Safo, Chicano concepts, and the use of the symbol "C/S." The report helped define Con Safo as an organization and remains a fundamental document in the history of the Chicano art movement.
Casas' is well-known for his series Humanscapes that includes 150 large-scale paintings that were produced from 1965 to 1989. This series, along with smaller works, has been exhibited throughout the U.S. and Mexico. His work is also in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the San Antonio Museum of Art, and other collections worldwide.
Casas died in 2014 in San Antonio, Texas.

Administration
Processing Information
The collection was processed and a finding aid prepared by Sarah Mundy in 2018.
Existence and Location of Copies
A portion of the collection was microfilmed on reels 3316-3317 as part of the Archives of American Art's Texas project. The microfilm is only available for interlibrary loan. Researchers should note that the arrangement of material described in this finding aid does not reflect the order of the material on microfilm.
Author
Sarah Mundy
Sponsor
The processing of this collection received Federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The Mel Casas papers were donated by Mel Casas in 1981 and microfilmed as part of the Archives of American Art's Texas project. Additional papers were donated by Casas in 1999.

Using the Collection
Preferred Citation
Mel Casas papers, 1963-1998. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Conditions Governing Access
Use of original papers requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C., Research Center.

Related Materials
Also at the Archives of American Art is an interview of Mel Casas conducted August 14-16, 1996 by Paul Karlstrom for the Archives of American Art.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Art teachers--Texas--San Antonio Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Con Safo (Group of artists) Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Hispanic American artists Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mexican American art Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Mexican American artists Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painters--Texas--San Antonio Occupation Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Painting, Modern--20th century--History--Texas--San Antonio Culture Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives of American Art
750 9th Street, NW
Victor Building, Suite 2200
Washington, D.C. 20001
https://www.aaa.si.edu/services/questions
https://www.aaa.si.edu/