Jose Montoya

Artist, teacher and former poet laureate of Sacramento, Jose Montoya was one of the most recognized Chicano figures in California.

He also was a San Diego City College alumnus.

Montoya enrolled at San Diego City College after serving in the Navy. He worked three jobs while raising four children and attending the downtown San Diego campus.

“Dad loved his student days at San Diego City College and he often spoke of his time there with great appreciation for the teachers who encouraged him to attend art school and become a teacher instead of, as he originally wished, an illustrator for Disney,” said Montoya’s daughter, Gina Montoya.

While at San Diego City College, Montoya earned a scholarship to the California College of Arts and Crafts (now California College of the Arts), where he earned his bachelor’s degree.

Montoya began teaching at Leland High School in Wheatland and at Yuba College. He earned his master’s degree in 1971 from Cal State Sacramento, where he would serve as professor of art, photography and education for 27 years and where he co-founded the university’s Barrio Arts Program, which worked with student instructors who went into traditionally underserved neighborhoods to teach art.

Montoya was well known for his role during the Chicano Civil Rights Movement and his involvement with the United Farm Workers. He and several colleagues formed an art collective that later became known as the Royal Chicano Air Force, a collective that supported the United Farm Workers with posters, images and other pieces of art that became emblematic of the movement.

A Sacramento poet laureate and the author of three collections of poetry, including the highly acclaimed “In Formation: 20 Years of Joda,” Montoya gave poetry readings at some of the most prestigious universities across the nation and abroad.

Montoya died in 2013 at the age of 81.