Collection Scope and Content Summary
Title: Harry Gamboa, Jr. Photographs,
Date (inclusive): 1971-1995
Collection number: MSS PHOTO 203
Gamboa, Harry, Jr.
.25 linear ft.
(93 black & white prints, 7 original Polaroid instant prints)
Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
Abstract: The 93 B&W prints are unique in that they were hand-printed in 1995 by Willie Garcia along with Gamboa's supervision. Although
several of these images have been printed elsewhere, the quality and tonality of these prints will not be reproduced by other
photo lab techniques. Several of the negatives were lost. Seven of the 100 photographs are original Polaroid instant prints.
Property rights reside with the repository. Literary rights
reside with the creators of the documents or their heirs. To
obtain permission to publish or reproduce, please contact the
Public Services Librarian of the Dept. of Special Collections.
Harry Gamboa, Jr. Photographs. MSS PHOTO 203. Dept. of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, Calif.
Harry Gamboa Jr. was born in 1951, the first of five children born to Harry T. Gamboa and
Carmen Gamboa, a working class Mexican American couple. He grew up in East Los Angeles
California, an urban area tormented by poverty, violence and racial conflict. Despite these
surroundings, the inadequacy of the East L.A. public schools and his parents' lack of education,
Gamboa was encouraged to value education and did fairly well in school. As a teenager he was
active in community organizations and politics. As a student at High School (graduated 1969)
Gamboa was active in student government and as an organizer of various student-initiated
reforms, most significantly the 1968 "East L.A. Blowouts" -a series of protests against the
inferior conditions of public schools in poor, non-white areas.
Gamboa's extra-curricular activities were not, however, limited to politics. Already a developing
artist, it was at Garfield High that Gamboa met Gronk (Glugio Nicondra), Patssi (then Patsy)
Valdez and Willie Herrón, three of his closest associates in his later career. After the
"Blowouts," for his final year of high school, Gamboa dropped out of the political scene in order
to dedicate himself to his education. Thanks to these efforts and with the help of the Equal
Opportunities Program (EOP) for disadvantaged minority students, Gamboa was able to attend
California State University at Los Angeles. From this point his career as an artist -both solo and
with Gronk, Valdez and Herrón in the art collective ASCO (Spanish for nausea)-took off.
Gamboa's work as a writer, photographer, film-maker, performance artist and multi-media
creator of "things" is diverse, but in all his efforts (including those as a member of ASCO) his
focus has been to reveal the absurdity of urban life and to confront both the dominant white
culture and various perspectives within Chicano culture, pointing to the pain and alienation
caused by both. This is often achieved by altering the media of the art itself, as opposed to just
the subject matter. Gamboa's most significant works include mail art of the 1970s, ASCO's "no
movies," the "urban opera" Ignore the Dents and Jetter's Jinx.
Gamboa has one son, Diego, born c. 1980, a product of his first marriage. In 1993 Gamboa
married his second wife, Chicano muralist Barbara Carrasco, after seven years of romantic and
professional involvement. Their daughter, Barbara Gamboa, was born in 1994.
Collection Scope and Content Summary
The 93 black and white prints are unique in that they were hand-printed in 1995 by Willie Garcia along with Gamboa's supervision.
Although several of these images have been printed elsewhere, the quality and tonality of these prints will not be reproduced
by other photo lab techniques. Several of the negatives were lost. Seven of the 100 photographs are original Polaroid instant
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Mexican American arts.