[UPDATED with Songs for Shifra] Shifra Goldman, Latino/Chicano Art Historian, Dead at 85

Categories: art, r.i.p.
Courtesy of the Family
Shifra Goldman in her office

UPDATE: Sept. 15 10:31 A.M.: As a reader let me know, Eric Garcia, the son of the late Shifra Goldman, released an album in tribute to his mother a month prior to her passing. The guitarist, who in the course of his musical life has lent his talents to Motown, Bob Dylan and the Nobodys, recorded a collection of songs he played bedside at the hospital where she was entering the final stages of Alzheimer's disease.

"My mom had a profound effect on me, teaching me about art, introducing me to many artists, taking me to galleries and analyzing paintings," Garcia is quoted in the album notes for Songs for Shifra. "When she developed dementia, she reached a point where we couldn't talk anymore, so I would go and play guitar for her and kiss her forehead."

The album notes also delve into how Shifra Goldman met the musician's father John Garcia in the early days of the farm workers and civil rights movement during the 1950's. She learned how to play the guitar from him and the musical influence was passed down to their son through her. In recording Songs for Shifra, Eric Garcia leaves a touching tribute to the life of his late mother that all can appreciate in remembrance.

ORIGINAL ITEM, Sept. 14, 12:12 P.M.:Shifra M. Goldman, an early scholar, author, and activist for Latin American and Chicano art, died Sunday due to complications of Alzheimer's disease. According to an informative obituary written by Center for the Study of Political Graphics founding director Carol Wells, Goldman was born in 1926 to Russian/Polish immigrant parents, before moving on with her family to Los Angeles from New York in the 1940s.

As an undergraduate studio art major at UCLA, she involved herself in more than just coursework. She enlisted in the social movement of the times, tasks that found her subpoenaed before the House UnAmerican Activities. Living in East Los Angeles, Goldman learned Spanish and took a deep interest in Mexican and Chicano culture. As she later completed her bachelors degree from UCLA in the 1960's, the historian went on to obtain her masters from CSULA, before returning to her former university to enroll in the doctorate program.

It was in her Ph.D program where the activist scholar railed against Eurocentrism insisting that she be able put forth a dissertation on modern Mexican Art. When faculty member finally agreed years later, Goldman's work Contemporary Mexican Painting in a Time of Change would eventually go on to be published in 1981. Among other publications that followed included the 1994 collection of her essays compiled in Dimensions of the Americas: Art and Social Change in Latin America and the United States.

Locally, in addition to authoring books and essay on Latin American and Chicano art, Goldman was a long time professor at Santa Ana College earning an inaugural faculty publications award in 1987. She continued to advocate for Mexican art curating at Santa Ana's Bowers Museum and telling the Los Angeles Times in 1994 that, "To say that Tamayo is not as good as Picasso, that's Eurocentrism." Emigdio Vasquez, a well known Chicano artist and muralist who attended Santa Ana College in the 1970's, was praised by Goldman for his work including 22 murals in Orange County. "To see his paintings is to enter into and relive the history of a people," she wrote.

Donations in memory of Shifra M. Goldman are being asked to be made to Tropico de Nopal, the Center for the Study of Political Graphics, and Avenue 50 Studio. Information on an upcoming memorial in October will be made available on the websites for those establishments.

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I was a student of Dr. Goldman's for two semesters at Santa Ana College (art appreciation) in the mid-1970's. I'm really saddened to hear of her passing. She didn't mention any of her personal activism except for a rather obvious interest in feminism. I really respected her formidable intellect and thought she was a very fair minded and rigorous instructor. My condolences to her family and friends.

Luis Carlos
Luis Carlos

Shifra extended a hand to me when i was considering grad school eventually inviting me to her home to do research in her personal collections. She helped many students with personal and academic advice. She was an amazing woman. I will miss her very much. Rest in Peace Dr. Goldman.

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