After Mendoza’s death in 2012, a Chicago art museum honored my uncle with an exhibition of works by other artists commemorating him through portraits and art installations. The museum asked me to write the gallery wall text. Here was my finalized version of that narrative for the exhibit:
If this ofrenda has a mission, it is this: To capture Francisco Mendoza’s joy for living life, passion for art, and his ability to capture your attention even if it was just for a moment.
Mendoza was able to communicate these three qualities on many levels. This work reflects how he successfully interacted with the world whether it was expressing himself through painting, printmaking or creating beautiful ceramic and venetian glass tile murals, or by playing the trumpet, playing piano, teaching children, telling jokes, and doing voice imitations.
Francisco’s local fame is indisputable. His sense of humor was renowned. His willingness to help out a person or a cause was noble. Wherever he went, he found friends or made friends along the way. It didn’t matter if it was in South Chicago or Pilsen, downtown or out of town. Depending on where you met him, he also had different names and aliases: Mickey, Franco, Panchito, Maestro, and so on.
In his brief lifetime, he achieved many significant artistic milestones, and he has left a lasting impression on those who knew him personally or knew of him. It’s also important to remember that he also taught art to schoolchildren for 25 years, and he took great pride in his role as an educator.
Mendoza created art and inspired others to create; he developed a new vocabulary but yet it embraced and incorporated archetypal images from our history; and, he contributed and helped shape the progress of the Mexican-American art movement.
To our friend and fellow artist, Francisco G. Mendoza: Thank you! This is in recognition of you and the many contributions you made to our community.
—Ofrenda Exhibit Statement at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago