Payaso del Rodeo posa al entrar al ring. Photo by Einar Sevilla

The Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts opened an exhibit celebrating Mexican professional wrestling—Lucha Libre—and its significance to its home country and the world.

“La Quebradora: Lucha Libre in Contemporary Mexican Art” will be running from until Aug. 4, under the watchful eye of curator Amy Pederson.

“I’ve been an art historian for quite a while, but I’ve been a fan of Lucha Libre for almost the same amount of time,” she said. “I guess it was sort of fortuitous that I found some chance to bring these things together.”

The exhibit opened June 6 with an appearance by perhaps Lucha Libre’s most famous star—Mil Mascaras—who revolutionized the sport during his 47-year career as an international luchador.

Tattoo Artist, Sal Cortez, said Lucha Libre inspires him creatively and that he was thrilled to meet Mil Mascaras.

“To shake the hand of a legend [and] listen to the knowledge he has about his life is pretty extraordinary,” Cortez said.

For the opening, Promo Lucha Azteca set up a ring in the MCCLA’s theater and put on two tag team matches. The first featured “The KKK” vs. “The Black Panthers,” with The Black Panthers taking the win.

Ultimo Tigre and Paiaso Del Rodeo teamed up against El Rudo Sancho and El Diabolico in the second match, which was a more technical bout that demonstrated the physical skill necessary for Lucha Libre.

“Thanks to one of our teammates, named Chicano Flame, we were given an invitation, and we’re here to support [the MCCLA],” Paiaso Del Rodeo said.

After the matches there was a Q&A with Mil Mascaras, and the exhibit was unveiled in the MCCLA’s gallery.

“[The exhibit is] contemporary, it has a language that’s universal, it’s our 35th anniversary and it’s my gift to the center, and to the Mission, to bring this kind of dialogue to today’s time,” Gallery Coordinator for the MCCLA Maurizzio Hector Pineda said.

There are videos playing along the walls and floor that showed wrestlers training in the gym, creating masks and performing their craft in front of a large audience.

Paintings lined the walls and explained the ways that Lucha Libre reflects its home country and the struggles its people face.

One in particular that stood out was “Santo vs. Santo” by Enrique Hernandez of Guadalajara, depicting the famous luchador El Santo–whose face was only publicly revealed twice–in a bout against himself. The painting challenges the idea of identity beyond the mask.

Pederson said that the painting and many others in the exhibit explore the “idea of looking for a mark of truth, or freedom, in society.”

“I think you can find this in the best kinds of art,” she said. “And I think you can find this in the purest forms of Lucha Libre.”

“Mascara” by Ruben Gutierrez from Monterrey, is a photo of a luchador mask made out of cocaine, representing Mexico’s long battle with drug trafficking.

Chicano Flame and the non-profit Los Bomberos, which comprises Latino firefighters from San Francisco, brought Mil Mascaras to the Mission District.

Promo Lucha Azteca will return to the Mission District Aug.4 on the final night of La Quebradora, and the exhibit will continue to have events such as film presentations and a speech with Amy Pederson and Mexican Museums Adjunct Curator David de la Torre.

If you would like to make a reservation for a gallery tour, call (415) 821-1155.  For more information visit