PHOENIX (AP) – Ralph Arnold Cordova, a Mexican American artist and comedian who advocated for Chicano and Native American art in Phoenix, has died.

Whitney & Murphy Funeral Home confirmed that Cordova died Thursday. He was 61.

The cause of death was not immediately known.

In 1978, Cordova helped found the Movimiento Artístico del Rio Salado, or MARS Art Space. It was an artistic collection aimed at helping Chicano and Native American artists who were facing trouble getting into Phoenix art galleries.

Through the group, Cordova aided in getting work by Native American and Mexican American artists into museums. The group closed its doors in 2002.

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