‘The Cheech,’ a Game Changer for Chicano Art, Opens in Riverside

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Riverside, CA — As a kid, Cheech Marin loved collecting objects such as baseball cards, stamps, and marbles and relentlessly organizing them.

“I had a maniac to codify them and put them in some kind of collection or set,” said the classic Stoner comedy duo, best as half of the mustache-bearing Chicano of Cheech & Chung. Known Marin, 75 years old.

In the 1980s, backed by stable film and television productions, a natural tendency towards marine collection when falling in love with the works of Los Angeles-based Chicano artists such as John Valades, George Yepes, and Patzivaldes. Was maximized.

Their work, which “delivered the news head-on” by integrating the influences of Mexico and the United States, was astonishing as “I heard the Beatles for the first time.” Marin, who grew up in a third-generation Mexican-American family in South Ross, said. Angels and San Fernando Valley.

Since then, Marin has accumulated a collection of over 700 paintings, drawings, sculptures and mixed media works by Chicano artists, including major works by Carlos Alma Russ, Francromero and Judith Hernandez. In the art world, the mountain of Chicano art in Marine is believed to be the largest collection in the world.

Today, the Marin collection is permanently resident at the Chicano Art and Culture Cheech Marin Center (known as “Cheech”) in Riverside, California. The vast Riverside-San Bernese region of Southern California.

Located in the former Riverside Public Library, this center is probably the first museum in the United States to showcase Chicano’s art and culture. Marin, a public-private partnership backed by significant local investment, was once the birthplace of California’s citrus production and is one of the fastest growing and racially diverse regions of the United States. I hope to inspire a kind of renaissance of Chicano art in the inland empire.

Marin was fine during the recent Cheech walkthrough before the first day of June 18th. He stopped to admire the stunning brushstrokes of Romero’s “Arrest of Paletteros” and the “bullet” of Almaraz’s surprisingly sublime “Sunset Crash” color.

“The story of Cheech is a coincidence,” said Todd Wingate, curator of the Riverside Museum’s exhibits and collections.

In 2017, Wingate and former Riverside City manager John Russo proposed to Marin the idea of ​​establishing a museum based on his collection. At that time, the city was looking for a new tenant in a groundbreaking public library building, a two-story buff-colored modern building in the city’s historic center. Marin’s paper traveling exhibition “Papel Chicano Dos” recently attracted a record crowd at the Riverside Art Museum. In exchange for Marin’s donation of his collection to the Riverside Museum, the city paid for it to be housed in an old library building.

“It wasn’t convincing,” Wingate said. “I think Cheech was just starting to think about where his collection was.”

“Thinking about it, it’s a collection of Cheech’s collections of size and caliber, but there aren’t many places that can accommodate everything,” he added. “Most of it is just in storage.”

Under a 25-year partnership agreement, the Riverside Museum will manage the chef and the city will donate about $ 1 million annually to cover operating costs.

The Riverside Museum has funded approximately $ 13 million in renovating the library building, primarily through $ 9.7 million in state grants and personal donations. The center is expected to generate $ 3 million in admission revenue over the first decade of operation.

Riverside mayor Patricia Lock Dawson, who took office after the Cheech partnership was completed, says she hasn’t had a backlash on investment. (One of the notable Robs is from a local Republican candidate who called the “Stoner Museum” on Twitter).

Mayor Dawson believes that Cheech will attract people of all backgrounds, including visitors from abroad. “I recently saw an article about it in Japanese art news,” she said. “If you’re from Southern California, you’ve experienced Chicano culture at some point, right? But it’s also interesting to people in other parts of the world.”

“Everyone involved wants the Cheech to be self-reliant,” said Drew Oberjeelge, Managing Director of the Riverside Museum.

For the Inland Empire nonprofit, the lasting challenge is the lack of funding and philanthropy for public art in the region, Oberjuerge said. She said state funding disproportionately supports coastal areas and major city centers such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego. According to one report, Inland Empire nonprofits received $ 25.55 per person in support, compared to the state average of $ 262.99.

To raise the initial $ 3 million investment needed to start the project, the Riverside Museum relied on Unidos, a local group of volunteer and Latin-focused community organizations. Their campaign includes multiple Chicano-themed fundraiser, including “Pachuco Ball,” a concert by Los Lobos (a longtime friend of Marin) in downtown Riverside, and the next “Chicano Gala” at a local convention center. I created it. Dozens of Riversiders have planned a five-year payment plan and donated a minimum donation of $ 5,000 to spot the center’s founder’s wall, a former Riverside school board who ran the first campaign. Ofelia Valdez-Yeager, a member of the Society, said.

Marin’s ambitions for the chef are only a few times shy about world domination, including the development of a film program led by film director Robert Rodriguez, who made several films for Marin. According to Marin, he trains independent filmmakers on the principles of low-budget filmmaking.

Maria Esther Fernandez, former artistic director of Chichi, former chief curator and deputy director of the Triton Museum in Santa Clara, California, said Chichi also stands out as a “dynamic academic center.” ..

“We are really starting to set up a center as an education and research hub that produces Chicano art research and supports its scholarships and emerging museum professionals,” Fernandez said. She said the center will host two curators and a Nature Maintenance Research Fellowship designed to help increase Latinism in museums and archives.

Both Marin and Fernandez want to position the chee as a place for “controversial dialogue” about identity, expression, gender-neutral terminology, and questions about the mother of all questions. What exactly is Chicano Art?

“Is it a style?” Marin said. “Do I need to be properly vaccinated to make Chicano Art? Do your parents need to be Mexican or maybe one?”

“I want to have that conversation,” he added.

According to Fernandez, the center’s basic mission is to display artwork not found in other museums. According to a 2019 Williams College survey, only 2.8% of artists in major US museum collections are Hispanic or Latin.

She said that Cheech’s first major retrospective, scheduled for 2024, is for artist Judith Hernandez.

“We show this work every day. We don’t roll it every five years,” says Fernández.

Marin, who fell asleep in the San Fernando Valley with the scent of citrus orchards when he was young, seems to have shined in the Inland Empire. He wants to convert some of the region’s historic citrus packing houses into art studios, dedicated to Lowrider (automobile culture reigns over the inland empire), which Marin considers to be a unique Chicano. I would like to establish a second museum. Cultural product.

“Riverside has a real chance to emerge as one of the most important art centers in the United States, and perhaps even around the world,” Marin said.

As a native riversider, listening to all this will make your head swim. After all, this is part of California, Joan Didion is famous for its cultureless backwater, and the local history association is not people like my parents who harvested the fruit, but an orange grove. Celebrating the owner of. And although Chicano culture has existed for generations, it never existed in our museums.

During the walkthrough, the center’s two first exhibitions, a research show called “Cheech Collects”, and the first temporary exhibition “Collidoscope”, a retrospective exhibition of the Einar and James de artist brothers team, are still in progress. It was inside. La Torre created in collaboration with Smithsonian’s new Latin American National Museum.

Cheech’s highlight is the 26-foot-high lenticular installation in the lobby, commissioned by the dela Torre brothers. Using lenticular printing technology that transforms 2D prints into stereoscopic images, this work transforms an animated image of the rugged Aztec Earth Goddess Coatlicue, transforming it into a transformer-like machine made by Lowrider Chevy Impallas. Project. Seen from a distance, the stained glass appears to be moving.

“If you think you’ve got a beat, step a little to the left and it’s going to change. It’s amazing,” says Marin, a map of the Inland Empire extending from East Los Angeles, one of the many Easter eggs lurking in the display panel. He pointed out (referring to Marin’s 1987 movie “Born in East LA”) to the east. Windmill farm in the Coachella Desert.

There is a riverside in the middle of the map. Grinning Marin said, “This is the center of the universe today.”


Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture

Opened June 18, 3581 MissionInnAve., Riverside, CA, (951)-684-71116; riversideartmuseum.org.

Patricia Escárcega is a Los Angeles-based journalist.

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