We all know Cheech Marin as an actor and one half of the stoner comedy team of Cheech and Chong, but for years he’s also been an avid collector of Chicano art. He’s been collecting art for 40 years and parts of his collection have been touring museums and breaking attendance records during that time.
The collection is now housed in a new museum in Riverside, California. The museum is officially called the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture, but let’s face it, “The Cheech” is much more appealing. It occupies 61,420 square feet in what was formerly Riverside’s main library. Cheech’s collection now numbers 700 pieces of Chicano art. He’s gifted 500 pieces to the museum where there are about 100 pieces currently on display, along with other exhibits.
Cheech’s interest in art started in the 1980’s and he credits his ex-wife, a painter for opening his eyes to contemporary art. He sees the art in his collection as mixture of Mexican art, world art and pop culture.
“It was also art history that I understood, because all these artists were either art school and/or university-trained,” Marin says. “So they weren’t naive backyard artists that did it on weekends — these are really serious artists that were influenced by world art.” He compared seeing the art to hearing the Beatles for the first time – the Beatles filtered American music through their lens and the artists filtered pop culture through a Chicano lens.
The term Chicano came into use in the 1960’s as a political movement for people of Mexican descent to express political empowerment, ethnic solidarity, and pride.
Finding out about Cheech’s other side is rewarding and show’s a different side of his personality and interests. Find a way to express yourself in a second language – contact Luminoso Language Services to learn Spanish at any level.