The Cheech is a Jewel within the SoCal Tradition Crown

Via now it’s well known that the comedic genius of the stoner pantheon, Cheech Marin, is a devoted, beneficiant, exceptionally a professional, surely passionate collector and champion of Chicano artwork. However for many of this 40-year undertaking, Cheech’s lifestyles as an artwork gourmet was once underneath the mainstream radar. That modified when the landmark exhibition drawn from his intensive assortment, Chicano Visions: American Painters at the Verge, toured establishments across the nation from 2001-2007. This no longer best raised Cheech’s profile as a collector, however it presented the richness of Chicano artwork to a brand new target market of tens of millions, and most likely maximum operationally, it opened institutional eyes to the gaps in their very own collections and systems, and to the untapped enthusiasm of those new audiences as nicely.

the cheech marin

The decision to establishments presently is to be equitable, and the Riverside Artwork Museum is especially energized to construct on the possibility of that — and their sponsorship of a brand new everlasting museum housing the Cheech Marin assortment, in addition to their dedication to educational scholarship, museum practices, and neighborhood engagement surrounding it, is the colourful evidence of that.  Cheech donated about 550 items in all to Riverside Artwork Museum (RAM) to create the brand new museum, so on the present price, it’ll take about 4 years to publicly show off the whole thing; section one in all Cheech Collects is now open, and section two arrives in early 2023. Along with curated rotations appearing off the ancient everlasting assortment, The Cheech’s program will delve extra deeply into the careers of particular person artists, as an example, Judithe Hernández, who may have a big retrospective opening in 2024.

the cheech

Judithe Hernández: Juarez Quinceanera (The Cheech | Riverside Artwork Museum)

As The Cheech opened its doorways to richly deserved native and nationwide fanfare this June, we stuck up with Marin himself to get a private standpoint. “To my thoughts, that is crucial American college of portray,” Cheech begins by means of telling L.A. Weekly. “And it’s proceeding its evolution presently.”

Having a look across the first set up, and figuring out you’re in Riverside — one of the vital greatest Latino-majority metro hubs within the area — it’s putting how there’s such a lot crossover within the paintings, no longer best with threads of artwork historical past, however with boulevard tradition, work of art, public areas, politics, protests and extra, chatting with how the theory of Latinx and Chicanx illustration in artwork dovetails with broader social justice problems. To not say that Up in Smoke was once political activism in keeping with se, however within the a long time since the ones heady instances, we’ve all change into extra conscious about how society’s disparate financial and carceral realities play out, and that, too, is a part of the tale of this assortment and this museum.

Frank Romero: The Arrest of the Paleteros (The Cheech | Riverside Artwork Museum)

“Chicano artwork was once at all times political artwork,” Marin ceaselessly says. “Now not best are those works stunning and sophisticated, however in addition they elevate visibility for social justice problems, and form our widespread, political, and cultural awareness.”

The 61,420-square-foot heart (sure, he makes that 420 comic story at all times, even pronouncing it was once an indication, a type of inexperienced gentle, if you’re going to) opened with two main exhibitions. Centrally, Cheech Collects is a multi-part exhibit of Marin’s assortment, together with many iconic items by means of Patssi Valdez, Wayne Alaniz Healy, Frank Romero, Carlos Almaraz, Margaret Garcia, Judithe Hernández, Frank Romero, Sandy Rodriguez, John Valadez, Gilbert “Magú” Luján, and Glugio “Gronk” Nicandro. He donated about 550 items, so at this price to look the whole thing will take a couple of years — throughout which era the gathering threatens to develop even larger.

Cheech Collects, set up view at Riverside Artwork Museum

L.A. WEEKLY: So was once it actually the whole thing in your home? 

CHEECH MARIN: On the subject of!


LAW: Is your own home simply empty now? Are you freaking out? Or is it nonetheless complete? 

CM: Nonetheless complete — and I’m shopping! In reality, the item is, as I have a look at it, there are nonetheless nice items available in the market which can be being produced by means of main artists — after which there’s a complete new technology.


LAW: So how did The Cheech come to be? 

CM: There have been quite a lot of competing establishments that I used to be going to begin giving items to. And I did it as soon as. For the San Diego Museum, I gave them a large John Valadez piece. And I used to be questioning methods to continue with all that, and I regarded up and this area was once falling out of the sky on me. You already know, just like the Wizard of Oz.. The [Riverside Art Museum] got here to me with this proposition as a result of I had executed a display at RAM, a display of works on paper, which was once the most important display they’d ever had. This construction has been town library, and so they’re construction the brand new library now down the road, they usually needed to repurpose this construction. The Town Supervisor got here up with a vibrant concept — give Cheech the construction for the gathering in each senses, to deal with it, and to be an everlasting present to stick right here and be exhibited. I didn’t perceive what they have been pronouncing in the beginning — you need me to shop for a museum? I’m doing ok, however I don’t know if I’m buying-a-museum wealthy!

LAW: But it surely should simply be so enjoyable to look the evolution of folks’s angle in opposition to this facet of artwork historical past. The exchange moved so rapid simply within the ultimate decade towards what you’ve been looking to inform folks this complete time.

CM: Neatly, it was once once we began doing the Chicano Visions excursion. That lasted seven years, we had 14 main exhibitions, from the Smithsonian on down. However within the artwork international it takes repetition, it has to occur over and over. So we began striking out with these types of museum folks and so they have been like, nicely, we’ll take a look at with you in twenty years. I don’t know if I’ll nonetheless be alive in twenty years! From the time RAM introduced the proposition to me to now could be slightly over 5 years and in step with them, that’s warp pace within the museum international.

Cheech Collects, set up view at Riverside Artwork Museum

LAW: So how do selections get made as to what to turn? Is it simply working out methods to show off the whole thing in the end, so the everlasting assortment will exchange out? Will there be new presentations by means of artists coming thru that possibly aren’t (but) a part of the core assortment? Will there be solo deep-dives into particular person artists to your assortment? As a result of I do know you by no means purchase only one factor from an artist.

CM: The entire above. That is an creation to the highlights of the gathering. That is the primary pull. I gave the museum about 550 items, and so the primary estimate is that it might take about 5 years to roll thru it all… There are about 100 items on this room now, in fact 90. The primary pull was once about 130. We set to work on that and shrank down as a result of we discovered that we’re no longer on any timeline. There’s no rush to do that. It’s no longer going any place, there’s no longer every other display coming in and we need to get out. And sure, in most cases I do acquire extensive everyone I really like as a result of they’re there and to be had. That’s how I put this assortment in combination, as a result of the entire masterpieces of Chicano artwork have been in the stores after I began amassing.

Patssi Valdez: Room at the Verge (The Cheech | Riverside Artwork Museum)

LAW: So how come the display isn’t referred to as I Advised You So?

CM: It’s simply my innate modesty! This assortment has been displayed in over 50 other museums, that’s remarkable for a non-public assortment. However my retort to any hesitancy was once at all times, “Neatly, I’ve this assortment, and also you don’t!” And there was once by no means any solution to that. I’m no longer a part of any educational state of affairs. I don’t have a PhD in Chicano Research —


LAW: You will have to! Dr. Cheech. Dr. The Cheech.

CM: I may just! However you already know, to start with there was once some pushback from inside the Chicano neighborhood. They have been like, nicely we adore you as a comic. However who’s a comic to let us know what’s what about Chicano artwork? That was once by no means my goal. I’m looking to get folks to look that, and after they get started truly having a look, the entire case adjustments.

Carlos Almaraz: Sundown Crash (The Cheech | Riverside Artwork Museum)

RAM’s Creative Director of The Cheech, Maria Esther Fernandez, sees eye to eye. “That is the dream task, I’ve to mention,” she tells Weekly. “My option to curation may be very just like storytelling, and I truly do really feel like as curators, we’re caretakers.”

Fernandez wrote her Grasp’s thesis on curation conceived as, “therapeutic and intervention, particularly for communities which can be disenfranchised, communities that haven’t been in a position to truly absolutely personal their tales and histories and inform them at our establishments.” Running collaboratively with Todd Wingate — RAM’s director of Exhibitions and Collections — in addition to with Marin, the group sat with the works and discovered they sought after a lot more than a tick list of biggest hits. “In reality, we have been considering, what’s the tale that we wish to inform after which, after all, what’s the tale Cheech needs to inform,” Fernandez says. “Cheech Collects balances the 40-year narrative of Cheech as a collector, with positioning the tale of ways this assortment is artwork traditionally essential.”

Margaret Garcia: Down Figueroa (The Cheech | Riverside Artwork Museum)

The inaugural presentation from the gathering displays deep concept concerning the serve as of Chicanx artwork within the tradition, and the way traditionally it was once artwork that candidly and lovingly checked out position, regarded to honor and instill cultural satisfaction locally. Thus, it’s of paramount significance to The Cheech other people to have the neighborhood contributors are available and spot themselves mirrored. “This can be a nod to that function that Chicano artwork had within the motion,” says Fernandez. “What Cheech calls ‘information from the entrance,’ which is this concept that Chicanos have been telling the tales and reporting from their communities, which they proceed to do to nowadays.”

Einar and Jamex de los angeles Torre: Los angeles Belle Epoque, 2002 (Courtesy of Riverside Artwork Museum)

Similtaneously, Collidoscope: de los angeles Torre Unfashionable-Point of view is The Cheech’s first transient exhibition — encompassing nearly 3 a long time of labor by means of Einar and Jamex de los angeles Torre, with greater than 70 mixed-media works, together with blown-glass sculptures, set up artwork, and examples of the Brothers’ latest lenticular items. The fascinating display was once curated by means of Selene Preciado and evolved in partnership with the Smithsonian’s Nationwide Museum of the American Latino, and is slated for a countrywide excursion after last on January 22, 2023.

The de los angeles Torre Brothers at The Cheech (Picture courtesy of Riverside Artwork Museum)

The everlasting assortment galleries are focused round an enormous site-specific two-story foyer set up — a 26-foot-tall lenticular monolith by means of the de los angeles Torre brothers commissioned for the distance. The impressive backlit piece comes alive with layered optical illusions, hidden pictures, and a composition that adjustments because the viewer strikes round it. The de los angeles Torres’ central symbol is a huge Aztec earth goddess wearing an environmentally minded message about “methods to save the planet.” The Mom Nature determine emerges from lush botanical floor; as audience transfer, she dissolves and turns into a cyborg robotic made similar to a Transformer of lowriders. Nestled inside the densely detailed textures are regional points of interest like windmills, sun panels, teach tracks, freeways, and barren region landscapes filled with local vegetation.

Einar and Jamex de los angeles Torre: Important Mass, 2002 (Courtesy of Riverside Artwork Museum)

“It’s a lenticular procedure, which the Brothers were running on for a few years,” Cheech explains. “I’ve been following since they began doing it, when it might seem like little crackerjack prizes in the beginning, after which they stored doing it and doing it and doing it, till they broke thru. There’s a piece up there [part of Collidoscope in the second-floor galleries] the place they broke thru, like wow! It changed into very dimensional after which I began shopping the ones items, after which we commissioned them for this piece. They’re the arena’s known authority, I feel, in this sort of paintings; they go back and forth the arena and so they’re getting a large global popularity, which I’m positive will best come to be enhanced. However this can be a impressive piece. An actual commentary.”

Einar and Jamex de los angeles Torre: Feminencia, 2020 (Courtesy of Riverside Artwork Museum)

Thus far, Fernandez and the entire curatorial group need other people to keep in mind that inside the dialog those artists have been and nonetheless are having with fashionable artwork, heritage, folks historical past, and lifestyles enjoy, that they have been and are innovators and creators of name new style(s). “All artwork actions are constructed upon actions that got here ahead of. We haven’t been in a position to truly unpack the complexity of Chicano artwork on this approach, I imagine, when it comes to mainstream arts establishments,” she provides. “I labored in such an establishment for 17 years ahead of I got here right here; we’d roll this determine each and every few years, proper? This heart goes to try this each day.”


For more info seek advice from:, and observe their very vigorous social media group on Twitter @thecheechcenter and Instagram: @thecheechcenter.

Eloy Torrez (The Cheech | Riverside Artwork Museum)

Updated: June 30, 2022 — 3:13 pm