Comedian Cheech Marin Wants to Champion Chicano Art With a New LA Center

The collector has long wanted to "bring Chicano art to the forefront of the art world.”

Cheech Marin with a painting by Margaret Garcia in 2012. ©Patrick McMullan.
Cheech Marin with a painting by Margaret Garcia art ArtHamptons in 2012. ©Patrick McMullan.

“My goal is to bring Chicano art to the forefront of the art world,” said comedian Cheech Marin in 2012, when he was named Arts Patron of the Year at the ArtHamptons fair.

He is now one step closer to fulfilling that mission. The collector is planning to establish a center dedicated to his collection of approximately 700 artworks, the Los Angeles Times reports. The proposed site is a city-owned building in Riverside, California, not too far from the California Museum of Photography and the Riverside Metropolitan Museum. Marin is teaming up with the City of Riverside and the Riverside Art Museum (RAM) to launch the project.

Measuring about 60,000 square feet, the edifice is currently home to the Riverside Public Library, which plans to vacate the structure and move a few blocks away. Provisionally titled the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, the institution is still in the early planning stages.

A third-generation Mexican-American, Marin hopes that the art center will be accessible to the five universities in the area, including the University of California Riverside and California State San Bernardino.

CiCi Segura González, <i>Soy Chicana</i> (2013). Courtesy Riverside Art Museum.

CiCi Segura González, Soy Chicana (2013). Courtesy Riverside Art Museum.

“This is exciting because American art museums have not been collecting art in this area at all,” says Arlene Davila, a professor of anthropology at New York University. “This is a big gap in the American art history canon, and it has to do with an essential racism. This collection helps to institutionalize an important area in American art. Museums can’t just do a Frida Kahlo show and think they’re done,” Davila told artnet.

Marin recently lent some 60 objects to RAM for its current exhibition, “Papel Chicano Dos: Works on Paper from the Collection of Cheech Marin.” His star power led to record attendance at the show’s opening. The admission income was triple the museum’s previous first-month high.

Moreover, the Getty Foundation initiative “Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA,” which will include more than 70 exhibitions and programs, promises to bring more attention to Latin American and Latino art.

If you don’t get to see the show of Marin’s collection in California, which closes on May 7, the exhibition will be travelling to the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the University of Wyoming Art Museum, in Laramie, according to Marin’s website.


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