Cheech Marin Wins Approval for Chicano Art Museum in Riverside, California

Marin's dream of bringing Chicano art and culture to the forefront is finally a reality.

Proposed rendering of the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art , Culture, and Industry. Courtesy of Riverside Art Museum.
Proposed rendering of the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art , Culture, and Industry. Courtesy of Riverside Art Museum.

Actor and comedian Cheech Marin will move forward with plans to turn the main Riverside Library building into the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture, and Industry. Following a vote last night (May 16), the city council of Riverside, California approved a formal memorandum of understanding.

Marin, who is filming in Atlanta, was unable to attend the meeting but was conferenced in, his spokesperson told artnet News.

The Riverside library will move to another location a few blocks away. There is no set opening date yet, but according to the memorandum, during the next nine to twelve months, the Riverside Art Museum will spearhead a fundraising campaign to pay for the conversion of the main library into the Marin Center. The fundraising goal is a minimum of $3 million.

Cheech Marin speaks at a press conference in front of the Riverside Library. Courtesy InlandEmpire.com

Cheech Marin speaks at a press conference in front of the Riverside Library. Courtesy InlandEmpire.com

Based on a city survey, the Cheech Marin Center will require between $5 million to $7 million to renovate the building into a “top quality museum and center for academic inquiry.” This includes replacement of the roof, upgrades to its HVAC system, and elevator repairs.

Marin, a third-generation Mexican American, has amassed a collection of some 700 works in the last three decades. His collection has been showcased at more than 50 museums in the U S and Europe, including the Smithsonian, LACMA, and the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

In the past, Marin has said he wants to bring Chicano art to the forefront of the art world. At a recent press conference and in interviews with Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey, Marin talked about how he immediately fell in love with Riverside and its community, where over 50 percent of the population is Chicano.

“I was immediately struck by this unique mixture of art, tourism, and community. All of the various parts of the community get along and work in concert with each other,” said Marin in an interview with Bailey that can be viewed on YouTube. “I recognize this is a really different town. It’s a small town feel with a big allure.”

At a press conference earlier this month in front of the library, Marin was emotional as he talked about what it means to share his passion for Chicano art with Riverside and the rest of the world. “I fully expect within five years to be a world-recognized art center. This is a monumental day. We have a place that we can celebrate Chicano culture right here from this wonderful town of Riverside. We can display the wonderful diversity of this culture to mainstream America.”


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