Standing at the corner of Mission Inn Avenue and Market Street in downtown Riverside on a sunny afternoon, the realization was so abrupt that I couldn’t help asking the question out loud: “Wait … is my hometown low-key charming?” Growing up, I’d always resented Riverside — often for qualities that might appeal to prospective residents. The community is tight-knit. My maternal grandparents and many of their siblings moved there from Mississippi in the 1950s and ’60s, which means that to this day I can hardly go anywhere without running into a relative or someone I went to high school with. (Once, I forgot my wallet in the Galleria at Tyler mall and by the time I got home, it was found by one of my grandmother’s friends who recognized my school picture tucked inside it.) Riverside is also quiet — I’ve commiserated more than once with UCR alumni about the city’s perceived lack of after-dark options. One of my main gripes there was, as I’d often bemoan to my mother, there’s nothing to do. Still, it’s hard not to look back at those memories through rose-colored glasses and appreciate how, even when I wasn’t paying attention, Riverside always had my back. In grade school, I’d run through my neighbors’ yards with as much abandon as my own, tumbling through sprinklers and swaying on the tire swings they’d hung years ago for their children, who’d since grown. I think back to dusky evenings when we’d walk our dog through orange groves. Somehow, the picture doesn’t feel so distant from the way East Coast friends describe their own idyllic woodsy childhoods.

Read the entire article at Los Angeles Times

Explore the transformative space where local masterpieces meet influential national narratives.

Riverside is the City of Arts and Innovation. As a city, we have three major art centers and a multitude of smaller organizations. The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture is the newest among them. Readers of the Raincross Gazette certainly have heard about its opening on Mission Inn Avenue in what used to be the library’s main branch. It is a fantastic use of the building and has quickly become a space to engage with the arts and the Riverside community.

Read the entire article at The Raincross Gazette by Timothy LeBlanc

This June as the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture in Riverside, California celebrates its first anniversary with a new exhibit of “Cheech Collects,” Rio Grande Valley artists continue to claim their place at the table.

The museum, also known as “The Cheech,” opened in June 2022 as part of a partnership between actor and avid Chicano art collector Cheech Marin, Riverside Art Museum and the city of Riverside to highlight and promote better understanding and appreciation for Chicano art. The initial collection of more than 500 works for the museum was gifted by Marin.

Read the entire article at myRGV.com by Denise Cathey

If first birthdays are a time to celebrate new beginnings, the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture has plenty to toast. This weekend, a two-day extravaganza featuring live performances, multiple exhibitions, and a family-friendly outdoor festival honors the Center’s one-year anniversary with a selection of Chicano arts, crafts, and food.

Read the entire article at Not Real Art 

Readers recommended street art in Eureka, a new Chicano art museum in Riverside and more across the state.

It’s starting to feel like summer.

Whether you’re looking for a new family-friendly experience or a highly air-conditioned spot to escape the heat, today we’re sharing your choices for the best museums and places to enjoy art in California.

Read the entire article at The New York Times by Soumya Karlamangla

Collidoscope: de la Torre Brothers Retro-Perspective, the first temporary exhibition at The Cheech, is such a dazzling and astonishing show that it will not be easy for the museum to surpass it. Einar (b. 1963) and Jamex (b. 1960) de la Torre, sculptors born and raised in Guadalajara, moved with their family to California in 1972. Currently, they migrate between studios they maintain in San Diego and Enseñada, Baja California, Mexico, so they experience both cultures from the inside and from the outside on a continuous basis. The brothers also travel around the world, where they sometimes work at glass studios. They produce works steeped in their particular cultural experiences that humorously and critically comment on art, history, religion, politics, consumerism, and various aspects of material culture, including Mexican and U.S. popular traditions and pre-Columbian monuments. 

Read the entire article at Glasstire by Ruben C. Cordova 

This show explores and challenges conceptions of Mexican, Mexican-American, Xicanx, and Latinx bodies in art over the past sixty years. Organized by The American Federation of Arts (AFA), it features roughly 70 artists and collectives who are committed to reclaiming and reframing their own representations. It defines Xicanisma as a movement that grew out of the Chicano Movement in the 1990s, echoing its calls for civil rights and recognition with an increased focus on feminism, intersectionality, and indigeneity. Participating artists include Laura Aguilar, Mario Ayala, ASCO, Judith F. Baca, Alice Bag, Nao Bustamante, Enrique Chagoya, Vaginal Davis, Sandra de la Loza, rafa esparza, Jay Lynn Gomez, James Luna, Patrick Martínez, Shizu Saldamando, Patssi Valdez, and many others.

Read the entire article at Hyperallergic by Matt Stromberg

The renowned Riverside Art Museum and Cheech Marin Center feature some of the best art created through Southern California’s unique culture.

Found within the heart of downtown Riverside, the Riverside Art Museum (RAM) and the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture are exquisite treasures offering a unique exploration of art and culture. From contemporary ceramics to vibrant abstract paintings, these locations deliver an unmatched experience for art enthusiasts, residents, and visitors alike.

Read the entire article at Discover California 

The Institute of Museum and Library Services bestowed its top honours for 2023 on museums in Florida, Ohio, Wyoming and California

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) gave its top annual award, the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, to eight institutions today (23 May), including four libraries and four museums. The museums honoured by the federally funded agency include art, science and historical institutions located in four states, from Florida’s Atlantic coast to Southern California: the Center of Science and Industry in Columbus, Ohio; the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum in Buffalo, Wyoming; the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; and the Riverside Art Museum in the Los Angeles suburb of Riverside.

Read the entire article at The Art Newspaper by Benjamin Sutton

May 18, 2023 Riverside, California offers so much eye-popping architecture — from Mission Revival to Mid-Century Modernism — all within just a couple of blocks. Here are the city’s downtown highlights, ranging from The Mission Inn and a Julia Morgan YMCA to The Cheech art museum. Want to learn more?

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Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, Chicano Movement Leader, founder of the Crusade for Justice, and Poet once wrote: I am the masses of my people and I refuse to be absorbed. I am Joaquín. The odds are great, But my spirit is strong, My faith unbreakable, My blood is pure. These words are ever present in the Cheech and MexiCali Biennial“Land of Milk & Honey.” With works by over 40 artists, the exhibition, organized by  Ed Gómez, Luis G. Hernández, Rosalía Romero, and April Lillard-Gómez, deconstructs perceptions of California being that place of opportunity where one can have a better way of life. These artists, wounded with the blessing to create, access their inner most visceral aesthetic language and speak to themes of agriculture in California and Mexico in a vein similar to John Steinbeck’s interpretation of the region as amoral and untrustworthy. The folk included in the exhibition are unafraid to choose from the menu of creative expressionistic modes and interrogate unapologetically, while also inviting dialogue about injustice.

Read the entire article at Artillery by Richard Allen May III 

Riverside —  Gerald Clarke’s sculpture “Continuum Basket” lines up 668 crushed beer and soda cans in a spiral pattern, affixed to the shallow bowl of a TV satellite dish hanging at eye level on a wall. The low spiral creates a traditional Indigenous basketry form — Clarke, born in Hemet, is an enrolled member of the Cahuilla Band of Mission Indians — embedded into a high-tech parabolic antenna designed to transmit or receive information between near and far.

Read the entire article at The LA Times by Christopher Knight

13 unmissable arts events we’re looking forward to this summer

Scorching temperatures are expected this summer. Luckily, L.A. has no shortage of cool, air-conditioned museums, music halls and theaters.

There’s a veritable slew of exciting cultural happenings on the horizon this summer. See pop artist Keith Haring’s first-ever museum survey in L.A. at the Broad museum, catch indie theater across Los Angeles at the 13th Hollywood Fringe festival, take in painting, photography, sculpture and more by a multigenerational group of Chicanx artists at the Cheech and enjoy a “Ghost Opera” at the Ojai Music Festival. And nothing says summer like a Stephen Sondheim tribute at the Hollywood Bowl.

The Times’ arts team waded through the city’s sea of cultural happenings to distill the highlights for you. Sunscreen not required.

‘Xican-a.o.x. Body’

To put your body on the line is to assume risk for an action. This touring exhibition, which travels to four other venues after debuting at the Cheech on June 17, will look at the ways in which a multigenerational group of Chicanx artists has placed the brown body at the center of its work — not only as a symbol of resistance but also as a way of asserting presence. It will include a wild range of objects: pottery, painting, photography, sculpture, film and even lowriders by about 70 artists and collectives, including Laura Aguilar, Nao Bustamante, Jay Lynn Gomez and rafa esparza. —Carolina A. Miranda

Posted in Arts and Entertainment at Los Angeles Times

(NEW YORK, NY – May 3, 2023) Today, four national funding partners, Alice L. Walton Foundation, Ford Foundation, Mellon Foundation, and Pilot House Philanthropy announced the Leadership in Art Museums (LAM) initiative. Over the next five years, the LAM funders will commit over $11M in funding to museums to increase racial equity in leadership roles such as curators, conservators, collections managers, community engagement staff, educators and other senior leaders in a manner designed to advance racial equity. 

As platforms for civic engagement, museums are vital public spaces. Intended to serve the communities around them, they play a critical role in fostering dialogue, creative expression, and community engagement and fortifying democratic principles. Museum leaders—from curators to board members—play a key role in determining the art on display in these cultural institutions. A 2019 study found that only 1.2% of works in all major U.S. museums were created by Black artists, with 9% for Asian artists and only 2.8% for Hispanic and Latinx artists. 

With an expanded group of funding partners, LAM will build on past and existing efforts to create more racial equity in leadership roles across the art museum field. In addition to welcoming new partners—Pilot House Philanthropy and the Mellon Foundation—LAM is bolstered by the learnings from and impact of recent key initiatives; these include the Diversifying Art Museum Leadership (DAMLI) project, the recently created Black Trustee Alliance for Art Museums, and related initiatives like the Mellon Foundation’s ongoing Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey to increase diversity in museums. Mellon’s recent research and surveys found significant underrepresentation of Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Arab, Asian, Pacific Islander, and other people of color in institutional leadership positions. For example: only 20% of museum leadership and 20% of conservation staff identified as non-white. While hiring trends from 2021 and 2022 show slow and steady progress, leadership museum roles are still overwhelmingly held by white staff. 

“Ultimately, the future of museums depends on their ability to stay relevant and serve their communities,” said Alice Walton, philanthropist and founder of Alice L. Walton Foundation. “The LAM museums represent a variety of regions across the U.S., and help ensure that we’re increasing access to museum roles in a way that’s inclusive of communities of color, no matter where the art institution is based. With this dedicated group of funding partners, we’re united in our commitment to achieve long-lasting impact.”

“If we want the arts in this country to stay vibrant, moving, and transformational, it’s imperative that these institutions bring in more diverse perspectives and lived experiences,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “Leadership in Arts Museum’s vision is to grow and invest in diverse leadership at U.S. art museums to ensure their excellence and relevance in the future.”

A competitive and thorough selection process identified 19 museums across the country for LAM grants to create and sustain new leadership positions. The museums have pledged to make these permanent. In hiring for these positions, the museums also pledge to develop a diverse pool of applicants in a manner that is inclusive of communities of color, including Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Arab, Asian, and Pacific Islander communities.

“Some of our proudest work recognizes and elevates the role of arts and culture within Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities to heal, protect, and restore mental and physical health—not only at the individual level, but also at the community and systems level,” said Joël Barraquiel Tan, executive director at Seattle’s Wing Luke Museum. “With this additional support, we can bring in more staff, develop programming in a vibrant, holistic model, and provide training for emerging staff and interns that advances our internal culture of health and wellbeing.”

“Our new Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole curator position, named in honor of the Jacksonville native and internationally regarded educator, scholar, and cultural leader, will help us realize Ninah Cummer’s vision that the museum be a center of beauty for all,” said Andrea Barnwell Brownlee, Ph.D., director and CEO at the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens in Florida. “With the LAM support, we are on course to expand our audiences and invite more visitors to explore and engage with our collections, gardens, and programs.”

The LAM recipients are diverse institutions with local and national impact spanning geography, size, and cultural focus. As a shared goal, they are fully committed to developing and nurturing museums’ leadership roles that will demonstrate and create a more inclusive art world. 

The 2023 LAM museums receiving these awards are:

Arizona State University Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona

Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Jacksonville, Florida

The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, Massachusetts

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Kalamazoo, Michigan

MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts

McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas

Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, Mississippi

Museum of the City of New York, New York, New York

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Illinois

Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri

The Newark Museum of Art, Newark, New Jersey

Oakland Museum of California, Oakland, California

Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts

Perez Art Museum Miami, Florida

Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon

Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, California

Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri

Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience, Seattle, Washington

RIVERSIDE, Calif.—The Institute of Museum and Library Services announced today that the Riverside Art Museum is among 30 finalists for the 2023 National Medal for Museum and Library Service. The Riverside Art Museum is one of six institutions in California—and the only one from the Inland Empire—to be selected as a finalist for this award.

The National Medal is the nation’s highest honor given to museums and libraries that demonstrate significant impact in their communities. For more than 25 years, the award has honored institutions that demonstrate excellence in service to their communities.

“This nomination recognizes the collective work of our entire organization—staff, trustees—with community partners, Cheech Marin, and the City of Riverside to innovate our programs to better serve our community, resulting in program innovations and the establishment of the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture of the Riverside Art Museum which opened in June 2022 to unprecedented number of visitors,” said Riverside Art Museum Executive Director Drew Oberjuerge.

“So many museums and libraries across the country are committed to providing programs that are vital to the health and growth of engaged communities. We are very proud to announce the 30 finalists for this year’s IMLS National Medal,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “These institutions represent the best of what museums and libraries do for their communities.”

To celebrate this honor, IMLS is encouraging Riverside Art Museum’s community members to share stories, memories, pictures, and videos on social media using the hashtags #ShareYourStory and #IMLSmedals, and engage with IMLS on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. For more information, please visit the IMLS website.

National Medal winners will be announced in late May. Representatives from winning institutions will be honored for their extraordinary contributions during an in-person National Medals Ceremony this summer.

To see the full list of finalists and learn more about the National Medal, visit the IMLS website.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

“[The] Japanese Mexican experience…there is very little documentation, there is very little record, and it’s not part of the national history so it’s hard for us to engage with these kinds of histories.”

The black and white photograph of a community posing in front of a parade float in Tijuana in the early twentieth century tells a story of migration largely forgotten to history, an image that inspired artist Shinpei Takeda’s virtual reality sculptural installation, Float for Reclamation: Limit of Your Safe Space Iteration II, 2023, now showing at the MexiCali Biennial Land of Milk and Honey exhibit at the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture of the Riverside Art Museum. Taken by Kingo Nonaka, the first documentary photographer of Tijuana, it captures the Japanese community in the years prior to World War II (fig. 1). As Takeda shares with me, many of these individuals were migrant workers, “coming from countryside of Japan, initially to Chiapas. The idea was to work in café [coffee] plantations, and send money back, like an immigrant, like braceros.” When opportunities disappeared there – and in Oaxaca’s coffee plantations as well – many of these migrants would eventually move north to Tijuana. With the advent of World War II, this growing community in the U.S-Mexico borderlands would be forcefully uprooted from their homes, like their Japanese American counterparts in the U.S. It is a history that remains largely unknown, a glaring erasure in both U.S, U.S-Mexico borderlands history, and Mexican national history.

Read the entire article at East Wind Ezine by Celia Viramontes

The “Land of Milk & Honey” art exhibit curated by the MexiCali Biennial has arrived in Riverside’s crown jewel, The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture & Industry. The show features an array of mixed media with eye-catching paintings to obscure sculptures. The Biennial chose each project because of its significant meaning toward the prospects of the exhibit.

The MexiCali Biennial was kickstarted by artists Ed Gomez & Luis G. Hernandez. Biennials reside in the art world as an expansive collection of works that pops up every two years. However, Gomez and Hernandez’s Biennial does not stay restricted to its two-year rule. The Mexicali Biennial has put on multiple exhibitions throughout back-to-back years, with “Land of Milk & Honey” marking the fifth iteration of the Biennial.

Read the entire article at UC Riverside’s Highlander News by Maxen Olvera

In Conversation: Cheech Marin features actor and comedian Cheech Marin discussing Chicano art and the community collaboration that launched the national Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of Riverside Art Museum (aka “The Cheech”) with journalist Daniel Cassady from ARTnews.

Cheech Marin was born in South Los Angeles to a tight-knit family of cops and priests. What mattered to him was going to school and getting right with God.

By the time he was in middle school, his plan was to become a priest — just like his cousins. But, that was before he tried smoking weed. When Cheech went to college, it was a new world. He was away from home and living with friends, so he decided to venture off the straight and narrow.

One night someone passed him a joint. It was the ’60s, so naturally he got put on. It wasn’t just to smoking pot though. Eventually, it was to the peace movement and to the Chicano civil rights movement. The priesthood was not really on Cheech’s agenda after that.

Read the entire article at npr

As you enter the new Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture—be prepared.  The two story glass sculpture by the de la Torre brothers will take your breath away. The glass and plastic  installation, homage to an Aztec deity Coatlicue, silently greets visitors. San Diego/Tijuana artists Einar and Jamex de la Torre, known as the de la Torre Brothers, succeed in making the lenticular images of a woman, a superhero who protects the earth, relevant to modern-day society fighting for a greener existence.  The glass and plastic beauty is spectacular. Beyond this symbolic figure of mother earth follows  a feast of Chicano art, a transformative artistic enlightenment. 

Read the entire article at Latinos in America by RICARDO ROMO, PH.D

I’ve been planning this visit for a few months now, but one thing or another always came up and forced me to postpone the trip to the following weekend. And then the following one. As they say better late than never. Finally, this past weekend I had the opportunity to spend a couple hours at both the Riverside Art Museum and the nearby The Cheech (more formal name: The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture & Industry).

Judging by the foot traffic, I noticed The Cheech gets a lot more love than the RAM, but still, I can’t tell you how lucky I felt to have randomly enjoyed Beliz Iristay’s Tracing Acculturations exhibit (runs through April 30, 2023). The works of art showcased are the result of an ultra-unique combination you wouldn’t think of in a million years: Mexican x Turkish.

Read the entire article at faisaling

A new exhibit Life Logistics, featuring the work of dozens of Inland Empire (IE) artists and curators, is available for viewing at the The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art in downtown Riverside.

Museum goers are treated to detailed illustrations, photographs and woodworks that serve as visual testaments to themes related to worker exploitation, food security, environmental racism, economic inclusion and community organizing.

Read the entire article at The Frontline Observer

It would be easy to say that the opening of the Cheech would give me all the comfort anybody could ever want, and you would be right. But my most comforting moment was watching a 4-year-old girl dancing in front of a huge lenticular piece at the museum. She was dancing a duet with her own reflection. Completely transported, she almost seemed to disappear into the artwork, to become one with it. I thought at that moment that there is hope for humanity and that art has accomplished its purpose.

— Cheech Marin is an actor, writer and art collector. He is the founding donor of the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum.

Read the entire article at LA Times

Visitors to the recently opened Cheech Marin Center at the Riverside Art Museum are often astonished by the extensive collection of colorful, narrative art there by Carlos Almaraz, Judithe Hernández, Gilbert “Magú” Luján, Frank Romero, Patssi Valdez and other pioneering Chicano artists: work that has been gifted by Cheech Marin, actor of the Cheech and Chong movies, and avid collector of Chicano art.

Read the entire article at visual art source

Did you know Cheech Marin has his own museum just outside of Los Angeles? The Cheech Center recently opened in Riverside, and it’s not a little kiosk in a mall. It’s 61,420 [Ed: LOL] square feet and houses his incredible collection of Chicano art, which he’s been collecting for over 40 years. This is an institution of importance and inspiration. I am lucky enough to have gotten to know Cheech over the last dozen or so years and while he is one of the funniest people I have ever met, his passion to champion and educate others about Chicano art is undefeated, amongst his many talents. Plus our managing

editor, Luis Ruano, got to ask him the origins of a phrase he’s been using since middle school.

Read the entire article at Beyond Control

Much has been and will continue to be written about the latest gem in Southern California. The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture, or ‘The Cheech,’ opened its doors to the public on June 18th. The renovated building, once a public library, showcases Marin’s flourishing art collection. Nearly 500 paintings, sculptures and installations profess a story of Marin’s forty-plus year history as a collector while highlighting Chicano landmarks.

Read the entire article at art and cake

Emerging in the 1960s after decades of social and economic discrimination, the Chicano Movement sought to bring equality and ethnic empowerment and pride to the Mexican-Americans, helping to construct new transnational identities and fueling a renaissance in politically charged arts. Used as a vehicle for achieving new and more credible human values, Chicano art brought new iconography and symbolic languages that articulated the ideology of the movement and established a unique artistic identity in the US, while reaffirming the Chicano community’s spiritual as well as political sensibilities. Known as the art of struggle, protest, and identity, Chicano art became a forum where creativity and activism converge into something combustible, inspiring, and breathtakingly bold.

Read the entire article at widewalls

As the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture debuts, its founder hopes to inspire a renaissance in a region of California lacking public arts funding.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — As a child, Cheech Marin loved collecting objects — baseball cards, stamps, marbles — and then organizing them obsessively.

“I had a mania for codifying them and putting them in some kind of collection or whole set,” said Marin, 75, who is best known as the mustachioed, Chicano half of the classic stoner-comedy duo, Cheech & Chong.

In the 1980s, buoyed by steady film and TV work, Marin’s natural inclination toward collecting found its fullest expression when he fell in love with the works of Los Angeles-based Chicano artists like John ValadezGeorge Yepes and Patssi Valdez.

Read the entire article at The New York Times

After just five years, the Cheech officially opens to the public. Here’s what to expect.

The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum, known simply as the Cheech, opens this weekend in downtown Riverside. In just five years, this new 61,420-square foot space has transformed from a public library into a world-class museum that aims to show how Chicano art continues to affect our social, cultural and political landscapes.

Read the entire article at PBS SoCal | KCET

RIVERSIDE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–It is time to welcome a glimmering jewel in the world of Chicano art.

That was the message from those who gathered for a Grand Opening dedication ceremony of The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum in downtown Riverside, California which will house, by all estimates, the finest collection of Chicano art anywhere in the world.

Comedian, actor and art collector Cheech Marin said the center, affectionately known as The Cheech, represents a major step forward in his decades-long mission to bring Chicano art to the forefront of the art world.

Read the entire article at business wire

Cheech Marin and Riverside Elected Officials Celebrate Opening of The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture

Comedian/Art Collector Marin ready to share his passion for Chicano art with the world

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (June 16, 2022) — It is time to welcome a glimmering jewel in the world of Chicano art.   

That was the message from those who gathered Thursday at The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum for a dedication ceremony of the long-anticipated center in downtown Riverside that will house, by all estimates, the finest collection of Chicano art anywhere in the world.

The guest of honor himself, Cheech Marin, said the center represents a major step forward in his decade-long mission to bring Chicano art to the forefront of the art world.

“My motto has always been that you can’t love or hate Chicano art unless you see it,” said Marin who received a key to the city from Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson. “And now people will have a place to always see it. This is such a happy and humbling moment for me.”

The center, affectionately known as The Cheech, opens to the public on Saturday. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and tickets can be purchased on-site or in advance.

Dozens of people—including reporters, lawmakers, business owners, art lovers and community members—cheered as Marin unveiled a commemorative plaque and officially dedicated his new home for 500-plus works of Chicano art, including paintings, sculptures, and photography.

The Cheech is the result of a public-private partnership between the Riverside Art Museum, the City of Riverside, and Marin, who has spent the last 40 years collecting the work of notable Chicano artists like Carlos Almaraz, Margaret Garcia, Wayne Alaniz Healy, Judithe Hernández, Frank Romero, and Patssi Valdez.

During the event, Artistic Director of The Cheech María Esther Fernández, said that one of the center’s goals is to deepen the visitors’ understanding of Chicana/o/x art through exciting and innovative exhibition and education programming.

Fernández said “visitors will make their own connections with the work and be able to better understand themselves, their community, and the world.”  For Fernández, one of the most important aspects of The Cheech is that “it will be a dynamic space for intergenerational dialogue and exchange.” 

Also speaking at the dedication were the Riverside Art Museum’s Executive Director Drew Oberjuerge and Mayor Lock Dawson who said the new center represents another major step in the City’s mission to celebrate diversity and education. 

“The Cheech not only will give visitors another reason to visit Riverside, the City of Arts and Innovation, but also serve as an epicenter for us to connect with each another, celebrate our diversity and creativity, and provide space for education and reflection,” Lock Dawson said. “I encourage everyone to visit our historic downtown and see for themselves the majesty of The Cheech.”

Oberjuerge said The Cheech could not have happened without the dedication of RAM board and staff who partnered with city leaders, community groups, grassroots organizations, and Marin himself to make the center a reality. Plus, the new center will broaden the Riverside Art Museum’s mission and commitment to serve its diverse community.

“The Cheech will foster our learning about new curatorial and collections management practices to further our pursuit of promoting equity and inclusion in the art world,” Oberjuerge said. “The Cheech is a reflection of how museums across the nation are transforming to better serve our communities.”

After the dedication ceremony, attendees toured the 61,420-square-foot center, which itself is a marvel.

Los Angeles-based architects Page & Turnbull worked with museum architects WHY to convert a 1964 mid-century library into a modern museum and cultural center. While preserving the historic and vintage aspects of the original building, such as the exposed brick walls, the stainless-steel framework, and aluminum stair railings with restored decorative polyester panels, The Cheech represents something entirely new both inside and out.

“Interventions are thoughtfully integrated to celebrate both the building’s historic character and its transformation to a world-class art center,” said Page & Turnbull Manager and Principal Architect John Lesak. “It’s an inspiring idea and a model for other cities and cultural groups to revive underused architectural gems.”

One of the most striking features of the space is the visual connection between the galleries, which are centered around a permanent installation of a 26-foot-tall lenticular piece by brothers Einar and Jamex de la Torre. The dynamic installation, which changes as the viewer moves from side to side, is designed to generate a central source of energy for The Cheech, encouraging visitors to explore the different galleries both above and below. Accessed by a restored mid-century stairway, the second-floor features exhibition art galleries, a multi-purpose space, a film screening room, staff offices, and an artist-in-residency studio/education center where visitors can witness the next generation of Chicano art as it emerges.

WHY founder and Creative Director Kulapat Yantrasast said he was struck by the lack of representation and focus in other venues for Chicano artists, their work, and their culture.

“When the architect selection process started, we threw our hat in the ring with full force,” he said. “We wanted to make this venue and its experience a reality. I could not be prouder of this new cultural epicenter.”

Museum designers and architects aren’t the only ones excited about the opening. More than 100,000 people are expected to visit the center every year with the first wave arriving this Saturday during a sold-out opening day.

Whenever they arrive, the first visitors to the center will be treated to two major exhibitions: Collidoscope: de la Torre Brothers Retro-Perspective featuring more than 70 mixed-media works, and Cheech Collects, which weaves a story of Cheech Marin’s 40-year journey as an art collector.

For Cheech, the center is a dream come true. 

“We’ve put so much work into this center, and I can’t believe it’s finally here,” Marin said. “I’m so excited to share my passion with the rest of the world. There’s something in here for everyone.”

Tickets for opening day on June 18 are sold out, but admission for other dates to the Riverside Art Museum and The Cheech can be purchased at www.riversideartmuseum.org.

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About RAM: RAM is one museum with two locations: the Riverside Art Museum, housed in a National Historic 1929 building designed by Hearst Castle and AIA Gold Medal-winning architect Julia Morgan, and The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture, slated to open June 18, 2022, just one block away in downtown Riverside, the “City of Arts & Innovation”. RAM integrates art into the lives of people in a way that engages, inspires, and builds community by providing high quality exhibits and art education programs that instill a lifelong love of the arts. A 60-plus-year-old, non-profit cultural arts institution, RAM strives to be a distinguished, yet accessible institution that serves as a cultural, collaborative, and educational focal point for our diverse community. For more information about RAM, visit www.riversideartmuseum.org. Find the Riverside Art Museum on Facebook (www.facebook.com/riversideartmuseum), Twitter (@RAMRiverside), and Instagram (@riversideartmuseum). Find The Cheech on Facebook (www.facebook.com/thecheechcenter), Twitter (@thecheechcenter), and Instagram (@thecheechcenter).

Cheech Collects installation is in full swing for opening day on June 18

Riverside, CA (June 1, 2022) – One of the nation’s first permanent spaces dedicated to showcasing Chicano art and culture is coming together quickly with the June 18 grand opening within sight. And when the doors open, visitors to The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum in Southern California will be treated to the center’s first exhibition, Cheech Collects, which weaves a story of Cheech Marin’s 40-year journey as an art collector.

Cheech Collects features works by some of the most respected Chicana/o/x artists in the world co-curated by the center’s Artistic Director, María Esther Fernández, and Todd Wingate, the Riverside Art Museum’s Director of Exhibitions and Collections. More than 40 artists are included, many of whom are pioneers, trailblazers, and rule-breakers like Carlos Almaraz, Margaret Garcia, Wayne Alaniz Healy, Judithe Hernández, Frank Romero, and Patssi Valdez.

For Marin, the exhibition is a dream come true.

“These artists channeled their creativity into bold and innovative, aesthetically complex statements,” Marin said. “Not only are these works beautiful and complex, but they also raise visibility for social justice issues, and shape our popular, political, and cultural consciousness.”

The inaugural exhibition, which runs through December 2022, features nearly 100 works from Marin’s generous gift to the Riverside Art Museum as well as from his personal collection. It includes iconic works that have toured in Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge, among other notable exhibitions, as well as some that will be on view for the first time. A second iteration of the inaugural exhibition will open in January 2023.

Like Marin himself, many of the artists featured in Cheech Collects have strong roots in the Los Angeles area, while others come from places like San Antonio and Corpus Christi, Texas. Regardless of their hometowns, many are considered game-changers in the world of Chicano art. Indeed, when the moniker “Chicano” was born some four decades ago amid the turmoil and social unrest of America’s 1960s civil rights movements, some of these artists were already emerging as advocates for change.  

Patssi Valdez grew up in East Los Angeles as a multimedia artist and cofounder of the seminal Chicano artist collective called Asco (active from 1972 to 1987), which responded specifically to socioeconomic and political problems surrounding the Chicano community in the U.S, as well as the Vietnam War. Some of her work, including her stunning 1993 acrylic painting “Room on the Verge” will be featured in Cheech Collects.

The show will also feature the work of Frank Romero, one of L.A.’s most iconic artists, who was born in East Los Angeles in 1941. He is a founding member of the Los Four art collective whose work in the 1974 exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art was acclaimed as one of the first ever Chicano art shows at a mainstream museum. Guests to The Cheech will see several works including his 1996 painting “The Arrest of the Paleteros,” which illustrates “paleteros” or ice-cream vendors, being arrested in Echo Park for not having permits.

The work of another member of the Los Four art collective will also be on display. That work belongs to Judithe Hernández, who was among the first Chicana artists to break through the mainstream museum barrier. The Los Angeles-based artist first gained recognition as a muralist and is now widely known for her works in pastel of archetypal, mythical female figures. The Cheech will feature her 2017 masterpiece “Juarez Quinceañera,” which depicts the atrocities of the Ciudad Juarez femicides.

Also joining the show is Wayne Alaniz Healy, a founding member of the East Los Streetscapers, one of the first groups of artists to begin the muralist movement in the 1970s. His 1991 acrylic painting “Una Tarde en Meoqui (An Afternoon in Meoqui)” will be featured in Cheech Collects. There’s also Margaret Garcia who began her career as a muralist and was involved in the murals that swept through the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. The exhibition will highlight her 2000 oil painting “Janine at 39, Mother of Twins.” Two of many Marin favorites, both paintings never left his home after they returned from the nationally touring Chicano Visions exhibition.

The Cheech, as it’s affectionately called, is the result of a public-private partnership between the Riverside Art Museum, the City of Riverside, and Marin, who pulled together what is arguably the finest private collection of Chicano art.

“This collection of work not only weaves a narrative of Marin’s 40-year career as a collector but also explores its art historical significance,” said Artistic Director of The Cheech, María Esther Fernández. “This inaugural exhibition, coupled with our entire collection, represents a massive step forward in our pursuit of shaping the art world’s perceptions and understanding of Chicanx art.”

Other artists featured in this inaugural exhibition include the late Carlos Almaraz who was a leading member of the Chicano arts movement in Los Angeles in the 1970s and ’80s, producing banners for rallies in support of Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers labor union. Look for works by: Gilbert “Magú” Luján, a painter, muralist, and sculptor who was among the first U.S. artists of Mexican descent to establish an international career; Glugio “Gronk” Nicandro, a painter, printmaker, and performance artist who was also a founding member of the LA-based arts collective Asco; and Sandy Rodriguez, whose work investigates the methods and materials of painting across cultures and histories.

The doors to The Cheech haven’t opened yet, but some of the new work is already turning heads.

Brothers Einar and Jamex de la Torre, who hail from Guadalajara, Mexico, but now live and work on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, just finished installation of a 26-foot lenticular artwork that will greet visitors as they enter the front door of the center. Seventy artworks by the de la Torre brothers are also featured in The Cheech’s inaugural temporary exhibition.  Collidoscope: de la Torre Brothers Retro-Perspective premieres at The Cheech on opening day and after closing on January 22, 2023, it will embark on a national tour supported by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino.

Tickets for opening day on June 18 are sold out, but admission for other dates to the Riverside Art Museum and The Cheech can be purchased at www.riversideartmuseum.org.

The two-story lenticular work will be front and center for visitors entering the center.

RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA (April 26, 2022) — When visitors enter the doors to the new Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture in downtown Riverside, they will come face to face with a towering Aztec earth goddess with a special message about how to save the planet.

Although the center won’t open for another two months, installation is underway on the lenticular artwork by brothers Einar and Jamex de la Torre that stretches 26 feet from the ground floor to the second-level balcony. The yet-untitled large-scale installation based on Aztec earth goddess Coatlicue is a commissioned artwork for The Cheech and will greet visitors as they enter the center.

“This piece is going to turn some heads,” said Einar. “There is a myriad of ‘Easter eggs’ to find as you move and take a closer look from the perspective of both floors.” 

The image shows the goddess rising from the earth, made of flora and fauna textures, which can be interpreted as a defense of mother nature. As viewers move laterally in front of the large LED backlit lenticular, the image of the goddess changes to a Transformer-like robot made of lowrider cars. A closer look at the work reveals more details. There are solar panels and windmills dotting the background map, going from East Los Angeles to Riverside. 

Jamex said the message is clear: “We see her beckoning us back to a simpler life, using less resources and eventually living in harmony with nature,” he said. “We see technology as the only way out of the global warming debacle. So, this ‘Transformer’ is the empowering image of the future scientists coming up with creative ways to deal with the rising global temperatures.”

The vivid, ever-changing installation pays homage to its new home and points to the complexities of the often overlooked and misunderstood Inland Empire, which is now the fourth largest Latino metro region in the area. As the viewer moves around the piece, many Inland Empire-centric images and themes begin to emerge, including the area’s long history with the rail industry, its car culture, its network of freeways that are integral to the nation’s logistics industry, and its bounty of native plants and flowers that speak to growing environmental justice efforts. A map of Riverside is also visible upon closer inspection. 

The de la Torre brothers are a natural fit for The Cheech. Born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, México, and now living in San Diego, California, the brothers have navigated life on both sides of the border since they were very young and have inherited their own unique vision of the Latino experience and American culture. Their work draws from traditional Mexican folk art, pop culture, and religious imagery and mythology.

The Cheech, which is inside a mid-century building next to the historic Mission Inn Hotel, is the result of a public-private partnership between the Riverside Art Museum, Cheech Marin, and the City of Riverside, the “City of Arts & Innovation.”

Opening June 18, 2022, the center is expected to welcome more than 100,000 guests annually to explore exhibitions and engage in educational opportunities. The center will initially house nearly 500 paintings, drawings, and sculptures gifted from Marin, the third-generation Mexican American and film and TV actor who has been collecting Chicano art for four decades, including the work of the de la Torre brothers.

“When I saw the initial renderings created by the brothers, I couldn’t wait to see the real thing as I knew it would be much more than I ever expected, and it is,” Marin said.

The de la Torre brothers will also be featured as part of the center’s first temporary exhibit, Collidoscope: de la Torre Brothers Retro-Perspective, which is being organized by the Riverside Art Museum in partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino. Curated by Selene Preciado, the exhibition encompasses almost three decades of work by the de la Torre brothers and features more than 70 mixed-media works, including blown-glass sculptures and installation art, plus some of the artist duo’s latest lenticular artwork.

Tickets for June 19 through August 31, 2022 can be purchased here.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Advanced tickets are now on sale to visit the highly anticipated Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture, known as “The Cheech”, opening June 18, 2022, a public-private partnership between the Riverside Art Museum (RAM), Cheech Marin, and the City of Riverside, the “City of Arts & Innovation.” The Cheech boasts an impressive collection of Chicano art gifted to RAM by renowned comedian and Chicano art collector Cheech Marin.

While opening day is sold out, tickets to visit The Cheech between June 19, 2022, and August 31, 2022, can be purchased now on the RAM website. Admission is $15.95 for adults and $10.95 for seniors, educators, college students, and children ages 13-17. Ticket prices include access to both The Cheech and the Riverside Art Museum. RAM offers free admission to children under 12, RAM members, and military personnel. Discounted admission of $1 is available to those who present an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card and accompanying identification as part of the Museums for All program. RAM also partners with Bank of America, Voices for Children, and Big Brother Big Sisters of the Inland Empire to offer free or discounted admission to qualified participants.

The 61,420-square-foot center will house hundreds of paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculptures by artists including Carlos Almaraz, Judithe Hernández, Gilbert “Magú” Luján, Sandy Rodriguez, Frank Romero, Patssi Valdez, and the de la Torre brothers, Einar and Jamex. 

“After five years of incredible community effort, RAM is pleased to announce that it’s finally time in the words of Cheech Marin to ‘meet at The Cheech!’” said Riverside Art Museum Executive Director Drew Oberjuerge.

“Chicano art is a distinct, evolving art form from artists with a unique perspective of life in the US that will speak to the souls who see it, be they Chicanos or Latinos, art aficionados, or the culturally curious.”  

Beginning June 19, the Riverside Art Museum and The Cheech will be open Monday through Sunday 10 a.m.–5 p.m. with extended hours on Thursdays through 8 p.m. The Cheech is located at 3581 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, CA, 92501, on the corner of Mission Inn Avenue and Orange Street. The Riverside Art Museum is located at 3425 Mission Inn Avenue, on the corner of Mission Inn Avenue and Lime Street. Metered street and lot parking is available along Mission Inn Avenue. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit riversideartmuseum.org/get-tickets.

In the News

June 7, 2022: https://www.travelmag.com/articles/exhibitions-california-summer-2022/

June 6, 2022: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/knx-in-depth-la-hosts-summit-of-the-americas/id1423814166?i=1000565434550

March 20, 2022: https://robbreport.com/shelter/art-collectibles/two-museums-expand-in-california-to-celebrate-latin-american-art-1234668627/

March 4, 2022: https://www.pe.com/2022/03/04/los-lobos-to-play-benefit-concert-for-the-cheech-museum-in-riverside/

January 30, 2022: https://www.pe.com/2022/01/30/how-riversides-ywca-hired-julia-morgan-and-defied-mission-inn/

November 9, 2021: https://www.artnews.com/art-news/news/cheech-marin-center-riverside-preview-1234609366/

October 11, 2021: https://www.pe.com/2021/10/11/riverside-art-museum-to-show-work-from-artist-sonya-fe/

September 3, 2021: https://www.pe.com/2021/09/03/riverside-art-museum-wins-50000-grant-for-artist-in-residence-work/

August 6, 2021: https://www.kpbs.org/news/2021/aug/06/cheech/

July 13, 2021: https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/story/2021-07-13/cheech-marin-center-chicano-art-director-maria-esther-fernandez

July 2, 2021: https://www.pe.com/2021/07/02/typewriters-are-stars-of-new-riverside-art-museum-exhibit/

RIVERSIDE, CA (April 1, 2022)—Chicano roots-rockers Los Lobos will headline a benefit concert on May 7 for the new Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture, known as “The Cheech,” in downtown Riverside, the City of Arts & Innovation. The show, presented by Hot 103.9 and Katy 101.3, celebrates the approaching grand opening of The Cheech on June 18, 2022.

The benefit concert begins at 6 p.m. at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium, 3485 Mission Inn Avenue, a few doors down from The Cheech. East LA rock band Quetzal will be the opening act, and Marin himself will be making a special appearance. Tickets start at $32 and are now on sale through Live Nation with all proceeds going to The Cheech.

The Cheech is the result of a public-private partnership between the Riverside Art Museum, Cheech Marin, and the City of Riverside.

When it opens on Saturday, June 18, The Cheech is expected to be the nation’s premier center for Chicano art and culture, welcoming more than 100,000 guests annually to explore exhibitions and engage in educational opportunities. The center will house nearly 500 paintings, drawings, and sculptures gifted from renowned comedian, philanthropist, and Chicano art collector Cheech Marin.

“We are going to make Riverside the center of Chicano art in the world,” Marin said. “And we’re going to bring the world to Riverside. Who better to celebrate this with than the best Chicano band in the world, Los Lobos?”

Over the last five decades, the East L.A.-bred band Los Lobos has made an indelible mark on music history by exploring an enormous diversity of genres—rock-and-roll and R&B, surf music and soul, mariachi and música norteña, punk rock and country—and building a boldly unpredictable sound all their own. The band released their most recent album, Native Sons, in July 2021.

Chicano art has roots in the Chicano Movement of the 1960s, visually representing the social justice efforts of that time, and incorporating imagery from colonial folk art, religious iconography, indigenous traditions, graffiti art, and the melding of cultures along the US/Mexico border.

The 61,420-square-foot center, which used to be a midcentury public library, will house the work of artists such as Carlos Almaraz, Judithe Hernández, Gilbert “Magú” Luján, Sandy Rodriguez, Frank Romero, and Patssi Valdez. A portion of this collection will be exhibited and toured at venues across the nation and throughout the world.

Riverside, CA (February 8, 2022)—The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum originally scheduled to open May 8 is now scheduled to open on Saturday, June 18, 2022.

Supply chain issues, contractor-related staffing shortages due to COVID-19, and unforeseen construction setbacks that come with renovating a historical building combined to necessitate this change. While unfortunate, a path forward has been established on how outstanding items will be resolved in a timely and safe manner.

“The opening has been delayed, but don’t despair!” says actor, comedian, and preeminent Chicano art collector and art advocate Cheech Marin. “We want everything to be just right so we can welcome the world in celebrating Chicano art and culture at The Cheech. Join us in June!”

The opening day of The Cheech, presented by US Bank, has been moved to June 18, 2022. A civic dedication will take place at The Cheech on Thursday, June 16, and a Gala, presented by UNIDOS, which was previously scheduled for Friday, May 6, is now set for Friday, June 17, at the Riverside Convention Center.

What does Rembrandt’s Night Watch have to do with Chicanx art? For actor and comedian Cheech Marin, it was the inspiration for building a collection that could one day be the basis for a museum. In the 1980s, at the height of his Cheech & Chong days, Marin had started collecting Chicanx art. He visited the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and spent nearly an hour gazing at Rembrandt’s 14-foot-wide masterpiece—“looking at the painting and taking in every aspect of it,” he said—and it was then that he knew he wanted to build a museum-quality collection of his own.

“I’d seen it all my life growing up, in reproductions in books, but when I got there—it was a huge, huge painting, like a mural,” Marin said in an interview from his Pacific Palisades home. “When I saw it, I thought, Wow, I get it now. It made such an impression on me. I thought to myself, That’s what I have to do.”

Read the full article at ARTnews

Through the palette of the “Los Tejanos” art exhibition, “The Cheech” explores Cheech Marin’s lifelong advocacy of the Chicano Art Movement, and his journey to develop the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture and Industry.

With original score by Grammy Nominated musician El Dusty, “The Cheech” takes a fascinating look at a national icon’s love affair with art, and his incredible contribution to promote and preserve a vital part of American cultural identity.

Read the full article at PBS.org

The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum has named María Esther Fernández as its artistic director, the center’s top post and the person who will steer the curatorial and programming visions for the project under development in the former Riverside Public Library.

“The Cheech,” as it’s referred to, is scheduled to open May 8. It will feature Marin’s personal collection of about 700 itemsalong with works on loan from artists, collectors and other institutions. It will also present traveling exhibitions.

Read the full article at LA Times

The California city of Riverside has approved plans and funding for the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture, and Industry.

Comedian and actor Cheech Marin is a man of many interests—though you wouldn’t know if from his monomaniacal love of weed as one half of the legendary comedy duo Cheech and Chong. He is also an avid trivia player (he won the first Celebrity Jeopardy! tournament) and art collector, having put together a 700-work collection of Chicano art, which is thought to be the largest of its kind in the world.

Now, after years of planning, the long-awaited Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture of the Riverside Art Museum in Riverside, California, has finally received the green light from the city, and is on track to open this fall.

Read the entire article at artnet.com by Sarah Cascone