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.