• A work from Chicano artist Frank Romero is featured in “Papel Chicano Dos: Works on Paper, from the Collection of Cheech Marin.” The exhibition runs from Feb. 2 through May 7 at the Riverside Art Museum. (Courtesy of the Riverside Art Museum)
Although Cheech Marin found his way to stardom as one half of the marijuana-loving duo Cheech and Chong, the actor and comedian always found time to appreciate art.

Before hitting it big with roles in movies, television and voiceover work, Marin would take trips to the library to quench his thirst for art in many forms.

“I would check out books and study various types of art,” Marin said in a recent telephone interview.

He said he eventually acquired a few Art Nouveau and Art Deco pieces and in 1985 purchased three Chicano art works that were the seeds of what has become a vast collection.

After bringing those first pieces home, Marin said he began to exclusively collect Chicano art. Over the years the body of works has reached about 700.

Much of the original Chicano art began as protest signs, flyers and posters calling out inequality and addressing civil rights and other issues that were important to the Hispanic culture.

“Chicano art is an American school of art that is an essential component of American art,” Marin said.

Some of his collection will be on display at the Riverside Art Museum, beginning Thursday in the “Papel Chicano Dos: Works on Paper, from the Collection of Cheech Marin” exhibition. There will be a reception on Thursday evening and the show will continue through May 7.

The collection was first shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, with Riverside being its second stop.

Marin said he has a clear mission of helping people experience Chicano art in person.

Cheech Marin (Photo courtesy of Alan Amato)

“My mantra is you cannot love or hate Chicano art unless you see it in person,” said Marin. “People are very surprised when they come and see the show.”

Prominent Chicano artists Diane Gamboa, Leo Limón and Glugio “Gronk” Nicondrahave pieces in the upcoming show as well as in the museum’s permanent collection, Todd Wingate, Riverside Art Musuem’s curator of exhibitions and collections said.

Wingate said works in the exhibition range from the late ‘80s through now and includes 65 pieces featuring watercolor, acrylic, aquatint, mixed media and pastels.

A watercolor painting by Wenceslao Quiroz depicts an older Ford pick-up truck stacked with wooden pallets driving towards a bridge is one of Marin’s favorites.

“Every artist focuses on some part of the culture,” Marin said. “And together the exhibition gives people a description of the community told through the works.”

As for what Marin sees on the Chicano art horizon now that President Donald Trump has started his term in office, he said artists are starting to react to the change in leadership.

“I think we will see more and more artwork created by Chicano artists as his term continues,” Marin said.


When: Opening reception, 7-9 p.m. Thursday; Normal museum hours: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; Noon – 4 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday.

Where: Riverside Art Museum, 3425 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside.

Admission: Opening reception is free; $5 general admission; $3 students and ages 65 and older with ID; free for members, military and their families with ID and Children under 12.

More information: RiversideArtMuseum.org

This article was first published at pe.com.