RIVERSIDE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#MeetMeAtTheCheech–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.
“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 opens to the public on Saturday, June 18. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and tickets can be purchased on-site or in advance.
Art lovers, lawmakers, business owners and community members cheered as Marin officially dedicated the new home for the 500-plus works of Chicano art that he is gifting to the center. 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 exhibitions and innovative education programming. “Visitors to The Cheech will make their own connections with the art and be able to better understand themselves, their community, and the world,” said Fernández.
The 61,420-square-foot building that houses The Cheech is itself 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, The Cheech represents something entirely new both inside and out.
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.”
More than 100,000 people are expected to visit the center every year, and visitors this year will be treated to two major exhibitions: Cheech Collects, which weaves a story of Cheech Marin’s 40-year journey as an art collector with 100 curated pieces from his collection; and the upstairs touring exhibition Collidoscope: de la Torre Brothers Retro-Perspective featuring more than 70 mixed-media works. The Cheech also features a multipurpose auditorium, a film screening room and an artist-in-residency studio/education center where visitors can witness the next generation of Chicano art as it emerges.
“We’ve put so much work into this center, and I can’t believe it’s finally here,” Marin said, who has said the center is a dream come true. “I’m so excited to share my passion with the rest of the world. There’s something in here for everyone.”
Media assets and more information about The Cheech, can be found here.
Ai M. Kelley, Communications and Marketing Director