Actor, comedian and art collector Cheech Marin’s long-awaited Chicano Art Museum is finally coming to fruition.
Last week, the Riverside City Council voted to renovate a library to house the new art museum and give Marin’s art collection a permanent home. The city council approved $1 million in annual funding to cover operating costs for at least the first 25 years. “The Cheech,” which is the nickname of the museum, will open this fall.
The Cheech will be managed by the Riverside Art Museum, which is providing $13 million ($9.7 million of that from a state grant) for the renovations of the library. According to ArtNet.com, Marin has donated 11 artworks to the museum and will donate 500 more once storage facilities for the work have been built.
Over the years, Marin, who is best known for his role in the Cheech and Chong movies like Up in Smoke, has amassed one of the largest Chicano art collections in the world. The new museum will be dedicated to exhibiting the artwork of Mexican American artists.
“When I discovered the Chicano painters, I thought, ‘These guys are really good. I know every painter in the world, how come they’re not getting any shelf space?’” Marin told The Art Newspaper. “So, that became my collecting process, to make sure they got shelf space.”
In 2018 when The Cheech received the $9.7 million state grant, a Republican candidate for California’s 60th Assembly District criticized the funding by referring to the venue as a “stoner art museum.”
If The Cheech doesn’t end up working out as a nickname, at least it has something to fall back on.