Say “Cheech Marin” and a Baby Boomer will smile with recognition. The seventy-two-year-old actor and comedian first rose to fame in the ‘70s and ‘80s as one half of the comedic duo Cheech & Chong.
One lesser known fact about Cheech Marin is that he is one of the most avid and important collectors of Chicano artwork. From now until July 14th, you can experience up close diverse works from Marin’s private collection at MUZEO. Called “Papel Chicano Dos: Works on Paper” this second touring exhibit of his collection provides an intimate look at 65 artworks by 24 known and emerging artists.
A large quote on a vibrant pumpkin-colored wall of the gallery reads: “One is born a Mexican-American, but one chooses to be a Chicano. Politically charged, the Chicano lifestyle has been passed from one generation to another. It has survived wars, prisons, and strife.”
These words, spoken by Gaspar Enriquez, one of the exhibit’s featured artists, offers a window into the singular and collective experiences of Mexican-Americans who reclaimed the term Chicano, a descriptive that used to have negative connotations.
Cheech Marin realized the immense talent and diverse voices of Chicano artists deserved greater attention and his refined eye was drawn to artists who, through their works, are united in immediacy and vitality.
The extraordinary collection embodies a dizzying diversity of techniques, styles, and perspectives. Some highlights include the works of Vincent Valdez who emerged in the early 2000s. His evocative series of drawings centers around a boxer and embody themes including the myth of fame and the dehumanization of an idealized figure. In an almost storyboard-like fashion, he ties Catholic iconography to pop culture.
A section nicknamed “The Gronk Room” is dedicated to the work of East L.A bred artist Giugio Nicandro, known as Gronkwhose works are bold and emotional. You can become lost in the symbolism and bold colors of “Soy Chicana” an epic piece by Cici Segura Gonzalez, also from East L.A. And with his singular wit and humor, the late Gilbert Lujan, known as Magu is represented in part, with a stunningly detailed 1950 Chevy Coupe covered in Chicano iconography, pop-culture and folk art.
In Muzeo’s main gallery, Papel Chicano Dos is a can’t-miss exhibit shining with vibrancy, depth and scope; a testament to the diversity of the Chicano experience.
On view until July 14th, Papel Chicano Dos runs Wednesday through Sundays from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and online reservations are encouraged. Ticket prices range from $7.00-$10.00 and can be purchased here.