By GABRIELLA BOCK | Reporter
Palisadian actor, author and counterculture icon Cheech Marin’s massive Chicano art collection may soon be moving from his Highlands home to Riverside.
This follows several Latin American organizations pledging a collective $90,000 toward building the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture and Industry last month.
In a unique collaboration, donations from the Riverside Latino Network, the Greater Riverside Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Spanish Town Heritage Foundation will join $1 million in state allocations signed off by Governor Brown in June 2017.
The funding will make a significant dent in the $3 million that must be raised by the end of February under the terms of a memorandum of understanding approved by the Riverside City Council in May 2017.
The project is expected to cost $7 to $10 million in total.
Affectionately dubbed “The Cheech,” the center will allow guests to explore Mexican-American culture through a wide variety of different mediums such as paintings, sculptures, photography and video arts, and will provide a public home for a significant portion of Marin’s collection, including work by late painter Carlos Almaraz—who Marin often refers to as the “John Coltrane of American painters”—and nearly 50 pieces by Chicano abstract artist “Gronk.”
With a projected completion date set for 2020, the cultural center will be housed in a renovated building currently occupied by the Downtown Riverside Public Library, originally opened in 1964, with architectural services provided by the firm Page & Turnbull.
The city plans to build a new library several blocks away.
Marin, who grew up in South LA and later Granada Hills, began collecting Chicano artwork in the early 1990s, but has since run out of shelf space in his Highlands home as his private collection nears 800 pieces, one of the largest in the world.
The first museum in the nation to focus solely on Chicano culture, the center will also serve as a space for temporary exhibitions, classes and lectures.
Marin, a long-time Latino Rights activist, has been instrumental in organizing exhibitions of Chicano artwork.
In 2008 he curated the Los Angelenos/Chicano Painters of LA: Selections from the Cheech Marin Collection display at LACMA.
In a past interview with the Palisadian-Post, Marin revealed his vision for the 61,420-square-foot Riverside facility, which he will take an active role in managing.
“Our intentions are pure: with ‘The Cheech’ I want to empower my people by bringing the Latino experience even more into the mainstream—in many parts of Los Angeles we represent 50 percent of the population,” he explained. “Through our art we can show those ‘lesser enlightened’ folks that we [Latinos] ‘come in peace.’”
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