Entertainment

Cheech And Chong Might Be Over But Cheech Marin Is Saving Chicano Art With An Exciting Art Exhibit

Cheech Marin is one of the most successful comedic voices to come out of the Mexican-American community in the United States. As part of the comedic duo Cheech & Chong, he has toured the nation offering acts full of caustic humor and political references that get our heads thinking and our hearts racing. He was born Richard Anthony Marin on July 13, 1946, in South Los Angeles. He has lived and worked in California his whole life and has appeared in such iconic films as Machete, and TV shows like the classic Nash BridgesHe has also done voice work in children’s classics such as The Lion King (where he voices one of the despicable hyena) and Pixar’s Cars trilogy. Culturally, Marin identifies as a Chicano, even though he does not speak Spanish. Guess where his nickname comes from? The story goes that when he came back from the hospital his uncle said that he looked like a chicharron (pork crackling), so the apodo of Cheech stuck.

But he is much more than an actor and comedian, and he has made a very important contribution to Chicano cultural life. Read on to find out more about it.

He is a famous actor, but his true love is not acting.

Credit: Cheechmarinofficial / Instagram

Cheech has been collecting Chicano art for years, something that his fame and fortune has allowed him to do. It is believed that he possesses the largest individual collection of Chicano art in the world. 

He found his love for art at church, of all places.

Credit: TheCheechCenter / Instagram

Cheech told The Orange County Register that he first fell in love with art as a kid when at 11 he would stare at the ceiling at church. He said: “There were all these paintings there, guys in togas and some of them getting barbecued. What’s the deal? So art was very important to me and I learned as much as I could about it by going to the library to check out the art books.” Gracias a Dios! 

As a generous collector, guess what he decided to do.

Credit: Cheechmarinofficial / Instagram

Yes, you guessed it, he decided to donate his entire collection to a museum. The lucky institution? The Riverside Art Museum (http://www.riversideartmuseum.org/) in  3425 Mission Inn Avenue, Riverside, California. 

The new Chicano art center: simply The Cheech.

Credit: Cheechmarinofficial / Instagram

The museum and Marin decided to call the new center simply The Cheech, which both speaks of the main benefactor’s generosity towards the arts and Mexican-American identity, and to an iconic symbol of Chicano culture. 

But of course, money is needed for this project.

Credit: Cheechmarinofficial / Instagram

So Cheech and the museum relied on what Latino’s do best: community organizing. Through both online and offline fundraising he got the attention he needed and the rest, as they say, is history. 

It has taken him four decades to amass his great collection of Chicano art, after all.

Credit: Cheechmarinofficial / Instagram

Cheech told the Las Vegas Sun on August 2018: “It’s more than I could ever ask for. I’ve been putting together this collection of Chicano art going on 40 years, and it’s been touring close to 30 years visiting various museums across the nation and Europe. It’s kind of a unique thing because it’s a private collection and museums don’t like to show those for a lot of reasons. It’s like, I have this collection because you don’t “. Talk about perseverance! If you truly love something, then nothing will be able to stop you! 

His motto: “Chicano art is American art.”

Credit: Cheechmarinofficial / Instagram

Cheech is a proud American, and he considers, and rightfully so, that Mexican-American communities have contributed immensely to the social and cultural fabric of the United States. He didn’t want his art collection to be just his, but everyones. He toured with the collection but not he found a permanent home for it. He told the Las Vegas Sun: “When you’re sifting through those materials, you come to the realization of what good does it do you? What am I going to do, stuff it under the bed? It’s for the people to see where previously they have not had that chance. It’s going to a special place that can expand the outreach of Chicano art and better include it the American canon. Chicano art is American art.” Preach, carnalito

His passion got young people interested in art that speaks to our cultural roots.

Credit: Cheechmarinofficial / Instagram

The only way for culture to survive throughout the years is to be communicated to the next generations. During his fundraising efforts, Cheech found an echo in young adults. As reported by The Orange Country Register in December 2018, the group known as The Pick Group of Young Professionals organized the Pick 100 x 100 campaign, which urged 100 young professionals to give $100 each by October 2019 for a total of $10,000. The group’s president, Lauren Lee, said in a press release: “Imagine the difference we can make in our community by deciding to give back as young professionals to a community that has given so much to us.”

He got the State of California to donate $9.7 million for the museum.

Credit: Cheechmarinofficial / Instagram

In June 2018, after Cheech had already raised $3 million dollars for the museum, the state government pitched in an extra $9.7, which came from the 2018-2019 budget signed by Governor Jerry Brown. Cheech told the Associated Press shortly after the government funds were made available: “I have dreamed for many years of finding a home for the hundreds of pieces of art that I have spent much of my life collecting, protecting and showing, when possible, at major museums around the world. The Riverside community has made this dream a reality.”

The museum will have over 700 paintings.

Credit: TheCheechCenter / Instagram

The depth and breadth of Cheech’s collection encompass both established and upcoming talent, as well as painters who are great but haven’t been able to break into the highly elitist art circles of Los Angeles. Among the paintings, drawings and sculptures are works by such artists as Gilbert (Magu) Lujan, Frank Romero, and Carlos Almaraz.

The Cheech Center will revitalize Riverside.

Credit: TheCheechCenter / Instagram

Besides being culturally important, the arts center will draw attention to Riverside. Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey said in 2018: “But there is also a business side to the equation. A world-class art museum draws visitors to our city, potentially from all around the globe. These visitors book hotel rooms, pay bed tax, eat in our local restaurants and frequent our coffee shops and nightspots. The arts are one of the drivers that make Riverside a good place to do business”. Dinerito habla! 

By the way, Cheech Marin is also a marijuana advocate.

Credit: Cheechmarinofficial / Instagram

Yes, his other passion is pot: he is an active promoter of the legalization of marihuana, and of course is good friends with other pothead celebrities such as Snoop Dog! Un toquecito para Cheech! And yes, he has entered the legal pot growing business.

READ: 20 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Actor And Comedian Cheech Marin

Mexican Artist Transforms 1,527 Deadly Guns Into Life-Giving Shovels To Plant Trees

Things That Matter

Mexican Artist Transforms 1,527 Deadly Guns Into Life-Giving Shovels To Plant Trees

botanicocln / veri_fp / Instagram

A Mexican artist and activist embarked on a project to gather as many firearms as he could from Culiacán, Mexico, the city with the highest death by gun violence rate in Mexico, and transform them into shovels that would instead plant trees. Artist Pedro Reyes, a Mexico City native, has long been using his art to illustrate how evil can be transformed into good, with the right perspective. While the United States has, by far, the highest number of firearms per capita (120.5 per 100 persons), Mexico ranks 60th in the world. Pedro Reyes wanted to do his part in getting the deadly weapons off the street.

Reyes set out in Culiacán, Mexico, to trade civilian’s weapons for coupons for electronics, and residents traded 1,527 weapons.

Pedro Reyes’s project, known as “Palas por Pistolas” publicized the gun exchange on television ads and through local media.

Credit: bintazd / Instagram

 All of this was made possible by the botanical garden of Culiacán, which has been commissioning artists to perform social impact interventions for years. Reyes made a proposal to the garden to organize a city-wide campaign for a voluntary donation of weapons. The commission was able to pay for television advertisements and liaise with local media to promote the project. Soon, the whole city knew that residents were invited to give up their guns in exchange for a coupon. Those coupons were then traded at a local store in exchange for domestic appliances and electronics.

Of the 1,527 weapons collected, 40 percent were automatic weapons, “exclusively” used for the military.

Credit: molaaart / Instagram

The second phase of the project was put on public display. All 1,527 guns were taken to a military zone and were crushed by a steamroller in a public act. Then, the pieces were taken to a foundry and melted down to its original form. Once again, the same metal that was transformed into guns became a ‘blank page,’ available to transform into absolutely anything. Reyes worked with a major hardware factory to create molds that would create exactly 1,527 shovels. 

Since they’ve been repurposed, 1,527 trees have been planted.

Credit: molaaart / Instagram

The shovels have been on display at a variety of art institutions. Admirers could read an inscription of the shovel’s origin story on the handle. Later, children and adults alike would feel the weight of what was once a gun in their hands as they dug up dirt to plant new life. Trees have been planted at the Vancouver Art Gallery, San Francisco Art Institute, Paris’s Maison Rouge, Lyon Biennial, Marfa, Texas, and Denver, Colorado.

“This ritual has a pedagogical purpose of showing how an agent of death can become an agent of life,” Reyes said of the project. 

Credit: botanicocln / Instagram

Like every other Reyes project to date, the gift is a change in perspective. For whoever might have been injured or died at the hands of those 1,527 guns, as many trees have been planted in their honor. Reyes breaks down the concept of a gun to what it is: human intention and scrap metal. With a simple shift in intention, that metal has created lasting memories for children and created oxygen-giving life on this planet.  

Since “Palas por Pistolas,” Reyes has also installed “Imagine,” a similar concept that instead turns guns into musical instruments.

Credit: Pedro Reyes

In April 2012, Reyes was given the opportunity to transform human intention once again. “I got a call from the government who had learned about Palas por Pistolas,” Reyes said. “They told me a public destruction of weapons was to take place in Ciudad Juarez and asked me if I was interested in keeping the metal, which would otherwise have been buried as usual. I accepted the material but I wanted to do something new this time. 6700 weapons, cut into parts and rendered useless, were given to me and I set out to make them into instruments.”

“A group of 6 musicians worked for 2 weeks shoulder-to-shoulder turning these agents of death into instruments of life.”

Credit: Pedro Reyes

Reyes said it was far more challenging than simply turning the metal into shovels. The metal had to create sounds. “It’s difficult to explain but the transformation was more than physical,” Reyes writes. “It’s important to consider that many lives were taken with these weapons; as if a sort of exorcism was taking place the music expelled the demons they held, as well as being a requiem for lives lost.”

Living in a community free of guns ought to be a human right. Many liberties that we enjoy today were considered utopian, and the first step taken into that direction was to Imagine.” Reyes continues to draw attention not only to where guns are used, but where they are made. It is an industry and one he continues to reclaim for life.

READ: Mexicans Are Questioning Their Government’s Decision To Release El Chapo’s Son After A Massive Gun Battle

A California Woman Is Considering Charges Against An Apple Employee After He Sent Photo From Her Phone To Himself

Things That Matter

A California Woman Is Considering Charges Against An Apple Employee After He Sent Photo From Her Phone To Himself

Gloria Elisa Fuentes / Facebook

A Bakersfield woman is planning to press legal charges against an Apple store employee who allegedly texted himself a sexual image of the woman from her phone. Gloria Fuentes scheduled an appointment with Apple’s Genius Bar for Nov. 4. She instinctually knew to delete social media apps and bank apps from her phone, knowing her iPhone would be in the hands of a stranger paid to repair her screen. The Apple employee, who she believes is named Nic, messed around with her phone for “quite a while.” She assumed he was just doing his job. Nic tells her that Apple won’t repair the screen, and directs her to her phone provider for further help.

When Fuentes returned home, she noticed that an unknown number was listed in her most recent messages. She views the conversation and “instantly wants to cry.” A single image of a deeply personal nature was sent to the unknown number. Now, she’s pressing charges against the Apple employee.

Gloria Fuentes wants every woman to hear her story, to ensure they, and their daughters, are safe.

Credit: Gloria Elisa Fuentes / Facebook

“”*****PLEASE READ!!!!!!!!*****,” Fuentes shared in a viral Facebook post. “So last night, I went to Apple in the Valley Plaza (Bakersfield, CA) to get my phone screen repaired and I got a tech guy named Nic, although I’m not positive of the name because the workers there were being super unhelpful.” She recalled her intuition to protect her privacy. “So before I went I kind of had this feeling to delete things from my phone. I deleted any app that had any type of financial information or linked to my bank account in any way and also all of my social media apps because I didn’t want them going through them. I also did a backup before I went and then I was going to delete all the pictures from my phone too but forgot because they were texting me that they moved my appointment time up so I was trying to rush over there.”

The employee had asked for her passcode twice, and she didn’t think anything of it. She was there to have the screen’s hardware repaired. 

Fuentes describes how the violation has impacted her sense of safety.

Credit: Gloria Elisa Fuentes / Facebook

“I walk in my house turn on my phone about to text someone and realize there’s a message to an unsaved number!!!!! I open it and instantly wanted to cry!!!” she shared in the vulnerable Facebook post. “This guy went through my gallery and sent himself one of my EXTREMELY PERSONAL pictures that I took for my boyfriend and it had my geolocation on so he also knows where I live!!!” The employee is clearly tech-savvy, and would be aware of how geolocations work. If a man has the audacity to sexually violate a woman in this way, it’s reasonable to fear for her safety.

“AND THIS PICTURE WAS FROM ALMOST A YEAR AGO SO HE HAD TO HAVE SCROLLED UP FOR A WHILE TO GET TO THAT PICTURE being that I have over 5,000 pics in my phone!!!!” she exclaimed. “I could not express how disgusted I felt and how long I cried after I saw this!!”

Fuentes went back to the Bakersfield, California Valley Plaza Apple store to confront the man, who admitted that it was his personal number.

Credit: Apple Valley Plaza (2701 Ming Avenue, Bakersfield, CA) / Facebook

“I went back to the store and confronted him and he admits to me that this was his number but that “he doesn’t know how that pic got sent 🤬!!” she shared. There is no reason why an Apple employee’s personal number should ever be in a customer’s phone, let alone personal photos be shared without consent. “The manager just said he’d look into it,” she said. 

Later, Apple confirmed that the store “immediately launched an internal investigation” and fired the employee.

Fuentes has filed a police report with the Bakersfield Police Department, which is actively investigating grounds for criminal charges.

Credit: Bakersfield Police Department / Facebook

Fuentes makes it clear that she’s sharing her story “because iPhones are like a must-have for teens now and I could just imagine that I’m not the only person he’s done this to and what if he’s done this to someone’s teenage daughter or even any other woman at all!!” What’s worse, is that she isn’t sure how many images he sent himself, and that she has “NO CLUE WTH HES GOING TO DO WITH THEM!!!” 

The mother of three said that she’ll be “pressing legal charges against him.” “This makes me cry thinking about it but I think he needs to be held accountable and anyone else that has had him work on their phone should be aware of the fact that there’s a possibility that he’s done this to them!!”

Bakersfield women, you can call the Bakersfield Police Department at (661) 327-7111.

READ: Senior Border Patrol Officer Gets To Retire After Allegedly Kidnapping And Sexually Assaulting Another Agent