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Cheech Marin is Opening the Center for Chicano Art & Culture This Weekend

Beloved comedian and actor Cheech Marin, 75, is opening the Center for Chicano Art & Culture (nicknamed The Cheech) in collaboration with the Riverside Art Museum.

A new video, posted to Instagram, teases the Center’s opening night ceremonies, which includes a lineup of performances and an appearance from Marin himself.

According to Hey SoCal, “My motto has always been that you can’t love or hate Chicano art unless you see it,” Marin said during a preview of the center Thursday. “And now people will have a place to always see it.”

The idea first materialized as a private-public partnership in 2017, in which Marin agreed to donate his extensive collection of Chicano art to the museum. Marin’s collection will be featured at The Cheech for a time before going on a national exhibition tour.

Just last week, The Cheech announced a partnership with The Smithsonian to display “Collidoscope: de la Torre Brothers Retro- Perspective,” by Einar and Jamex de la Torre, which features 70 mixed-media works.

Per the source, Riverside Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson, who honored Marin with a ceremonial key to the city, had this to say about the new center:

“The Cheech not only will give visitors another reason to visit Riverside, but also serve as an epicenter for us to connect with each another, celebrate our diversity and creativity and provide space for education and reflection. I encourage everyone to visit our historic downtown and see for themselves the majesty of The Cheech.”

On the center’s scope and scale, The Orange County Register reveals that the 61,420-square-foot structure is expected to bring in up to 100,000 guests per year.

It was also reported that The Cheech will be operating at a cost of roughly $1 million dollars per year, with a $25 million dollar endowment that would allow the center to operate for 25 years, at which point it’s expected to be self-sustaining.

$10.7 million dollars came directly from the city, with the other $14.3 million coming from private institutions and donors, including Bank of America. The center also underwent a $13 million dollar renovation in anticipation of its opening day this week.

On opening day, the museum will display about 100 of Marin’s pieces, which represent just one-seventh of his 700-piece collection. All in all, Marin has donated more than 500 of those pieces — some will be displayed in the museum while others will function as part of the traveling exhibition.

Marin, who’s been collecting art since the 1980s, told The San Diego Union-Tribune, “I’ve collected things since I was a kid. I always had some type of collection going.” Marin became fixated by Chicano art, specifically Art Deco and Art Nouveaux, and has been an avid acquirer of art ever since.

“You don’t have to be Chicano to love and appreciate this work,” Marin says. “Just like I don’t have to be French to appreciate Impressionism or German to appreciate Expressionism. We recognize it as part of the conversation in the history of art. And now we are part of that conversation in a more concentrated effort than we’ve ever had before.”

The source indicates that The Cheech will generate roughly $3 million dollars in revenue each year. However, The Press-Enterprise reports that not all of Riverside’s City Council was enthused about the plans for public subsidies.

Councilman Chuck Conder, in particular, called the financial commitment a “betrayal” of the city’s taxpayers. Still, the funding plan passed with a 4-0 vote — two other councilmembers abstained, as they own property within 500 feet of the new museum.

“I recognize this is a substantial investment for a city like Riverside,” said Jack Clarke, a staunch supporter of the museum. “But this is something that has national and international ramifications for our community.”

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