Riverside city manager John Russo, collector Cheech Marin, Riverside Art Museum executive director Drew Oberjuerge, and Riverside mayor Rusty Bailey at the Riverside Art Museum. Photo: Allen J. Schaben for the LA Times

Cheech Marin to Establish California Center for Chicano Art

Actor and collector Cheech Marin is working to develop a center for Chicano art in Riverside, California, that would provide a permanent home for his seven-hundred-work collection, Carolina A. Miranda of the LA Times reports.

“It’ll be the one place worldwide that everybody can go to for all things Chicano art,” says Marin. “And it will not just be display, but it will have an academic feature so Chicano art can be seen and can be studied.”

While planning is still in the early stages, Marin will partner with the city of Riverside and the Riverside Art Museum to open the center in a sixty-thousand-square-foot building that currently houses the main branch of the Riverside Library, which is in the process of relocating to a venue nearby.

The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture, and Industry—a working title—will present a memorandum to the city council on May 16. If approved, Marin will have about a year to outline a plan for the renovation of the building, the operating expenses, and the structure of the new institution. Then the city will vote on the proposal.

“It’s a great reuse for the building in the middle of a cultural center,” John Russo, city manager, said. “It will be a positive thing for the restaurants and hotels in the area. And it will be very positive for the educational institutions as well. We have a burgeoning art community and this is really going to solidify and bring attention to that art community.”

Executive director of the Riverside Art Museum, Drew Oberjuerge, added that he believes the center will be popular with the city’s Latino community. The idea for the new museum was conceived after Marin loaned several works to RAM for the exhibition “Papel Chicano Dos: Works on Paper From the Collection of Cheech Marin” (2017). The show’s opening drew a record number of visitors and tripled the museum’s profits from admission fees in the first month.

RAM will manage the center, which in addition to an exhibition space, will focus on developing educational initiatives such as a scholar-in-residence program. “Our board is really excited about this,” Oberjuerge said. “They know that there is a lot of work that has to be done in the next nine months in terms of working with Cheech and working on developing a capital campaign to fund it, but they are ready to take it on.”