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Cheech Marin Talks All Things Chicano Art at Crystal Bridges

Cheech Marin, who is an activist, actor, musician, and one half of the iconic comedy duo Cheech and Chong, gave a lecture in the Great Hall of Crystal Bridges on Monday, April 24.


The lecture occurred because of Crystal Bridge’s temporary showing of Diego Rivera’s America. The collection features beautifully created art, showcasing Chicano culture and livelihood. Over 130 works, created from the 1920s to the 1940s, Rivera drew inspiration from the social and cultural life in both Mexico and the United States.


Chicano, as Cheech defined, is a previously derogatory term for American born people of Mexican descent. However, Cheech describes his own acceptance of the title, and how it resonates with several multi-ethnic people in the U.S. Cheech said, “That’s what I am. I’m a can-do Mexican in the United States. I’m a Chicano.”


Cheech spoke of his own Chicano collection, consisting of over 300 unique, ethnically diverse pieces of art. Cheech specifically curated all of the artwork in his collection during a time when Chicano art was not recognized as fine art but as “folk art.” He acknowledges the growth in the Chicano community, the flexibility of the term, and how it’s now being recognized for its fine art and professionally trained artists.


Cheech’s Chicano art collection is now being showcased at his self-named museum, The Cheech, in Riverside, California. Coming up on its one year anniversary, The Cheech has already surpassed its 100,000 visitors goal, making it a large success for Chicano art, artists, and culture.


Crystal Bridges is just one of two museums that will be showcasing the powerfully moving, ethnically diverse exhibition Diego Rivera’s America. The collection includes works such as large scale digital projections of pivotal mural projects in Mexico, San Francisco, Detroit and New York, as well as rarely seen works from private collections. Crystal Bridges will be holding this exhibition from March 11 to July 31, 2023.

*photo acquired from the Crystal Bridges website*

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