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‘The Cheech’ Chicano art museum in Riverside set to open this week after years of anticipation

The exterior of The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture in Riverside.
Riverside Art Museum
The exterior of The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture in Riverside.

After five years of construction and preparation, The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture will be opening this week in Downtown Riverside.

The Cheech, as the museum will be called for short, will be opening this Saturday, June 18. The museum will feature art by Chicano artists, including Einar De La Torre and his brother Jamex De La Torre.

"It's the first major Chicano museum and with all the complexities that it implies," Einar De La Torre said. "I think it's tremendous, it's about time, and I believe that it will attract a lot of attention to Riverside."

The museum is in the old Downtown Riverside Library and will be operated by the Riverside Art Museum. Comedian Cheech Marin is the center's namesake and is best known for his role in the Cheech and Chong comedy duo.

Marin says the museum will have more than art hanging on walls. "We're gonna have a film department, we're gonna have an academic department, we're going to have a press so that we can make prints here and lots of other things that we discover along the way," Marin said.

For the center, Marin donated around 550 pieces of Chicano art from his personal collection. I ask if he has a favorite, "No, I can't because I will incur the wrath of the other painters," Marin said. "It's like having children; your best child is the one giving you the least amount of trouble at that time."

But when people walk through The Cheech and view the artwork, Marin hopes it will have an impact on the viewers. "They can have all the academic explanations that they want and run down the history of it, but all those things come together in order to stand in front of a painting and go wow... that's cool," Marin said.

The museum will also feature local artists and touring exhibitions. The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art and Culture is set to open to the public on June 18.

Jonathan Linden was a reporter at 91.9 KVCR in San Bernardino, California. He joined KVCR in July 2021 and served with the station till October 2022.