The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum will open in Spring 2022. A public-private partnership between the Riverside Art Museum, the City of Riverside, and comedian Cheech Marin—one of the world’s foremost collectors of Chicano art—the center will be, as Cheech says, the “center of Chicano art, not only painting, but sculpture, photography, and video arts.” The Cheech will house hundreds of paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculptures by artists including Patssi Valdez, Sandy Rodriguez, Carlos Almaraz, Frank Romero, and Gilbert “Magú” Luján.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a small non-traditional “groundbreaking” was filmed at the 61,420-square-foot facility, which was originally opened to the public as the Riverside Public Library in 1964, to officially commemorate the beginning of construction by Hamel Contracting Inc.
"My mantra's always been that if you are doing something good, good things will happen to you,” said Marin during the groundbreaking. “As we go along this path, I am fully convinced that this museum and the center for Chicano art and culture was meant to be, and it was meant to be here in Riverside and the Inland Empire. It is beyond my wildest dreams of what we could do with this building. First of all, having the building offered to us is an amazing thing, and we hope we can do it proud to bring honor and glory to a long tradition of historic buildings here in Riverside, California."
The center, nicknamed The Cheech, is a perfect adaptive reuse of this mid-century building and the historic and vintage aspects will be preserved in its transformation from a library to a museum and cultural center.
Nationally recognized architect and historic preservation expert Page & Turnbull and premier museum designer WHY have revealed further details of their concept for the new space.
The guiding principles of the design were developed through a series of community outreach workshops, which engaged a diverse cross-section of stakeholders from the city, including artists, educators, activists, business owners, and local residents. Additional programming featured a pop-up presentation as part of the Riverside Artswalk back in February 2018, which invited passersby to comment on the project and learn about its prospective impact on the city.
The sessions were a chance for stakeholders to articulate their hopes about what The Cheech could be, as well as discuss key concerns and ensure that the design allowed for uninhibited expression of Chicano culture. It was clear that community members did not want another art world “white box”—instead, the site will create an environment infused with sabor, or flavor, and present a space of radical hospitality, color, and vitality.
The site in its entirety will convey the spirit of The Cheech, with outdoor spaces encouraging art programming, impromptu performances, and experiences of all types—from lowriders, to quinceañeras, to outdoor sculpture.
The semi-circular entry steps draw the visitor towards the building, and the open “front porch” podium will feature large-scale sculptures to be rotated according to new programming and exhibitions. The building’s entry lobby is envisaged as a zócalo or open town square, a central gathering space that will connect the four main galleries and offer amenities such as a gift shop and, eventually, a cafe.
One of the most striking features of the space will be the visual connection to the upper galleries, highlighted by the installation of a newly commissioned work of lenticular art by brothers Einar and Jamex De La Torre. The monumentality and dynamism of the installation will generate a central source of energy for The Cheech, encouraging visitors to explore the different galleries. Accessed by a restored mid-century stairway, the second floor will feature exhibition and community art galleries, a multi-purpose video space, staff offices, and artist-in-residency studios where visitors can witness the next generation of Chicano art as it emerges.
The aim is to retain the civic history of the former library as a vital space for the community, making space for multiple intersecting cultural narratives. Rather than applying a dramatic, top-down approach to transforming the building, WHY worked closely with Page & Turnbull’s historic preservation team to identify a series of carefully localized interventions, addressing each point sequentially to reinvigorate the structure while preserving its historic character. This approach—which WHY terms “acupuncture architecture”—acts to defragment the spaces and improve circulation, bringing a new openness and flow to the spaces.
While visually striking in its own right, the building will allow the art to take center stage. The Cheech is set to have a catalytic effect on the cultural life of the city, sparking new dialogues and strengthening the appreciation of Chicano culture as a vital part of the national story. In the words of Cheech Marin: “You can't love or hate Chicano art unless you see it.”
PARTNER WITH THE CHEECH!
Opportunities include naming rights at The Cheech, being part of the Founder's Wall, sponsorships, membership in the Founding Corporate Council, VIP opportunities, and employee enrichment. Please be part of making The Cheech happen in Riverside! Contact the Riverside Art Museum at 951.684.7111 x 302.
Know of any individuals, companies, foundations, or agencies with an interest in partnering with us on The Cheech and its programs? Let us know! Contact Drew Oberjuerge at firstname.lastname@example.org.
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (June 27, 2018) – The much-anticipated Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture & Industry at the Riverside Art Museum became a reality today, June 27, 2018, when Gov. Brown signed the 2019 state budget, which includes a $9.7 million allocation of state funds to create in downtown Riverside the first major collection of Chicano art in the world.
The funding from the state Legislature -- proposed and championed by Assemblymember Jose Medina, D-Riverside -- means that the fundraising effort known as “Reach for the Cheech” has more than surpassed the goals set just over a year ago. The fundraising effort now has raised close to $13 million to transform Riverside’s existing Main Library into a world-class arts facility.
“This is a historic day in Riverside as this community, through its local fundraising and its advocacy with our partners in Sacramento, has made The Cheech happen,” Mayor Rusty Bailey said. “We are immensely grateful to Assemblymember Medina and the Riverside Art Museum for bringing this center to Riverside. Our residents and our business community will benefit from the addition of a major cultural amenity that drives a wave of new visitors to our hotels, restaurants, and shops.”
The Riverside Art Museum already had raised about $3.2 million, including an initial $1 million allocation of state funds that was announced last year. “The Cheech,” as its namesake has affectionately dubbed the museum, would occupy space on Mission Inn Avenue immediately adjacent to the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa. The Main Library is relocating a few blocks away.
Assemblymember Medina has continued to build support in Sacramento for an additional allocation of state funds to make the museum a center for describing the contributions of Latinos in California. Art is a powerful storytelling tool, and Marin’s collection is especially well-equipped for such a task.
“For too long, the story of Latinos and their contributions to the arts have been overlooked,” Assemblymember Medina said. “The Cheech will help bring the real stories and rich history of the Latino community to all Californians.”
The Cheech will be a permanent home for Marin’s more than 700 works of Chicano art, including paintings, sculptures, and photography, making up the most prominent collection of its kind in the U.S. It is expected to draw patrons from all over the world to downtown Riverside.
“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,” Marin said. “The Riverside community has made this dream come true and I am overjoyed that this incredible center will open in the heart of a community I have come to know and love.”
Marin was in Riverside earlier this month to participate in an event to thank Altura Credit Union for its $600,000 pledge to The Cheech. That donation helped the Riverside Art Museum reach a fundraising goal of $3 million by the end of May that was spelled out in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the City, the Riverside Art Museum, and Cheech Marin. The Altura contribution pushed the funds that had been raised at that point to $3,131,547.91.
“The generosity of the Riverside community and the way the community has embraced this vision has been immensely gratifying,” said Lucile Artnzen, President of the Riverside Art Museum Broad of Trustees. “To think about what we have accomplished in about 14 months, both locally and in Sacramento through Assemblymember Medina, it’s truly an overwhelming feeling of joy and gratitude. We have a strong foundation of funding that will all be used to renovate the old library into a world-class art center. As we continue to fundraise, this base of great support only strengthens our efforts.”
Later this summer, the City and the Riverside Art Museum will be entering into a new MOU that will address the conversion of the library, a management agreement, and new fundraising goals. The involved parties all hope to open The Cheech in 2020.
“We have come a long way in a short amount of time, and there are many, many people to thank for their roles in this success,” said Mayor Pro Tem Chris MacArthur. “Our city, already the downtown of Inland Southern California, is poised to play an even bigger part of telling the story of California’s growth and success.”
RIVERSIDE, Calif. (June 7, 2018) – Actor, comedian, and renowned art collector Cheech Marin visited downtown Riverside today to share in an important update of the planned Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture & Industry of the Riverside Art Museum. Marin was on hand to thank Altura Credit Union for its $600,000 pledge that helped the museum meet a key fundraising deadline needed to move the project forward.
A memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the City, the Riverside Art Museum, and Cheech Marin stipulated that “The Cheech” project, a term coined by Marin himself, needed to raise at least $3 million by the end of May. With the contribution by Altura, a total of $3,131,547.91 was raised by the May 29 deadline, allowing the project to progress. The Cheech will be a permanent home for Marin’s more than 700 works of Chicano art, including paintings, sculptures, and photography, making up the most prominent collection of its kind in the U.S.
Marin and Altura CEO Jennifer Binkley were joined by Riverside Art Museum board chairwoman Lucile Arntzen, Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey, and Assemblyman Jose Medina (D-Riverside), who notably also announced a pledge of $22,500 from the California Legislative Latino Caucus.
“I am so excited to see how Altura Credit Union is stepping up to help bring my collection and celebration of this art here to a permanent home in Riverside,” said Marin. “It is the support from both private and public donors that is making this vision come to life, and the truth is, this is only the beginning.”
During a press conference held in front of donors and supporters at the Altura downtown branch, the credit union presented a check representing its $600,000 donation. Other recent donations that helped meet the goal include a $500,000 pledge from the Wingate Foundation and a commitment from members of the Riverside Art Museum board of directors for $160,600.
“Making this pledge to The Cheech is another aspect of Altura Credit Union’s commitment to cultural enrichment through the arts,” said Altura CEO Jennifer Binkley. “This was an easy decision for us because we know The Cheech will be a place important to our local culture and will contribute so much to our community for many years to come.”
It was announced that later this summer, the City and Riverside Art Museum will be entering into a new MOU that will address the conversion of the library, a management agreement, and new fundraising goals.
“This is indeed a proud milestone for all of us who want to see Riverside continue as the ‘City of Arts and Innovation.’ Bringing The Cheech downtown also is a great way to honor our city’s rich Latino history,” said Mayor Bailey.
The Center for Chicano Art, Culture & Industry will be housed next door to the historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa at a 61,420-square-foot facility, which was originally opened to the public as the Riverside Public Library in 1964. Organizers hope to open The Cheech to the public in 2020.
“On behalf of the Riverside Art Museum board of directors, I’d like to reiterate how proud we are to be working with Mr. Marin and the City of Riverside to bring this extraordinary collection here,” said chairwoman Arntzen.
Added Todd Wingate, trustee of the Wingate Foundation, “It is not often one has an opportunity to play a part in something that has the possibility to change a community for generations to come. It has been so inspiring to see so many embrace The Cheech with such passion and vigor.”
New ‘Text to Give’ option gives donors easy way to donate and receive a thank you from Cheech Marin himself
Riverside, Calif. (April 23, 2018) – Officials with the Riverside Art Museum are driving a push for donors who want to be among the first champions helping to bring the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture & Industry to downtown Riverside.
To facilitate donors wanting to be part of the “Reach for The Cheech” initial round of fundraising, there is now a simple “Text to Give” option that allows people to quickly and securely donate to the campaign, and receive a video “thank you” from Cheech Marin himself.
With a May 29 deadline fast approaching, the campaign needs only $125,000 more to reach the first $3 million that must be raised under the terms of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) approved by the Riverside City Council. The Cheech Marin Center will be a permanent home for Marin’s more than 700 works of Chicano art, including paintings, sculptures, and photography, making up the most renowned collection in the United States.
“It’s been really great to see how Riverside is coming together behind The Cheech,” said the actor, comedian, and artist Marin. “It’s one thing for a project like this to be championed by the City leaders, but it means even more that its residents and businesses are behind our center.”
Persons interested in donating any amount can text the word “Cheech” to 91-999, and then follow the instructions on the provided links. After contributing to the campaign, the donor will receive a special video message. Donors interested in a larger recognition, which includes a donor wall and VIP access to future events, are encouraged to visit www.thecheechcenter.org.
Marin himself affectionately dubbed his center “The Cheech” and the actor is already internationally recognized for his prestigious collection. Portions of this collection were part of the traveling exhibition Papel Chicano Dos: Works on Paper | From the Collection of Cheech Marin. This exhibition broke attendance records at the Riverside Art Museum during its run there in 2017, which planted the seed for the possibility of Riverside hosting his collection permanently.
The Cheech Marin Center is planned for the building that currently houses Riverside’s Main Library, which is moving to a new location a few blocks away. The center would be designed as a home of serious academic inquiry and include space for lectures, film and video screening, classrooms and other spaces, as well as a café and a museum store.
Riverside CA – In an unprecedented collaboration, the Riverside Latino Network, the Greater Riverside Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GRHCC), and the Spanish Town Heritage Foundation announced on Wednesday, December 13, 2017, at the Latino Network’s Nuestra Navidad Breakfast, and on and on Thursday, December 14, 2017, at the GRHCC Holiday Mixer, a collective $90,000 pledge to the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture & Industry. Each organization is pledging $30,000. And together they are planning to raise a total of $250,000 for The Cheech.
“As chairman of the Reach for The Cheech Community Campaign, I am so proud that these three groups have made a bold commitment to support this center – the first in the nation,” says Ofelia Valdez-Yeager.
A new art space in a mid-century setting, the center will be, as Cheech says, the “center of Chicano art, not only painting, but sculpture, photography, and video arts.” Opening in 2020, The Cheech will explore Chicano culture from the barrio to the Bay, cholos to Cesar Chavez, pre-Columbian to modern murals. It will be housed next door to the historic Mission Inn in a 61,420-square-foot facility, which was originally opened to the public as the Riverside Public Library in 1964. The Cheech is a perfect adaptive reuse of this mid-century building and the historic and vintage aspects will be preserved in its transformation from a library to a museum and cultural center.
“This project promises to bring a new dimension to our arts programming in Riverside,” Mayor Pro Tem Jim Perry said. “This exciting look at the contributions of Latinos to the growth and prosperity of California and the nation will be of immense interest, not just to all areas of Riverside, but around the world.”
Cheech Marin is gifting his art collection to the Center. He has developed the finest private collection of Chicano art in the United States. Much of it formed the core of his blockbuster exhibition, Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge, which broke attendance records during its groundbreaking 12-city tour during 2001 – 2007 to major art museums across the U.S.
“I wish to thank the Latino Network, the Greater Riverside Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Spanish Town Heritage Foundation for their meaningful support of The Cheech,” says Cheech Marin. “I am humbled and deeply grateful for your generosity. It’s great to know that we are in this together.”
President of the Latino Network Ninfa Delgado states, “This center will be a dynamic daily demonstration of the presence and voice of the Chicano Latino community and what we can accomplish when we work together.” The Latino Network ("La Net") is a nonprofit organization established in 1993 to provide a forum to address community issues affecting and impacting the Latino community in Riverside, California, and the surrounding areas and provides a vehicle for the dissemination of information and the sharing of resources.
“The Greater Riverside Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has been committed to the local Chicano Latino small business community for nearly forty years and we are very proud to be a part of such a vibrant community celebrating Chicano art, culture, and industry,” says Emilio Ramirez, Chairman of the Greater Riverside Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The GRHCC is committed to supporting small businesses and economic development by providing access, advocacy, business referrals, marketing opportunities, training programs, student internships, and scholarships.
“Spanish Town Heritage Foundation is committed to the Cheech and its success in our community not only as a beacon of our rich Latino culture, but as the dot on the exclamation point of our culture's impact on THIS community beginning with pre-Riverside's La Placita,” says Nancy Melendez, President of the Spanish Town Heritage Foundation.
“It is very gratifying to see three organizations with a history of leadership in this community step up in such a significant way on such an important project,” City Manager John Russo said. “Clearly, they believe in this project and are eager to bring it to fruition. Their generosity is inspiring.”
The City of Riverside, Cheech Marin, and the Riverside Art Museum (RAM) have worked together through much of this year to move the vision of the Cheech Marin Center toward reality. In May, the City Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with RAM and Marin to determine the project’s feasibility. That MOU requires the City to hire consultants and work with RAM and Marin to develop a facility assessment, art center programming, conceptual plans, and rough cost estimates. The City of Riverside, RAM, and Marin, working with local state legislators, already have obtained $1 million in funding from the State of California. The Reach for The Cheech Capital Campaign Committee is conducting an extensive campaign to generate donations to meet a goal of $3 million by the end of May 2018.
“The community is really embracing this project, and that is evident in these generous donations,” City Councilmember Andy Melendrez said. “The excitement The Cheech has generated in the community is significant, and I look forward to seeing more individuals and groups step up to the plate.”
To donate today visit www.thecheechcenter.org.
Riverside CA – Page & Turnbull, a world-renowned architectural firm that has worked on cutting-edge projects all over California, has been chosen to provide architectural services for the new Cheech Marin Center of Chicano Art, Culture and Industry in downtown Riverside.
The Riverside City Council voted on Tuesday, October 24, to approve a $100,000 professional services agreement with the firm to complete the first phase of work to renovate the existing downtown Main Library into the Cheech Marin Center. The Main Library is being relocated to a new facility a few blocks away.
Page & Turnbull recently was ranked first among 11 high-caliber applicants by an interview panel that included Marin and representatives from the City of Riverside and the Riverside Art Museum (RAM). Page & Turnbull is expected to include on its team a group of consultants, including wHY, Searock & Stafford, Design West Engineering, and Horton Lees Brogden.
“I am very confident that the firm of Page & Turnbull, along with wHY, is quite capable of transforming the Main Library into the first and only international center for Chicano Art, Culture and Industry,” Cheech Marin said. “This is one of the important steps to position Riverside as the next great ‘Art Town’. Hello world, here we come!”
Page & Turnbull is an architectural design, planning, and preservation firm with more than 40 years of experience bringing new life to historic buildings. Notable projects include: Walt Disney Family Museum, San Francisco; Asian Art Museum, San Francisco; Antelope Valley Indian Museum, Lancaster; Ferry Building, San Francisco; and many more. wHY’s projects include the Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles, and Institute for Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, among others.
“The incredible promise of the Cheech Marin Center is reflected in the extremely high quality of architects and consultants who expressed great interest in leading this transformation,” Mayor Rusty Bailey said. “Riverside is poised to take a huge step forward on this very important project.”
Page & Turnbull, established in 1973 as Charles Hall Page & Associates, employs licensed architects, designers and historians, conservators and planners. The firm was one of the first in California to dedicate itself to historic preservation and is among the longest-practicing such firms in the country.
“We are very pleased with this selection,” says Lucile Arntzen, RAM Board President. “RAM’s mission is about engaging the residents of our diverse communities in joyfully authentic, relevant, and dynamic, participatory cultural experiences, and we believe that Page & Turnbull and their amazing team can deliver a ‘reborn facility’ that brings people together through the arts.”
Page & Turnbull, in partnership with wHY, understands that art centers need to inspire wonder and be a space of production as well as presentation, RAM representatives said. The firm believes architecture and design play a pivotal role in making visitors feel welcome, while empowering them to explore and create, and changing their perceptions from “museum as temple to museum as cultural playground.”
“Page & Turnbull and wHY’s approach to the renovation mirrors many of the conversations about visitor experience and engagement we’ve been having at RAM,” says Todd Wingate, RAM Curator of Exhibitions and Collections. “We’re really confident that their understanding of our goals will fulfill the vision RAM, the City, and Cheech share about the Center.”
The City of Riverside has been working with RAM through much of this year to move the vision of the Cheech Marin Center toward reality. In May, the City Council approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with RAM and Marin to determine the project’s feasibility. That MOU requires the City to hire consultants and work with RAM and Marin to develop a facility assessment, art center programming, conceptual plans, and rough cost estimates.
The $100,000 included in Phase 1 of the project will pay for the items required in the MOU, as well as public presentations and preparation of preliminary cost estimates for Phase 2 of the effort. The Phase 1 work will be used to market and raise funds for the project, which ultimately is expected to cost $7 million to $10 million.
The City of Riverside, RAM, and Marin, working with local state legislators, already have obtained $1 million in funding from the State of California. RAM is conducting an extensive campaign to generate donations to meet a goal of $3 million by the end of February 2018.
“The Cheech Marin Center has generated a great deal of excitement about the future of our city’s arts scene,” Mayor Pro Tem Jim Perry said. “I look forward to the work being done in Phase 1 of this project giving a major boost to the fundraising effort by creating an even more vivid picture of the artistic excellence this project will embrace.”
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Efforts to raise money for the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture and Industry in downtown Riverside got a huge boost today when Gov. Brown signed off on the state budget, which includes a $1 million allocation for the center.
Assemblymember Jose Medina of Riverside led the effort to set aside the state funds, which was applauded by the three entities bringing the Cheech Marin Center to fruition: the City of Riverside, the Riverside Art Museum (RAM), and the noted entertainer/art collector. The funding will make a significant dent in the $3 million that must be raised by the end of February under the terms of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) approved by the Riverside City Council in May.
“The Cheech Marin Center in my home of Riverside is poised to make a major statement about the contributions of Chicanos and Latinos across California,” Assemblymember Medina said. “I am excited to see how the Center will allow people, both in California and worldwide, to embrace Chicano/Latino heritage and history.”
The MOU gives all parties through the end of February, 2018 to determine precise roles and responsibilities for each entity in making the Cheech Marin Center – which Marin has affectionately dubbed “The Cheech” – a reality. It also set in motion the need to raise $3 million of the estimated $7 million cost for the center.
Marin has shared portions of his collection for public display at museums around the U.S. to promote and validate Chicano artists and culture. He is seeking a permanent home where his collection can be housed, curated, displayed, and studied in a public venue in a city and region with a large Spanishspeaking heritage community.
“I am beyond thrilled to know that the state that has been the home of so many elite Chicano artists has stepped forward to make such a powerful statement about what we are trying to do in Riverside,” Cheech Marin said. “Many, many thanks to Assemblymember Medina for his leadership on this issue.” The Cheech Marin Center will be a permanent home for Marin’s more than 700 works of Chicano art, including paintings, sculptures, and photography, making up the most renowned collection in the United States. The center is planned for a building that currently houses Riverside’s Main Library, which is moving to a new location a few blocks away.
The MOU process will dictate the timeline for opening the Cheech Marin Center. The agreement will outline the legal means by which Marin’s collection could be donated/lent to RAM for the creation of the Cheech Marin Center and the terms and expectations for significant portions of the collection to be displayed at museums worldwide. The agreement between the City and RAM would establish a management contract through which RAM would provide all staffing, management, marketing, and curatorial services for the Cheech Marin Center.
The plan also would include adequate space to protect and store Marin’s collection, RAM’s collection, and other collections as necessary. The Cheech Marin Center would be designed as a home of serious academic inquiry and include space for lectures, film and video screening, classrooms and other spaces, as well as a café and a museum store.
“The Cheech Marin Center continues to generate a great deal of enthusiasm across California for the creation of a first-of-its-kind gathering place for lovers of Chicano/Latino art and culture,” City Manager John Russo said. “We are very grateful to Assemblymember Medina for his hard work in making this important financial commitment by our state government a reality.”
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Cheech Marin, the entertainer and owner of what is recognized as the most renowned collection of Chicano art in the United States, is poised to enter formal negotiations with the City of Riverside and the Riverside Art Museum (RAM) to create a museum of Chicano art in historic downtown Riverside.
Marin is seeking a permanent home for more than 700 works of Chicano art, including paintings, sculptures, and photography, and has had preliminary discussions with Riverside officials. The proposed Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture, and Industry could be located immediately adjacent to the historic Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in a building that currently houses Riverside’s Main Library. The library is moving to a new location a few blocks away.
A formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that would enable the parties to delve further into specifics will go before the Riverside City Council May 16. The MOU would take effect immediately and remain in place until Feb. 28, 2018, unless extended for an additional 90 days by agreement of all parties. The outcome of the MOU process would dictate the timeline for the Cheech Marin Center.
“I am overjoyed at the opportunity to work with the City of Riverside and the Riverside Art Museum,” Marin said. “Together, we hope to serve the artistic spirit of the people of the Inland Empire and bring every aspect of Chicano Art to Riverside and the rest of the world. We have something wonderful to give.”
Marin joined Riverside City Manager John Russo, Mayor Rusty Bailey, Mayor Pro Tem Mike Gardner, Latino Network Past President Ofelia Valdez-Yeager, and RAM Executive Director Drew Oberjuerge at a press conference today to discuss their mutual interest in the project. A live stream of the press conference can be found at https://www.youtube.com/riversidecagov.
“Riverside is the cultural, historic, and social capital of Inland Southern California, and the Cheech Marin Center would take us to the next level,” Mayor Bailey said. “The City of Arts and Innovation is thrilled to work with Cheech Marin to create a permanent home for such an important collection of Chicano art and culture.”
The proposed museum would build on momentum already established between Marin and RAM via the collaboration on Papel Chicanos Dos: Works on Paper | From the Collection of Cheech Marin, which opened to record attendance numbers in February, along with Trabajmos/We Work: In the Fields of the North | Photographs by David Bacon.
Papel Chicano Dos: Works on Paper | From the Collection of Cheech Marin runs through May 7. This exhibition, supported by Altura Credit Union and the City of Riverside, presents 65 artworks by 24 established and early-career artists whose work demonstrates a myriad of techniques from watercolor and aquatint to pastel and mixed media.
The opening reception attracted 1,476 attendees. Admission sales for the day broke records, and admission revenue for the first month of the exhibit was triple the normal amounts.
“The exciting and innovative concept that the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture and Industry will bring to our city will enhance our standing as a City of Arts and Innovation and reflect well on our community, especially our Chicano/Latino community,” Valdez-Yeager said.
Due to the enthusiastic and large crowd at the opening reception on February 2 and RAM’s longstanding history of collecting and exhibiting works on paper, Marin generously donated The Chicano Collection / La Colección Chicana, a portfolio of 26 archival-quality prints produced by Richard S. Duardo of Modern Multiples, which was presented to RAM during the talk and book signing for Marin’s memoir, Cheech Is Not My Real Name: …But Don’t Call Me Chong, on March 29.
The prints in The Chicano Collection / La Colección Chicana depict urban life and the Chicano experience, dated between 1969 and 2001. These prints were primarily drawn from Marin’s collection and include reproductions of paintings by Carlos Almaraz, Frank Romero, Patssi Valdez, George Yepes, Rupert García, Leo Limón, Margaret García, and Eloy Torrez.
Marin has shared portions of his collection for public display at museums around the U.S. to promote and validate Chicano artists and culture. He is seeking a permanent home where his collection can be housed, curated, displayed, and studied in a public venue in a city and region with a large Spanish-speaking heritage community.
The City of Riverside is always interested in expanding the music, art, and cultural opportunities for its residents and those of surrounding Inland Southern California. In terms of the specific site, with the Main Library relocating, the City has pledged to devote the site to a cultural use.
“Riverside is extremely excited about the opportunity to work collaboratively with Cheech Marin and our friends at RAM to develop a museum that would be one of a kind in the U.S.,” Russo said. “We could not ask for better partners.”
RAM’s goal is to expand its facilities and its capacity for outreach to underserved communities.
“The Riverside Art Museum has been a cultural hub of our city for decades,” Oberjuerge said. “A collaboration of this magnitude with the Cheech Marin Center would set the stage for the next step in the evolution of RAM for years to come.”
The agreement between Marin and RAM would outline the legal means by which Marin’s collection could be donated/lent to RAM for the creation of the Cheech Marin Center and the terms and expectations for significant portions of the collection to be displayed at museums worldwide.
The agreement between the City and RAM would establish a management contract through which RAM would provide all staffing, management, marketing, and curatorial services for the Cheech Marin Center. The cost of this agreement could be deferred by a portion of a per-admission facility fee.
The proposed MOU calls for the three entities to work together, under RAM’s leadership, on a fundraising campaign to raise $3 million to convert the existing library into a high-quality museum and center for academic inquiry. The parties, under the sponsorship of the City, would commission an interior architectural design firm to create a cost estimate for the conversion.
The plan also would include adequate space to protect and store Marin’s collection, RAM’s collection, and other collections as necessary. The Cheech Marin Center would be designed as a home of serious academic inquiry and include space for lectures, film and video screening, classrooms and other spaces, as well as a café and a museum store.
“City Council approval of the MOU process on May 16 is the first step toward moving forward and there certainly would be much work that would have to be accomplished through the rest of this year,” Mayor Pro Tem Mike Gardner said. “But it’s an exciting opportunity for Riverside and one we should explore in great detail.”
The proposed Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture, and Industry in downtown Riverside took a major step forward Tuesday (5/16) evening when the Riverside City Council unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to negotiate exact terms between the Riverside Art Museum, the City, and Cheech Marin.
The MOU gives everyone through the end of February, 2018, to determine precise roles and responsibilities for each entity in making the Cheech Marin Center – which Marin has affectionately dubbed “The Cheech” – a reality.
It also sets in motion our need to raise $3 million of the estimated $7 million cost for the center.
Cheech, who was unable to attend because he was shooting a movie in Atlanta, called in by phone and was patched into the speaker system in the Council chambers. “Thank you very much for passing this,” Marin said. “I am thankful that you have a lot of faith in what we can accomplish here. This means the world to me. This is a really important project.”
As we work to iron out the legal details of how Cheech's collection could be lent/donated to the museum and what our contract with the City would entail, we can't thank you enough for your enthusiastic support and heartfelt comments about how much this proposed Center means to you and your families.
In the next few months, we'll share ways you can be a part of bringing The Cheech to life, so stay tuned.