Visual

Chatting with Cheech

Chicano art and a collector worth knowing

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

What does Cheech Marin think of the fact that Washington State recently legalized marijuana?

“It’s very cool,” says Marin, one half of the creative duo that single-handedly created the genre of stoner comedy in the late 1970s and early ’80s. “More and more states need to do that.”

And, although we spoke briefly of legalization and his recent onstage reunions with his off-again, on-again creative partner Tommy Chong, our short phone conversation had nothing much to do with Marin’s long and varied acting career, views on world issues or how much reefer he actually inhaled during the making of Cheech & Chong’s Up in Smoke. Instead, our connection was focused on art. 

You see, when he’s not busy acting, writing or pursuing a variety of other creative outlets, the Los Angeles-born Marin has managed to amass an enviable amount of Chicano art. In fact, it’s one of the largest private collections featuring contemporary Mexican-American artists in the United States.

“I discovered Chicano art about 25 years ago,” Marin says. “I’ve always been a collector—whether it was baseball cards, rocks or antiques—but at first, I just wanted to take the art home. Eventually, I started collecting it.”

Marin estimates he has about 500 pieces in his collection, only some of which can be found in his California residence. Others are either in storage or—lucky for us—on the road.

When “Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection {Size Doesn’t Matter}” opens Jan. 12 at the Whatcom Museum’s Lightcatcher Building, the amiable entertainer will be on hand to share details about exhibit. Later that night, he’ll also host a Q & A at the Pickford Film Center following a viewing of his 1987 movie, Born in East L.A.

Those who show up to see the exhibit—and Marin—will be introduced to the works of 26 painters showcasing 65 paintings, all of which average 16 inches square, or smaller.

“For the collector, the small paintings are the ones that remain with them throughout their lives,” Marin says in his collector’s statement. “They are the paintings that are always in their bedrooms or their kitchens of whatever room in which they spend the most time. The owners know every square inch of these paintings and can almost see them in the dark.”

Because he’s committed to introducing the work of the artists to the public, Marin is more than willing to share these intimate paintings—which, unlike a lot of his collection, focus more on the personal points of view of the artist rather than a response to political, social or cultural situations.

In addition to giving shout-outs to the many artists he believes deserve recognition, Marin stresses he wants people to leave the exhibit feeling that they know more about what the Chicano vision really is. “I want them to have a sense of the experience of being Chicano through a myriad of different viewpoints,” he says. 

And in case people get confused about the content of the exhibit and show up wanting to see an original Cheech Marin painting, they’ll be out of luck.

“I’m not a good graphic painter or drawer,” Marin says. “I was a professional potter for a time in my early 20s, and that fulfilled my art longing. I could probably learn more, but you have to know your limits.”

BTown
More Visual...
Evidence
A magical resonation

In “Evidence,” the current show at Smith & Vallee Gallery, two exceptional artists give us their views—David Blakesley, of a world that might have been or what it might become, and Kathleen Faulkner, images of the forest, examined close-up and transformed by the creator’s eye.…

more »
Native Son
The life and art of James T. Pickett

Pencils and paper were scarce commodities on the remote Mason County homestead where James Tilton Pickett grew up, but that didn’t stop him from drawing.

Instead of filling sketchbooks and stretched canvasses, he committed his lines to a variety of repurposed barnyard materials. Charcoal…

more »
Creative Control
Logan McQuaig goes solo

Among the eye-catching paintings Logan McQuaig will be debuting at his upcoming “Creative Control” exhibit are a stern buffalo with a bird on its shoulder and a gun held between its hooves (“Stand Your Ground”); a hapless guy munching on a McDonald’s Big Mac while a nuclear bomb lights up…

more »
Events
Today
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Dog Day Afternoon

3:30pm|South Whatcom Library

All-Paces Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Try Something New

6:30pm|Mount Vernon City Library

Back to School Night

6:30pm|Lynden Library

Books on Tap

7:00pm|North Fork Brewery

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Comedy Open Mic

7:30pm|Shakedown

Salsa Night

9:30pm|Cafe Rumba

2020 Solutions Sept 2017
Tomorrow
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Sedro-Woolley Farmers Market

3:00pm|Hammer Heritage Square

Peaceful Poetry Workshop and Contest

4:30pm|Village Books

Women's Rock Climbing Basics

6:00pm|REI

Exploring Vegan Flavors

6:30pm|Whatcom Humane Society

Creekside Open Mic

6:30pm|South Whatcom Library

Autumn Soups for the Body and Soul

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Seattle Quartet

7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 BOB_2017
Thursday
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Lynden Farmers Market

12:00pm|Front Street

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Together for Peace

6:00pm|Majestic

Stream Tour

6:00pm|Whatcom Creek

Trash Talk

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Balkan Folk Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Chuckanut Radio Hour with Nancy Pearl

7:00pm|Village Books

Travel Talk

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

The Addams Family Musical

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Authentic Illusionist Jay Ownehouse

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

see our complete calendar »

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books Bellingham Farmer’s Market BOB_2017 Trove 2020 Solutions Sept 2017 MBT Janis Joplin