Cheech Marin
Cheech Marin Gage Skidmore/Creative Commons

The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture has now been open for over a year. This is why you should plan to visit this gem next time you find yourself in Riverside.

What is Chicano Art?

The Chicano Art movement, or "El Movimiento", was a cultural movement in the United States that mainly involved the use of visual arts as a form of protest that began in the late 1960s early 1970s. This social and political movement sought to improve the lives of Mexican Americans. This was the first instance in which Chicano culture would try to give expression to the bi-cultural group, while also challenging the dominant culture.

The Chicano art movement was influenced by a variety of sources, including Mexican muralism, pre-Columbian art, and the Mexican Revolution. And it comes as no surprise that the civil rights movement, the Black Power movement, and the Counterculture movement, were also important factors for many Chicano artists.

Chicano art cannot itself be defined by a certain aesthetic, but some of the most prominent themes and motifs for Chicano art include:

  • The use of bright colors and bold imagery
  • The depiction of Chicano history and culture
  • The exploration of social and political issues
  • The use of satire and humor

Chicano art helped build community and reclaim a culture that is unique to Mexican Americans. Since murals were a common occurrence, many artists worked together to create public pieces of art.

What does Cheech Marin have to do with Chicano art?

The American comedian Cheech Marin has always been interested in collecting things he found interesting. "I've been a collector of anything since I was a little kid - marbles, baseball cards, stamps, anything," Marin told CBS News.

According to Marin Chicano art is not really an aesthetic for the Mexican American community, but rather a flavor that emerges from the art.

With more than 500 pieces of art donated by Cheech Marin, including paintings, drawings, and sculptures, the museum is certainly a feast for the eyes.


The Cheech, as it has been named for abbreviation, consists of 3 different exhibitions that explore different facets of bi-cultural art.

Cheech Collects: Anniversary Edition is the main exhibit in the museum. According to The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum, "Cheech Collects offers nearly 90 artworks by almost 40 artists drawn from Cheech Marin's gift of more than 500 works to the Riverside Art Museum, loans from his personal collection, and a recent acquisition by Riverside Art Museum."

Cheech Collects: Anniversary Edition

Xican-a.o.x. Body is another of the exhibits. Its intent is to use the Chicanx body as a main source of art. Exploring female sexuality, police aggression, and the Chicanx experience in a way that focuses on the importance that a brown body has on said experiences.

Xican-a.o.x. Body

"Consisting of approximately 125 artworks by about 70 artists and artist collectives... Xican–a.o.x. Body adds complexity to understandings of Chicanx art and culture by exploring the visual practices that foreground the body as the site in which imagination and political enunciation are articulated." states The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture.

The last of the exhibits is Origenes/Origins an exhibit that focused on the storytelling side of the artists. While there are many common elements in the exhibit, the stories that the artists portray through their visual expression tell rich and unique perspectives of the Chicanx experience.


Don't wait any longer and get yourself some Chicano flavor and spice for the eyes.

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