Rolling in the Aisles at LACMA

A few years ago I was wandering the halls at LACMA when I came upon the unmistakeable figure of Mr. Cheech Marin lounging nonchalantly among the art pieces. I stopped, trying to formulate how to put almost 40 years of personal gratitude and adulation into a simple, non-intrusive sentence, when he turned towards me, smiling, with his eyes squinting into those impossibly thin slits, and croaked: “What’s up, Dude”? At that moment, It dawned on me that all I had to say back to him was “What’s up, Man?” right back, and just let the sincerity and genuine affection in my voice speak for itself. There’s no need for ceremony when you meet a genuine “Dude”. And Mr. Marin is just that. Having read in JUXTAPOSE magazine about his intense personal collection of Chicano Art, I asked him about it, and he told me about having his collection on a nationwide traveling exhibition. The guy has great taste. Now, here’s a chance or us to see some of that classic Chicano artwork through Cheech’s squinty eyes.

pictured above: Chaz Bojórquez, Chino Latino, 2000, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 72 in., collection of Cheech Marin

Los Angelenos/Chicano Painters of L.A.: Selections from the Cheech Marin Collection

June 15, 2008–November 2, 2008 | LACMA West

The Cheech Marin collection is notable for classic examples of Chicano art produced from the inception of the Chicano movement to the present, with a concentration in painting from the 1980s and 90s. This exhibition will present significant paintings and works on paper by such Los Angeles-based Chicana/o artists as Carlos Almaraz, Chaz Bojorquez, Diane Gamboa, Gronk, Gilbert “Magu” Lujan, Frank Romero, John Valadez, and Patssi Valdez.

Discussion | Cheech Marin and Chon Noriega 

Sunday, June 22 | 2 pm

Chon Noriega, UCLA professor and LACMA adjunct curator, and art collector/actor/activist Cheech Marin discuss the current state of Chicano art. Additionally, they address the place of Chicano art in history, Marin’s own collection, and developing the Latino audience. This conversation is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Los Angelenos/Chicano Painters of L.A.: Selections from the Cheech Marin Collection, which opens June 15.

Bing Theater | Free, no reservations | Don’t go straight to this show





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About AlDesmadre

Al Guerrero, Artist/Humorist. Los Angeles, CA. Born in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico and raised in East Los Angeles from the age of two, Al Guerrero grew up just steps from the famous Chicano strip, Whittier Boulevard. His youth experiences include witnessing and participating in the 1970 Chicano Power demonstrations, cruising cars on Whittier Boulevard, and graduating from Garfield High School. After dropping out of UCLA (with honors), he drew upon his lifelong passion for art and cartooning and pursued a career in graphic arts. During this period, he traveled overseas and found artistic inspiration from the masterworks he discovered within the European Art Museums. His career blossomed when he was eventually hired by the Walt Disney Company in 1995, where he worked as a creative artist for a number of years. Although the artistic work was rewarding, he eventually grew weary & disillusioned with the bureaucracy of the entertainment business, and left to work briefly in the educational field. His credits include producing a feature film with actor, Conrad Brooks of Ed Wood fame, founding and performing with the Punk Rock group “The Psychocats” at numerous L.A. & Hollywood venues during the 1990’s, and in 1999 he founded and created a hell-bent puppet cabaret show aptly named: “The Puppets from Hell”. As a long time active member of the Los Angeles Cacophony Society, Al “Quaeda”, as he was known, was involved in countless Cacophony Society pranks and events throughout the city. He also produced the “Incredibly Strange Cinema” cult film series as well as themed events such as the now infamous “Pornothon Movie Nights” and the satirical “Mexican Night: Noche De Tequila & Putas” shows at local nightclub venues. Throughout his art career, he has exhibited his canvas paintings at various local galleries, and has also written & illustrated numerous comic strips and Graphic Novel stories. Today, he lives in Silver Lake, California and works as a freelance artist and writer with numerous multi-media projects under his belt and in the works. His personal hobbies include collecting vintage toys and comic books, cinema history and Los Angeles City history. Contact: Al Guerrero P.O. Box 29697 Los Angeles, CA 90029-0697

4 thoughts on “Rolling in the Aisles at LACMA

  1. Had the duty and pleasure of escorting Cheech to media interviews in Albuquerque when his Chicano exhibit was mounted at the National Hispanic Cultural Center back in 2002. He’s down to earth, savvy and a muy cool dude, indeed.

  2. Actually when this exhibit was in New Mexico, Gronk (who was working on a Laserium design for the NM planetarium), led an impromptu tour of the exhibit. He is in the collection. Gronk said at one point, he stopped his tour letting the visitors know that he could not enter one of the salons in the exhibit, because the work was so extremely male chauvinist. He met them on the other side of that salon.

    The original displayed collection was supposedly more of his (Cheech) wife’s tastes than his.

    Diane Gamboa on a panel discussion in NM said that Cheech did not (in fact) own much of the art displayed in his exhibit that was created by Chicanas. Her piece in the exhibit was on loan to him as was other Chicana art. Diane said that Cheech was the type of collector that wanted to bargain with artists (getting a two for one), instead of respecting the set price. Therefore, he did not own her work at that time. For many Chicano/a artists, it seemed that if any collector of our art could afford it—it would be Cheech. Tommy Chong also said that Cheech was a “professional Mexican”. All this is a matter of public record.

    One of the great things, I think, is that the Cheech-camp takes these criticisms in stride–and they continue to include all the critics in this show’s programming. Dang, it wouldn’t be “Chicano/a” if it didn’t include a bit of a revolution, right? Attendees said that Tommy Chong was even at the show’s opening reception at LACMA a few weeks ago.

    An art historian friend recently informed me that the male chauvinist parts of the Cheech exhibit have been taken out at LACMA—which is peaking my interest. We are so lucky to live in Los Angeles, where we can see great and exciting art. When the Cheech exhibit traveled to smaller towns in northern California, they only had Giclées of the original work to look at—ay!

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