Aside from possibly Snoop Dog, there are few modern celebrities that have praised the recreational use of marijuana like Cheech Marin. One part of the Cheech & Chong franchise, Marin is best known for his stoner antics in the cult classic films of the hippie free-love era.
Apparently, Marin was spending his cash on a lot more than just weed for the last 20 years. He has also amassed a huge collection of Mexican-American works, also known as the Chicano Art.
For those of you unfamiliar, this art movement began in the 1960s as part of “El Movimiento,” a sociopolitical movement by the Mexican-American population that sought to fight for civil and political rights. These artists attempted to create a unified voice for their struggle for equality, particularly throughout southwest America, as well as to preserve their cultural aesthetic. Their style is also influenced by pre-Colombian art, European painting techniques, and pop art.
“Chicano art is American art. It is not Mexican art, it is not Latin American art, it’s American art and made by Americans” Says Marin.
Marin has organized his collection of art into a traveling exhibition of 70 paintings by 29 artist entitled “Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection.” Currently on view at the Art Museum of South Texas, the exhibit will make future stops in art institutions in Kansas, New Mexico, Arizona, Virginia, Washington, Indiana and California.
In an interview with the Corpus Christie Times, Marin explains, “I have always loved art. But in the ’80s I started to visit galleries on the Westside in L.A. and I discovered Chicano paintings. I realized, ‘man, these guys are good’. They were good painters and I wondered if anyone knew about them, I wanted to put them out there.”
The collection boasts works that range wildly in style, from slightly kitschy portraits of masked luchadores (Jose Lozano) to stark figurative paintings of carnitas (Joe Peña). While the collection is large, the works themselves are quite small. “Small paintings whisper to you. They tell a secret to you and to you only. They imprint upon the soft clay of your memory and you carry them around forever,” wrote Marin in a 2011 Chicanitas Newsletter Article.
Chicano art is likely to become more and more relevant as immigration issues evolve. So grab your vape pen and click here to view an online catalogue of Marin’s art collection. Or, click here if you’re too young to have ever watched a Cheech & Chong movie.