News Column

Cheech Marin shares his artistic passion with Las Cruces

May 2, 2014

By S. Derrickson Moore, Las Cruces Sun-News, N.M.



May 02--LAS CRUCES -- Cheech Marin had a busy day in Las Cruces.

The actor and comedian, best known for his improvisational comedy, television and movie roles (most famously his "Cheech & Chong" routines with Tommy Chong), numerous cartoon voices and his stint as a police detective in "Nash Bridges," was celebrated for his role as an art collector who has nurtured and promoted emerging artists for decades.

On Friday, Cheech Marin lunched with artists, museum leaders, arts advocates and educators at the north Las Cruces home of Dr. Kent Jacob and Sallie Ritter, met with Alma d'arte Charter High School students and welcomed the public at the opening of "Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection" featuring 70 paintings by 29 noted Chicano artists, at the Las Cruces Museum of Art.

Along the way, he revealed that a new, long-awaited Cheech & Chong movie soon could become a reality.

"Chong and I are talking about it, but then we've been talking about it for a long time. Probably within the next year. We've been touring together and trying to stay alive. I'm a Chicano. We have to have at least three jobs," Marin quipped.

He said he will soon travel to Bordeaux, France, to open an exhibit featuring another group of artwork in his extensive collection, and will continue to visit sites on the "Chicanitas" tour. His book about the collection, also titled "Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection" was published in September and is available on Amazon.com.

"Chicanitas is in its third year and is booked for two more years. It's kind of like the club tour of my exhibits. It can go into the communities where people haven't seen the bigger exhibits," said Marin, who has just finished a new book of essays: "We Come In Peace and We Have You Surrounded."

He is currently at work on "Code Switching," a book that was inspired by the colorful blend of Spanish and English he remembers in family conversations when he was growing up in California.

"I see it as a sign of immersion in, and blending of, cultures, which is something I also see in pieces in my art collection," he said.

"You've been a role model for so many young artists. You found them and collected their works and changed the way we see Latino and Chicano art," said Irene Oliver-Lewis, who shared essays by Alma d'arte students who explained why they wanted to meet with Marin.

"You are the face of change. You are the mainstream. This is a little guerilla army of art. Shows like this are about getting yourselves and everyone else used to the idea," Marin, 67, said.

Marin, who lives in Los Angeles, said his latest project is "Blazing Chicano Guitars," a collection of guitars and ukuleles painted by artists featured in his collections.

Marin lunched with owners of two Mesilla Valley homes that have been bequeathed to become state monuments and art museums: J. Paul Taylor of Mesilla and Jacob and Ritter of Las Cruces.

"He was amazingly friendly and greatly appreciative of the arts he collected and very knowledgable. He has gone all over the map. He told us he has collected religious art for decades and is now into glass art. He appreciates everything and has a good sense of humor," Sallie Ritter said.

If you missed his Friday appearances, you might still catch a glimpse of Marin at two special art events today.

Marin will greet guests and offer a presentation on Chicano art at a "V.I.P. Evening" benefit for the Foundation for Las Cruces Museums from 6 to 9 p.m. today at Hotel Encanto. For tickets, at $50, visit foundationlcm.com.

In conjunction with the exhibit, artist Merc, of El Paso, whose work is featured in "Chicanitas," will create a 26-foot piece of artwork at 10 a.m. today outside the museum with the help of four local artists. The show runs through July 19 at the Las Cruces Museum of Art, 491 N. Main St. For information, call 575-541-2137 or visit online at las-cruces.org/museums.

S. Derrickson Moore may be reached at 575-541-5450.

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(c)2014 the Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.)

Visit the Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.) at www.lcsun-news.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: Las Cruces Sun-News (NM)


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