A selection of paintings from comedian, actor, director and art collector Cheech Marin's collection of Chicano art is on display at Washington and Lee University's Staniar Gallery through May 24.
The exhibition, "Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection," showcases 65 paintings by 26 painters represented in Marin's personal collection of Chicano art.
Marin discussed his renowned collection in a public lecture on Monday, April 22, and that presentation can be viewed on W&L's livestream site.
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. Many Chicano artists during this time were political activists, creating posters, graphics and murals in the monumental tradition of Diego Rivera.
Others convey Chicano experience through scenes of daily life in the barrio, expressive portraiture, and surrealist-influenced dreamscapes with a keen psychological edge. Marin has been acquiring art for more than 20 years, amassing arguably the most renowned collection of Chicano art in private hands.
As Chicano artists garnered public attention and respect, their works have moved from the peripheries of the art world to more traditional museum and gallery spaces while continuing to embrace themes of heritage, legacy and community.
"Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection" features paintings by both emerging and established artists.
Asked by the Houston Chronicle about how he began to collect art, Marin said: "I was raised Catholic and went to Mass all the time. That stoked it. You'd go and look at church walls and think, 'Why's that guy in robes?' 'Why does that angel's wings look that way?' 'What's that devil doing there?' I'd do that instead of paying attention to the Mass. You know, 'Why's this guy getting grilled?' It took over. Liturgical art was art. So I studied that. I studied da Vinci, Michelangelo and Botticelli."
In addition to his public lecture, Marin will meet with students at W&L during his visit to the campus.
Staniar Gallery is located on the second floor of Wilson Hall, in Washington and Lee University's Lenfest Center for the Arts. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, please call 540-458-8861.