Article by Molly Glentzer for the Houston Chronicle.
Cheech Marin got a few laughs in Houston earlier this month, but he was in town on a serious mission.
The beloved comedian, who gained fame in the 1970s as half of the stoner team Cheech and Chong, came to view some of the exhibitions that have been part of spring’s Latino Art Now! series. He also drummed up excitement for the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art, Culture & Industry of Riverside Art Museum, which is scheduled to open in Riverside, Calif. in 2021.
Marin, 72, is now nearly as famous in a different cultural realm as a top collector of Chicano art. He made it to Houston on May 7 and 8, just in time to catch the final days of a show by Einar & Jamex de la Torre at Nicole Longnecker Gallery. A retrospective of the de la Torre brothers’ work will be the first show at the Cheech, as the new center will be called.
Einar de la Torre led a walk-through of Longnecker’s show for Marin and a few starry-eyed guests before a dinner at the home of Dakota Enterprises founder and CEO Rick Guttman. “I never thought in 1971 that I would be driving Cheech to dinner in the rain in 2019,” said gallery director Brad Barber.
The next day, Marin toured the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston exhibition “Between Play and Grief” with curator Mari Carmen Ramirez and lunched with community leaders at M.D. Anderson-Magnolia Park YWCA in the East End, where the show “Honoring the Masters: The Chicano Renaissance,” features works by Chicano artists Mario R. Gonzales, Daniel Lechón and Leo Tanguma and local artist and community advocate Jesse Rodriguez, a.k.a. Magnolia Grown.
Marin has a stealth Houston connection: Houston-based arts consultant Melissa Richardson Banks has managed his collection for about 16 years and is organizing the national exhibition tour and catalog for the de la Torre Bros. retrospective at the Cheech.