Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection Showing in Corpus Christi

Cheech Marin has two art shows on tour right now.  One in Mesa, Arizona titled Take 10.  And this one that just opened in Corpus.  


Here is a very cool, 7-minute video of Cheech Marin speaking about the Chicanitas collection.  And, you get to hear from one of the artists, too.



If you can’t make it to the show, there is a book. You can read that book right now, right here.  Marin has made it available to everyone, free of charge:




Corpus Christi

Cheech Marin shares Chicano art collection

by Lynda Jones – The Corpus Chrisi Caller Times

“Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection” features 70 paintings by 29 artists from Chicano art collection of Cheech Marin.

The entertainer who is known for his work in movies, television and improvisational comedy is an avid collector of Chicano art.

Marin has been acquiring art for over 20 years. He has amassed one of the most renowned collections of Chicano art in private hands and he is instrumental in representing and promoting the Chicano art movement of the mid-60s and 70s.

While visiting the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, home to the greatest collection of Dutch masterpiece paintings in the world, Marin encountered paintings by Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Van Gogh and many others. He was awestruck to see, in person, paintings he had seen only in books.

He wanted to re-create that effect for viewers of Chicano art, so he collected paintings that were even larger than “The Night Watch.” He was hopeful that the first time most people saw Chicano art, they would come away with the same feeling he had experienced in the Rijksmuseum.

His most recent passion is collecting small paintings averaging 16 inches square and smaller. In contrast to the large works in his collection, the content of many the small paintings on display leans toward the artist’s internal or personal statement rather than as a response to political, social or cultural situations.

“Small paintings whisper to you. They tell a secret to you and to you only,” Marin said. “They imprint upon the soft clay of your memory and you carry them around forever. You can almost see them in the dark. In one day, I learned that size doesn’t matter — it’s what’s inside the frame that counts.”

Marin discovered his love of small paintings when viewing Johannes Vermeer, his favorite Dutch painter. He knew many of Vermeer’s paintings from books. Seeing them in person, he saw that Vermeer captured intimate scenes as if he were eavesdropping. These subjects revealed much about the interior life of Vermeer’s subjects. The idea that the more specific you make something, the more universal it becomes was appealing to Marin.

“I was shocked when I saw my first Vermeer painting in person, not because it was overwhelming, but because it was just the opposite … it was small, almost miniature in comparison to those by Rembrandt,” he said.

After seeing original Vermeer paintings, Marin sought out small paintings wherever he went.

“Their charm was that they told a story succinctly and clearly with all the technical artistry a painter could muster. A single pinpoint of red paint in the center of an eye could draw you in and hold you in its thrall stronger than gallons of paint on yards of canvas,” Marin said.

The paintings in Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection, which range from photo-realism to abstractions to portraits to landscapes, offer a window into the lives of the artists. They may show a glimpse of a neighborhood, an interest in graffiti or mystery mixed with humor. Each artist is true to his life experiences, culture, heritage and education.

Marin has a keen eye and has amassed a collection of established and emerging Chicano art. Examine each work separately to appreciate the beauty of this exhibit.

Related Exhibits on View:

Selecciones de la Colección Permanente from the Permanent Collection of the Art Museum on view includes men and women artists from the state of Texas and primarily artists of the immediate region.

Studio Orbit: Ruiz & Pena is an exhibit of paintings that delve into the hearts and recollections of two artists within the Cheech Marin Collection and the Art Museum of South Texas permanent collection. Both of these exhibits are organized by the art museum and are on view for the duration of Chicanitas.

Lynda Jones is an artist and former art teacher, and has served on several art-related boards. Contact her at


What: Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 1-5 p.m. Sundays through Jan. 10. Closed Mondays

Where: Art Museum of South Texas, 1902 N. Shoreline Blvd.

Cost: $8/adults; $6/seniors 60 and older and active military; $4/students 13 and older; free/members, 12 and younger and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi students

Information: 361-825-3500 or

Also Planned for Chicanitas

Sept. 22, 3 p.m. Cheech Marin Meets with art students in the exhibition.

Sept. 23, Opening Reception 6-7:30 p.m., opening comments at 6:15 p.m.

Oct. 4, 6-8 p.m., ArtWalk-Chicanitas: Artist and Art History tour



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