Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection

Humboldt State University First Street Gallery presents, "Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection." Chicanitas, is a traveling exhibition of small to medium-sized paintings selected from the acclaimed, private art collection of actor-entertainer, Cheech Marin. The collection is a vibrant, compelling selection of art offering a window into contemporary Chicano culture. The exhibition runs Tuesday, Jan. 27 through Sunday, March 8.

Marin, who became famous as a member of the 1960s-70s counter-culture comedy duo, Cheech and Chong, has had a long and successful career as an actor in films, television and on the stage. In the visual arts world, Marin is widely recognized as a tireless champion, promoter, and collector of Chicano art. “It’s something very immediate and visceral when I choose artwork … when you see it, you know it,” says Marin of his passion for art collecting.

In this particular collection of emerging and established Chicano and Chicana artists, Marin has turned his affections toward paintings 16 inches square and smaller. Of his interest in small paintings Marin says, “I saw how the people were intrigued by them because they were such wonderful little works of art, self contained … they drew you in. You become more intimate with these small paintings … it has its own idiosyncratic take on what Chicano painting is.”

Whether on canvas, wood, copper, or paper, each painting’s intimate size reflects an internal, personal portrayal of the artist’s life and community. As each complete piece conveys its own story, themes and forms of expression familiar to the Latino community and the broader American culture begin to emerge. Marin sees something different in these small paintings from those in his collection of Chicano Art from the mid-60s and 70s. “I saw in them something special,” says Marin. “How they kind of represent the new breed of Chicano painters.”

Established figures such as John Valadez and Leo Limón will be featured alongside the works of younger emerging artists such as Ana Teresa Fernández and Carlos Donjuán. These paintings present intimate, personal scenes of familiar landscapes, social communities, familial relationships, and cultural heritage. Ranging in style from photo-realism to abstract, landscape and portraiture, the variety of styles and themes come together to form an expressive collection that represents the complexity of the Chicano experience.

Chicanitas, is partially funded by a grant from the College of Arts and Humanities at Humboldt State University and by the Associated Student’s Instructionally Related Activities Fund, as well as by numerous donors from the community.

A public reception for the exhibition will be held during Eureka Main Street’s Arts Alive on Saturday, Feb.7, from 6 to 9 p.m. First Street Gallery is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday, from noon to 5 p.m.

The gallery is located at 422 First Street, Eureka, California. Admission is free. School groups are encouraged to call ahead for tours. For more information, please call (707) 443-6363. To learn more about HSU First Street Gallery, visit the gallery’s website at