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The Cheech Collection

Chong’s other half brings his extensive art collection to San Diego


Sears Scrapping on Soto by Wenceslao Quiroz, watercolor and ink on paper


Papel Chicano Dos
July 22–November 27
MCASD Downtown

This month, Cheech Marin debuts a series of works from his personal collection at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego Downtown. The exhibit, Papel Chicano Dos: Works on Paper from the Collection of Cheech Marin, focuses on Chicano themes, as explored by Chicano artists. We chat with Cheech about his “addiction” to art, the work that inspires him, and what’s next in the comedian’s stoned, er, storied career. 

How did you get into art?

My interest in art started at an early age. I had a group of cousins who used to study things together, and I was assigned to learn about art. So I would go to the library and check out all the art books. I educated myself that way.

When did you begin collecting?

I discovered the Chicano painters when I started to learn about contemporary art. I started going to galleries on the west side of Los Angeles and collecting them from that point. One thing led to another, as all addictions do, and here we are. 

What kind of work do you gravitate toward?

I’m drawn to Chicano art particularly because it tells the story of community. It’s not a chronological history; it’s a sense of the aesthetic and the taste and the feel and the sabor (flavor). Then you put all those pieces together and you get this picture of what it’s like to view the world through Chicano eyes.  

MCASD’s director, Hugh Davies, recently announced his retirement. This will be one of his last exhibits. We hear you two are good friends?

I’ve been working with Hugh for many, many, many years. Before he shuffles off to his next adventure, we decided to do a show together. I love San Diego. And I love working with Hugh. This is really a send-off for him.

What’s next for you?

I’m touring with Tommy Chong, and we’ve got dates all over. I just started a line of mezcal called Tres Papalote; It’s like tequila with tattoos. And I just completed the first draft of my memoir called Cheech Is Not My Real Name, but Don’t Call Me Chong.

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