An evening with Cheech

20160117_213804Life’s been pretty drab on the dressing front. My last chance to get all dolled up was about a week and a half ago, when I visited with my cd friend for dinner. Since then, I’ve been busy with work, writing, and I just haven’t had a chance to dress up.

But I did have the opportunity to go to a presentation on Chicano Art last Tuesday, hosted by the Amarillo Museum of Art. Cheech Marin is a vocal supporter of Chicano Art and a collector and AMoA has his collection on display in Amarillo until March 27. They also brought Cheech in to talk about his collection, his passion for finding new pieces, and to act as an ambassador to a style that had heretofore been scorned by the art elite.

True to his persona, it was a funny at times, his wit at humor on full display, though what he was speaking to was evidently his passion. He is an ardent collector, in love with the colors and the styles, and he knows each individual artist by name. He looks for them, is discerning in his selection, pick out pieces that speak to him and a visceral level.

The crowd that showed up was as diverse a menagerie that I have ever seen. There were serious patrons of the art, dressed accordingly in slacks and blazers, dresses, and the like. Then there were fans from the other extreme, stoners in ripped jeans and t-shirts, obvious fans of Cheech and Chong, dressed as if they wanted to see Cheech the comedian instead of Cheech the art collector.

But everyone listened with rapt attention, drinking in his words, imbibing his passion, learning about an art form many of us never knew existed. It’s rare when two different worlds come together, united by a singular individual, and it was a glorious evening.

I’m not an artist, and though I don’t know much about the subject, I understand his take on what moves him. He’s moved by Chicano Art, while I am moved by portraits, some serious, some light-hearted, but all with a darkness beneath the fascade.

But that’s me. We all have different tastes, and we are all moved by different things. I’m glad I decided to leave the house to see the show. I’m glad I could witness the eclectic assembly before me. It was a pleasure to see and hear what moves a man many regard as a stoner folk hero, surprised that it was something as intellectual as art.

And that’s what I took away from the evening. You can’t judge a person by what you see on screen. Yes he’s a comedian, but he pursues something that can elevate the human spirit, and make someone see something through different eyes. That’s what art is, a snapshot of another person’s reality.

I would like to think we all grew a little that evening. I know I did. I learned a little about Cheech Marin, but I came away with some new truths about myself as well. I should take advantage of those opportunities more often.

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