Cheech Marin supports SAC students, talks art

Hispanic icon and Chicano art collector Cheech Marin visited San Antonio on April 25 for “Chilaquiles with Cheech,” a Fiesta Brunch fundraiser raising funds to help at-risk San Antonio College (SAC) students. (Photo, Timothy Hernandez)

“It knocks off 50 hours of my court mandated community service,  It’s a win-win for everybody in a true giving back spirit of philanthropy,” Richard “Cheech” Marin joked with reporters during a press conference at Hotel Emma on April 25.

Cheech Marin is a man that needs no introduction. Better known as one half of the counterculture, no-boundaries duo Cheech and Chong, Marin is an iconic actor, writer, musician, and performer with a sense of humor which continues to delight audiences.

Marin was in the Alamo City as guest of honor at San Antonio College’s (SAC) Inaugural SAC Fiesta Brunch, titled “Chilaquiles con Cheech” for 2018.  The brunch kicked off the campus’s Multicultural Conference, which “brings writers, artists, musicians, scholars, and professionals together to address multicultural issues” in educational and societal settings.

Marin said San Antonio is one of his favorite cities and has visited more than 50 separate times, calling it a “culturally significant” city.

“For the people and the menudo,” he laughs. “I love coming to San Antonio. It’s a badass city.” Marin is the owner of the nation’s largest collection of Chicano art, currently at more than 700 pieces. He spoke of his love of San Antonio and his collection of art during the brunch.

The SAC Fiesta Brunch was created by SAC President Dr. Robert Vela to raise awareness to real-life concerns preventing students from completing college. According to officials at SAC, a study showed that from approximately twenty thousand students enrolled at SAC each semester, 44 percent are housing insecure, 42 percent are food insecure, and nearly 11 percent have experienced homelessness.

“On average a $500 scholarship could make the difference for one of our students staying in school,” Vela said. “Although a majority of our students seek federal student aid to assist with tuition costs, such aid does not always meet the needs gap. Every single proceed will go towards helping students. This is all for our students. Every single proceed will go for our students who want to make it. Who want to graduate. Who want to be productive members of this community.”

The vision of Dr. Robert Vela is to insure that every SAC student is given the same opportunity for success. His endeavor succeeded. More than 300 people attended the sold-out event, including high-profile guests such as Mayor Ron Nirenberg. All fundraiser proceeds earned go towards the community to assist at-risk students enrolled at SAC.

Vela explained that while searching for the perfect guest speaker, he wanted someone “who was going to make a mark. Who understood our community, who understood the struggle, and the work that he does, all over the world.”

Despite not attending SAC, Marin is connected through the campus because many of the pieces in his collection are from somebody connected to the college.

“When I started collecting art, I started collecting the art of basically Los Angeles and San Francisco painters,” Marin explained. “Very early in the process, I was introduced to the painters of San Antonio. It was at that point that I realized very early that…they were genetically related. One’s a little more urban, ones a little more rural, but they are talking about the same things…I realized at that point this is a much bigger movement than anyone thought of.”

For SAC students interested in creating film, writing or art, Marin shared his hard-hitting, devil-may care advice.

“At the essence of Chicano Culture is not worrying about being politically correct,” Marin chuckled. “From the beginning everything we do is politically incorrect….Chicano is a defiant political attitude. Its crying bullsh*t when we see it. It’s not always negative. Chicano is ‘other.’ You have this outsider’s perspective and it tends to be a pure voice without being overly concerned about political correctness.”