U.S. Bank proudly supports “The Cheech,” dedicated to showcasing Chicano art

September 26, 2022
Cheech Marin at the June grand opening event for The Cheech Marin Center for Chicago Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum. Below: works featured at the museum.

The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum is a public-private partnership with renowned comedian and Chicano art collector Cheech Marin, RAM and the City of Riverside.

After more than five years in the making, The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of the Riverside Art Museum (RAM), affectionately known as “The Cheech,” opened in downtown Riverside, the “City of Arts & Innovation.”

On the opening day in June, a voice from the crowd yelled “Waas Sappening?” to which Cheech happily replied, “We are.”

U.S. Bank proudly sponsored the opening weekend festivities, where more than two dozen employees volunteered to be of assistance to the 2,000 members of the public that toured the center for the first time at no cost.

The Cheech is dedicated to showcasing Chicano art and honoring and exploring its continued social, cultural, and political impact. A public-private partnership between renowned comedian and Chicano art collector Cheech Marin, RAM and the City of Riverside. Marin has gifted approximately 500 works by Chicano artists—including the likes of Carlos Almaraz, Gilbert “Magú” Luján, Sandy Rodriguez, Frank Romero and Patssi Valdez—to RAM’s permanent collection. 

U.S. Bank has a longstanding relationship with the Riverside Art Museum, including a $150,000 multi-year commitment for construction of The Cheech. The bank’s investment is recognized with a U.S. Bank film-screening room designed to help support emerging filmmakers and audio-visual artists in the region and facilitate their storytelling as a means of expression - a special imperative for peoples of historically marginalized voices.

“Representation matters, and Chicano art has long been excluded from galleries and museums, largely due to its diverse subject matter. But Cheech had the exceptional insight to recognize these works as the masterpieces that they are, and he began collecting them,” said Ann Moreno Penn, a U.S. Bank communications manager and member of The Cheech’s communications and marketing committee. “Now, Cheech has taken the art from his walls at home and put them on display for the public to enjoy. It is an extraordinarily generous action, and his advocacy in support of Chicano art will make a meaningful difference for generations to come.” 

“Chicano art reveals the sabor (flavor) of the Mexican-American experience in the United States,” said Hector Zatarain, senior vice president and Business Banking market manager in the Inland Empire who serves on the board of directors for the museum and acts as a U.S. Bank Nosotros Latino business resource group leader in Southern California. “Initially marginalized from popular culture and media, Chicano art is an expression of humanity and the everyday life of the common person who is just trying to make the best of what they have and feel proud of who they are. Chicano art offers a window for everyone to connect to their own experiences and struggles, and make some sense of their unique place in the world.”

Additionally, U.S. Bank supports RAM’s Artist in Residence program, led by artist Juan Navarro, and focused on beautifying and empowering adjacent neighborhoods through public art. The program was recently awarded a $50,000 Market Impact Fund grant from U.S. Bank Foundation.

“U.S. Bank is listening to those with lived experience and supporting their ideas of how to address racial and economic inequities to create lasting and meaningful change,” said Rockette Ewell, vice president and community affairs manager in the Inland Empire. “It is our honor to support the work of the Riverside Art Museum and Mr. Navarro’s remarkable leadership, artistry, and skill in community organizing. Public art has the power to make community possible by fostering a sense of pride and facilitating social engagement.”

U.S. Bank’s support of The Cheech and RAM’s Artist in Residence program are just a few of several initiatives designed to best serve the diverse needs of the Hispanic community, including the recent unveiling of the first Spanish voice assistant offered by a financial institution in the United States, Asistente Inteligente de U.S. BankTM, an industry-innovating Spanish-language version of the best-in-class Smart Assistant in the U.S. Bank Mobile App.

“It means a lot to my team and I to be able to bolster Chicano culture through our support of The Cheech, to beautify our communities with RAM, and to better serve our customers who prefer to speak Spanish with our best-in-class Mobile App,” said Jeff Lewis, senior vice president and consumer banking market leader for the Inland Empire. “We want the Latino community and all of our customers to know that U.S. Bank is extremely dedicated to helping them build wealth and achieve their financial goals.”

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