Island University Faculty and Alumni Among Artists Featured in Cheech Marin’s ‘Los Tejanos’ Collection

Los Tejanos: Chicano Art from the collection of Cheech Marin

Writer and entertainer Cheech Marin has amassed an art collection numbering over 700 works of Chicano art, making it the largest Chicano art collection in the United States. Opening January 2018 in Corpus Christi, "Los Tejanos: Chicano Art from the Collection of Cheech Marin" presents 39 works of art by the 14 Texas artists currently represented in the most renowned collection of its kind including: Jari "Werc" Alvarez, Melesio (Mel) Casas, Carlos Donjuán, Gaspar Enríquez, Jacinto Guevara, Adán Hernández, Benito Huerta, César A. Martínez, Joe Peña (A&M-Corpus Christi Associate Professor of Art), Alex Rubio, Ricardo Ruiz (A&M-Corpus Christi MFA Alumnus), Marta Sánchez, Vincent Valdez, and Andy A. Villarreal. The exhibit will be on display at the Art Museum of South Texas, an affiliate of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, through April 29.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – No accomplishment speaks greater to the caliber of faculty and alumni from the Department of Art & Design at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi than their multiple accolades, success stories and, most recently, their inclusion in Cheech Marin’s collection of more than 700 works of Chicano art. A 39-piece portion of that collection, “Los Tejanos: Chicano Art from the Collection of Cheech Marin,” is currently on display at the Art Museum of South Texas (AMST). “Los Tejanos” highlights the Chicano movement’s contributions to the art world and is part of the world’s largest collection of Chicano art in the United States.

“Chicano art is a combination of influences including Mexican art and American pop-art,” said Marin. “This is a new emerging international school and style of art.”

AMST, which is affiliated with Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, held a lunch and lecture on Jan. 12, to allow members of the local community to meet Marin and learn more about his unique collection, which will be on exhibit through April 29. Joe Peña, Associate Professor of Art at A&M-Corpus Christi, is the only Islander faculty member included in the collection.

“Because A&M-Corpus Christi is a Hispanic Serving Institution, we do our part to make sure students are aware of the exhibitions that show important elements of Hispanic tradition and culture,” said Peña. “We are prepping the next generation of Chicano artists by instructing them to embrace their heritage and to discuss their culture and traditions through their work.”

Ricardo Ruiz, an Island University alumnus who graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in Painting, is also featured heavily in Marin’s collection.

“I came into the art program at A&M-Corpus Christi with a certain skillset and they literally made me a better artist,” said Ruiz. “If you want to get well grounded in the arts, it is an excellent school. The faculty understands the work and process of art making, which is something that’s hard to find.”

Marisa Garza, a graphic design major at the Island University and communications intern at the AMST, was excited to not only meet Marin during the public lecture and lunch but to also see the success of artists connected to A&M-Corpus Christi.

“To see not only my professors but my classmates and former classmates in this exhibit gives me hope that one day I can be here as well,” said Garza. “By seeing my professors here, I know that I’m in good hands moving forward into my career as an artist.”

Art students, faculty and alumni aren’t the only ones benefiting from Marin’s collection; Edward Tyndall, associate professor of media production at A&M-Corpus Christi and Nick Manley, assistant professor of media production and their students, had a unique opportunity to shoot a documentary featuring the “Los Tejanos” collection.

“The exhibit itself is very important to the community because this art is born out of the culture of South Texas,” said Tyndall. “It’s also a great chance for us to have our film faculty and students create a real-life project. Getting our program ‘off the Island’ and into the fabric of the community is what makes us so successful.”

Besides Peña and Ruiz, there are 12 other artists featured in “Los Tejanos” including Jari (Werc) Alvarez, Melesio (Mel) Casas, Carlos Donjuán, Gaspar Enríquez, Jacinto Guevara, Adán Hernández, Benito Huerta, César A. Martínez, Alex RubioMarta Sánchez, Vincent Valdez and Andy A. Villarreal.

For more information on “Los Tejanos,” visit or call 361.825.3500.