Comedian Cheech Marin was in Corpus Christi Thursday preparing for his collection of Chicano artwork to go on display at the Art Museum of South Texas.

Marin met with Kiii News Anchor Rudy Trevino Thursday to give a preview of his exhibit, "Los Tejanos: Chichano Art from the Collection of Cheech Marin."

The 71-year-old California native is a lover of the arts. He has been one since the age 11.

The comedian, who plans to open his very own Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art in Riverside, California, has impacted the careers of many emerging artists with his collection of Chicano artwork, and he is bringing that collection to the Coastal Bend Friday. The exhibit will be open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday at the Art Museum of South Texas.

"It's a collection of paintings of Texans, Chicano artists, you know, that I've been collecting since the begining of my collection," Marin said. "And I've always had a very soft spot in my heart for Tejanos because I could live here easily."

Working with Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and the Art Museum of South Texas, the collection features the works of such artists as Melesio Casas and Adan Hernandez of San Antonio; and two Corpus Christi artists, Joe Pena, Art Teacher at TAMUCC, and Ricardo Ruiz.

"I think he's got like 15 pieces now of mine," Ruiz said.

Ruiz retired from Christus Spohn recently and now works full-time as an artist. Meeting up with Marin in 2011 was no coincidence.

"When he comes to town he likes to go to the galleries and artist studios," Ruiz said. "Well, he went to the gallery where I was showing my work and he saw a painting there and the museum staff contacted me and said he wanted to meet me."

Ruiz said it is great to have a patron of the arts appreciate his work. For Marin, it's spotting talent from the heart's perspective.

"There's wonderful artists here that are working here, and I want to encourage their work and I want to get their artwork known to a wider audience than it is now," Marin said, "and they're doing really well."

Marin will also be attending a sold-out lunch and lecture event Friday at the Museum to talk about what motivated him to collect more than 700 works of Chicano art.

"You can't love or hate Chicano art unless you see it, and that's what my goal is," Marin said. "It's both comforting and scary at the same time, which I think is the hallmark of great art."

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