Bill Essayli, a Republican candidate for California’s 60th Assembly District, took to Twitter to voice his disapproval for the state’s nearly $10 million USD public funding of Richard “Cheech” Marin‘s proposed Chicano Art Museum. In the tweet, he called the Riverside institution a “stoner art museum” and questioned if the project is “really the best use of our tax dollars when Californians are struggling to survive in the least affordable state?” The museum, which aims to permanently house the comedian’s personal art collection, received the multi-million endowment last month.
“Richard ‘Cheech’ Marin made millions starring in his Cheech and Chong comedy movies glorifying illicit drug use,” said Essayli to Press-Enterprise. “I join in celebrating Chicano culture. However, I believe we must find ways to do so with private funding.”
$10 million for a stoner art museum. Is that really the best use of our tax dollars when Californians are struggling to survive in the least affordable state? https://t.co/BQFqd2G3fr
— Bill Essayli (@BillEssayli) June 29, 2018
In another statement to the newspaper, Democrat and Riverside Assemblyman Jose Medina fired back at Essayli. “This Trump-ish tweet comes from a politician who’s either completely ignorant, overly divisive, or both,” he said. “Why should the Bay Area or LA suck up all of the state’s resources for the arts?” Moreover, the executive director of the Riverside Art Museum, Drew Oberjuerge, defended the quality and value of Cheech’s collection. “I imagine it’s easy to dismiss something they haven’t seen or known, but the track record for the Cheech collection speaks for itself,” he said.
Stay tuned for updates and let us know your thoughts. In other art news, Jean Jullien is set to launch his first solo show in San Francisco.