Downtown Muse Publishes New Cheech Marin Art Book

Image: “City at Night” by Frank Romero, 2010. Courtesy of Cheech Marin Collection.

Chicanitas book coverMany of you already know that I proudly work with Cheech Marin — I have worked side by side with him on many independent projects associated with his amazing Chicano art collection since 2003. We’ve worked together to produce the groundbreaking The Chicano Collection archival limited-edition print series (printed by none other than the master printer himself, Richard Duardo of Modern Multiples Fine Art Editions; sets from which have been donated to major museums across the country such as the Smithsonian, the DeYoung and LACMA), numerous museum exhibitions, a documentary film, several classical music concerts for his talented wife Natasha Marin, salons featuring artists and musicians, and other related arts and cultural projects. Since 2007, I have also researched, catalogued, photographed, and now manage his artworks.

I guess it seems now I have officially become an independent publisher as Downtown Muse through my Arts District-based firm CauseConnect. This Friday’s release through Amazon of Chicanitas: Small Paintings from the Cheech Marin Collection is our latest art book together featuring works that he selected for this publication and for our national exhibition tour. In 2007, I produced and edited his Papel Chicano art book, the winner of the 2008 “Best Design” International Latino Book Award. While I also served as the producer and editor of Chicanitas, this work represents my expanded role as an independent publisher as well. We have more planned … for example, in 2014, keep an eye out for a book featuring Cheech’s essays, which will reveal his unique and always humorous take on Chicano life and culture, accompanied by works specially selected from his collection to illustrate his words. I also have my own book scheduled for release later this fall.

Produced to accompany our nationally touring Chicanitas exhibition, the companion book includes 70 full-color images of small paintings by 27 artists, many from Los Angeles. For details and a tour schedule of the exhibition, visit To download a full press release, click HERE. To buy our book, keep scrolling!

BOOKSIGNING EVENTS: Want a signed book? Stay tuned for our full schedule of upcoming events in Los Angeles and other cities. For an updated list, stay tuned to my website or visit

ChimMaya-Logo-2009THU 10/3 @ 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM
ChimMaya Gallery
5283 E. Beverly Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90022

Buy a pre-signed book in advance of the event at ChimMaya Gallery and get VIP treatment! The FIRST 75 people who purchase one or more books receive admittance to an exclusive reception with Cheech and some of the book’s featured artists Yolanda Gonzalez, Margaret Garcia, Cici Segura Gonzalez and Jose Lozano from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM. For details, call (323) 219-3260.

Okay, I did this obligatory plug for our book … so ORDER YOUR COPY OF CHICANITAS TODAY!

To purchase books, click the PayPal button above. You can also buy online on Amazon and through the Cheech Marin website in addition to my Downtown Muse.


RECAP: The A.D. in the News – Week of 7/9

Increasingly, the Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles is gaining popularity, both by the public and local media. Here are some key stories you may have missed this week about our neighborhood. What are your thoughts about these?

@ Photo: Melissa Richardson Banks | Downtown Muse

@ Photo: Melissa Richardson Banks | Downtown Muse

“Downtown L.A.’s ‘mural mayor’ Daniel Lahoda draws praise, controversy” by Deborah Vankin, Los Angeles Times

“… He’s also known to many as “the guy who gets the walls” for artists. Through his LA Freewalls project, [Daniel] Lahoda brokers deals between businesses and street artists, offering building owners new murals to cover up unwanted graffiti and securing wall canvases for artists. The project has resulted in more than 120 new murals, mostly in downtown L.A.’s Arts District, by some of the world’s leading street artists, among them Shepard Fairey, French artist JR and SEEN…”

CLICK HERE to view an online interactive map that shows some of the murals in the Arts District from Lahoda’s L.A. Freewalls project.

[DOWNTOWN MUSE NOTE: Regardless of any controversy, real or imagined, the visually compelling and colorful results of the work by artists supported by the efforts of Daniel Lahoda speaks for itself.]

© Photo by Colin Marshall

© Photo: Colin Marshall

“A Los Angeles Primer: The Arts District” by Colin Marshall, KCET Departures

“… in Los Angeles’ Arts District, something has actually happened, and, more to the point, continues to happen … Even at the moment, though, several features mark the Arts District as distinctive. Most obviously, it lives up to its name with an almost comic literalness by offering at least one mural to look at from most anyplace you happen to stand.”

[DOWNTOWN MUSE NOTE: Thank you to those countless artists who have created the bold outdoor imagery found throughout the Arts District over the years. Special thanks to Daniel Lahoda of LA Freewalls and LALA Gallery who has remained steadfast in his work, regardless of swirling rumors, to successfully secure walls and help artists produce major art projects in the neighborhood since 2011.]

Mary Ann de Lares Norris at Oblong Industries in downtown L.A. Photo by Ringo Chiu

Oblong Industries rep  © Photo: Ringo Chiu

“True Grit: Tech Firms Connect with Downtown Arts District” by Natalie Jarvey, Los Angeles Business Journal

“… Today, the neighborhood is brimming with local denizens who shop at hip boutiques and dine at trendy restaurants. The activity has attracted a cluster of technology companies looking for a less polished alternative to Silicon Beach … Many businesses complain about the lack of parking for employees, especially as restaurants open up and draw car-driving customers from outside the area … converted warehouses were never meant to house more than a handful of workers at any one time. Parking becomes a problem when tech companies take over those spaces and fill them with desks.”

[DOWNTOWN MUSE NOTE: Oblong Industries has quietly housed its offices in my building since 2007. Like others in the Arts District, there are numerous businesses in the area that maintain a low public profile of their presence here.]

Chaz Christianson and Carolyn Paxton © Photo: Gary Leonard

Chaz Christianson and Carolyn Paxton © Photo: Gary Leonard

“Arts District Grocery Store Urban Radish to Open This Week” by Richard Guzmán, Los Angeles Downtown News

“… the 8,200-square-foot grocery store on Mateo Street … is an eagerly anticipated addition to a quickly changing neighborhood that has seen an influx of restaurants and coffee shops … What people are going to find is a full-range grocery store of products they would look for in a Ralphs, a Whole Foods … The difference is in the types of quality and the products.”

[DOWNTOWN MUSE NOTE: Urban Radish offers single-origin coffee roasted by a micro-roaster that sells for only $2 per large cup. All items in the grocer’s selections indicate a true commitment to quality, artisanal products and small-batch producers while attending to the needs and interests of local residents.]

HONORABLE MENTIONS: A.D. Residents & Businesses in the News
A custom shuffleboard designed and produced by District Millworks is featured this week on

ART: Lonely Hearts in the Arts District

Riddled HeartOne sad morning, right after I regretfully broke up with a long-time love and had to end my work on a beloved project, I was up at sunrise taking my daily walk with my two dawgs, looking up as I normally do to capture snapshots of my fast-changing neighborhood. I stubbed my toe on what I thought was just an uneven sidewalk, and look down to find … my lost heart, seemingly riddled with bullet holes. I’d never seen this artwork before, questioning myself as to how I could’ve missed it and why it revealed itself to me on this day when I really needed to know if I still had a heart, if it could beat again since it had seemed to stop, and all of those thoughts you have after losing someone and/or something very special. There was nothing on the heart to indicate who left it there, and so it was a secret that I was not able to uncover until now.

In the Arts District, there is a triangle lot (near what is called Bloom Square), which used to be a gas station up until around 2000, then it was removed and converted into a place for parking. Recently, street artists have been leaving creative installations there … most recently, Wild Life and now someone whose work is being seen increasingly in the Arts District, Elmer the Wild (he has a real name, but asked me not to share!).

Artist Elmer the Wild encourages you to pick up a heart with his message on the back that states “This is a magic heart. It is meant for everyone. I left it here for you. Take it home if you want. Enjoy. Return it when you like; and another one will fly just as you and I. Forever. Linked.”

Take a heart while you can … perhaps a painted stone can weigh down the pain of losses like mine. Here’s hoping … 🙂

STREET ART: Mural back in production by Arts District artist Kim West (Arts District – Downtown Los Angeles)

MURAL/SUNRISE: The elephants are here … (Arts District – Downtown Los Angeles)

Found in Joel Bloom Square: Easter Island Statue in the Arts District of Downtown Los Angeles

From “BITTER” to “HOPEFUL” by artist Lethargic at Coagula Gallery in Chinatown of Downtown Los Angeles

Lethargic’s artwork at Coagula Gallery in Chinatown – Downtown Los Angeles

New work at 4th Pl. and 3rd St. by Drew Merritt (Arts District – Downtown Los Angeles)

Dancing girl in the rain (Arts District – Downtown Los Angeles)