Tequio Fundraiser Gala Review - Honoring Cheech Marin and Friends

The California Rural Legal Assistance (CRLA) honored comedian and actor Cheech Marin, musicians Los Lobos and artist Frank Romero at the Tequio Fundraiser Gala, which was held on February 9th, 2009 at the Beverly Hilton. This gala was attended by an assemblage of Latino professionals who appreciate the work that CRLA has done for their community.

The Tequio Fundraiser Gala Honorees

Works of art by popular and well-known Mexican painters were on display upon entrance to the event. One piece in particular caused quite a stir amongst members of the public – a depiction of who could only be described as Mary on a tray-sized tortilla. Uniquely of interest to say the least – for it surely piqued mine.

Spanish group Upground kicked off the show with a rousing live performance. It was the perfect way to commence the event as it warmed the audience up and got them swaying and tapping along with the music. Bottles of wine poured generously which only served to enhanc the mood of the attendees.
Carlos Mencia, who needed no introduction, hosted the event and oh boy – was he ever so entertaining. He managed to get the entire house roaring – albeit rather uncomfortably at times with his less than proper form of comedy. My command of Spanish lacking, it was however enough to convey and translate most of his colorful terminologies which would not have passed by the ears of a censorship board. Suffice to say, we were thoroughly entertained.

Tommy Chong, Cheech Marin and their beautiful ladies

The welcome note for the evening was presented by CRLA Executive Director, Jose Padilla. He expressed his gratitude to the generous contributions of those in attendance as well as to the absentees. He urged an understanding of the work that CRLA had committed itself into observing and conducting for more than forty years, all of which had paid off in the form of available and subsidized housing for the rural poor for example. He mentioned that without these unfortunate individuals, there would not be food on our plates.
Afterwards, the meaning of Tequio was articulated by several community and farm workers. Their stories touching, they managed to evoke a deep respect of the treasured worth to their livelihood.

A CRLA Tequio award was presented to Frank Romero for his expression of Chicano art. He has forty years under his belt as an artist, dedicating himself to the Los Angeles arts community. His work was included in Cheech Marin’s Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge, which was shown at the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art in 2008.

Legendary Mexican Band Los Lobos

Soon after, Armando Duron, the second largest Chicano art collector, conducted a live art auction. This included the well-known piece titled ‘Viva Obama’, which depicted current US President, Barack Obama wearing a sombrero and native Mexican garb. This was the fiercely-bidded item of the evening and a rather gracious gentlemen succumbed to a lady’s desires, as she displayed her want of this item ferociously.

Ry Cooder presented another award to Los Lobos for their music through the years. The band, who was formed more than three decades ago, still manages to fascinate listeners around the world even today. Their music has been used in films and they have a hat-trick of Grammys to prove their might within the industry. Having sold millions of CDs later, they are still unnervingly humble and politically active – constantly furthering the cause of justice, freedom and human rights.

Tommy Chong appeared on stage to present the final award of the evening to Cheech Marin, the world’s largest collector of fine Chicano art. The two have been famously known together for the last few generations and so it was apt for Chong to be the presenter. He joked about their lives together, the audience half-expecting a tear to develop out of the love he felt for his close friend. Cheech appeared momentarily to humbly accept his award, yet proud to be of service to his community. He is constantly purchasing art from Mexican artists to express his appreciation and to thank them for their talents. Most of this collection of art that he has gathered formed the LACMA exhibition mentioned above, which traveled across 12 cities to major US art museums.

Los Lobos closed the house with a final performance which showed the audience that they were indeed here to stay. It was definitely an experience to witness such legends perform before one’s very eyes.

Comedian Carlos Mencia and CRLA Executive Director Jose Padilla

CRLA has been providing grassroots outreach, community education and legal assistance to California’s low income communities for the last forty years. To find out more, please click here.

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