SON CUATRO: Cheech in Conversation with Judithe Hernández

SON CUATRO: Cheech in Conversation with Judithe Hernández

Judithe Hernández is the featured artist in this episode of the Son Cuatro: In Conversation podcast co-hosted by art advocate Cheech Marin with Todd Wingate, Director of Exhibitions and Collections at Riverside Art Museum; Edward Hayes, Exhibitions Senior Manager, McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas; and Charlene Villaseñor Black, Professor of Art History and Chicana/o Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles; editor of Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, and founding editor-in-chief of Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture. The producer and moderator of this series is arts marketing specialist Melissa Richardson Banks of CauseConnect who also manages Marin’s notable Chicano art collection.

Part of RAM’s continued programming leading up to its opening of The Cheech, Son Cuatro: In Conversation is focused on sharing the work and the stories of Chicana/o/x artists, gaining their insights, and helping to inspire more community interaction and support for The Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of Riverside Art Museum. Syndicated nationally through Richardson Banks’ MUSED: LA 2 HOU platform, this inaugural four-part series is made possible through the generosity of the Union Pacific Foundation.

Each artist conversation is recorded live with an audience via Zoom and edited into a separate audio episode. The programs are available through RAM’s website at and on nationally syndicated podcast platforms such as Apple, Pandora, Google, iHeart Radio, and others.

Check out Judithe’s work at and on Instagram and Facebook. Judithe’s art can currently be seen on view through Fall 2021 at MoMA in New York. For more info about “War Within, War Without,” visit

Enjoy the conversation.

~ Melissa Richardson Banks


Charlene Villaseñor Black opens the discussion by sharing that she has worked with, thought about, and written on Hernandez’s work for several years. She first met Judithe when the artist returned from living in Chicago to Los Angeles. When Charlene took over as the editor of Aztlan: A Journal of Chicano Studies, Charlene discovered that Judithe had been the first artist for the journal, doing all the early covers, which led her to realize the artist’s importance in the Chicano Movement as an artist, activist, printmaker, muralist, and as the only female member of Los Four. In 2017, her work was exhibited alongside that of artist Patssi Valdez, in the Millard Sheets Gallery (One Path Two Journeys) and she was awestruck by Judithe’s outstanding pastel works. Her lush pastels focus on the human – often female – figure and draw viewers into their dreamscapes, tempting them with their complex symbolism and archetypal imagery. Judithe’s handling of the nude human form is superb and creates universal resonance for her varied viewers. Her work dazzles with its power but it also forces observers to think and to engage.

ABOUT JUDITHE HERNÁNDEZ:Judithe Hernández began her career in the early 1970s as a major figure of LA’s Chicano Arts Movement, merging activism with her artistic practice. Originally gaining prominence as a muralist, she became the fifth and only female member of the art collective Los Four. Over the last five decades, she has developed a studio practice, which centers around pastel on paper, fusing Western and indigenous iconography with Mexican and Chicano themes. Hernández is included in many significant public and private collections including the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art, the National Museum of Mexican Art, the Bank of America Collection, and now the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture of Riverside Art Museum. Recent exhibitions include War Within, War Without, Museum of Modern Art now on display through November 2021 and Life Model: Charles White and His Students at LACMA (2019). In 2016, twenty-four glass mosaic panels designed by Hernández for the Downtown Santa Monica Metro Station were installed. Commissioned by the L.A. County Transportation Authority, this suite of panels is known as L.A. Sonata (at Fourth Street and Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica).


Cheech Marin is recognized today as a preeminent Chicano art advocate. In the mid-1980s, he began developing what is now arguably the finest private collection of Chicano art. Much of it formed the core of his inaugural exhibition Chicano Visions: American Painters on the Verge, which broke attendance records during its groundbreaking 15‐city tour during 2001‐2007 to major U.S. art museums. He states, “Chicano art is American art. My goal is to bring the term ‘Chicano’ to the forefront of the art world.” Following the success of Chicano Visions, over a dozen additional exhibitions drawn from his collection have toured to more than 50 museums in the United States and Europe under the direction of Melissa Richardson Banks (many accompanied by independently published catalogs). Best known as one half of the hilariously irreverent, satirical, counter-culture, no-holds-barred duo Cheech and Chong, Cheech Marin is a paradox in the world of entertainment — he is an actor, director, writer, musician, art collector, and humanitarian.

Charlene Villaseñor Black is Professor of Art History and Chicana/o Studies and Central American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, editor of Aztlán: A Journal of Chicano Studies, and founding editor-in-chief of Latin American and Latinx Visual Culture (LALVC, UC Press). She publishes on a range of topics related to Chicanx studies, contemporary Latinx art, and the early modern Iberian world. To date, she has won eight awards for her editing work, including two awards recognizing LALVC as outstanding new journal. Her most recent book, with Dr. Mari-Tere Álvarez of the Getty Museum, is Renaissance Futurities: Art, Science, Invention, published in 2019. She recently co-edited the new Chicano Studies Reader (2020); Autobiography Without Apology: The Personal Essay in Latino Studies (2020); and Knowledge for Justice: An Ethnic Studies Reader(2019); in addition to editing Shifra M. Goldman’s final book, Tradition and Transformation: Chicana/o Art from the 1970s to the 1990s (2015). Her monograph on colonial saints, tentatively entitled Transforming Saints: Women, Art, and Conversion in Spain and Mexico, 1521-1800, is forthcoming from Vanderbilt University Press in early 2022. Her 2006 book, Creating the Cult of St. Joseph: Art and Gender in the Spanish Empire won the College Art Association’s Millard Meiss award. In 2016, Villaseñor Black was awarded UCLA’s Gold Shield Faculty Prize for Academic Excellence, bestowed annually on one faculty member in recognition of exceptional teaching, innovative research, and strong commitment to university service. She has held grants from the Fulbright, Mellon, Borchard, and Woodrow Wilson Foundations, the NEH, the ACLS, and the Getty. She is PI of “Critical Mission Studies at California’s Crossroads,” a $1.03 million dollar grant from the University of California’s Multicampus Research Programs and Initiatives. Her recent work includes developing an exhibition for PST: Art x Science x LA entitled Verdant Worlds: Art and Sustainability across the Cosmos, to be shown at USC’s Fisher Museum in 2024. Villaseñor Black will be at Oxford University next year as the Terra Foundation Visiting Professor of American Art.

Edward Hayes is currently the Exhibitions Senior Manager at The McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas. Dreamland: A Frank Romero Retrospective (2017) and Judithe Hernández: A Dream is the Shadow of Something Real (2018). Hayes joined The McNay Art Museum after leading International Arts and Artists Traveling Exhibition Service since 2018. As Director of the Washington D.C.-based nonprofit he oversaw over 20 national and international traveling exhibitions, launched over ten new exhibitions, and contracted curators from across the U.S. for the development of future exhibitions. Hayes holds a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2006) and an MA in Art History from The University of Texas at San Antonio (2010).

Todd Wingate has been the Director of Exhibitions and Collections at the Riverside Art Museum since 2016. Prior to coming to the Riverside Art Museum, Wingate served as the Assistant Dean of Students at the University of California, Riverside (UCR). He spent a total of 18 years at UCR and originally arrived there to direct the performing arts program and curated 15 seasons, presenting artists across multiple art forms, including authors Maya Angelou and David Sedaris, musicians Philip Glass, Laurie Anderson, and Kronos Quartet, choreographers Bill T. Jones, Twyla Tharp, Alvin Ailey, and popular groups, such as Los Lonely Boys, Los Lobos, Dianne Reeves, and Perla Batalla. While at UCR, Wingate was responsible for oversight of the construction and management of the $55 million Highlander Union (UCR’s student union) and developed and produced the Heat Music Festival, a multistage rock, electronic, and hip hop festival with an annual attendance of over 13,000. Wingate currently serves as Vice President and Chief Administrator for the Wingate Foundation and is on the board of directors of the Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Craft.

Melissa Richardson Banks is an arts marketing specialist who has managed Cheech Marin’s notable Chicano art collection since 2005. In addition to handling his speaking engagements, community events, and professional commitments, she has worked with Cheech to organize, market, and tour more than 13 exhibitions of works from his collection to over 50 museums nationwide and in Europe. Her firm CauseConnect celebrates its 20th anniversary of “doing business by doing good” in October 2021. She specializes in creating strategic marketing partnerships and is known for designing innovative, cost-effective solutions that produce results — from raising funds to raising awareness. In addition to Cheech, she works with corporate and nonprofit clients on projects in the arts, education, and the environment. As Downtown Muse, Melissa is also an independent cultural producer and a seasoned marketing professional. She plans, creates, funds and executes events, programs and projects such as museum exhibits, community festivals, virtual and in-person speaker series, classical music concerts, influencer dinners and salons. To date, she has produced, marketed, managed, and/or funded over 100 museum exhibits, and managed several national tours of traveling exhibits and art shows. She is also a lifestyle photographer who blogs about the arts at Her work online can be seen on Instagram as @DowntownMuse.


  • Raul Pacheco of Ozomatli generously allowed use of clips from his song “LaLaLa” for the intro and outro of this podcast.
  • Eva Crawford designed the logo for “Son Cuatro: In Conversation” and created the episode artwork.
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