1AM Gallery is pleased to present a Cheech Wizard Tribute Show “I Am What I Am” by artist Mark Bode, and the Official San Francisco Release of Cheech Wizard’s Book of ‘Me‘ opening Thursday, February 4th from 6:30-9:30pm.
At the tender age of 15, a young Vaughn Bode created an international icon that went by the handle of Cheech Wizard. September 26th, 1957, to be exact. Following the Cheech Wizard’s conception, the hat grew into a multi generational phenomena in underground comics and in Graffiti art worldwide. No other character has had such staying power and prowess in pop culture and the street art venue. Due to a mystical experiment gone wrong, Vaughn passed away at his home in San Francisco in July 1975–but the Cheech lives on.
Shortly after Vaughn’s death, pioneer NYC train writers adorned subway trains and walls in their chosen boroughs in the late 70s and early 80s… and that was only the beginning of the Cartoon Messiah’s afterlife. Mark Bode, Vaughns son, has since resurrected the character in many forms–licensing and reprinting the hat with Marc Ecko, Puma, Bathing Ape, and Kid Robot, and others. Cheech, in all his 4 foot tall star spangled glory, even made an appearance in the Beastie Boys tune, Sure Shot: “I’m like Vaughn Bode, I’m a Cheech Wizard // Never quittin’, So won’t you listen!”
The “I Am” is Vaughns personal religion, made up of all the best thoughts from the prophets of our human race; a mish mosh of who we are, and what we can be. Even Segar’s Popeye, catch phrasing “I Am what I Am,” couldn’t conceive of how profound and complex that statement was. The all-knowing Cheech says, I AM my own temple, I AM like no other, I AM to be accepted as I AM. I AM the light, and the Universe within it.
With this premise in mind, we hail Cheech the Wizard at 1AM Gallery. Mark Bode curated a celebration of the cartoon messiah through an array of new and praised artwork, coinciding with the official San Francisco release of the Cheech Wizard’s Book of “ME,” by Fantagraphics publishing. Original Vaughn and Mark Bode artwork, memorabilia, and authentic pages from the book of ME will adorn the walls of the gallery from February 4th for one month.
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