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Exhibit > Artists show that lowriding is a way of life

Low and Slow is more than just a way of driving. For many in the Española Valley, it’s a way of life. Known to many as the “lowrider capitol of the world,” Española is home to many lowrider enthusiasts who often take their prized possessions out of storage for a car show or a weekend cruise down Riverside Drive.

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The cars don’t come out as much as they used to, for various reasons, but one thing is certain: on Good Friday (weather permitting), traffic through town is bumper-to-bumper as everything from Impalas and Cutlass Supremes to Monte Carlos and trucks slowly parade through town, showing off their custom paint jobs, rims and hydraulics.

Lowriding is so engrained in the culture, that local artist Toby Morfin decided to curate a show about it. The “Low Rider Fine Art Exhibit” will open with a reception from 6-8 p.m. Aug. 9 in the Española Plaza Convento Gallery. In addition to the art, there also will be a car show where spectators will get to see all sorts of lowrider cars and experience the culture first-hand. The Mainstreet Showdown SuperShow will be Aug. 10 on the Española Plaza and will feature not just the car show, but also a concert and car hop, presented by Lowrider Magazine and Cultura Promotions.

Not only has Morfin and his sponsors put time and effort into promoting the event, in hopes of making it a success, but they even got support from the City of Española and Mayor Alice Lucero. The city printed 4,500 invitations to the event and put them in utility bills mailed out to residents.

Even though lowriding is popular in New Mexico, there are other states that have embraced the culture as well. In fact, some argue about where lowriding originated. New Mexicans claim it was born in Española, while some Californians claim that Los Angeles was the birthplace. Regardless, artists from Española, as well as the City of Angels, San Diego and Phoenix will come together to show their best interpretation of the lowriding culture.
Morfin credits Phoenix artist El Moises for helping to get the out-of-state artists together for the show.

“Moises did a show at an Oceanside (California) museum and met guys and brought them in,” Morfin said. He also said this show is a tribute to a good friend of his, Gilbert “Magu” Lujan. The Los Angeles artist passed away in 2011.

“He paved the road for this lowrider art,” Morfin said. “He had a major museum collection and has been in all kinds of shows all over the world. I don’t want people to forget about him.”

The talent in this show is as varied as the artists themselves. Some of the artists got their start by painting cars, while others were “taggers.”

“Bugs from Phoenix is a well-known car painter,” Morfin said, pointing out that he does candy paint jobs.
Albuquerque artist Nani Chacon — the only female in the show — did cholo and chola art for this exhibit. Meanwhile, Albert Rosales, also of Albuquerque, does murals and works with youth. “He started tagging,” Morfin said of Rosales’ start in the art world.

Phoenix artist El Whyner will bring a bit of a different perspective to the show. He’s a tattoo artist by trade, but has taken lowrider photographs, which he will exhibit. Some of his photos have been featured in a magazine called In the Streets.

Morfin has created a piece for the show that he calls, “Lowride ’Til We Die,” which features an “oldie” riding along a road of human skulls. “(You’re) cruising on death. Cruise ’til you die, ride until you die,” Morfin said of inspiration for the acrylic on canvas piece.

Chimayó artist Arthur “Lowlow” Medina, will also show his work. He has created both cultural art and that of faith, since he was a child.

“I haven’t been in a group of artists for a show, but I sell an array of paintings and lowriders are one of my best sellers,” Medina said. He and his wife Joan are the proprietors of a gallery called Lowlow’s Lowrider Art Place, located at the entrance to El Santuario de Chimayó. It’s there that Medina, Joan and their daughters display and sell their creations.

“I love to hear when kids and others tell Lowlow that they always admire his work and his cars as they grew up, even from his elementary days. It has inspired them ... his works are a fishing tool to talk about the Lord to them,” Joan said.

Medina, like many of the other artists in the show, has done a variety of artistic work, to include murals, etching and striping (on cars). In fact, some of his work can be seen on five of his own vehicles.

“I’m excited to meet other people with the same passion,” Medina said. “I’m glad to have Toby (Morfin), Moises, Cruz (Lopez) and all the others together for this great show.”

Other artists in the show include Española resident Cruz Lopez, who has done several shows with Morfin, Chikle, Da Garcia, Mickey Horton, Ricardo Islas and Johnathan Mercado.

The first-of-its-kind show will be on display through Aug. 19.