‘The High Art of Riding Low’ Opens at Petersen

July 6, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

“Lowriding” is a generations-old past time in car-centered Los Angeles and now the subject of a newly opened exhibition at the Petersen Automotive Museum on the city’s Miracle Mile.

“The High Art of Riding Low: Ranflas, Corazón e Inspiración” opened July 1 to the public and features historic lowrider cars, including the iconic “Gypsy Rose,” “El Muertorider” and “El Rey,” as well as works by Chicano artists inspired by the lowriding culture.

1968 Chevy Impala, “El Muertorider,”painted by Artemio Rodriguez & John Jota Leanos, is one of several lowriders on display in “The High Art of Riding Low,” a new exhibition that opened June 29 at the Petersen Automotive Museum. (Photo by Oscar Castillo)

1968 Chevy Impala, “El Muertorider,”painted by Artemio Rodriguez & John Jota Leanos, is one of several lowriders on display in “The High Art of Riding Low,” a new exhibition that opened June 29 at the Petersen Automotive Museum.
(Photo by Oscar Castillo)

The exhibition, on display through June 3, 2018, examines the lowrider as an artistic catalyst and cultural icon.

“Chicano culture is so deeply intertwined with the culture of Los Angeles and automobiles represent a rich part of that,” said Terry L. Karges, executive director of the Petersen Automotive Museum. He added that the museum is “honored to be in a position to share this vibrant and thriving culture with those who might not otherwise be exposed to it.”

Curated by Cal State Northridge Chicano Studies Professor Denise Sandoval, the exhibition is a look at the crossroad between art and lowriding, what Sandoval called a “new lane” in the presentation of the low riding culture during the show’s opening reception in the Armand Hammer Foundation Gallery on June 29.

It is the third lowrider show Sandoval has curated for the Petersen, and this time around she has sought out works by some of these most iconic Chicano artists, including photographs and drawings, sculptures, and even a brightly-colored piñata themed lowrider installation.

Show stoppers include Jesse Valadez’ “Gypsy Rose,” which earlier this year was inducted into the U.S. Historic Vehicle Register and displayed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

The art, on canvas and on steel, represents a new genre in contemporary art – wrapped in vibrant colors and imagery, it embraces the car culture from a uniquely Chicano perspective on various themes ranging from fashion and lifestyle to Dia de los Muertos, a Latino cultural tradition that has gained in popularity even amongst non-Latinos over the years.

Sandoval, who has extensively researched and documented the lowrider phenomena and influence, told EGP she hopes the exhibition will open this contemporary genre to wider audiences.

During her remarks last Thursday, she noted that the lowrider culture has already gained in popularity in other parts of the world, including Japan, Europe and even the Middle East.

Denise Sandoval, Cal State University Northridge professor of Chicano Studies & guest curator of “ The High Art of Riding Low,” has extensively researched and documented the history of the lowrider. She brought together art and autos for the new exhibition at the Peterson Automotive Museum. In background is Mr. Cartoon’s, 1939 Chevrolet “Gangster Squad.” (Photo by Oscar Castillo)

Denise Sandoval, Cal State University Northridge professor of Chicano Studies & guest curator of “ The High Art of Riding Low,” has extensively researched and documented the history of the lowrider. She brought together art and autos for the new exhibition at the Peterson Automotive Museum. In background is Mr. Cartoon’s, 1939 Chevrolet “Gangster Squad.” (Photo by Oscar Castillo)

While only a handful of actual lowrider vehicles are on display, the inspiration of the high-powered, slow moving works of art on wheels is nonetheless felt across the show, which the Petersen described as the melding of “automotive ingenuity and imaginative expression.” Many of the art pieces pay tribute to the cars and the artists whose works bring the cars to life.

Vehicles in the new exhibit include “Our Family Car,” a 1950 Chevrolet Sedan painted by legendary artist Gilbert “Magu” Luján, “El Rey,” a 1963 Chevrolet Impala by Albert De Alba Sr., “El Muertorider,” a customized 1968 Chevy Impala by Artemio Rodríguez and John Jota Leaños, and “Gangster Squad ’39,” a 1939 Chevrolet Master Deluxe by Mister Cartoon.

The exhibit also features artists who have reworked and re-imagined the lowrider, including El Moisés, Estevan Oriol, Germs a.k.a. Jaime Zacarias, Luis Tapia, political cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz and photographer Oscar Castillo, whose photo of the founder of “Lowrider” magazine is included in the exhibition.

“… ‘The High Art of Riding Low’ is going to be one of the most important exhibits we’ve curated,” said Karges.

For more information on “The High Art of Riding Low: Ranflas, Corazón e Inspiración”, visit www.Petersen.org or call 323-930-CARS.

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