Cruisin’ Califas: The Art of Lowriding

by on May 18, 2012 · 0 comments

in California, Culture, San Diego

Magu, the author's family's car.

From La Prensa / Originally published May 10, 2012

The personalized automobiles known as “Lowriders,” are part of a subculture whose aesthetic tendencies cross over into the world of fine art. Lowrider describes a car that is typically customized with a hydraulic setup to be low to the ground, with an elaborate paint job, striking chrome features and uniquely designed upholstery. But this term reaches beyond cars, and has become a cultural phenomenon and way of life for many people.

Today Lowrider culture can be seen not only in cars and motorcycles, but also in sculptures, photography and paintings as a way for people to express their individuality and cultural pride. This exhibition will feature a display of full-size cars, motorcycles and bicycles that have been created in the Lowrider style.

Accompanying the vehicles will be paintings and sculptures made by the vehicle designers and owners and other prominent artists influenced by Lowrider culture in their artwork. Featured artists include Teen Angel, Mister Cartoon, Mike Pickel, Gilbert “Magu” Lujan, Jae Bueno, David Avalos, Bobby Ruiz, El Moises, D. A. Garcia, Estevan Oriol, Eriberto Oriol, Victor Cordero, Eddie “Swoopy” Galindo, Aztek, Howard Gribble, Pedro “Rooster” Rayos, Salvador Gonzalez, Ulises Vasquez, El Moises and Armando Flores, among others.

The exhibition opens with a preview reception on Saturday, May 12 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. The reception is complimentary for OMA members and $10 for non-members. Cruisin’ Califas: The Art of Lowriding is guest curated by Carlos C. de Baca and David C. de Baca. This exhibition is made possible by the generous support from Rudy and Elizabeth Van Hunnick, and David and Jan Arnold.

Join the guest curators a walk and talk through the exhibition on July 14 at 2:00 p.m. Hear Lowrider stories, watch hydraulic demonstrations and learn more about the artists and artwork in the exhibition. The talk is free with museum admission and complimentary for OMA members, students and military.

Learn about the art of pin-striping during Manuel Cisneros’s demonstration at Artists@Work on June 14 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. Tickets are $15 for OMA members and $20 for nonmembers and include an open bar with wine and Lagunitas beer and appetizers by Harney Sushi and Bull Taco.

The title of the exhibition, Cruisin’ Califas, refers to Lowrider culture in California and the favorite pastime of the Lowrider – cruising! Califas is a slang term that refers to California amongst the Latino culture with roots that going back to the mythological land of Calafia that inspired the naming of California. Largely associated with the rise of the automobile industry and the post WWII manufacturing boom, Lowriders became a popular way for people, mostly without the means to purchase a brand new car, to express their individuality and cultural pride. Lowrider describes a car that is customized with a hydraulic setup to be low to the ground, with an elaborate paint job that often includes pin striping and lettering, with striking chrome features, and uniquely designed upholstery. Classic cars such as Chevrolet Impalas and Master Deluxes are often associated with this culture, but today, any type of vehicle can be transformed into a Lowrider, from motorcycles to bicycles, SUV’s and tricycles. Reaching farther then cars; this phenomenon has become a way of life for many people, influencing the style of the artists involved in this exhibition.

El Moises, La Catrina y Su Vida Loca

The exhibition will featuring a 1950 Chevrolet and artwork from the late Gilbert “Magu” Lujan, the 1938 Chevy Master Delux, the pin-striping and airbrush artwork of Victor Cordero, the El Revolucionario motorcycle of Rick Alvarez, the hubcap sculptures of David Avalos, pen and ink drawings from Eddie Galindo, a motorcycle and paintings by Salvador Gonzalez, the art of Teen Angel, model cars, memorabilia, cruising music compiled by well-known radio DJ and Lowrider ‘Xavier the X-Man’ and much more.

San Diegans Carlos and David C. de Baca have been involved in the Southern California car culture for more than 25 years. They have developed many local automotive-oriented shows, including the “Bajitos y Suavecitos” Lowrider exhibition featured at the San Diego Automotive Museum in Balboa Park. The exhibit is touted by the museum as the most successful in terms of the number of visitors and admissions. Based on the success of the show, Carlos was recruited by that museum’s Board of Directors where he is currently an active board member. David has been featured and interviewed on many local and national television shows to discuss Lowrider history, style and culture.

Opened in 1995, Oceanside Museum of Art educates and inspires through a unique range of diverse engaging exhibitions and programs that connect people with regional, national and global artists and art forms. The museum is open Tuesday-Saturday 10 am to 4 pm and Sunday 1 to 4 pm. Free admission every Tuesday, general admission is $8, $5 for seniors and free for students and military. For more information call 760.435.3720 or visit The museum is located at 704 Pier View Way in downtown Oceanside, California within walking distance from the Oceanside transit center with Amtrak, Coaster, Sprinter and Metrolink stops.

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