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CRUISIN' CALIFAS: The Art of Lowriding

May 13 - September 30, 2012
Singh Family Gallery


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 several full-size cars and motorcycles 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, Mike Pickel, Gilbert "Magu" Lujan, Jae Bueno, David Avalos, Bobby Ruiz, El Moises, D.A. Garcia, Victor Cordero, Eddie "Swoopy" Galindo, Aztek, Howard Gribble, Pedro "Rooster" Rayos, Salvador Gonzalez, Ulises Vasquez, Armando Flores, Estevan Oriol and Eriberto Oriol, among others. This exhibition is guest curated by Carlos C. de Baca and David C. de Baca.


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.


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.


This exhibition is made possible by the generous support from Rudy and Elizabeth Van Hunnick, and David and Jan Arnold.


View the video Sanctioned: Cruisin' Califas at Oceanside Museum of Art, by Hunter


Above left image: Gilbert "Magu" Lujan, Our Family Car.
Right: Mike Pickel, Bomb Burger.




Visit the San Diego Automotive Museum and view their current exhibit Steam Punk, through September 30, 2012.