In Anticipation of the Release: “Lowriting: Shots, Rides & Stories from the Chicano Soul”

Posted: November 29, 2013 in Photos
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“Lowriting: Shots Rides and Stories   
                from the Chicano Soul”

Growing up in Cordova, New Mexico owning a lowrider was common among many of the homeboys. I remember my Tio Allen washing his 1972 Monte Carlo, my Tio Randy washing is 1969 VW Bug and awhile later his late 1970s Chrysler Cordoba. My Tio Spunke with his multitude of cards, Cadillac’s, Cutlass Supremes, just to name a few of his lowriders.

Beginning on Good Friday until late September, every Friday night through Sunday afternoon the main street in Espanola was full of lowriders. Riverside Drive was at times full of lowriders. Cruising bumper to bumper. Pulling over at different areas to talk with the homies or to pick up chicks. That was the lowrider world I knew growing up. I didn’t know back then that lowrider was much bigger then Espanola. The world for me ended in Santa Fe when it came to lowriders. This was our tradition, something dads pasted down to their sons, for the fatherless sons, tios and grandpas would teach the tradition.

In my late teens I went to my first car show in Espanola and the world of lowriders out side of Espanola was open. I saw cars from places such as California, Texas, Colorado, Arizona and Utah. I was amazed with the cars I was seeing from many different parts of the Southwest. It was truly amazing that I saw vatos from different areas sharing one common art from, Cars. It was cool seeing one car model transformed in many different ways. I was blown away.
I went to school in a private Methodist Church school in Espanola. I remember reading poetry and stories by authors such as Emily Dickenson and  Robert Frost. I don’t remember the short story author because I wouldn’t read the stories, I was lazy like that. I didn’t know that Chicanos had poets or writers. I only knew of Rudolfo Anaya and his book, “Bless Me, Ultima”. In my literary world vies Chicanos didn’t write or create much poetry or other types of writing.

It wasn’t until college when I came into contact with Chicano Literature. I was introduced to authors such as Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales, Sandra Cisneros and Alurista to name a few. I was a great time in my life. The one tradition that I didn’t read about was the lowrider culture. In fact, I don’t believe there is much out there about the lowrider culture, until now.

California based photographer, Art Meza and Florida based independent publisher Santino J. Rivera have come together to create a one of a kind book. A book that has never been put together. The book is collection of Art’s photographs of the many lowriders he has photographed and a collection of poems and other writings collected by Santino Rivera, editor and publisher. These two homeboys have come together to bring a one of kind book exhibiting the lowrider culture via photography and literature.

I interviewed Art Meza (AM) and Santino J. Rivera (SJR) regarding there contribution to this book. Here is what they had to say about “Lowriting: Shots, Rides and Stories from the Chicano Soul’. Release date is pending and will be announced by Santino in due time.

Interview with Art Mesa (AM)

AJS: Please introduce yourself.

AM: My name is Art Meza Jr. but a lot of people know me as “Chicano Soul”, a name I began using a few years ago and one I hope serves as a representation of who I am and what I try to capture with every shot from my camera. I am happily married and a father of two. I am a proud son of Los Angeles.

AJS. How did you become interested in photography?

AM: I can’t say things like “I’ve been in love with photography all my life.” Or “All my life I’ve wanted to be a photographer.” No. My interest in photography is relatively new but none the less growing stronger by the day. It was sparked by the support and encouragement I received from family and really good friends. I started off photographing the cars I’d see at many of the classic car/ lowrider shows my family and I would attend. I didn’t think much of my shots when I began sharing them on Twitter/Instagram but was surprised at all the love they received.

AJS: Have lowriders been a part of your photography since you started shooting?

AM: I’ve always enjoyed classic cars and lowriders in particular. Although Lowriding itself is not a tradition in my family, it is one that is revered by many Chicanos. Hell, ask anyone. Chicanos invented Lowriders and the thing that has always drawn me to them is the pride that goes into building them and then showing them off. That pride radiates off the car just as bright as it’s custom paint job. I take what I’ve learned and try to capture that pride and then share it with everyone who’s willing to look.

AJS: How did you and Santino come together for Lowriting?

AM: Santino and I have connected on many ideas in the few years we’ve known each other.

I mentioned my goal I have with my photography and what I try to express and not only did Santino get it but also offered to work with me to help share my work. Santino had the vision to put together “Ban This”, an anthology containing nearly 40, both well known and unknown Xican@s, which gave us a way share our struggles and amplify our voices. I’ll always be grateful to have been a part of Ban This and am just as excited and honored to have his confidence to play a bigger role with Lowriting.

AJS: What does this book mean to the Chicano community? Do you consider this book another resource to teach about an art subculture among Chicanos?

AM: “Lowriting: Shots, Rides and Stories from the Chicano Soul” will feature over 50 of my photographs. Some I have already shared and some that haven’t been seen yet. I can only hope my attempt to show it off in a positive way does the culture itself justice. Too many people view Lowriders in a negative way. They’re associated with gangs and crime instead of appreciated for the art forms they were/are meant to be.

AJS: With out giving to many details, can you talk a little bit about the art you will be showcasing in this book?

AM: We believe this book will help change that. There are no books out there like this until now.  One that tells of the Chicano Lowrider culture with the respect it deserves. Con Safos

The following imgaes are part of the book. Photos are part of Art’s lowrider photography collection. Images are available for sell at Art’s on line etsy store. Art has an array of products available for sell.




Interview with Santino J. Rivera (SJR)

AJS: Please introduce yourself.

SJR: Santino J. Rivera is an independent publisher, author, editor and freelance writer. Born in Denver, Colorado, Rivera cut his teeth as a freelance journalist, hired geek, street poet and EMT. His books collect material unlike anything else currently on the market today.

In 2012 Rivera published ¡Ban This! The BSP Anthology of Xican@ Literature, as a response to the censorship and book banning of Chicana/o authors in Arizona. The book was featured at the 2013 Tucson Festival of Books. Currently, Rivera is preparing to release Lowriting: Shots, Rides & Stories from the Chicano Soul by Art Meza.

Rivera has performed spoken word and lectured in several dives, unknown coffee shops, universities and on street corners from Boyle Heights to the mean streets of the Dirty South. He is passionate about free speech, Xican@ activism and the printed word. Currently, Rivera resides with his family in Saint Augustine, Florida. You can reach him at @sjrivera on Twitter.

AJS: How long have you been an independent publisher? What got you on the road to this endeavor?

SJR: I’ve been publishing professionally since 2007 – I released my first book Demon in the Mirror that year and haven’t looked back since. However I’ve been into this since college ( mid 90s). I started out helping to create and publish an independent Chicano newspaper in Denver and gradually started getting into publishing chapbooks of my own material and handing them out in parking lots after poetry readings. I was inspired by people like Henry Rollins who created his own publishing company, printed and distributed his work at his shows. He broke all the rules of conventional publishing and that really spoke to me. I’m still breaking the rules and I love it.

AJS: How many titles does your company have on its listing?

SJR: Right now I have eight titles with one out of print and three slated for release

AJS: How did you and Art come together for Lowriting?

SJR: Art started really getting into taking these photos and they just kept getting better and better. He has a real eye for this sort of thing and I picked up on that very early in the game. I follow the philosophy of publishing books that I, personally, would want to read so I figured that a book of his photography would be just that. This was all happening while I was still touring for ¡Ban This! and naturally we started throwing out ideas about what would make a book like that sing. It was a mutual decision to tie together Art’s amazing photos with stories about lowriders and lowrider culture. The more we talked about it the bigger the idea became and her we are, on the cusp of what is shaping up to be a groundbreaking book.

AJS: What does this book mean to the Chicano community? Do you consider this book another resource to teach about an art subculture among Chicanos?

SJR: That’s not for me to say but I do hope that it has a positive impact on the Chicana/o community – we need it. You have to understand that this kind of thing has never been attempted before. I realize that sounds weird but it’s true. This book will be a marriage of stunning lowrider photography and the stories that go along with them. I searched high and low for this kind of book but never found it. Sure, there are a few books of lowrider pictures, for car enthusiasts etc. And you might find a story about lowriders here and there if you really dig deep but never the two together and not like this. This book is unprecedented in that way. Art’s photographs are not like what most people expect when it comes to lowriders – you won’t find the exploded and posed ranflas with half-naked women sprawled all over them, like you usually do. Art’s photos are classy and speak to another era of lowriding and the stories in this book compliment that quite well.

As for being a teaching tool, I definitely believe this book could be used in that vein. Just like ¡Ban This! it is my hope that this book reaches across genres and breaks the boundaries that usually segregate these kinds of books. As Luis J. Rodriguez writes about in Lowriting, lowriding is worldwide now, which in turn means that Chicano culture is also worldwide. Our culture and our stories deserve to be told and taught from just as much as any other and if Lowriting can help in that endeavor than I have done my part to help preserve our culture. I hope people see that.

AJS: Without giving to much detail, can you tell me about the pantheon of authors representing in this book?

SJR: In addition to Art’s stunning photography, the amount of talent in this book is mind blowing. I mean, you’re getting over 50 of Art’s images collected in one book and that alone is worth the price of admission but we have coupled that with an amazing collection of writers. For starters there’s work by both Luis J. Rodriguez and Luis Alberto Urrea. There are also contributions from Lalo Alcaraz, Gustavo Arellano and Alvaro Rodriguez (cowriter of Machete). If that’s not enough there are contributions from actors Danny De La Paz (Boulevard Nights, American Me) and Daniel Villarreal (Stand and Deliver, American Me), prolific author Jim “The Beast” Marquez, publisher Richard Vargas and the current New Mexico Chicana/o Poetry Slam Champ Anna C. Martinez. There are also works by poets Viva Flores, Andrea J. Serrano and documentary filmmaker Gloria Morán.

If you’re still not convinced that this book will be on another level, there’s also work by artists Angel Diaz, Josh Divine and Emilio Medina, journalist Allen Thayer, authors Xicano X, Ricky Luv, Roberto  Dr. Cintli Rodriguez, Gina Ruiz, Benjamin Quiñones Reyes and Jason Hoyt, poets Nancy Aidé González, Enrique Arroyo, Nikkeya West, Tara Evonne Trudell, Noelle Reyes, Raul Sanchez, Manuel Gonzalez, Robert Flores, Lizz Huerta, Angelo Sandoval, Lawrence Gandara, Steven Alvarez and photos featuring model Marya “Hellabreezy” Ramirez.

This book truly is a work of art and I’m extremely proud of it. I think it’s going to blow people away and break boundaries.   

Please check out other titles by Broken Sword Publications.

  1. Gary montoya says:

    Thanks love the low

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