Lowriders Gaining Respect in Santa Fe


I don’t usually write about exhibits that are temporary, but I’m making an exception today because of Orlando Martinez.  The temporary show’s in Santa Fe’s New Mexico History Museum.  It opened May 1, 2016, and will close on March 5, 2017.  It’s paired with another exhibition on the same subject, “Con Cariño:  Artists Inspired by Lowriders” that will continue until October 9, 2016, at the New Mexico Museum of Art across the street.  It and “Lowriders, Hoppers, & Hot Rods: Car culture of Northern New Mexico”, which is currently at the History Museum, are both under the title Lowrider Summer.

I saw my first Lowrider in New Mexico several years ago but still knew nothing about them, so I asked Orlando to explain a quote on a wall in “Lowriders, Hoppers & Hot Rods”.  Olivanna Rael said, “When he first told me he was going to be a lowrider, I cried.  I went to my prayer-book leader and said, “I need prayer.  My son’s going to be a lowrider.”  Orlando told me that when the craze began it was associated with gang members and drug dealers. Hence Olivanna’s concern.  But no more.  It’s now an obsession for many Hispanic males. “It’s part of our culture here,” Orlando  explained.  After he complained about the cost of Lowrider magazines, he took me over to meet his baby.  It took him 6 years to transform the 1983 Monte Carlo below into a stunning Lowrider.   Orlando Martinez was exceedingly proud that it was included in the show.  The biography by his dream car noted that he bought a set of gold Dayton rims for $4,000 before he even owned it.   I told him about Houston’s Car Art Museum and encourage him to contact them for a possible future display of it.

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This show does a good job of explaining the low ‘n’ slow culture in the Southwest U.S. that involves “gender, family, religion and community”, according  to New Mexico’s Museums & Historic Sites Summer Guide 2016.  I didn’t fully understand what makes a car a lowrider or how the culture began until I saw this unique exhibit in Santa Fe.  After World War II Mexican American men took jobs in aircraft companies.   Car-customizing fans among them “began to take hydraulic lifters used to raise and lower a plane’s flaps and put them in the suspension of cars”.   Passion resulted.



About roadsrus

Since the beginning, I've had to avoid writing about the downside of travel in order to sell more than 100 articles. Just because something negative happened doesn't mean your trip was ruined. But tell that to publishers who are into 5-star cruise and tropical beach fantasies. I want to tell what happened on my way to the beach, and it may not have been all that pleasant. My number one rule of the road is...today's disaster is tomorrow's great story. My travel experiences have appeared in about twenty magazines and newspapers. I've been in all 50 states more than once and more than 50 countries. Ruth and I love to travel internationally--Japan, Canada, China, Argentina, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, etc. Within the next 2 years we will have visited all of the European countries. But our favorite destination is Australia. Ruth and I have been there 9 times. I've written a book about Australia's Outback, ALONE NEAR ALICE, which is available through both Amazon & Barnes & Noble. My first fictional work, MOVING FORWARD, GETTING NOWHERE, has recently been posted on Amazon. It's a contemporary, hopefully funny re-telling of The Odyssey. View all posts by roadsrus

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