THE ART OF LOWRIDERS AND CLASSIC CARS
Felipe Hernández and his pals at the Suave Car Club have many things in common with graphic artist Alex Carmona. All of them were born and raised near Greeley, Colorado. And that is not all. This Northern Coloradans are all crazy about automobiles.
The members of the Suave Car Club transform their classic cars into lowriders. By modifying these vehicles, they are creating true pieces of art. On the other hand, Carmona produces fabulous artistic prints, inspired by classic automobiles. Learn how these passions for cars unfold.
Felipe Hernández is the current president and proud founder of the Suave Car Club. “We created the club 26 years ago. My family and I started it in Milliken, in Northern Colorado. Then, we grew to have 20 affiliates. After the years, we continue strong. Currently, we have 16 members,” explained Hernández to us at the exhibition the Suave Car Club had at the 2017 Westminster Latino Festival.
Hernández takes his leadership of the club very seriously. “We meet every month. We analyze and plan our participation in different events that we are invited to showcase our cars,” he said. This club not only attends community events. Our members also go cruising around the areas where they live. “Our year is all planned out in advance. We will be busy most weekends through mid-2018,” he explained.
What is needed to be a lowrider
Hernández explained that to be a member of his club, you must own a vehicle that meets the requisites of a lowrider. “We all own vehicles with 13 or 14-inch wheels. Our vehicles also feature a hydraulic system that makes them go up and down,” explained Hernández. He also said, “The special paint, the details on the body, and the upholstery are other aspects we pay a lot of attention to.”
Hernández refers to all these features in a very casual manner. He assumes we all understand the importance of those details. Truth is, the president of Suave Car Club is describing the features that make lowriders true pieces of art. Hernández and the other members of the club have invested thousands of dollars to transform their classic models into original pieces of art, and their goal is to display them at family-friendly venues.
A personal project
Hernández took a long time to convert his Buick Regal 1976 into a true lowrider. “This was a 5-year project,” he confessed. Hernández started by installing a new hydraulic system. “The vehicle also works with additional batteries, that when properly charged, make the car jump,” he explained. After that, Hernández worked on the engine and the upholstery. “The interior of my Buick has an ‘old school’ style.” It is the style from the fifties,” he added.
The exterior Paint of his Buick is very original. “I am a fan of the movie ‘Clash of the Titans,” and that is why I decided that its main characters had to be in my car.” On the hood of his Buick is the image of the brothers Perseus and Hades, who represent good and evil. Meanwhile, on the back of the car, over his trunk, Hernández had the image of Medusa, the villain of the film, in multiple colors.
Tradition goes on
Hernández has planted the love for lowriders in the hearts of his six children.
Three of my five daughters already have their lowriders. And my son has also prepared his spectacular Chevy Impala 1964,” said the proud father. Felipe Jr. showed us his classic in metallic green with white vinyl and green accents upholstery. “Ever since I can remember, I’ve been going to these shows with my father. Lowriders are a big part of my life,” said Felipe Jr.
All sixteen members of Suave Car Club own true classic jewels and they are proud to showcase them in public. Within this group, we can mention the two 1979 Monte Carlos, owned by José Carrillo and Robert Espindola, respectively. Carrillo’s is color gold with vinyl upholstery; while Espindola’s is closer to a brandy color. Also, Johnny Carrillo owns a 1964 Chevy Impala, orange color with vinyl upholstery.
Creating original art
Artist Alex Carmona was born and raised in Greeley, and he currently lives nearby his town. Carmona doesn’t know any of the members of the Suave Car Club, although he shares many things in common with them. “I never went to a lowrider show when I was a kid. But I was always attracted to old cars. Especially classics. I would find books, magazines or watch T.V. shows to learn about them. Then I would draw them,” remembered Carmona.
The 30-year-old artist has a natural talent for drawing. “I started drawing when I was 4 years old. I do it every day, from a young age,” he said. He also added, “My muse to draw has always been automobiles. I love to paint cars that people buy to fix and make them work again. I’ve always been fascinated by old cars.”
Carmona has created a lifestyle by producing art based on the car culture. He can be described as a printmaker. “I create the drawing in pencil or pen. Then I sculpt it on wood. The next step is to stamp the art over vegetable paper that I bring from Japan,” explained the artist. Carmona’s technique is originally from Japan, and it is still in use by several artists in Asia and Mexico.
“I have visited Japan. I have learned a lot from Japanese artists and I have added that knowledge to my creations. I have also learned about the values of the Japanese society. They value the family and are very respectful of all,” said Carmona. His goal now is to visit Mexico. “I want to visit Mexico City. I want to learn about the culture of my parents. And I am particularly interested in meeting artists that continue to use the traditional techniques of printmaking,” he concluded.