The Denver Art Museum (DAM) opens Desert Rider: Dreaming in Motion, a new exhibition that will feature artworks exploring lowrider and skateboard culture in Denver and across the American Southwest, and the DAM’s first Lowrider Show and Shine will kick off on Sunday, July 9, with an all-day free-admission event, featuring arts celebration at the museum.
July 9: 11am – 4pm: Lowrider Show and Shine on museum plaza and 13th Ave. will feature lowriders from Denver metro area car clubs, and artisans and food vendors on the plaza.
11am-2pm: Photobooth courtesy of Bellco Credit Union, the museum’s Free for Kids presenting sponsor.
10am – 5pm: Free general admission all day, including access to Desert Rider: Dreaming in Motion.
Organized by Phoenix Art Museum, Desert Rider, highlights how Southwestern Latinx and Indigenous artists express identity, pride and a sense of community by transforming vehicles – such as lowriders and skateboards – associated with the western U.S.
Outside the museum will offer a day full of activities, including local artisans and food vendors, a photo booth and award-winning lowrider vehicles, where visitors can learn more about the artistry and creativity that goes into building a lowrider. Outdoor events begin at 11am – 4pm: Lowrider Show and Shine on museum plaza and 13th Ave will feature lowriders from Denver metro area car clubs, and artisans and food vendors on the plaza; and 11am-2pm: Photobooth courtesy of Bellco Credit Union, the museum’s Free for Kids presenting sponsor
Inside the museum galleries, visitors of all ages will have a chance to have fun with hands-on activities including “skating” with miniature finger skateboards in a scaled-down skatepark, modeled after Federal; making customizable miniature paper lowriders that can be posed and “driven” around a model; and exploring an interactive map of metro Denver highlighting points of significance specific to skateboarding and lowriders, alongside which visitors can add their own reactions and stories. Inside the Museum, 10am – 5pm: Free general admission all day, including access to Desert Rider: Dreaming in Motion.
The DAM is free to kids 18 and under everyday thanks to presenting sponsor Bellco Credit Union. Bellco will sponsor a free photobooth at the museum on July 9. Cars from clubs from across the Denver metro area, including CityWide CC Denver Chapter, Compas Colorado, Pachuco Car Club Denver and Ranflita Car Club, will join the Lowrider Show and Shine starting at 11 a.m., featuring several national lowriders show winners on display along 13th Ave., which will be closed to traffic for the occasion.
On view through Sept. 24, 2023, in the Hamilton Building’s Anschutz Gallery, Desert Rider will be included with general admission, which is free for members and all visitors 18 and under.
“We are grateful for this fruitful collaboration with our colleagues at Phoenix Art Museum, highlighting the inventive and energetic Southwest,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director of the DAM. “We hope visitors will feel joy and inspiration as they experience this powerful presentation, which has been expanded to engage Colorado artists and showcase their work.”
Created and curated by Gilbert Vicario, former curator of contemporary art at Phoenix Art Museum, Desert Rider features works presented against the backdrop of civil unrest at the time and tie together ideas of history, place, resistance and empowerment. Images of customized vehicles racing through the wide-open landscapes of the U.S. Southwest became symbols not only of freedom and power, but also rebellion and nonconformity. Curated at the DAM by Victoria I. Lyall, Jan and Frederick Mayer Curator of Arts of the Ancient Americas, the Denver presentation of Desert Rider adds works by Colorado artists representing their communities in Colorado and the American Southwest.
“The themes and ideas explored in Desert Rider are universal, but uniquely presented through the viewpoints and experiences of Latinx and Indigenous artists, communities deeply connected to and impacted by the region’s complicated past and their experiences,” said Victoria I. Lyall.
“Counterculture, customization, queerness, community, survival, pride and reclamation are concepts that create powerful connections for artists and visitors alike. We are thrilled to present diverse works including several by Colorado artists including Carlos Frésquez, Juan Fuentes, Tony Ortega and Daniel Salazar.”
Desert Rider showcases large-scale installations, prints, sculptures and more by artists including Margarita Cabrera, Nanibah Chacon, Liz Cohen, Justin Favela, Douglas Miles and Cara Romero. Cruising just a few inches above the pavement, a lowrider’s candy paint, chrome rims and tuck and roll upholstery reflect its owner’s style and identity.
“These vehicles also evoke a history of community empowerment and have become symbolic of these artists’ identities. It’s about pride in the ride,” said Lyall.
Desert Rider begins by centering the “Lowrider” section on Denver artists, including a commission by photographer Juan Fuentes that celebrates the city’s four-decade history of cruising low and slow. Like other lowrider makers, Justin Favela’s large-scale car sculpture celebrates its owner’s identity as a queer Chicanx artist. Using materials associated with Mexican piñata—tissue paper and cardboard—Favela’s lowrider celebrates queer icons and pays homage to the recent shooting in Colorado Springs’ Club Q victims.
A section highlighting women and cars features women artists whose work challenges the perception that customized automobiles are a male-dominated pastime. With Stories Better Told by Others (Cindy Corrales) [Historias mejor contadas por otras (Cindy Corrales), a series of color inkjet prints with hand-painted lettering and lithographs, Liz Cohen celebrates the Lowrider Magazine cover models whose labor, personas and contributions to popularizing lowriding globally have been ignored.
In “Skating on Native Land,” artists Dustin Craig, Gregg Deal and Douglas Miles use skateboards as moving canvases to reassert control over their own histories and landscapes. “Horsepower” plays on the idea of the horse in the American west. Artists Laurie Steelink and José Villalobos consider the horse from a personal perspective. Villalobos’ customized saddles evoke the gleam of lowriders while reframing the flash and flamboyance as a celebration of queerness. Steelink’s car hood altar connects her to her Indigenous identity in a patriarchal society.
Artists featured in “La Frontera” (the borderlands), use automobile imagery and irreverent humor to highlight issues of migration and femicide. Margarita Cabrera’s Agua que no has de beber dejala correr (Water That You Should Not Drink, Let It Run) calls out the devastating impact of U.S. automotive “maquiladoras,” factories based on the Mexican side of the border, where mostly female employees perform low-wage assembly work and are exposed to harmful chemicals and hazardous work conditions.
In addition to engaging with such important issues, visitors of all ages will have a chance to have fun with hands-on activities including “skating” with miniature finger skateboards in a scaled-down skatepark, modeled after the Downtown Denver Skatepark; making customizable miniature paper lowriders that can be posed and “driven” around a model of significant lowrider spots in Denver; and exploring an interactive map of the Denver metro area highlighting points of significance specific to skateboarding and lowriders, to which visitors can add their own reactions and stories.
The intention of this interpretive space is to inspire intergenerational creativity and sharing. Furthermore, the map will aid guests in making connections between personal and community histories and experiences in Denver.
The Denver Art Museum is located at 100 W 14th Ave. Pkwy. Denver, Colorado. denverartmuseum.org or call 720-865-5000.
- Rural Colorado Communities are Starting to Embrace Co-Responder Programs - September 22, 2023
- We Stand United With All DACA Recipients and Dreamers - September 22, 2023
- Former President Failed Union Members - September 21, 2023