Lowrider culture inspires series of short plays - Albuquerque Journal

Lowrider culture inspires series of short plays

Española, which often takes credit as being the “lowrider capital of the world,” may be logging another landmark in the culture: the first lowrider theatrical performance.

At least Megan Burns, executive director at Santa Fe Performing Arts, said she hasn’t been able to uncover any other published or otherwise recorded stage performance based on lowriders.

So “12 Switches,” a piece put together by students at Northern New Mexico College, may be the first when it premieres Saturday at the college, with a follow-up performance Sunday at the New Mexico History Museum.

“We’re really superproud of the students,” Burns said, explaining that 17 students wrote the piece last semester; it had a reading in December at the History Museum in connection with its current exhibition, “Lowriders, Hoppers and Hot Rods: Car Culture of Northern New Mexico.”

This semester, another 19 students took the script and developed a fully staged production to present it on stage, she said. Few changes were made to the script put together in the fall, with its dozen vignettes presented as independent storylines while keeping the cultural theme throughout.

Students developed the stories by visiting and interviewing people active in the lowrider culture in northern New Mexico, through which they learned about aspects of the culture that reflected both oppression and rebellion, Burns said.

Fred Rael is shown in "Boulevard Legend," a 1964 Chevrolet, in Española, in this 2003 photo by Jim Arndt. (Courtesy of NM History Museum)
Fred Rael is shown in “Boulevard Legend,” a 1964 Chevrolet, in Española, in this 2003 photo by Jim Arndt. (Courtesy of NM History Museum)

While many of the students grew up around lowriders, she added, she was a little surprised to discover that most of them were not actively involved in it. “We found this generation was not as committed to lowrider culture as their parents or grandparents,” she said.

The project got its start when Meredith Davidson, curator of the 19th and 20th Century Southwest Collection at the History Museum, asked Santa Fe Performing Arts to develop a theatrical piece involving the lowrider culture in conjunction with the upcoming exhibit. The organization, which does a lot of after-school programs for youth, also has a Play It Forward project each year or two, developed in cooperation with an organization that may not have the resources to make its voice heard, focusing on northern New Mexico and Santa Fe.

This lowrider performance is that current Play It Forward project; the previous one focused on the stories of children in foster care, Burns said.

In this case, the collaboration brought in Northern New Mexico College and theater instructor Jonah Winn-Lenetsky, who is co-directing the performance with Burns.

“I really think they’ve done a good job of highlighting the focus, dedication and passion you really have to have to do anything fully,” she said of the students’ exploration of lowriders.

“There are a lot of misconceptions about the culture,” she said, which led some people to discourage their children from getting involved with it. “But it’s really been about creative expression.”

She said the students do a good job showing the issues of what people go through in dedicating themselves to remaking their cars into their dream images, and the positive impact such work has had on the Española Valley region.

Home » Journal North » Journal North Entertainment » Lowrider culture inspires series of short plays


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
Crime-fiction anthology delivers with 20 stories by authors of ...
Arts
Bestselling author Abby L. Vandiver is ... Bestselling author Abby L. Vandiver is one of the contributors and is the anthology's editor.
2
'Team America' plumbs enduring impact of 4 generals
Arts
America at the turn of the ... America at the turn of the 20th century sets the quartet's origin stories.
3
Virgil Ortiz named the 2022 MIAC Living Treasure
Arts
The Cochiti Pueblo artist is known ... The Cochiti Pueblo artist is known for combining fantastical imagery with traditional clay methods.
4
A look at five of the 84 new public ...
Arts
During the pandemic, the Albuquerque Arts ... During the pandemic, the Albuquerque Arts Board stepped up to support a variety of artist groups that were experiencing overnight cancellations and closures.
5
Portion of art show sales to go to aid ...
Arts
A dozen artists will donate a ... A dozen artists will donate a portion of the proceeds from 27 works to Direct Relief, a nonprofit providing emergency medical assistance and disaster ...
6
516 ARTS names first Native American curator
Arts
Gallup-born Rachelle B. Pablo (Diné) holds ... Gallup-born Rachelle B. Pablo (Diné) holds a master's degree in art history from the University of Delaware.
7
El Faro Youth Chorus shares 'their love of singing'
Arts
Newly-formed choir looks to educate young ... Newly-formed choir looks to educate young people in ABQ in classical music.
8
Soil amendments never too much
Arts
More will be best as far ... More will be best as far as how much amendments you add to this new garden area.
9
United reschedules postponed game for Tuesday -- at UNM ...
Featured Sports
at UNM Soccer Complex. City-owned Isotopes ... at UNM Soccer Complex. City-owned Isotopes Park, United's customary home field, then will be occupied by its primary tenants. The Isotopes host Round Rock ...