Hard Body

Liz Cohen's infiltrating the lowrider world — and calling it art

Yet in spite of the international excitement over Cohen's work, she has yet to gain much recognition locally. Most local art scene players know her name and have heard about her project, but according to Greg Esser, president of Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation, the problem isn't that her work isn't appreciated. It's that, in spite of huge leaps forward, Phoenix still isn't a hub for contemporary art. Gregory Sale, visual director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, agrees, though he thinks Cohen will soon get the local recognition she deserves.

"I do imagine it is only a matter of time before Liz undertakes a major exhibition in Arizona," he says.

Still, he worries that there just isn't enough support for contemporary artists like Cohen in Arizona.

Grinder, Liz Cohen, 2005
courtesy of Galerie Laurent Godin
Grinder, Liz Cohen, 2005
Liz Cohen
Andy Hartmark
Liz Cohen

"There is real growth in the number of artists producing high-quality work in Arizona, but as that number increases, the financial support and presentational support hasn't grown as quickly," he says.

But as far as breaking into lowriding, Cohen's sexy image, and the fact that her car — if she pulls it off — is so strange, is only going to help.

Johnny Lozoya has been a lowrider since the '60s — he even worked for the magazine once upon a time. These days he puts together Arizona's largest lowrider show. When it comes to lowriding and custom cars, the man knows what he's talking about. And he's impressed with Cohen's project.

"What she's doing is basically icing on the cake," he says. "What this young lady is doing, it's something new. That's something great because it answers everybody's question. You can be the model, you can be the builder, you can be the creator. Whatever."

Although the car means something different to everyone who sees it — for the guys at the shop, it's "just" a car, for the lowrider world it's an interesting cultural contribution, for the art world it's an innovative process piece — Cohen hesitates to put the project into a box, or state a specific goal for what will happen once the car is done.

"The goal of the project is just to go through the process and see what happens," she says. "In terms of the project, any outcome, whether I'm accepted or not, is still a success."

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