Grand Avenue Get Down Brings Lowriders, Latino Art, and Customized Auto Culture to Downtown Phoenix This Weekend

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When El Moisés began planning this weekend's Grand Avenue Get Down, he initially envisioned it as an stunning convergence of Latino culture, art, and automobiles of every shape and size. But one thing the 38-year-old artist didn't want, however, was for the two-day event to be considered "just another Cinco de Mayo thing," despite the fact it's occurring in the midst of the annual holiday.

"They've made Latino culture into a drinking cliché, so we wanted something to avoid all that and incorporate more of a celebration of art and culture," Moisés says. "Since it's going to be on Grand, I thought, 'What better place to line up all these cars from one side to the other?' And also line it up with this multicultural crossover between artwork, cars, lowriders, bikes, and all these other vehicles."

See Also: - MC Magic: The Lowriding Lifestyle Is Alive and Well at the Mesa Supershow - Best Calle of Dreams - 2010: "Calle 16: A Mural Project"

Moisés states that the Grand Avenue Get Down! -- which takes place both tonight and Satuday -- will be a showcase and feting of Latino artistic verve, as well as lowriders and custom vehicle culture as a whole. His goal was to fill the one-mile stretch of the thoroughfare that passes through the downtown Phoenix arts district and many of its galleries with both customized rides and evocative artwork.

The event will do just that, as art and customized rides will be featured at such Grand Avenue establishments as 1205 Space, The Sagrado, {9}: The Gallery, Funk Lab, and Jackalope Trading Post.

"We're calling it Grand Avenue Get Down because we're having everyone getting down with their skills, showing off live art, airbrushing, and all the cars," he says.

Moisés -- who's energetic Chicano pop paintings can be seen in and around Barrio Café, outside of Scratch Pastries new Roosevelt Row location, and as part of the Calle 16 Mural Project -- has been big into lowrider culture since birth.

"It's been a big part of my culture and growing up in the barrio. My dad used to have to lowriders when I was younger and to paint lowriders and cars," he says. "I used to sit in the office looking through the window when he was painting and draw on the back of manila folders or purchase orders. So many cars moved in and out of there that I'd make these funky drawings with all these different parts because I liked something on one car and another part of another car. That's why all the lowriders that I paint is not like a '57 Chevy or a '56 Chrysler. It's like Cadillac mixed with a Studebaker."

Moisés kept on incorporating cars into his art over the past couple decades, which evolved from pencil drawings to "funky paintings" that are heavily vibrant with color and abstract angles. Some of his latest works will be on display at 1205 Space, including the new series "Chariots of the Gods," which he describes as "lowriders in space."

Its definitely different from what some people might expect from lowrider art, Moisés admits.

"Some of the guys didn't think I was a real lowrider artist because it wasn't what people stereotypically think lowrider art should be with the Aztecs or looking almost photographic," he says. "I just wasn't into that. I was more into doing abstract work, where it's a Mayan vato but the headdress is with chili peppers and crazy funk and the car's actually in space."

One of the new paintings Moisés will unveil is Xicanindio on a Indio, a tribute to his late uncle.

"He was half Chicano and half Indian and he used to have an Indian motorcycle," Moisés says. "He passed from a heroin overdose awhile back so it's a Day of the Dead vato riding an Indian motorcycle with flames and roses around it."

More traditional lowrider artists will be part of Grand Avenue Get Down!, however, including pinstripers known for the intricate, thread-like lines they create on cars. Moisés is planning on bringing in renowned artists from around Arizona, California, and New Mexico for the event, including D.A. Garcia, Jowee "Mr. Rhythm" Ramirez, Johnathan Mercado, El Chikle, Ricardo Islas, and Lucky Hellcat.

"I had an overwhelming response with artists that just wanted to participate so I opened the doors to everybody," he says. "It was like, 'Come on down and show your stuff.'"

Pinstriping will take place inside of 1205 Space, a former auto garage just off Grand, where the event's attendees can have their rides customized for a "nominal fee."

Also featured at the space will be the work of well-known lowrider Luis Miranda, lowrider, who will exhibit one of his cars along with some uniquely adorned hoods. Decorated vehicles on display won't be limited to the four-wheeled variety as Peoria auto painter Moe Madrid of Bad Boy By Design will also be bringing a customized chopper.

A block away at The Sagrado, lowrider bicycle builders will be showing off their tricked-out two-wheelers to the public. Photographer Sam Gomez will also have new works for the event and Moisés says a lowrider hop will take place behind the gallery.

Up the street at Jackalope Trading Post, however, the emphasis will be on vintage motorcycles and iron horses, and the work of vintage hot rod artist Jimmy Smith.

Moisés is also hoping that many Grand Avenue Get Down! patrons check out {9}: The Gallery, which will feature a solo show by painter Pablo Luna.

"Pablo does this contemporary, really raw street and Chicano art that's also a mixture of lowrider and indigenous culture as well," he says. "I've been a big fan of his work so I wanted to bring him down here for the Get Down."

Moisés says that the two-day event will be capped off with cruising session of vintage and custom cars down Grand Avenue, which is befitting, given the historic nature of the thoroughfare.

"We're still working out the exact route, but with all those rides cruising down Grand, it's gonna be a sight to be seen," he says.

Grand Avenue Get Down! takes place from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. Admission is free.

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