My last ArtLetter included comments about the Ozarks, which offended some people there who read the post on Huffington Post. They felt that I denigrated their culture. "Culture consists of the beliefs, behaviors, objects, and other characteristics common to the members of a particular group or society." What some find soothing or stimulating others may find threatening. I write these ArtLetters to promote visual art and to encourage folks to expand their horizons. I try to follow my advice.
Some culture is broad, deep and imposing. Think large museums with homogenized aesthetics. And some culture is homegrown and organic. Think of outlying regions or pockets within a larger culture. The latter is what I experienced a couple days ago at the Slow & Low Lowrider Festival.
These events feel inclusive to me. Though Lowriders are predominantly Hispanic, they are not solely so, and there are lots of aspects to these vehicles that reach way across diverse groups to find common appreciation.
By stepping outside our comfort zone we grow and experience aesthetics and values that question and honor our own.
Beautiful machines, cars, hydraulics, fashion, and clothes reveal a personal style and statement that honors antiquities, preservation, modernization and culture.
I learned that these cars rarely get driven -- especially the really nice ones. They are works of art that are trailered to shows. They are not for everyday use. And though they all have amazing hydraulics built in, with 4,000 pounds of air-pressure to lift portions of the car off the ground -- or to make them literally hop -- they rarely do, because it would be like going over 2 foot speed bumps all day and destroy the vehicle.
This isn't about practicality. This is about heritage, respect and love, and embracing ones' counter-culture, but it's also something that those of us who are not intrinsically or indigenously part of this culture can appreciate and compare and contrast to our own. And in so doing, we grow.