Things That Matter

This Deliveryman Has a Huge Collection of Chicano Art and He Kept it a Secret for 35 Years

This is Enrique Serrato. He’s a retired 74-year-old who lives in Whitter, California.

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Credit: Patrick Kennedy / Vimeo

For 35 years, he was keeping a secret.

He owns one of the biggest collections of Chicano art.

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Credit: Patrick Kennedy / Vimeo

It’s true. For several decades, Serrato collected more than 6,600 pieces of art.

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Credit: Patrick Kennedy / Vimeo

After growing up visiting museums with his mother, Serrato became obsessed with collecting art and carried on with it year after year.

He’s got SO MUCH ART that he sleeps on the floor of his two-bedroom apartment.

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Credit: Patrick Kennedy / Vimeo

Serrato: “I’d rather have more art than a bed.”

Most of his collection is made up of Chicano art and ceramics…

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Credit: Patrick Kennedy / Vimeo

Somewhere in his apartment, Serrato has pieces from Chicano artists Gronk, Diane Gamboa and Lalo Alcaraz.


READ: A Mexican Artist Made Bear Rugs Out of Gang Members from MS-13

But he also owns work from artists such as Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Diego Rivera.

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Credit: Patrick Kennedy / Vimeo

For more than three decades, Serrato kept his collection a secret.

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Credit: Patrick Kennedy / Vimeo

Over the last 10 years, Serrato has been inviting friends and fellow art lovers to check out his expansive collection. Artist José Lozano, whose work is displayed in Serrato’s bathroom: “Amongst the clutter, there’s a treasure there.”

Learn more about Enrique Serrato:

Credit: Patrick Kennedy / Vimeo

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A Photographer Is Capturing New Mexico’s Chicanx Community Through Portraits

Culture

A Photographer Is Capturing New Mexico’s Chicanx Community Through Portraits

Courtesy of Frank Blazquez

Photographer Frank Blazquez is paying a loving homage to Chicanx culture in the Land of Enchantment. The photographer is showing the world what it looks like to be Chicanx in New Mexico to highlight the diversity in a shared experience.

Frank Blazquez wants to show the world what Chicanx culture looks like outside of California.

“I am an Illinois transplant, so I was fascinated, and eventually obsessed, with the differences in my ethnicity’s iconography,” Blazquez says about the inspiration behind his project “Barrios de Nuevo Mexico: Southwest Stories of Vindication.” “For example, in New Mexico, as opposed to the Midwest and East Coast, there is a strong connection to American geography. You’ll see Latinx people with New Mexico state symbols tattooed directly on their faces and skulls. But refreshing similarities such as hairstyle also struck me.”

The other reason Blazquez started to document these lives was because of the devastating and widespread impact of drug addiction.

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Sleepy with his Daughter

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Blazquez admits to once having a drug problem and eventually overcoming those struggles. Some of the people that he photographs are former drug users or others who have sought redemption.

“I started in 2016 just walking around Albuquerque’s Central Avenue in the War Zone earning my street photography badge. When I almost died a couple of times, I started to use my Instagram page more often to set up shoots and contact homies from my former days of opiate abuse,” Blazquez explains. “My friend Emilio created the random handle @and_frank13 and I kept it after he died in 2017 from drug complications; an event that made me work harder to present portraits of New Mexicans demonstrating faces of dignity, hence my project ‘Barrios de Nuevo Mexico: Southwest Stories of Vindication.'”

Photography was a passion for Blazquez that grew into something bigger than him as he learned.

Blazquez’s interest in photography and love of his culture combined to create a photo series celebrating the people in his life. Blazquez turned his lens to the people in his life to capture a beauty he saw in his own community that is often overlooked and ignored.

Blazquez is hoping to show people that Chicanx culture has spread farther than California because of an exodus.

“Homies escaping the three strikes law in California created an exodus in the ’90s that transferred new symbols from organizations, namely 18th Street, Sureños, and Norteños,” Blazquez explains about the Chicanx community in New Mexico. “As New Mexico is an expanse of serene beauty that attracts people to escape from former lives, in turn, symbols were exchanged such as black and gray tattoo and font styles with purist craft structure adhering to Southwest archetypes—fat ass cursive and serif fonts with ornate filigree stems.”

He acknowledges that California is known for its Chicanx and Latinx communities but there is so much more to teach people.

“LA fingers do not represent the millions of brown people outside of California and it certainly does not represent native-born New Mexicans,” Blazquez explains. “I learned the Latinx experience is entirely different in various locations—the California stereotype doesn’t carry itself across America. It’s enlightening to know that brown culture grows and adapts independently.”

The photographer also wants to teach people that the Latino community is vast and diverse.

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Homemade New Mexican Tattoos // #dukecity

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“That the Latin-spectrum in America is not pigeonholed to any sole category,” Blazquez says. “Knowing that the labels Mexican, Mexican-American, Chicanx (a/o), Latinx (a/o), Hispanic, Mexica (not Hispanic nor Latino), Indo-Latino, Afro-Latinx (a/o) are just several of the hundreds of labels available to classify my culture’s diaspora is important.”

“Duke City Diaries” is a mini-series on YouTube that Blazquez has produced to take you deeper into the lives of the people in his photos.

“I knew the profound faces from my 2010’s New Mexico experience would make great art and explain an important POC narrative at the same time,” Blazquez says. “Creating the short YouTube documentary series “Duke City Diaries” was also an offshoot from my portraiture and one that created distinct reception. The hateful and racist comments kept me moving forward to show a larger audience that racism still exists.”

Blazquez is currently working on a new photo series called Mexican Suburbs diving deeper into his themes of Chicanx culture and the opioid crisis.

READ: Photographer Diego Huerta Took An Update Photo Of The Most Beautiful Girl In Mexico

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End Of An Era As Lowrider Magazine Will Cease Printing After 42 Years

Culture

End Of An Era As Lowrider Magazine Will Cease Printing After 42 Years

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After 42 years, Lowrider magazine is nearing its last ride as the publication will cease printing at the end of this year. For many Chicanos living in Southern California in the 1980s, the magazine became a cultural icon when it came to content on everything from cool cars to flashy tires. Beyond just the world of cars, Lowrider gave insight on political and cultural issues that were focused on Chicano identity. In some ways, the magazine played a role in bringing lowrider and Chicano culture to the mainstream in a way that no publication had before.

That’s why when news broke on Dec. 6 that TEN Publishing, the publisher behind multiple car enthusiast magazines, would be shutting down print operations for 19 of its 22 titles next year, including Lowrider, it marked an end of an era. As of now, it’s not yet clear if the iconic magazine will continue online or even rescued by another publication. One thing is for certain though, some readers are being left behind in the dark. 

There is no denying the influence and impact that Lowrider had on not only on car culture but Chicanos as a whole. 

Lowrider got its start in 1977 after it was founded by San Jose State students David Nuñez, Larry Gonzalez, and Sonny Madrid, who initially started the magazine as a DIY zine on lowrider culture. The trio would invest money to get roughly 1,000 copies printed and begin publication. The magazine wasn’t an instant hit from the start. Sales lagged behind expectations and it took until Lowrider began placing more women models on its covers in 1979, that things began to pick up. 

“You wanted to see what was the hottest car, who was selling what, what tires were the best, and who was doing good interior. … Back then there weren’t [smart]phones so you had to get information from magazines,” Jerry Navarro, 45, a technician who works at a car shop in East L.A., told the LA Times. 

Navarro, along with countless others, grew up on the magazine and looked forward to its monthly coverage on the latest in car and Chicano culture. Its magazine covers became just as famous as its content, from famous Latinos like Cheech and Chong to rappers Snoop Dogg and Cypress Hill’s B-Real, all gracing the front. The magazine would also see expansion into music, sponsoring car shows nationally and the creation of a merchandise division. Its influence was seen in city streets across Southern California, particularly in places like East L.A., where lowriding became a cultural fixture. 

“Lowrider inspired so many youngsters who would go on and ignore the prevalent gang lifestyle of the ’90s in lieu of working on their vehicles. The magazine was much, much more than just pin-up models and cars.” Noe Adame, a correspondent for  L.A. Taco, told the news site. 

While it’s not clear if Lowrider will continue being published online, its legacy will certainly live on. 

While it’s not clear why TEN Publishing will cease publication of Lowrider, it follows a trend in recent years where magazine sales have dipped and in return have stopped printing altogether. 

“Simply put, we need to be where our audience is,” Alex Wellen, president-general manager of the MotorTrend Group, which is licensed by TEN Publishing, said in a memo“Tens of millions of fans visit MotorTrend’s digital properties every month, with the vast majority of our consumption on mobile, and 3 out of every 4 of our visitors favoring digital content over print. We remain committed to providing our fans and advertisers quality automotive storytelling and journalism across all of our content platforms.”

While Lowrider saw sales decline over the last few years, it was once one of the most popular magazines in the country. According to the LA Times, “by 2000, it was among the bestselling newsstand automotive periodicals in the country, with an average monthly circulation of about 210,000 copies.”

“At its heart, it’s been a key tool to keeping alive Chicanismo and Chicano identity,” Denise Sandoval, a lowrider expert and professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at Cal State Northridge, told the LA Times. “I’ve met so many people who are not Chicano, that because they’re part of the lowrider community, they learn about Chicano history through that magazine.” Lowrider also challenged negative, stereotypical perceptions of lowriders as tough thugs and gang members.

When news that Lowrider printing will cease, some took to social media to acknowledge the impact the magazine has had on their lives. 

If there was ever a testament to Lowrider’s impact, just look to social media where many longtime readers voiced their disappointment to the magazine’s end. Some reflected on growing up looking at cool cars while others showed off their massive issue collections. 

It is indeed an end of an era but don’t tell that to the countless aficionados who are still keeping lowrider culture and community going strong today. To put in the simplest car terms, this is just a mere pit-stop. 

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