Gilbert “Magu” Lujan
Chicano custom lowriders
A lowrider is a style of car originated by Mexican Americans/Chicanos that has had its suspension system modified (with hydraulic suspension) so that it rides as low as possible. Lowriders often have user-controlled height adjustable suspension. Lowriders are very often classic cars from the 1950s which rode low to begin with, although large numbers of 1940s and 1960s cars are also modified, and to a lesser degree newer vehicles. A lowrider will traditionally have many factory offered accessories/options and often many aftermarket accessories added.
Los Angeles-based artist, activist, and lowrider Gilbert “Magu” Lujan restored classic cars for over 50 years. As both a fine artist and car enthusiast, Magu spent his career “proselytizing custom ranflas (lowriders) as valid, home-grown art forms.” Magu strived to reflect the complexities and cultural exchange of life in 21st century California, both actual and utopic, “to transcend it all, to melt it together. To let people know that Chicanos eat Cheerios in the morning, burritos at lunch, and in the evening, adobo. Our worlds are not as singular and limited as people think. I think too often people want to put things conveniently in too small of a box. That’s why I weave in and out of a lot worlds. Lowriding has manifested itself into culture in a very broad way, in more ways than people understand.” Magu passed away in 2011.
In 2008, Magu was a master artist in ACTA’s Apprenticeship Program with apprentice Mario Trillo. The apprenticeship emphasized working together on each of their respective vehicles—including a 1954 Chevy truck, a 1950 Chevy, and the shell of a limousine—and as well as developing lowrider-based mixed media paper-mâché sculptures (for which Magu has been celebrated). The two forms—automobile and paper-mâché car sculptures—are inseparable in their approach, and reflective of Magu’s holistic process as an artist.