Lowlow Medina: creating lowrider art in Chimayó

Arthur Angelo “Lowlow” Medina is a Chimayó artist, vintage car collector and low rider. The term, “lowrider,” coined when zoot suits were the rage, is used both for a car riding close to the ground on small tires and the people who drive them. Lowriders are alive and well in northern New Mexico. Often, they’re decorated with custom paint jobs, boast hydraulic systems (that can lower and raise the car), have small steering wheels and lots of chrome. The artist not only restores old cars, he turns them into works of art.

lowrider art

Interior Lowlow’s ’67 Grand Prix, photo/Steve Collins

Lowlow grew up fixing up cars and doing artwork. He started painting at an early age. He says it’s his passion. His family has been in Chimayó for generations; his grandfather built the Santo Niño de Atocha Chapel next to the famous Sanctuario de Chimayó. Lowlow You can see elements of traditional Spanish Colonial art, his heritage, in his work.

art in Chimayó

Lowlow’s paintings cover the walls at Lowlow’s Lowrider Art Place, photo/Steve Collins

He painted his white 1967 Pontiac Grand Prix (the second car he fixed up, when he was 17 using a spray can, paper cup, and paper plate. Those were the only supplies he could afford. The car attracted media attention and in 1982, was featured in National Geographic and New Mexico Magazine. His cars have also been on the Discovery Channel, in The New York Times, and in a Red Hot Chile Pepper video. His other 1967 Pontiac Grand Prix, this one painted black, has been used in a few movies. “I use the car as a canvas,” Lowlow joked.

lowrider art

Detail on Lowlow’s white ’67 Grand Prix, photo/Steve Collins

He’s come a long way. Today, all his car art is airbrushed. His most spectacular work, a 1976 Cadillac, Lowrider Heaven, has 45 murals painted on every possible surface. They include all the Stations of the Cross, angels, Baby Jesus, the Ten Commandments and more. The Holy Family and the Last Supper are painted on the car’s roof , and a painting of Jesus lying with his eyes closed, recalling the crucifixion is visible when you open the trunk. It took three years to complete. Currently, Lowlow is working on a 1963 ice cream truck and a 1960 Chevy Impala.

lowrider art

Lowlow’s 1976 Cadillac (with back wheels down) is the canvas for”Lowrider Heaven”, photo/Joan Medina

When not painting cars, Lowlow paints on old wood salvaged from an old building that stood next to the Santa Niño. He also works on canvas, walls and more. “Practically anything I get, I paint,” he said.

art in Chimayó

Lowlow in front of his 1967 Grand Prix, photo/Joan Medina

Lowlow and his wife, Joan (pronounced “Joann”), also an artist, run a gallery, Lowlow’s Lowrider Art Place, at the junction of Sanctuario Drive and NM 98 in Chimayó. Both their daughters also paint. If you want to visit the gallery, call (505) 901-7897 to schedule an appointment.

New Mexico art

3 Crosses detail on painted Lowlow’s lowriding Suburban, photo/Steve Collins

Lowlow’s dream is to have a museum to showcase his lowrider cars and bikes. For now – he’ll display some of his cars and bikes outside their gallery. But, he’ll get his museum; Lowlow Medina is a determined man.

A few more photos:

art in Chimayó

The exterior of ’67 Pontiac Grand Prix glitters, photo/Steve Collins

 

lowtider art

This painting of a vintage Impal  LowLow painted hangs on the gallery wall, photo/Steve Collins

 

art in Chimayó

Lowlow Medina, photo/Steve Collins

You can find Lowlow and Joan on Facebook.

Besides art in Chimayó, the village offers visitors local chile, history, weaving (a Spanish Colonial art that has been passed down through generations) and a glimpse into northern New Mexico culture. Plan a half-day trip or stop and spend some time when driving the High Road to Taos. Better yet, ask us to plan a Chimayó experience  for you.

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16 Responses to “Lowlow Medina: creating lowrider art in Chimayó”

  1. Loretta Garcia
    June 10, 2019 at 10:23 am #

    Wonderful story on Arthur LowLow Medina and the family. It makes us in the local community very proud to see their work showcased in the Santa Fe Traveler. Thank you for this great story.

    • Billie Frank
      June 10, 2019 at 10:53 am #

      Thanks for the kind words Loretta. We loved visiting with them. We were in Chimayo for the fiesta yesterday and had a great time.

  2. Jovan Johnson
    June 10, 2019 at 12:34 pm #

    Every time I get extra time to visit the beautiful Espanola valley I can’t wait to go view LowLow and Joan gallery in Chimayo,NM. Their passion to keep the heritage of low riding and art alive is what continues the heart of a dying culture. You will enjoy the intro quite detail he brings and the warm welcome that will stay with you and bring you back over and over again.

    • Billie Frank
      June 10, 2019 at 12:38 pm #

      I totally agree. Lowlow and Joan make everyone feel welcome and share their passion with visitors.

  3. George Griego
    June 10, 2019 at 3:47 pm #

    Lowlow and Joan are friends of mine, great people and awesome artists! Good to see them here and as always, I wish them well!

  4. Joan Medina
    June 13, 2019 at 9:04 am #

    Thanks …we appreciate you too…

    • Billie Frank
      June 13, 2019 at 11:03 am #

      :) Good seeing you on Sunday! Always a pleasure.

  5. Lisa @chickybus
    June 18, 2019 at 2:41 pm #

    Wow-trippy cars and very cool artwork! I could totally see a museum full of these vehicles…

    • Billie Frank
      June 19, 2019 at 8:46 am #

      They are trippy cars and Lowlow is very trippy. We’re so glad to have met him and Joan.

  6. Peter Busher
    June 19, 2019 at 2:19 am #

    I was in Chimayo a couple of months ago and purchased a painting that was a collaboration between Low Low and Fernando Bimonte,these guys are fantastic,the painting was sent to my house in Australia,really well packed, it was a pleasure to deal with such nice people!!
    Thank Arthur and Fernando

    • Billie Frank
      June 19, 2019 at 8:46 am #

      Wonderful that you got to visit Chimayo while here and take a piece of it back to Oz.

  7. Carl Blea
    December 1, 2019 at 1:10 pm #

    Amazing talent! I went to school with Joan. The love they shared back then is still present today. I can still remember Joan writing on everything she owned Joan and Lowlow forever and forever it is. You both are very blessed. Thank you for preserving one of my favorite memories growing up in Espanola driving from one Sonic to the other with all the Low Riders crusing all around you. Happy Holidays. We will be their for 5 days hope to stop by. Carl

  8. Billy Ines
    February 4, 2019 at 5:30 am #

    I met Arthur yesterday in the Parking lot at Taco Bell and had a good chat!

    • Billie Frank
      February 7, 2019 at 2:36 pm #

      Isn’t he amazing? I had to think a minute- I think of him as Lowlow.

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