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        Art works—Murals and Low riders


"…Local cultures, as a reference and as a creation, becomes even more significant as national and global popular cultures create new power configurations, new alliances, and new identities," (American Ethnologist, American Anthropological Association, Heart Like a Car, Brenda Bright, 1998, p. 583). This single sentence wraps up the importance of global influences on the rapidly changing culture of continents such as art forms in North American that include ‘Murals’ and ‘Low Riders’ in South Phoenix.

Bright argues that the "intermingling" of local popular traditions and the mass culture of the globe are not so different from each other. When one learns about the rich history behind Low Riders, it becomes a fascinating subject that leaves one wondering about the social constraints on the Chicano heritage by Anglos. It’s interesting to view the position that although all Low Rider participants are united under one banner; however, this particular niche in society still view differences among themselves. For example, as Bright points out in the American Ethnologist, "Houston lowriders differ from Lost Angeles lowriders…Los Angeles low riders consider themselves years ahead of all other lowriders…and how to [distinguish] Chimayosos—New Mexicans of Hispano descent—from other New Mexican lowriders."

In her South Phoenix, while groups drive around and stop to speak to individual residents at lunch time to enrich their understanding of Latino culture and the value of graffiti and Murals on many of the walls, students were surprised at the difference in opinion. Much of the graffiti on the walls of South Phoenix are not drawn to be angry; instead, serve as territorial boundaries by different Latino groups. Furthermore, the graffiti is a form of art that lets the rest of the world know the importance and impact that these particular groups have on their communities. "Few walls are left untouched…with graffiti, store signs and murals, wall space becomes a cultural _expression of many forms…all this _expression creates a new reality of visual stimulation, as well as filling in the urban environment," (Urban Latino Cultures, Sage Publicatinos, The Latino Use of Urban Space in East Los Angeles, James Rojos.)

Murals are a much different form of art. Unlike graffiti, which for the most part requires no planning ahead of time; murals requires work and dedication. As Rojos mentions in his paper, murals remain strong proponents of political, religious and often, ‘whimsical’ advertisements, all with different values and morals. In South Phoenix, there was some sort of Mural art on almost every block, this can be explained by the theory that the small shop owners are pulling in customers by their increasing curiosity about the message of specific murals. "Murals make marginal urban spaces tolerable and can be appreciated from both the car and by foot…most are painted on the large expansive walls on the sides of buildings," Rojos explains. He further argues that by having murals, the other "unpopular" use of art-form, graffiti, will be lessened. "[Murals’] presence creates a spontaneous, dynamic, and animated urban landscape that is unlike any other."


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