Low riders and Chicano soul

Art Meza outside Antigua Coffee Roasters in Cypress Park
Art Meza outside Antigua Coffee Roasters in Cypress Park

Librarian by day, social media aficionado the rest of the time, Art Meza, who was born in Echo Park before it became a paradise for artists and hipsters, started posting pictures to Instagram, often of snazzy cars called low riders. Next thing you know, he’s being published, and having his work hung in City Hall.

“I still don’t consider myself a photographer,” he said modestly as we sat in a cafe on Figueroa Street in another gentrifying neighborhood near his workplace to talk about Lowriting: Shots, Rides and Stories from the Chicano Soul. The book is out from Broken Sword Publications and it’s a collection not just of Meza’s photographs, but of essays by the likes of Luis J. Rodriguez, Luis Alberto Urrea, Lalo Alcaraz, and Gustavo Arellano.

“A big part of lowriding is pride,” Meza explained — not just in one’s car, but in one’s history. Here’s our frank conversation about the incursion of outsiders into neighborhoods like Echo Park and Boyle Heights, that whole Eastside/Westside debate, and the switch from iPhone photography to a “real” camera.

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Meza donated this photograph of the Sixth Street bridge, which is in the new book, to City Hall
Meza donated this photograph of the Sixth Street bridge, which is in the new book, to City Hall

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