Event Coverage: When An Opening Night Is An Opening Community. “California Locos: SoCal Originals – Masters of Style” at Eastern Projects Gallery

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Chaz Bojórquez

A crowd of media and fans- the size, eagerness and enthusiasm of which I’ve never witnessed at an art show- flocked to California Locos: SoCal Originals – Masters of Style, opening reception at Eastern Projects Gallery in Los Angeles’ Chinatown on Saturday, September 16th. This edition of the touring show is, very appropriately, an official part of 2017’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA (Latino Art in L.A.).

The exhibition was curated by Chaz and Christina Bojórquez, and expanded the family of its original California Locos line up of Chaz Bojórquez, Dave Tourjé, John Van Hamersveld, Norton Wisdom and Gary Wong, to include the likeminded artists SLICK, Shepard Fairey, RETNA, Mister Cartoon, Robert Williams and Estevan Oriol.

The Locos dedicated the Eastern Projects Gallery show to Greg Escalante, “the world class gallerist, surfer, publisher, champion of artists, and progenitor of our SoCal culture.” There was a beautiful altar set up for Greg. I’m sure he would’ve been extremely proud of what played out throughout the evening, and that he will always remain very much amongst us.

In my previous interview with the original five Locos, I was struck by the power of their collective work as being its embodiment of southern California’s unique DNA. Their diverse, freedom-loving, cutting edge visuals wind many intensely colorful histories into one strand in this region. But it didn’t strike me until last night’s opening: this is only half the reason the Locos have achieved such outstanding success.

The second half is even more important than the first. The keys to why this band of creators has earned such recognition and popularity, are not only their artistic eyes, soulful concepts, dynamic designs and unsurpassed craftsmanship. It’s not only that they speak in visual and verbal languages that bridge the gap between the art world and the general population- languages accessible whether you’re educated as an artist or not. As significant as it is, it’s not purely the fact that they’re ‘Amplifying the Voice’ of the Zeitgiest, the Spirit of our times. What makes the California Locos transcend the art world, is their very desire to come down from the status to which their admirers have elevated them. They genuinely connect with the communities from which their identities were forged.

Perhaps nowhere else in the world of art, will you see such accomplished individuals expressing as much humility and gratitude, or giving as much acknowledgement to their influences. I can’t think of anywhere else you’re as likely to observe a web of world-renowned figures taking the time- to show up, talk with the people, sign autographs, pose for photos, and give back- as you will among the Locos. They not only tap into their Muse from the lifeblood of of LA, but they know this same blood flows through us all.

The reason such a large crowd turned out (the line was over half a mile and lasted almost the entire period of the opening), and were excited to engage, is because these enthusiasts- of the many neighborhoods and backgrounds of Los Angeles- sense that they are somehow standing on equal ground amongst the Locos. They’re respected by the artists just as they look up to them. The inspiration moves both ways. “Somos/We Are.”

The California Locos are both gifted and hardworking people who, despite the acclaim they have reached, have retained and grown in their understanding of and love for humanity. Their feeling of interconnectedness. It permeates their work as well as their characters. If there’s such thing as art of the highest caliber that’s also ‘for the people,’ this is it.

This was particularly exemplified by the work of Mister Cartoon with his 1958 Impala and Dave Tourjé with his 1962 Nova, that included original artwork by all of the Locos.  These two have taken as canvases the widely beloved and customized classic and lowrider cars that southern California and L.A. are so known for. The car- even more than tattoo work and graffiti art- is something just about every single one of us has had a close personal relationship with in our everyday life. Many of us also have feelings of nostalgia around such older cars, which have been valued possessions in families for generations. Cars are functional art that we grew up next to and inside of. They have anthropomorphic characteristics and personalities. As a car lover myself, I feel these machines have souls of their own! Artwork as automobile is something that practically everyone can feel emotionally connected with.

So what really makes the California Locos Masters? It’s not as much their stylistic movement, so relevant to our present time. The way they walk their talk makes them role models as human beings- an offering on the alter of life- that’s timeless.

Additional coverage from Cartwheel Art:
Interview with the artists for California Locos: SoCal Originals – Masters of Style
Cindy Schwarzstein’s Facebook Album (View over 200 images and video from the entire evening which included the speech by the Locos, the East Wind Lion Dance Performance, VIP attendees, and of course the artwork)

Saturday September 16th – October 28th

The California Locos have dedicated their show at Eastern Projects to Greg Escalante, the world class gallerist, surfer, publisher, champion of artists, and dedicated progenitor of our SoCal culture. They have an altar in Greg’s honor, so bring your memories, photos, or just yourselves to celebrate the memory and contributions of this titan of the Artworld, whose bright and generous spirit has helped and inspired so many.

Panel Discussion:
Stay tuned for more details

Eastern Projects Gallery
900 North Broadway, Suite 1090
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Follow California Locos:

Altar for Greg Escalante

Media and crowd gathering outside Eastern Projects

(L-R)Chaz Bojórquez, SLICK, Norton Wisdom, Shepard Fairey, Robert Williams, John Van Hamersveld, Dave Tourjé, Mister Cartoon, Gary Wong

Dave Tourjé’s Hot Rod

Dave Tourjé with his Hot Rod and Mister Cartoon with his Lowrider

Dave Tourjé, Amanda and Shepard Fairey with fans and media

(L-R) Jonathan Clark, Gregory De La Haba, John Van Hamersveld, Dave Tourjé, Michael Torquato DeNicola, Herbie Fletcher

Dave Tourjé, Herbie and Debi Fletcher

Shepard Fairey


Mister Cartoon

Chaz Bojórquez

Work by Mister Cartoon

Work by Chaz Bojórquez and Shepard Fairey

Work by RETNA

Work by Shepard Fairey

Quiet Lunch Magazine’s Gregory De La Haba and Shepard Fairey

Work by Dave Tourjé and SLICK

Work by SLICK

Robert Williams

Robert and Suzanne Williams

Work by Robert Williams and Mister Cartoon

Work by Estevan Oriol and Mister Cartoon

New Dusters California Locos skateboard

John Van Hamersveld and Dusters Director and Cofounder Nano Nobrega

Work by Mister Cartoon, Estevan Oriol and Dave Tourjé

Work by Gary Wong and Chaz Bojórquez

Work by Norton Wisdom

Work by Gary Wong

Work by John Van Hamersveld

Work by Estevan Oriol

Additional photo highlights by Cindy Schwarzstein: 

(L-R)Rigo Jiminez, SLICK, Chaz Bojórquez, Shepard Fairey, Dave Tourjé, John Van Hamersveld, Gary Wong, Norton Wisdom, Hussein Katz

Dave Tourjé with his wife and granddaughter

(L-R) Gregory De La Haba, Tom Servais, John Van Hamersveld, Dave Tourjé, Michael Torquato DeNicola, Herbie Fletcher

(L-R) Chaz Bojórquez, SLICK, Norton Wisdom, Shepard Fairey, Robert Williams, John Van Hamersveld, Dave Tourjé, Mister Cartoon, Gary Wong

(L-R) Shepard and Amanda Fairey with John Van Hamersveld and Robert Williams

Ernie and Diane Wolfe with Robert and Suzanne Williams

Herbie and Debi Fletcher

Slick and Rigo Jiminez

Ash Chan from The Container Yard with Pop and her boys

Tubs and Aise Bourne

Robert Williams

East Wind Lion Dance Troupe

East Wind Lion Dance Troupe


Chaz Bojórquez

John Van Hamersveld

MEAR ONE and Candice Lee

Estevan Oriol

(L-R) MEAR ONE, Ahana Nys Dambrot,Dave Tourjé, Heidi Johnson, Kate Jammel, Gomez Bueno, Britt Salvesen, Cindy Schwarzstein

Tanner Goldbeck and Steve Grody

Work by Dave Tourjé

Norton Wisdom and Robin Fulghum

Joshua Ben Paskowitz and his artwork for the Greg Esclante altar

Wall of work by Shepard Fairey

Gary Wong

Tibby Rothman and Marsea Goldberg

Dan Levy with Juice Magazine pointing to his mane on the Locos Nova

Chaz and Christina Bojórquez

Gary Wong

Dusters Skateboards

Work of Mister Cartoon

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