San Diego

New Mural Inks Lowriding's Place in Chicano Park Culture

The mural recognizes the Amigo Car Club and its founding members and celebrates the place of the lowrider lifestyle in Chicano history

A freshly painted mural in Barrio Logan’s historic Chicano Park celebrates the spirit and lifestyle of lowriding while paying homage to the founders of a car club deeply rooted in San Diego's Chicano culture.

Slick, leaning, and low to the ground, lowriders burst onto the scene in southwestern San Diego County with the help of the Amigos Car Club, founded in 1977.

The mural takes a flat, blocky pillar supporting an Interstate 5 overpass above and turns it into a festive canvas tying together the famed car club, its legendary founders, and of course, their old school rides.

You can find the Amigos mural just north of the southbound I-5 on-ramp from Logan Avenue. It depicts a cruising scene from Playas de Tijuana, Mexico north through Chula Vista, then on to Highland Avenue in National City -- the mecca of lowriding in the 1970s, according to an Amigos co-founder -- to the club’s united front at Chicano Park.

The lowriders featured in the scene are illustrations of the cars the club’s founding members used to bend corners in decades ago. Several local landmarks were also worked into the cruising scene by artist Salvador Barajas, like the Barrio Logan sign, Coronado Bridge, and Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, as well as monuments found inside the park like the Emiliano Zapata statue and the Kiosko.

Above the cruising scene reads “Amigos” in bright, bold lettering flanked by portraits of the club’s founding members: Raul “Indio Guerrero, Gaspar “Grandpa” Martinez, Tiburcio “Toby” Martinez, and Rigoberto “Rigo” Reyes.

“Chicano Park now is a national landmark, and for us as a car club to be part of that recognition of the history is very important,” Reyes said.

Reyes said the mural represents more than just a car club, but a way of life and a culture he hopes will never die.

“It’s very important to share our story, to share our history, and lowriding, in this particular case the Amigos, happens to be part of that history,” he said. “We hope that sharing our culture, sharing our history, sharing our traditions, our youth will pick up on that and continue with this legacy.”

Reyes said the reception of the car club from outsiders hasn’t always been positive, but said he and other Amigos members have been doing all they can to support their local community despite the misconceptions.

The U.S. Secretary of the Interior designated Chicano Park a National Historic Landmark in January 2017. At that time, it was one of 24 newly-designated sites chosen by the Interior for showcasing America's rich, complex history.

San Diegans know Chicano Park for its vast collection of colorful murals dedicated to the cultural heritage of the predominantly Mexican-American community that makes up Barrio Logan. Much of the artwork represents the struggle of the Chicano movement.

On April 20, 1970, San Diego residents occupied Chicano Park in a successful effort to prevent the construction of a California Highway Patrol substation on the land where the City of San Diego had promised to build a park for the community.

Fast forward to now, Congressman Juan Vargas is pushing a bill that may one day designate Chicano Park as a national monument that’s part of the National Park System.

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