image of a boy wearing a baseball cap and a man with a beard wearing sunglasses in a brown car on a city street with figures in background; restaurant sign in URC; painting on adobe slab

cruising, 2021

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"cruising" is based on a photo taken by esparza’s cousin in East Los Angeles, a primarily Brown neighborhood. The image depicts a man and child in a lowrider, against a backdrop of passersby and businesses. A pastime taken up by Brown youth in the 1940s and ‘50s as a way of socializing, cruising and lowrider cars quickly became symbols of Brown culture in Los Angeles as well as targets for persecution by law enforcement. The lowrider’s driver presumably stares straight ahead, eyes masked by sunglasses, while all other figures’ faces are merely flesh-toned blurs. The lone exception, the youth in the passenger seat, looks

sideways, almost furtively, a hand on the open window as if he is peeking out cautiously. With cruising esparza captures the layering of history and culture, crystallized in a single scene. Instead of asphalt, the car sits on unpainted adobe, the earthy hue mirrored in the figures, the car’s exterior, as if all are rendered directly from earth.

Details
Title
cruising
Role
Artist
Accession Number
2021.42
Curator Approved

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image of a boy wearing a baseball cap and a man with a beard wearing sunglasses in a brown car on a city street with figures in background; restaurant sign in URC; painting on adobe slab
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