Saturday, August 7, 2010

My interview with Alvaro “Puro” Cervantes "Ontario Lowriders"

The only time I saw lowriders bouncing up and down the streets was in hip hop videos and movies from L.A..
I was fascinated with what these cars were doing and I really admired their appearance. This was not just some passing fad, this is A culture and has a deep devoted following.
The interiors of the car, the art work, the customization makes these cars truly unique mobile pieces of art.
While doing A apprenticeship in a screen printing shop I met A artist named Vince Sunico. He spoke very highly of this guy named Alvaro and sent me his links. Besides his stunning art he also wanted to expose that... Ontario has a LOWRIDER CULTURE!

Let us begin!

Keef -I was told about you by a mutual friend Vince, he gave me links to your websites. I love your work, everything I have seen is incredible. Why don't you you tell us what your ART is all about?

Puro-My art is about my culture, what do I mean by that...It's about my love for rolling works of art primarily. I came to Toronto Canada back in the 70's. I was born in Guatemala in the 60's. I grew up in Regent Park and survived it. We were poor and could not afford lots of things like Puma sneakers, I ended up getting the copies... We also had to ride public transit for most of my life (hated it). Even at that young age I dreamt about having /owning some cool custom car. One memory I still have to this day was of my Father having a four door K-Car, he decided to paint all the panels of the car a different color. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I’m sure the people around us didn’t….That I believe was the seed that was planted in my mind about custom cars. My Father without really pushing stuff on us had created something DIFFERENT! He gave us the tools to be/think DIFFERENT and INDIVIDUALS. I believe part of being Hispanic/Latin whatever you want to call it is the creativity is always in our blood and that is why you will never see us without a job ja,ja,ja. By high school I still did not have a car and remembered this one Greek dude named Ted ( the only kid in high school with big bad ass sideburns) cruising to school in a 340 Demon. It was orange with the black stripe at the back and a sick engine to kick!!. BTW he did get all the chicks! I was like HOW THE FUCK DOES A KID IN HIGH SCHOOL AFFORD THIS?? Later I found out his father owed a Greek restaurant! So what is my art about? Lowriders,cars,Lowriders!

Keef- I read that you designed something, and they were limited editions and Jay leno got one, what is that all about?

Puro- I got a chance to work on a CARTOON sculpture prototype version of the 08 Challenger. I later found out one of the original casted copies was given to Jay Leno. It was painted to look like the one he went to pick up in Detroit. It was also numbered liked the one he got. The only thing is you don’t see my name anywhere on it. That’s what happens when you do work for other people. Did I mention I sculpt?

Keef -That is extremely impressive, I have seen some of your sculptures and the one that stands out the most is one of my favorite actors, the bad ass himself Danny Trejo! How did you get into sculpting, and why Danny Trejo?

Puro – I got the sculpting bug when I first saw my good friend Peter Emslie’s Brer Rabbit (Long time Disney artist and teacher at Sheridan Tech) I was chillin at his house and going through all his archives of Disney memorabilia and then he showed me a glass cabinet where he house a few secret sculpts he had done and been working on. He is a very humble guy so when I explain how cool his sculpts were he just shrugged it off and said, “ they are ok”.

Fast forward many years later probably over 100 sculpts later I wanted to do something different from all other Disney artists and also wanted to tie in the whole Latin heritage thing. So I chose Danny Trejo as my first victim. I figured he would be a great portrait to start with. He was ugly in a cool macho man way, he has very distinct features, scars, cuts etc and felt he would make an excellent sculpt. It’s the only portrait I have done to this date and still feel is my best work. It also challenged me like no other sculpt like I have ever done. I’m pretty proud of it actually. All done in Hard Toy wax and a waxer pen. I get emails all the time about the piece, asking me to sell it or make copies of it but I will not dupe it until a get an official thumbs up from the man himself.

As far as other sculpts, I’ve done many prototypes for Disney. All in the consumer product area. Anything from 3-d sculpted figures for bottles, Bubble wand toys, sculpts for electronic talking coin Banks, Toothbrush holders etc. I worked for Disney Consumers company for 10 years. Started out as a junior character artist, head character artist, Head sculptor and finished as an Art Director.

Keef- Who are your influences, and what really inspired you to do what you do so well?

Puro- I would have to say Danny D, from Lifestyle CC in L.A. the first. Mario De Alba of Mario’s Autoworks from L.A. I went to the Las Vegas Super Show two years ago to see these works of art in person and I was so humbled beyond words! I came back with so many ideas and knew what I have to do up here.

Keef- Tell us about your website, what it is all about.

Puru- My web site is all about LOWRIDERS. It’s about the Lowrider Culture and lifestyle. I use the word CULTURE & LIFESTYE quite a bit because I live it day in day out. I go to sleep thinking about what I’m going to do tomorrow to further my skillz and to raise the quality of Toronto Lowriders. My site covers shows, BBQ’s and anything to do with the Lowrider lifestyle. I document things that we live through while building our dream cars on an everyday level. I also have a clothing/t-shirt line called LOWRIDER SUPREME. Its been out about 3 years now and sold all over the world. It’s been featured in a couple of Mags and is worn by some of the most famous Low riders out today. I also got to work with one of my Idols ( Danny D). He wanted me to sculpt a prototype of his mascot. I’ve done most of the Logos that you see on the Lowrider scene here in Toronto. People like CCF CUSTOM Fabrications logo, ALL THAT AUTOCUSTOMS logo, SWITCHES & THANGS hydraulics logo, and helped design the OTHERSIDE CLOTHING label Logo together with my good friend DREEGZ, JAE BUENO’S logo (from L.A. and Lowrider Magazines top photographer) re-designed GT AUTOWORKS logo (shop where I work) D-TWIST metalwork’s logo, SCRAPE BY THE LAKE tee, DODGE TRUCK ONTARIO CHAPTER logo and many others. So my influence on the Toronto Lowrider scene is big.

Keef- I had no idea Ontario even had a lowrider culture. I only saw this kind of thing in hip hop videos, movies, car shows from the states. I am extremely excited that it is here, but is it true that it is illigal to have those hydraulics in your car? I didn't want to sound off, but is the term "Hittin switches?"

Puro- Yes Toronto has a lowrider culture and its here to stay!! The pioneers in Toronto which I give all the credit to are people like CLYDE GIRDHARRY (the first 1963 Impala lowrider on the streets of Toronto, cruising up and down Yonge Street back in 94), JEFF HAGAN from St Catherines with his 63 Impala Green Monster which happens to be the same car CLYDE had. Other clubs in Toronto include, Affiliated CC, Luxuriuos CC, Ryders 4 Life CC, Strictly Wires CC, Rollerz Only CC, True Playaz CC which I’m a part of and the Oldest lowrider car club and as of this year Majestics CC, Toronto chapter. So lowrider clubs are growing in Toronto but with higher standards, Full chrome undercarriages, Kandy paint jobs, Patterned cars, full custom interiors and fully chromed engine compartments. We also got some nice hoppers!

No it is not illegal to have Hydraulics because there is no such law in existence. What is illegal is stunt driving which is the kind of ticket given to a person HITTIN’ SWITCHES on the street while driving. Sometimes the officer will even impound the car just to mess with you even more. The term hitting switches is just like it sounds. You manipulate a switch underneath your console that activates the MOTOR in your hydraulic pump which in turn pushes oil to a hydraulic ram via a hose. This LIFTS the car UP at will. Its pretty cool actually.

Keef- So I am planning on going to my 1st lowrider event in September. So what is going on with this event?

Puro -September is our Annual BBQ. We call it the Fall Classic! It is when True Playaz CC puts on a Free BBQ for our friends and family to say thanks for putting up with all our craziness!! Its just a good vibe and all the local Lowrider clubs come out and support. We usually have a hop-off near the end of the day.

Keef- Ok, I am going to mention a few things, and you write the 1st thing that comes to your mind.

Keef-Lower rider bikes?

Puro-Underrated but in my opinion very cool pieces of work

Keef-My favorite thing in Ontario is?

Puro- Lowriders

Keef-My ultimate pimped out ride would be?

Puro -1959 Impala ragtop, kandy paint, patterns, full chrome undercarriage, beautiful interior and a chromed out engine bay. Two pump, 6 batteries show car and cruiser.

Keef-Art is the key to...


Keef -My work makes the people say...

Puro-Holy shit did you see that?????

Keef- Thanks for all your time, would you like to give some shout outs?!

Puro-First and foremost I want to thank Diosito for letting me do what I do. My wife Pamela, the kids Erika, Andrea and my protoge Alex a.k.a. Lil Puro. My True Playaz CC Familia for all their support and all the fun and jokes we share (Specially Clyde! and Tony G!)

Thank you Puro for your time, now a lot more people in this province know that we have a very serious Lowrider Culture going on. I for one is very excited about all of this, I will see you in September!

Here are some links to follow people!



I put together a little clip here with a bunch of photos of Puro's work


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