Usner

Don J. Usner: Ernie López, Chimayó, 2012

how can I tell you

baby, oh honey

you’ll never know the ride

the ride of a lowered Chevy

slithering through

the blue dotted night

along Riverside Drive Española 

  — From “Wheels” by Levi Romero

The romance and the rewards of Northern New Mexico’s lowrider lifestyle have been celebrated in two recent museum exhibitions: Lowriders, Hoppers, and Hot Rods: Car Culture of Northern New Mexico at the New Mexico History Museum, up through March 5, 2017; and Con Cariño: Artists Inspired by Lowriders, through Oct. 10 at the New Mexico Museum of Art. This curatorial focus on car aficionados who are obsessed with customizing their rides — and thereby broadcasting their cultural pride — has earned this season the moniker “Lowrider Summer” — and it’s not quite over.

At 2 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 25, the Museum of New Mexico Press hosts a book signing and author discussion for ¡Orale! Lowrider: Custom Made in New Mexico at the New Mexico History Museum (113 Lincoln Ave.). The comprehensive glossy coffee-table book, which is packed with candy-colored car photos by some of the region’s most well known documentarians (Jack Parsons, Meridel Rubenstein, Alex Harris, and Annie Sahlin among them), gives a 40-year record of lowriders in the Land of Enchantment. A lead essay by author and photographer Don J. Usner, who grew up in the lowrider-obsessed town of Chimayó and collected stories from around the state for Lowriders, Hoppers, and Hot Rods, provides perspective on the homegrown scene. NMHM photography curator Katherine Ware contributes a wide-ranging interview with Rubenstein, who initiated her own trailblazing exhibition of lowrider photography at the New Mexico Museum of Art in 1980. Embudo Valley poet and UNM assistant professor Levi Romero’s verse adds some lyrical flourishes. Along with other contributors, Usner and Ware attend the event, which is free. Call 505-476-5200.