ART AS A SENSE OF PRIDE AND FAMILY
Finally Rich Magazine brings you an exclusive interview with one of the greatest exponents and representatives of Chicano culture: Donovan Ontiveros, founder along with his brother, of Donovan Ontiveros, a shop that brought culture to Barcelona as if it were a temple. D&D LowriderDonovan Ontiveros, a shop that brought the culture to the city of Barcelona as if it were a temple, the shop reached such a boom that he was interviewed by the prestigious magazine Lowrider Magazine . From Mexico to Barcelona. Tattoos, Lowriders, art, family... if you like these elements or feel identified with them, you're in the right place. Art is a fundamental part of many cultures, but in this one you will see it like never before.
The word Chicano is a term which refers to an American of Mexican descent, it became a very popular and well-known term as there are a large number of Mexicans in the United States. In the early 1990s in the music scene, specifically in hip hop, albums were released that represented this lifestyle, such as Hispanic Causing Panic or East Side Story by Kid Frost. Many rappers permeated this culture throughout the United States and Europe, such as Delinquent Habits and Cypress Hill.
The art has been marked by the union of family, desires and concerns, from tattoos to graffiti or chrome cars with a lot of meaning...we leave you with the interview!
If you are interested in knowing more about this philosophy of life you can take a look at the Netflix documentary, L.A originals where Estevan Oriol and Mr.Cartoon, promoters of the movement, tell you everything in detail. We, for the moment, do it with him, our interviewee.
Thank you very much for granting us this interview. First of all, we would like you to introduce yourself.
Me and Dylan, my brother, came to Spain from Mexico, my homeland, when we were 11 years old. Later, in 1992, we returned to our country, passing through cities like San Francisco. From there we began to love Chicano culture. When we returned to Barcelona we always moved around on lowrider bikes. Those were the years when I went to Los Angeles a lot and all my friends were doing things, so together with my brother, we set up the DyD Lowrider shop in 2004, in the Sagrada Familia neighbourhood, where people we knew came.
I remember we even sold a Lowrider bike to Samuel Etoo; we were very well known in Barcelona and in Spain. I've been managing artists like Psycho Realm and KRS-ONE for a long time now.
"There has always been Chicano culture, Mr.Cartoon and Estevan Oriol brought it to the forefront".
How did you and D&D come up with the idea of introducing Chicano culture in Barcelona?
Lowrider culture is not only about gangs and stuff, family, art, exhibitions with families.
It all started when I called my cousin and he took me to a Lowrider shop in San Diego. There I started to see the concept and came up with the idea. We started with Lowriders bikes, but we wanted something that went beyond that and embraced the whole Chicano culture. We had a clothing shop merged with a tattoo parlour. We sold Jefe clothing, Lowrider Clothing or Joker, Estevan Oriol's brand, Pendelton or Nike cortez when they were promoted by Cartoon, sneakers that were originally worn by gangsters.
In the music scene, we brought Cypress Hill, Dj Muggs... and we did concerts with people like Mr. Capone, but in Spain a lot of people didn't know who they were because there wasn't so much music culture.
How important are the Lowriders to Chicano culture?
The Lowriders were practically taken from the scrapyard and the whole family modified them in the workshop on Sundays. They represent unity and family, they are synonymous with pride and effort. Many Mexicans who went to work for the Navy started to put in hydraulics; the fashion was the low line. Later, competitions were organised where the whole family went, the cars started to be painted, something that is very important; they were named after girls (Aztecs because of their descent) because the Lowrider is like a bride, and they were very revolutionary.
We know that Chicano life is immersed in art. How important are tattoos?
In the world of tattooing, the prisoners took the checkers and burnt them, put a plastic bag over them, and the smoke that was released remained impregnated in it; then they poured water on it and mixed it, making the range less or more intense. Tattoos are usually of codes, of neighbourhoods. For example, the kiss is a code of a requited love, of your girl or your mother.
Do you think a Barcelona with Lowriders' lifestyle and Chicano art is possible?
If only! It could be because Barcelona, for me, is like the California of the United States. In Barcelona there is a lot of culture and many young people are interested in it. The city has changed. When we came here we didn't connect with the people, but after the opening of the shop people started coming from everywhere: Germany, Ecuador, Argentina, France, Italy, Mexico... from all races and ideologies... but always the respect and love for culture flooded our shop. People from Spain also came, especially from Madrid and Barcelona. In neighbourhoods like Horta; there was a very good vibe.
In France or Germany there is a Lowrider culture, here in Spain, for example, you can't go with a car with hydraulics, it's more the cholito, the gangster. I hope that, although being underground, with the L.A originals documentary, people will be more interested in the culture.
How far has Chicano culture come?
The Japanese are crazy about the culture because we are very much about codes, ethics and discipline. In Brazil there is also a lot of Lowrider culture; in the United States, where the culture was born, there is Brown Pride, a Mexican pride movement that emerged strongly after the repression suffered for many years and which is still going strong.
And in your case, how did you do it?
In my case, thanks to the shop, I was able to bring Chicano culture closer to Europe because there was practically no one here. I met people from France and Italy who liked it but couldn't find the right place for it. I connected with Estevan Oriol and tattoo artists like Franco Vescovi , who we brought from Los Angeles with the tattoo studio we had. I also met Travis Barker, the drummer of Blink 182 for the first time.
What is your next project?
After the shop business, we now have an agency that is a platform for Chicano culture, through which we set up the Lowrider tours, workshops, customise logos, clothing, etc. The new project is Gold and Chrome. Everything in life is an apprenticeship. In the nightlife world I had some negative experiences, but you learn from your mistakes, and always more from the bad than the good.
It is clear that Chicano culture is more than a fad; it is people who represent family unity and respect through art. Music groups, artists, actors and entrepreneurs have shown the world their culture and the traditions that come with being Chicano. From Finally Rich we wish that Chicano culture continues to triumph and inspire many people, as it continues to do in corners of the globe.