The Date Farmers
After meeting in the desert of Coachella Valley at a local art gallery in 1998, artists Armando Lerma and Carlos Ramirez hit the Los Angeles art scene in 2001 when the New Image Art Gallery promised them a show if they called themselves the Date Farmers -- presumably because Lerma's dad owned a date farm where Ramirez worked. Their art has all the psychotropic genius, working-class vigor and native guile of a lowrider customized by a shaman. Employing a crosshatch style to their work that is reminiscent of artist Rick Griffin, both artists share a healthy admiration for the homemade cultural traditions and social politics of their Mexican-American heritage. Their work is broadly expressive of their home-as-diaspora sensibility: raucous colors, tattooed cholos, scavenged traditions and Dumpster-diving detritus, moving from Oaxacan sign painting and zocalo street life to comics and graffiti. "These folkloric elements go through the centuries from ancient indigenous peoples to current California," Lerma explains. "Using stuff that was thrown away is Mexican ingenuity. People's idea of art is that it's really expensive and [made of] nice materials, but found objects are so abundant; they're much easier and freeing for us."
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