Almost two-dozen Latin airbrush maestros gathered at the 2002 Lowrider Nationals in Bakersfield, California, for the 2002 Latin Airbrush Artist’s Reunion. “Last December I got a call from [Lowrider Nationals promoter] Joseph Mendez saying he had seen the write up on our Reunion in Lowrider (February 2002) and wanted to invite us to hold our Reunion at his event,” said Reunion founder Gerald Mendez. “He said that we could have as much space as we needed at no charge. We were honored to accept his kind offer.”
Mexican-born airbrush artist Gerald Mendez, who is a 16-year veteran of the colorful art form, put on the event last year at his home in hopes of uniting Latino artists. “Since I’ve been in the airbrush industry for so long, I know most of the lowrider artists, the Hispanic artists and American artists as well,” explained Gerald, who also owns GM Art & Design Center in Chino, California. “But I would talk about certain artists to other artists and found that they didn’t know each other. They only knew about them or about their artwork and since I’m Latin, I decided to call only those artists who are from a Hispanic background for the First Reunion in 2001. This year, and from now on, the Reunion was also open to every artist, not just Latin artists,” Gerald noted.
This year’s Reunion took up half of one indoor building and was set up “gallery style” with original art work of all manner on display including an awesome collage-style mural on metal created by 13 artists, each with their own unique style blending into the next artist’s work. The artists even built the gallery walls, easels and display panels themselves. Renowned airbrush artists including Salvador Elias, “Spider,” Ben Frank, Oscar Monroy, Freddy Alfaro, “Fonzy,” Gerardo Mendez, Oskar Mendez, Gabriel Frias, Salvador Orozco, Carlos Cartagena, “Wiro,” Jose Mercado, Victor Sepulveda, Rick Nunoz, Tony Dias, Craig Fraser, Deborah Mahan, Carlos Ruiz, Javier Romo, Ruben Reyes, “Mister Cartoon,” Ignacio Otero and Abel Izaguirre (creator of Lowrider Magazine Tour logos and giveaway car concept drawings) interacted with each other and spectators throughout the day. Artists from Mexico and Argentina also had work on display even though the artists couldn’t attend personally. “It was not a competitive thing,” says Gerald. “Everyone was asking questions and sharing tips… we had a real nice time.”
Gerald says that the Bakersfield event went so well that they are already planning the 2003 Reunion, where he hopes to unite more Latin and non-Latin lowrider artists. “It was a little hard to organize the exhibit and get enough good artwork together since we didn’t have much personal work and everyone was so busy,” admits Gerald. “But it turned out to be an extraordinary Reunion.” For more information on how to attend the upcoming Latin Airbrush Artist’s Reunion, or join the group, please contact Gerald Mendez at (909) 627-8091 or check out their Web site at www.latinairbrush.com.