One Man's Vision
Welcome to Orlando’s world, is it real? Well yes! Only slightly more so than real life. This incredible Lowrider creation he entitles “Game Over” is the culmination of so many disciplines, the most prevalent of which I would consider perseverance.
Orlando Ceballos the designer, builder and owner of this superb Lowrider car explained that she is indeed a labor of love. He is often asked by admirers of the car, when displaying in car shows around the country, “How long did it take to build” and “How many hours?” The short version is that Orlando and his two friends, Nick Tapia and Jose Rodriguez (pictured sitting behind the car) worked together at his shop five or six days a week, starting after closing hours at 5:30 till around 11:00 every night for over five years. How long did it take, how many hours? – Incalculable. Now, after all that effort, this 1980 Cadillac Coupe de Ville has been awarded Lowrider car of the year at the Lowrider Las Vegas Super show 2007.
Using lowrider magazines from various publishers as a source for research material it is surprisingly difficult to actually track down the owners of these unusual cars. An article in a publication might list a specific trim shop or chrome platter, maybe the paint or hydraulic shop that did the car featured in this months centerfold. Thinking that I could backtrack from the shop in order to find a car owner for the purposes of creating one of my shots proved impossible. It turns out that all of the info provided in those articles is purposely skewed. I later found out after inquiring about this oddity in publishing, that for security reasons there is little factual info about where the car in question actually resides. Not until I went to the lowrider car show did I finally find this spectacular car, and meet Orlando.
As a kid growing up in Los Angeles I remember lowrider cars from the early 70’s that were classically Chevy Impalas, owned by Hispanics and lavishly painted. Often embracing a religious theme with lots of slick airbrushed visions of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, in addition opulent chrome, I remember these cars as the epitome of the lowrider scene. Imagine my surprise when viewing the current state of lowrider esthetics embodied by Orlando’s inspiring mobile creation. Not being a car guy myself, I can still so very much appreciate the tremendous energy, creativity, patience, engineering, and even managerial talent poured into “End Game.” Unlike the cars of a generation ago, this is truly a wonder of engineering and vision, pure art in it’s own right. By the inclusion of multiple hydraulic systems to “transform” the cars various moving parts into odd and distended angles, when fully articulated, it is almost unrecognizable from its humble beginnings as a simple car. This is more akin to my recollection of those kid’s toys that morph from one object into another- transformers.
The concept for the photo was to place “Game Over” on the front yard of what looks like a regular East Los Angeles house from the early 70’s. Borrowing this beautifully restored and maintained classic California Bungalow house from Samra (a total stranger in Riverside, CA.), we set about recreating what could be a typical scene from 35 years earlier, a few guys hanging around the front yard on a warm summer’s evening working on their car, the pretty girl posing along side, nothing unusual about that! I was hoping to mix the sublime and the mundane. Because of the cars very unusual abilities, I wanted to distort and contort the body and appendages to such a degree that familiarity would not be a given. Even the overall lighting used was designed to confuse for that first split second of what would normally be recognition while looking at the photo for the first time. The two photographic hints that help the viewer understand what’s happening are the wheels, a strong clue that this is indeed a car, also very subtle but vitally important I think is the inclusion of a shadow below the split doors. That helps viewers mentally put together this visual puzzle in their heads. The scene will be vastly more comprehendible for Americans to grasp in a split second I think, because of our history and culture with Lowriders and cars.
The pin up girl posing next to the car was really a nod to that type of styling always seen in Lowrider car photos in magazines. The last little detail (you know I often include a small trick built into the photo for fun) involves the owner, seen on the right side of the photo. Orlando is helping clean the car holding a watering hose, notice that hose is a bit “erect,” is it the effects of the car or the girl?