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."
Left: Armando wears a T-shirt by adidas.