With a published book and several art exhibits to his credit, photographer and Los Angeles Public Library staffer Art Meza has a legitimate claim to being considered one of the City's artists of the moment. “Lowriting,” a book featuring his photography, is now a part of LAPL's collection, and his work and personal story has resonated with the public and media. Astonishingly, he has yet to take a formal art or photography class.
Meza was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Echo Park and Boyle Heights. His photographs mostly document the Eastside aesthetic he was exposed to as a youth. Whether it is the painstakingly refurbished interior of a 1955 Chevy or a giant graffiti mural in San Diego's Chicano Park, his images celebrate the pride and craftsmanship behind his subjects.
Before making waves in the art world, Meza was generating digital waves. He joined Twitter a few years ago using the handle @Chicano_Soul. He developed a robust following and was asked to use his online skills to manage the social media accounts of the Cypress Park Branch Library, where he works as a Clerk Typist. Many of his @Chicano_Soul followers migrated to the branch's Twitter and Facebook accounts, helping the branch build one of LAPL's larger social media communities.
It was around this time Meza joined Instagram (again as @Chicano_Soul) and started posting his own pictures of lowriders he had seen in different car shows.
His shimmering depictions of the vintage autos caught the eye of author, editor and indie publisher Santino Rivera. "Santino approached me with (the book idea)," said Meza. "He wanted to do a book where it would be a combination of my photography and people's short stories, essays and poetry about lowrider culture."
In February, Mi Vida Boutique in Highland Park hosted a book signing party for “Lowriting.” Award-winning author Luis Rodriguez was among the contributors who read their work to a packed crowd.
Meza, a father of two, was asked about whether the future included another book. "I have a few ideas but nothing for sure yet."
At the rate things are going for him, it will probably not be too long before LAPL proudly adds another book of @Chicano_Soul's photography to its collection.
To check out his Instagram, visit: http://instagram.com/chicano_soul
We share this KCRW interview with Art Meza: