The SoCal ‘Vicla’ Scene | The Vintagent

In the burgeoning Vicla scene in Southern California, a Chicano cultural mashup that fuses conventional Mexican-American lowrider aesthetics with all-American V-twin muscle, there may be settlement on just one level: “Vicla” is a Spanish slang phrase for “bicycle,” and it in all probability was born a century in the past someplace in South Texas. The scene itself may be very clear, and really vibrant. On a drizzly January morning in Los Angeles’ Elysian Park, greater than 200 Vicleros and Vicleras gathered to rejoice and exhibit their extremely embellished machines. Astride Harley-Davidsons baggers and cruisers, virtually completely, they roared into the shadows of Dodger Stadium to pose for pictures, hearken to reside ranchero music, eat tacos, drink beer and swap tales.

A Vicla gathering at Elysian Park in LA; Cisco along with his closely custom-made Harley-Davidson. [Charles Fleming]

A person named Cisco rides a traditional: Harley Softail, painted tip to toe in lush reds and blues that includes conventional Aztec imagery of “La Mujer Dormida,” bedecked with ape hangers, 46-inch fishtail exhaust pipes and chrome elements meticulously tooled and engraved. Close by, Cynthia Martinez reveals off “La Reina,” a customized Softail that includes deep blue imagery of an Aztec warrior princess. Throughout the road, Huge Lou, who rides with a gaggle often called Familia Viclera, has rolled up on “La Dona,” a Avenue Glide that has been meticulously hand-painted in a Dodger-blue lace sample. Just like the lowrider automobiles on which the look relies, it’s hydraulically lifted. Throughout them are plaid-shrouded males and tightly-trousered girls in darkish sun shades and skid-lid helmets, burning rubber, busting eardrums and celebrating Vicla tradition.

Viclera Cynthia Martinez together with her custom-made Harley-Davidson that includes Aztec imagery. [Charles Fleming]

The bikes are marvelously diversified in colour and theme, however they share some widespread traits. Most characteristic ape hanger handlebars and lengthy fishtail pipes. The saddles are customized, hand-tooled leather-based. The chrome elements are sometimes engraved – like, proper all the way down to the cylinder fins. The rear fender is commonly prolonged, virtually to the bottom. The paint job often options Chicano, Mexican, Aztec or Mayan motifs. A serape-style bedroll usually rides the handlebars, above the headlight. A braided rope whip dangles from a bar finish.

A viclera hangout in Elysian Park, LA. [Charles Fleming]

On the middle of at the present time, and on the middle of a number of the native vicla exercise, is Los Angeles-born Artwork Ordaz. Recognized within the vicla world as Malo, he’s the organizer of this meet-up and others prefer it, and the prime engine behind the SoCal vicla scene. He appears at first an unlikely candidate for the job. Raised in West Los Angeles, son of a building employee father and stay-at-home mom who’d come illegally from Durango, Mexico, to the U.S., he was a College Excessive College baseball star with hopes of enjoying for UCLA and prospects for the large leagues till a shoulder damage sidelined him and destroyed his future sports activities profession.

Malo (Artwork Ordaz) with certainly one of his Harley-Davidsons, that includes Martin Luther King Jr on the tank. [Tod Mesirow]

An artwork instructor who noticed promise in him submitted a few of his drawings to a Los Angeles artwork college. Ordaz was invited to attend, and excelled, and was accepted into an internship that introduced him into contact with filmmakers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Monetary hardship compelled him to withdraw from artwork college, although. The loss of a kid took him down emotionally. Being broke drove him finally, he mentioned, into dealing medication and stealing automobiles. He specialised for some time in secret compartments to automobiles that wanted to smuggle issues throughout the border from Mexico. He turned a hang-around, then a prospect, then for the subsequent ten years was a member of a one-percenter outlaw motorbike membership.

These actions in the end despatched him to jail the place, he mentioned, he had an opportunity to relaxation up, calm down and rethink. When he emerged, he started focusing totally on customized automotive and motorbike work. Then, when he discovered that his affiliation with the outlaw membership was hampering his profession as a designer and builder – a Nationwide Geographic TV present and an exhibition on the Autry Museum of the American West, he mentioned, each acquired spiked due to his membership – he left the membership and set out on his personal.

Artwork Ortiz at work in his store, with examples of his paintings, within the technique of making use of imagery to a fender. [Tod Mesirow]

Ordaz is 44 now, married and father of a 2-year-old son. He appears virtually too mellow for his gangster previous. Calm, genial and soft-spoken, closely inked, he smokes cigarettes and smiles loads. At his Inglewood store, not removed from his residence, a dozen vicla bikes are in varied phases of disrepair. One Harley awaits pin-striping, its tank poised subsequent to the air brush station. One other, getting a ground-up rebuild, has spit its guts onto the ground, barrels and clutch basket resting on the concrete.

One customized paint job depicts the late narcocorrido celebrity Chalino Sanchez, whom Ordaz identifies as “like a Mexican Tupac.” One other pays tribute to the Nineteen Seventies Mexican TV collection “Chespirito.” One other, for a Black shopper, options photographs of African-American icons Martin Luther King Jr, Malcom X, Frederick Douglass, Huey Newton and Barack Obama. The 4 unfamiliar faces on the fuel tank? “These are members of the family who have been killed by the police,” Ordaz mentioned. In a loft excessive overhead are two or three vicla bicycles, the stretched and lowered Schwinns which will have been the progenitors of the present  motorbike variations.

The method: evaluating a picture on an iPhone with hand-applied airbrush work on a motorbike fender. [Tod Mesirow]

Life in Inglewood hasn’t been straightforward. Ordaz says he’s routinely stopped by the LA County Sheriffs, who share jurisdiction with the Inglewood Police Division, although he’s lived within the space for many years. Final yr he was stopped 4 occasions in a single month. “They by no means say ‘license and registration’ down right here,” Ordaz says. “It’s simply, ‘Out of the automotive.’” Regardless of that, he says, Inglewood is residence, and it’s the place he feels comfy. “There’s folks right here who appear to be me.”

A brand new menace is gentrification. Outsiders have come to Inglewood for the central location and decrease actual property costs. Each week, Ordaz says, one other home adjustments palms. “Impulsively, the previous household is gone and there’s some white folks strolling a canine.” On that Sunday morning in Elysian Park, a dozen bikes bearing Malo’s handiwork have been scattered alongside Stadium Boulevard. Although he’d solely began organizing the occasion per week earlier than, turnout was sturdy. He was greeted with again slaps, handshakes and bro-hugs by the very blended crowd. Over right here have been {couples} arriving two-up, single females driving alone, alongside OGs on blacked-out hogs, parked subsequent to a gaggle of about 25 members of a three-patch motorbike membership.

Malo’s store has a mixture of bicycle, motorbike, and automotive customs, all finished with conventional Chicano fashion and affect. [Tod Mesirow]

Everybody appeared to be getting alongside, together with members of units who often can’t hang around collectively with out violence breaking out. “It’s wonderful,” Ordaz mentioned. “Nobody has ever finished this earlier than – bringing collectively all these folks from all these units. And everybody’s cool, they usually all determine with the vicla motion.” Ordaz mentioned it was in 2006, at a low rider present, that he noticed his first correct vicla – a Harley customized painted with low rider motifs and patterns. He constructed his personal vicla in 2008, and slowly watched the shape mature. It’s not only a matter of bikes. For Malo, the machines and the aesthetic signify a cornerstone of a real Chicano tradition that he fears is being assimilated out of existence. “I exploit the phrase ‘Chicano’ as a result of I would like it to come back again once more,” he says. “Latino. LatinX. That’s not me. Chicano is a technique to keep in mind the place we got here from, why we had a must determine ourselves. That’s going to be misplaced if we don’t proceed to cross it on.”

Malo in his store with the instruments of his commerce. [Tod Mesirow]

The vicla scene has already moved past California. There’s a nascent vicla motion in Denver, Ordaz says. Denise M. Sandoval, a professor of Chicana and Chicano research at California State College, Northridge, together with automotive historian Ken Gross, mounted a “Viva Viclas!” present in 2019 at North Carolina’s CAM Raleigh. Vicla reveals have been held final yr in New Braunfels and El Paso, Texas, It’s even worldwide. Australia has an annual Vicla Nationals, held in December. For all the present vibrancy, it’s unclear the place vicla really began. Sandoval believes the aesthetic traveled from low rider automobiles to bicycles to bikes – although when and the place, precisely, is mysterious. Ordaz has his personal theories. On the day we met at his store, he was excited to have heard about an 81-year-old man from Texas, now residing within the San Fernando Valley, who had his personal vicla as a youthful man. Once we parted, Ordaz was planning to satisfy the person and pay his respects. “That is what I’m doing now,” he mentioned. “My complete life was bringing me as much as this, to an opportunity to unite everybody. We’re all brothers.”



Charles Fleming is a Vintagent Contributor and a reporter for the Los Angeles Instances. He’s additionally writer of “Excessive Idea: Don Simpson and the Hollywood Tradition of Extra,” “My Lobotomy,” “Secret Stairs, A Strolling Information to the Historic Staircases of Los Angeles” and its sequel, “Secret Walks: A Strolling Information to the Hidden Trails of Los Angeles.” Observe him on Instagram and Fb.