[photo credit: David Martínez]
Luis Tapia’s Altar (1992) epitomizes the Chicano/mestizo/Hispanic experience in the so-called New World, as seen from the vantage point of New Mexican lowrider culture. Created during the quincentennial celebration of Columbus’s ill-fated “discovery” of America, which was replete with the genocidal conquest of Indigenous homelands and the intermarriage of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, Tapia’s altar pays homage to cruising, desert landscapes, and the protection of the saints. Ultimately, it evokes a festive yet dolorous world, in which the settling of the western [sic?] hemisphere has given way to an eternal drive down a desolate highway, on the wrong side of the road, still miles away from the nearest town.