Gear up: Trevor Traynor's lowrider captures cruise into the Mission


Photographer Trevor Traynor is moved by lowriders. And he says he's not the only one.

"Lowriders move people," he wrote to the Guardian in an email interview. "Literally and figuratively. When you're cruising people smile, wave, they take pictures. The cars connect people of all walks of life and the clubs enjoy it as well. It keeps people productive with a strong passion in cars."

You can tap into his love for the low on Thu/3, when Traynor's photo show "Low Life" opens at The Summit SF in the Mission.

Though the Mac-sprouting coffeeshop might seem like an odd venue for a show that celebrates the Mission's Latino car clubs, the San Francisco-based shutterbug's exhibition will be hanging just a few blocks away from where his passion for lowriders was first spawned on Cinco de Mayo in 2010. 

"As a native New Yorker, seeing 30-plus lowriders cruising low and slow, hopping on three wheels down Mission Street was something new and exciting and the energy [could] not be ignored," Traynor recalls. The sight was enough to get him in a ride. "I remember hanging out of the back of a mint 1969 yellow [author's note: he's also described it as "flan-colored"] Buick Skylark Convertible while Lexxx from the Padrinos Car Club drove nice and slow for me to steady my camera."

Traynor's body of work has tended to specialize in hip-hop culture -- he's shot everyone from Mos Def and E-40 to Lil' B and N.E.R.D. over the years. But since that Cinco, Traynor has ridden with a score of Bay Area clubs: The Inspirations (the only cars people are stoked to see when Sunday Streets hits the Mission), Padrinos, Pachuco, Aztecas, Excandalow, Frisco's Finest, Bay Riders, and Fo' Fifteen Car Club among others. The images from the show come from outside the Bay, too -- places like Santa Fe and Sacramento make appearances. On opening night, they'll be accompanied by shifting motion visuals from John Coyne, and DJs bumping lowrider anthems from the Summit sound system.  

It's clear from looking at the shots of the cars and their riders that result that he digs the aesthetic (craziest thing he's ever seen airbrushed on a ride: "A nude angel goddess holding two smoking guns riding a fire-breathing dragon above the pits of hell") but he insists that these are more than just pretty machines. 

"Lowriders hold history in the Chicano community. [The cars' purpose is] a sense of pride, passion, and respect. Car clubs are a small community, a family, a group of friends that are all car-loving aficionados." He's even seen car clubs that do youth outreach programs and toy drives. 

"Some people wake up on a sunny Sunday and go golfing, go to the park, go to the courts, go hiking. Car clubs cruise. Lowriding is a lifestyle."


"Low Life"

Through Dec. 1

Opening reception: Thu/3 7-10 p.m., free

The Summit

780 Valencia, SF

(415) 861-5330