Life doesn’t really begin when you are born, but rather when you master a craft or a number of them.
In the case of Angeleno Gilberto “Tite” Rojas, he has mastered many.
It all started in his birthplace of Mexicali, MX. As a young kid in one of the hottest places in North America, he recalls working at Yonkeria California (California Junk Yard) in Mexicali. Some days temperatures reached 120 F and all he had was his will. It is there he crafted hard work. At 16 he and his parents moved to Los Angeles. They soon settled in Wilmington, CA where he attended the nearby Banning High School extension program to learn English.
“I needed armor and a shield and English got me this, in Califas if you don’t know how to do anything, te traga todo (It’ll swallow you whole),” Tite said.
“Tite” learned mechanic work, auto body work, carpentry, food service, gardening, art, even kept a diary for some years. He simply has infused himself in work. In the late 80’s he got a big break and was hired by Jack Brogan, a legendary conceptualist artist in L.A. which creates a lot of art that is displayed at Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art (LACMA).
“Jack was a firme vato (good man), he taught me a lot of what I know today, and I will always appreciate the 15 yrs he gave me. It was a craft that I looked forward to daily, we did it all.”
In the early 2000’s “Tite” was diagnosed with diabetes, got very ill and was forced to quit.
“I was a springboard when I was young, and a lot of bad habits got me sick.” He says.
He owns this 1950 Chevy Deluxe, he’s been restoring it one feeling at a time; any bomba owner will tell you this. “This ranfla forms part of my family.” Today he receives a lot of work through word of mouth, mostly auto body work which he does from his small garage in Wilmington. “I love Wilmas, this is were it all started for me.” After his mom passed, he said the only thing left is to keep the faith.”My next hope is to get my bombita (his classic car) going so I can cruise my calles again. I’m a pachuco for life and hopefully I still have some good balas (good years) left in me.”
Los Angeles stories through an alternative lens.
Angeleno Heart was started with the thought of capturing pictures and telling a story.
“Los Angeles has so many untold stories. I set out to hunt and capture them one at a time. I was born and raised in L.A, and it’s a city that in my eyes will be better understood; once you read these little packaged stories that make up this great city. I hope you enjoy them.”
– Henry Lara, Founder/ Writer of Angeleno Heart