Culture, Empowerment, and Luxury Collide at JBA Motors

When I was a kid, I can remember laying in my bed at night dreaming up titles to future books, coming up with story lines to movies I would one day write, imagining the covers that would one day be designed for my work. The dream was always about being that guy, writing those epics, never really about becoming that guy. The dream is always about the destination…. and when it really comes down to it, I found that I had no map or know-how whatsoever to get to that goal. In fact, I would argue very few people who aspire to make a living through their creative passions, really know how to make those dreams happen.

I never thought about the professionals listed in the deep credits. The grips. The gofers. The assistants to the assistants. I dreamed about my names above the title kind of fame. I dreamed about the achievement of the goal… not the road to get there. And in so doing, for about twenty years I couldn’t even find the right path to get headed in the right direction.

Somehow, all of that changed about two years ago. Personal tragedy propelled me to finally DO something. Throw caution to the wind, screw trying to be rich and famous, just DO something. Do something that you enjoy. Do something that makes you feel good. Do something that gives your life meaning, even though it has zero to do with the bottom line in the bank account. Put something of yourself into the world. Life is not about being there…. it is about getting there….

Even if you never do.

Jon Riggs is one of the people trying to bridge that gap for fellow artistic creators. As he and I discussed in our previous conversation, he sees it as the best way for him to give back to his People, is to use any platform he has been able to build as a launching pad for others to also grow and showcase their talents. This is what a great producer and director does. He tries to put people in positions to allow them to grow, and for their strengths to benefit the project.

Jon Riggs / Darkwhisper Productions

Visit Facebook for video interviews from the set !

One of the greatest benefits to come out of this approach is for the realization that this really is the road map that has been missing. The secret to making it in the creative arts is to first, put yourself out there, in any way that you can, and second, to put yourself in situations, scenarios, to meet people, work with people and showcase what it is that you do. These small events, build, and over time, the circles you move it get wider and more interesting. Really…. in the end, this process is more fun that the destination anyway.

At least for this writer…. I am having the time of my life!

With his experience as a producer, Jon was able to put the event at JBA Motors together. A lot of what a producer does, is try to get the best people together at the right time for the right project. It is always a risk. That is another part that is not in the rule book for the dreaming kid laying awake at night. There is this idea that once you make it, you have arrived and you are there forever. NO.

Creation is Risk. Period.

You are willing something into the world, that was not there before, and hoping others will share your rapture of it. Being able to produce these visions, is a very large task. Not only are there logistics and sanity on the line, but reputation as well. Your name and your reputation are attached to everything you do, and that reputation is the vehicle you will travel in on the roads the map leads you to.

In putting together the event at JBA Motors, Jon was able to pool the talents of three other amazingly gifted individuals.

Loren Aragon (ACONAV Fashion)


Loren is from Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico. Loren started Aconav Fashion in 2013. The name ACONAV represents the cohesion of cultures between its founders Loren (Acoma Pueblo) and Valentina (Navajo) Aragon. ACONAV is a couture fashion brand that celebrates the strength of the woman. The brand strives to evoke the empowerment of women with positive ideas that are embodied in designs that tie culture to modern style.

There are strengths we may not yet realize. They compel us to rise. ACONAV is a story of self discovery and evolution. It is a brand that is about positive change and breaking beyond self imposed limitations. ACONAV is a part of an enduring story, a people, and its culture.”

All of these pieces”, Loren was telling me as he showed me the line of dresses he had brought to the photo-shoot, “are from my Emergence Collection. They each signify in some way the emergence of my people, and of women, as they emerge into their full potential.”

Most ACONAV pieces are made from Asian Silks, but the prints and designs are reminiscent of Acoma life. The colors and cuts and fabrications of each piece have a specific part to play in the story of an Emergence of a People, the Beauty of their Matriarchal Culture, and the Rise and Empowerment of Women.

The ACONAV woman strives to be at her best at every aspect in her life. She continues to rise beyond expectations, gaining respect from those around her. She has her ambitions of breaking beyond limits. She is tied to culture and the many ideas of humility and empowerment. She believes in many good things, but most of all she believes in herself. She is a nurturing role model, a matriarch in the eyes of the future. Her story is inspiring, her presence is captivating. She will be remembered.”

The various dresses ranged from the very dark, with leather bodices and metal adornments, to monochromatic black and white geometrical patterns. All of the pieces featured a prominence of red.

The darker colors represent our origins, and the traditional myths of our emergence from underground. The white and black monochromatic pieces are layered and representative of our pottery. Specifically, this white dress with its overlapping layers is indicative of an Acoma pinch pot, pottery design. Red is vital color as it holds a deep representation of bloodline and power but also of the #WhyWeWearRed Movement trying to raise awareness to the near epidemic proportions of the near non-reported disappearance of Native American Women.”

ACONAV is a Native American owned and operated couture fashion brand based in Phoenix, Arizona. The brand’s purpose is to properly and respectfully represent a part of Native America in fashion. Loren Aragon is the 2018 PhxFW (Phoenix Fashion Week) Couture Designer of the Year.

ACONAV Contact Information

480.329.2112 / / FaceBook

Jnayia Cardoza

Jon Riggs and Loren Aragon initiated a statewide talent search, that resulted in three finalists. Relative newcomer, Jnayia Cardoza won the audition. A resident of Tucson with her young daughter, this was only Jnayia’s fourth professional modeling involvement, and the other three were all runway style fashion shows. This was her first ever job as a single model, being photographed with objects…. let alone luxury performance automobiles.



Living in southern Arizona, one can easily imagine Jnayia being exotic, but Native American does not immediately rush to mind. In fact, her look has led to a problem in getting certain jobs, as, “I don’t look Native enough. Often people think that I am Middle Eastern. In fact I am of the Oglala Lakota Sioux Tribe, from Pine Ridge, Dakota.”


In point of fact, I would argue that most of her shots in this JBA MotorSports Photo-shoot exude power. Her look is not stern, but it is not soft. It is not timid. It is not tame. Her look says, “I am assertive, and I know my worth.” It is empowering. And that look, combined with the raw beauty, modernity, and power of the cars is very provocative. When that whole chemistry is also layered in the traditional story and Native culture of the land… it is a very powerful juxtaposition indeed.

Jnayia Contact Information


Will Kee (Urban Image)

Inspired to learn to shoot photos when he was down in Syndey, Australia in 2004 when his daughter was playing with the United States Soccer Team, Will really started to pick up the art as a business about ten years later. He has now worked with National Geographic and Native Hoop Magazine.

Largely self taught, Will describes his specialty as the human subject… with its precise use of angles and light.


Will does it all, and is open to both private and commercial events.

Urban Image Contact Information


Like many of these fine artists, and many of the other local artists that I talk to, interview, and learn from…. most of us have day jobs. We work, and provide for our families, and will ourselves to have the energy to throw at our passions. This is the part that I know I did not understand as that dreaming kid, with big dreams and no idea what to do with them. It really is all about putting yourself in situations that might lead to other situations, and within circles that might collide with other circles. It is about being a grip and a gofer and being the best at the job possible all while using those opportunities to hone your craft.  It is about persistence…. more than anything.


It is about continually being ready… to leap forward when a producer like Jon Riggs calls.

This was an amazing event. It was small, it was local, and it was not surrounded by press and lights, but it showcased the talents of some of the brightest rising stars in the industry.


Keep the Greasy Side Down, My Friends.

Published by Gho5tWriter

Arizona Enthusiast. Writer. Rider. Dreamer.

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