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Artbound

Pop-Life: Why Melrose Avenue is a Mecca for Graffiti Writers

Nachos soaked in thick, salty cheese, primed for the late night, were ready to be grabbed. Steam escaped from the taco trucks that lined the block, enclosing the action like a barricade. Clouds of Nag Champa incense serenely bowed to the bitter scent of Krylon spray paint, crawling from the electric mural until it enveloped spectators in a foggy haze. As the pristine, laced-up sneakers glided along the concrete canvas, a photographer perched nearby to capture photos. The artist smiled, motioning to the ground. The photographer quietly grinned, acknowledging the code. Pictures taken of a muralist should be captured from the jeans down. Exposing the identity of a street artist in the media could have fatal consequences, particularly if they're a member of the covert graffiti crews that infiltrate the underground. Street crews are responsible for some of the un-commissioned and therefore illegal murals on Melrose in Los Angeles. While these artists were commissioned for the night, some of the same people art bomb un-commissioned spaces. Spectators huddled in corners to watch the live art unfold at the FAME Festival.

Peppered with jewelers, crafters and emerging artists showcasing and selling their work, the monthly FAME Fest pop-up event occupies two spaces. Artists whose pieces sell for an upwards of $5000 are given space inside of the spiritually themed Ethos Gallery on the strip. Painters and crafters with work starting at $100 set-up shop in the adjacent parking lot facing Fairfax High School. Fairfax is home to the district's only public visual arts magnet program. The venue is also situated near the legendary Canter's Deli, one of oldest 24/7 restaurants and Hollywood hangout in California. Part of "Melrose Nights," a periodic retail event, FAME Fest creator Eddie Donaldson says that the temporary arts festival plays a viable role in the area's social revitalization. While historical L.A. landmarks remain the same, the surrounding culture that showcases, sells and processes art is rapidly changing. "They're all emerging artists, so the energy is high and the stakes even higher, because most of the people here are putting everything they have into what they do. They paint live while they're here. They create art on the spot. It's more of a for yourself and by yourself situation, versus an edited show by a gallery owner that picks what they want to see the best. The public gets to take it raw -- directly from the artist," he explains.

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The sign outside the Watts Towers Art Center | Still from "The Watts Towers Arts Center" ab s11 episode image
Episode
Artbound

The Watts Towers Arts Center

The Watts Towers Arts Center was born out of the resilience of 1960s Black L.A.
Participants play a tug of war during the Watts Cookbook © event initiated by ToroLab 2019 | Panic Studio LA, Courtesy of City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs, CURRENT:LA Food© ab s11 episode image
Episode
Artbound

S11 E3: CURRENT:LA FOOD

Artists created works to spark conversation about L.A. and sustainable futures.
Mekala Session playing drums with a purple background | Samantha Lee "The New West Coast Sound: An L.A. Jazz Legacy" ab s11 episode image
Episode
Artbound

S11 E2: The New West Coast Sound - An L.A. Jazz Legacy

Drummer Mekala Session and other artists carry forward Los Angeles’ rich jazz legacy.
A large-scale Light and Space artwork from Robert Irwin called "untitled (dawn to dusk.)" | Still from Artbound "Light & Space" ab s11
Episode
Artbound

S11 E1: Light & Space

Robert Irwin, Larry Bell and Helen Pashgian explore perception, material and experience.
Jeffrey Deitch at his desk | Still from "Artbound" Jeffrey Deitch's Los Angeles
Episode
54:08
Artbound

S10 E5: Jeffrey Deitch's Los Angeles

A behind-the-scenes look at the contemporary art world through the eyes of a legendary art dealer and curator, Jeffrey Deitch.
How Sweet the Sound gospel music primary Gospel ABs10
Episode
52:51
Artbound

S10 E4: How Sweet The Sound - Gospel In Los Angeles

Gospel music would not be what it is today if not for the impact left by Los Angeles in the late 60’s and early 70’s, a time defined by political movements across the country.
Woman in calavera face paint during Día de los Muertos | Photo from "Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead" ABs10
Episode
56:18
Artbound

S10 E3: Dia de Los Muertos / Day of the Dead

Inspired by Oaxacan traditions, Dia de Los Muertos was brought to L.A. in the '70s as a way to enrich and reclaim Chicano identity. It has since grown in proportions and is celebrated around the world.
Heathware being stamped | Still from "Heath Ceramics: The Making of a California Classic" ABs10
Episode
54:58
Artbound

S10 E2: Heath Ceramics - The Making of a California Classic

"Artbound" looks at the dinnerware of Heath Ceramics and a design that has stood the test of time since the company began in the late 1940’s.
Ruth Asawa with wire sculpture | Still from "Artbound" Masters of Modern Art
Episode
56:05
Artbound

S10 E1: Masters of Modern Design - The Art of the Japanese American Experience

From the typeface of “The Godfather” book cover to the Noguchi table, the influence of Japanese American artists and designers in postwar American art and design is unparalleled. Learn how the World War II incarceration affected their lives and creations.
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Episode
56:06
Artbound

Masters of Modern Design

Japanese American influence in postwar American art and design is unparalleled.
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