Doug Aitken, SONG 1, 2012/2015. Installation view of "Doug Aitken: Electric Earth" at MOCA Los Angeles | Joshua White Aitken AB s9

El Mac: Making the Ordinary Extraordinary

Larger than life, the work of Miles "Mac" MacGregor uses the streets as a way to continue the tradition of portraiture. Born in Los Angeles, the self-trained artist focuses on subjects that celebrate and reflect the cultural history of the southwest. Introduced to graffiti and tagging as a teenager, it was the materials and process involved in spray painting that captivated the budding artist more than writing letters. Encouraged by an artistic mother, the artist slowly honed his craft, and developed a unique method of painting that is unmistakable fresh and technically brilliant.

In an era when the skill set of painting realistically has slowly receded from art schools, it's ironic that a man without a formal art education has taken up the baton of representational portraiture. For hundreds of years, the wealthy, powerful, and influential had their portraits painted. These images typically display the sitter's occupation and/or interests, a luxury of the higher class. Mac like many artists learning their trade began by painting portraits of friends and family members but this output eventually progressed to conceptually heavier material. Choosing to paint a series of anonymous Mexican laborers, these paintings honored those that would not be typically featured in the history of portraiture.

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Full Episodes

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Variedades: Olvera Street

This look at Los Angeles’ Olvera Street is part-history lesson and part-immersion in stereotype of the birthplace of Los Angeles. Emmy® award-winning journalist, author and musician Rubén Martínez, explores the sometimes-violent, 200-year struggle for the political and symbolic control of the city as told in “Variedades” — an interdisciplinary performance series that brings together music, spoken word, theater, comedy and the visual arts, loosely based on the Mexican vaudeville shows of early-20th century Los Angeles.

La Raza

In East Los Angeles during the late 1960s and 1970s, a group of young activists used creative tools like writing and photography as a means for community organizing, providing a platform for the Chicano Movement in the form of the bilingual newspaper/magazine La Raza. In the process, the young activists became artists themselves and articulated a visual language that shed light on the daily life, concerns and struggles of the Mexican-American experience in Southern California and provided a voice to the Chicano Rights Movement.

No Trespassing: A Survey of Environmental Art

Throughout its history, the natural beauty of California has inspired artists from around the world from 19th-century plein air painting of pastoral valleys and coasts to early 20th-century photography of the wilderness (embodied famously in the work of Ansel Adams) and the birth of the light and space movement in the 1960s. Today, as artists continue to engage with California’s environment, they echo and critique earlier art practices that represent nature in “The Golden State” in a particular way. Featuring artists Richard Misrach and Hillary Mushkin.

Artist and Mother

This episode profiles four California artists who make motherhood a part of their art: Kenyatta A.C. Hinkle, Andrea Chung, Rebecca Campbell and Tanya Aguiñiga. There's a persisting assumption in contemporary art circles that you can't be a good artist and good mother both. But these artists are working to shatter this cliché, juggling demands of career and family and finding inspiring ways to explore the maternal in their art.

The Art of Basket Weaving

Native American basketry has long been viewed as a community craft, yet the artistic quality and value of these baskets are on par with other fine art. Now Native peoples across the country are revitalizing basketry traditions and the country looks to California as a leader in basket weaving revitalization.