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Chicano Batman: Not Another Band from East L.A.

Chicano Batman is the sound of local Latino music in the 21st century. In 1993, when Los Lobos released the now classic "Just Another Band from East L.A.," the band was paying homage to -- and locating themselves within -- the legacy of Chicano and Mexican music coming from "East Los" going all the way back to icons like Lalo Guerro and legions of other more anonymous working musicians. Twenty years, later East L.A. is still an important hub of Chicano/Latino culture in Los Angeles but the cultural map of music making has also significantly shifted. Suburban sprawl, real estate prices and the changing nature of the Latino community have all contributed to a re-mapping of Latino L.A. Today, that map would have to include the San Fernando Valley, east through the San Gabriel Valley to the Inland Empire, the south harbor communities west through South L.A. and spilling over into North Orange County. Add to this the growing diversity of the Latino community as Central Americans, new generations of Mexicans and other Latin Americans have immigrated to the greater Los Angeles area. Plus, identity politics are also in flux as national identities meet ethnic constructs such as Chicanismo and Latinidad.

Chicano Batman -- comprised of Bardo Martínez (vocals/keyboard/guitar), Eduardo Arenas (bass), Gabriel Villa (percussion) and Carlos Arévalo (guitar), exemplifies this new geographic and cultural reality. Only one member, Eduardo Arenas, grew up in East L.A. The band, the brain child of lead singer Bardo Martínez began to form at a fundraiser for KPFK's Soul Rebel Radio where he met Arenas and bonded with him over a similar interest in the music of Caetano Veloso and the tropicalia movement. Drummer Gabriel Villa who emigrated from Colombia to the U.S. at the age of eighteen met Bardo at a show for cumbia group Very Be Careful. Guitarist Carlos Arévalo met Martínez through mutual friends in local music scenes and eventually joined the band in 2010.They were brought together by music not geography. 

The band simultaneously exists in the local and transnational spaces of Latino music, a sonic space of past, present and future Latina/o sounds reaching for something new. The band is in tune to local eastside musical histories dominated by Chicano bands but also in tune with Latin American and South American sounds that echo the band mates' diverse interests and personal histories. Bardo is half Columbian, half Mexican, Eduardo is Mexican-American, Gabriel is Columbian and Carlos is of Salvadoran and Mexican descent. More importantly, the band claims, is their shared musical eclecticism that is heard in the bands mix of funk, R&B, Latin soul, bossa nova, psychedelia and pop.

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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 '60s and early '70s, a time defined by political movements across the country. Artists like James Cleveland and Aretha Franklin captured live recordings of the church experience of South Central and the voices and sentiment of the people coming together to give birth to a new gospel sound and the election of L.A.’ s first black mayor, Tom Bradley.

  • 2020-02-20T05:00:00-08:00
    KCET-HD

Masters of Modern Design: The Art of the Japanese American Experience

From the iconic typeface of “The Godfather” book cover to Herman Miller’s Noguchi table, the influence of Japanese American artists and designers in postwar American art and design is unparalleled. While this second generation of Japanese American artists have been celebrated in various publications and exhibitions with their iconic work, less-discussed is how the World War II incarceration — a period of intense discrimination and hardship — has also had a powerful effect on the lives of artists such as Ruth Asawa, George Nakashima, Isamu Noguchi, S. Neil Fujita and Gyo Obata.

  • 2020-02-23T09:00:00-08:00
    KCET-HD

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. Through the writings of Edith Heath, the founder and designer of Heath Ceramics and voiced by renowned chef Nancy Silverton, this episode explores the groundbreaking work of a woman who created a classic of American design.

  • 2020-02-23T11:00:00-08:00
    KCETLINK

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.

  • 2020-02-26T19:00:00-08:00
    KCETLINK

Jeffrey Deitch's Los Angeles

The charming, unusual and at times polarizing Jeffrey Deitch left Los Angeles in 2013 after a tumultuous run as the director of MOCA ending in his resignation. He makes his return with a new gallery opening with the first LA exhibit of renowned Chinese artist and activist, Ai Weiwei. A behind-the-scenes look at the contemporary art world through the eyes of a legendary art dealer and curator.

  • 2020-02-27T05:00:00-08:00
    KCET-HD

Día de Los Muertos / Day of the Dead

Día de los Muertos has been adapted for centuries from its pre-colonial roots to the popular depictions in mass media today. Inspired by rich Oaxacan traditions, it was brought to East Los Angeles in the 1970s as a way to enrich and reclaim Chicano identity through a small celebration at Self Help Graphics and Art. Since then, the celebration has grown in proportions with renditions enacted in communities all around the world.

  • 2020-03-01T11:00:00-08:00
    KCETLINK
  • 2020-03-19T06:00:00-07:00
    KCET-HD

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, Laura Aguilar and Hillary Mushkin.

  • 2020-03-04T19:00:00-08:00
    KCETLINK

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.

  • 2020-03-11T20:00:00-07:00
    KCETLINK

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.

  • 2020-03-18T20:00:00-07:00
    KCETLINK