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

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 Watts Towers Arts Center

The Watts Towers Arts Center was founded by artists and educators in the 1960s and has been a beacon of art and culture in the community for decades. This episode features the work of artists including Noah Purifoy, John Outterbridge, Betye Saar, Charles White and Mark Steven Greenfield.

  • 2020-11-25T13:04:18-08:00
  • 2020-11-25T17:00:00-08:00

Light & Space

In a world filled with noise, distractions and chaos, a number of artists seek to push the boundaries of perception and experience. The Light and Space movement of the 1960s explored minimalism with a uniquely Californian spin — with a keen attention to the interaction of light and space. Crucially, the materials these artists relied on to create these perceptual experiences emerged from the postwar aerospace industry and its advances.

  • 2020-12-02T13:00:00-08:00
  • 2020-12-02T17:00:00-08:00

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

Growing up amongst jazz legends within the deep musical traditions of Leimert Park, drummer Mekala Session and his peers grapple with how to preserve this rich legacy—striving to carry forward the tenets that took root in the work of Horace Tapscott and his Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra. This is the story of Los Angeles’ emerging generation of community-focused black musicians.This episode of Artbound was produced in partnership with dublab and Storyform.

  • 2020-12-09T13:00:00-08:00
  • 2020-12-09T17:00:00-08:00


In October of 2019 the city of Los Angeles through the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Institute of Contemporary Art organized a city-wide exhibition of public art and events based around the theme of food. Each artist interpreted a different aspect or issue surrounding food or food systems in the city from climate change, to food access, civic engagement to waste and recycling. Activating public parks throughout the city, artists created works to spark conversation about what it means to live in Los Angeles and how to work together for a sustainable and hopeful future.

  • 2020-12-16T13:00:00-08:00
  • 2020-12-16T17:00:00-08:00
  • 2020-12-20T09:00:00-08:00

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.

  • 2020-12-23T13:00:00-08:00
  • 2020-12-23T17:00:00-08:00