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Top Artbound Stories of 2017

Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013 | Courtesy of David Zwirner, N.Y. © Yayoi Kusama
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The arts have always been a reflection of the current environment. This year has been a tumultuous one and it has left this country examining its values and what it cherishes most. This year's top stories have revolved around inclusivity and a willingness to explore beyond the usual borders. Click on the links below to read about the stories that make Los Angeles and its environs a hotbed of creativity and experimentation. 

Cruising Down SoCal's Boulevards: Streets as Spaces for Celebration and Cultural Resistance

Janette Beckman, "Rivera Bad Girls"

Boulevards have the practical function of ordering commerce and traffic, but they are also displays of a city’s identity where culture, in its flow, is publicly shaped and performed.

Harry Gamboa Jr.'s 'Chicano Male Unbonded' Highlights Diversity Of Chicano Male Identity

Harry Gamboa Jr.'s "Chicano Male Unbonded" photos | Still from KCET video

Photographer Harry Gamboa Jr.'s exhibit at the Autry features nearly 100 portraits of Chicanos he believes represent the evolution of the term among Mexican-American men.

Forgotten Black Women of Early Hollywood Take Center Stage at CAAM

Iris Hall as Eve Mason in The Symbol of the Unconquered, 1920. USA. Directed by Oscar Micheaux | Courtesy of the California African American Museum

In the first half of the 20th century, black women were largely relegated to playing mammy and jezebel roles. A new exhibition reveals how as early as 100 years ago, independent black filmmakers presented complex portrayals of women of color. 

Lowriders, Aliens and Cultural Hybridity in the Work of Rubén Ortiz-Torres

Rubén Ortiz-Torres. Alien Toy (La Ranfla Cósmica), 1997 | Collection of Tom Patchett, courtesy of Track 16, Los Angeles

Through Rubén Ortiz-Torres' own work over the past three decades, the artist has grappled with and celebrated themes of hybridity, identity and cultural transmission that weave through many of the exhibitions now on view during Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.

As Haitian Refugees Settle in Mexico, A Photojournalist Documents A New Tijuana

Mexican photojournalist Omar Martínez documents Haitians in Tijuana (featured)

Thousands of Haitian refugee families continue to be stranded in Tijuana, a city far from where they hoped would be their final destination. Since their arrival, photojournalist Omar Martínez has been documenting their Mexican lives.

Daring Artists Who Created Memorable (and Controversial) Art at the U.S.-Mexico Border

 Ana Teresa Fernandez, "Erasing the Border," 2012

The U.S.-Mexico border has been the site of bold art actions, exhibitions and performances that have tackled themes like immigration, human rights and binational policies.

'La La Land': Los Angeles and the Hollywood Imagination

La La Land - Pregerson Interchange

Recent productions set in Los Angeles continue to highlight the distance between the Hollywood imagination and the people living here.

Locke High: The Inner City Music Program that Wowed the Nation

 Saints (year unknown) | Courtesy of Nina L. Brown

Fifty years ago, Alain Leroy Locke Senior High School became the first new high school built in the central city in a half a century. Its music program would soon put the school on the map.

Map Showcases More Than 50 Landmarks by African-American Architects

Paul Revere Williams, AIA Noted Architect (featured)

From subway stations to libraries, hospitals, college campuses and places of worship, a recently published map recognizes African-American architectural achievements.

Break In Case of Emergency: Octavia E. Butler's Legacy

Patti Perret, photograph of Octavia E. Butler seated by her bookcase, 1986. The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. © Patti Perret

Butler remains an essential literary presence even in her absence, her work not simply growing in esteem but taking on new coloring and resonance with each passing year. 

Empowered and Self-publishing, Latinx Photographers and Zine Makers Tell Their Own Stories

 Image courtesy of Elefante Collective

Utilizing photography, and self-made zines as their primary method of distribution, this ensemble of artists are bringing to "light the beauty, struggle and dignity of" the Latinx community.

Desolation Center: The Desert Music Festival That Influenced Lollapalooza, Coachella and Burning Man

Buses/Coolers, Desolation Center: Mojave Exodus, 1983 | Scot Allen

Here on the West Coast, it seems like gigantic festivals have always been associated with the desert. But who was the first promoter to stake a claim out in the great, wide open, and how did others follow suit? 

Top Image: Yayoi Kusama, Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away, 2013 | Courtesy of David Zwirner, N.Y. © Yayoi Kusama

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Lucha libre posters are stacked on top of each other.

Republic of Lucha Provides a Haven for Lucha Libre Culture in L.A.

Republic of Lucha, besides being awesome, is a new space in South Pasadena dedicated to the world of lucha libre, the freestyle form of wrestling made famous in Mexico.
A triptych of people who attend a weekly gathering of Queer creative folk called Mustache Mondays.

Mustache Mondays: Documentary Wants Your Photos of L.A. Gay Nightlife in the 2000s

Do you have photos or mementos of Mustache Mondays or gay nightlife in the 2000s? Share them with "Artbound" and help tell the story of Mustache Mondays' pivotal role in the lives of a generation of Queer cultural producers.
Artist Barbara Carrasco standing in front of colorful floor-to-wall length mural "L.A. History: A Mexican Perspective" holding a commendation plaque from Los Angeles County presented by County Supervisor Hilda Solis at the opening of the temporary exhibition Sin Censura A.

After 40-Plus Years, Barbara Carrasco's Censored Mural Finds a Permanent Home

After 40 years, Barbara Carrasco's epic (and censored) 1981 mural "L.A. History: A Mexican Perspective" finds a home where its stories can be told.