Artist Profile: Diane Gamboa


Artist Diane Gamboa was born and raised in Boyle Heights. In the 1970s and 80s, she photographed the thriving eastside punk scene. Her images and stories reveal an eclectic, dynamic time of backyard neighborhood parties and Sunset Strip club gigs; a time when East L.A. was recognized as a musical mecca, when people and artistic inspiration streamed readily east and west across the L.A. River.


By Diane Gamboa, 2005

The UNPOPULAR CULTURE series of black and white photographs presents a view of L.A. history from 1980 to 1983. A hand held 35mm camera and existing lighting set the tone, blur and mood of the images. It was a unique time just before the outbreak of technology, mass consumption and the pre-packaged entertainment of this millennium. The city skyline was young and no one had a cell phone.

Ritchie Valens and his raw guitar pulled me into music and his Big Baby Blues provided the beat for many nights to come. Jumping in and out of cars, we were on our way to the next show, slam dance, not-so-permanent marker body art, or dire devil tactic, and maybe a wild kiss. The camera clicked as the bands played in large studios, small bars, back yard parties, underground clubs and rooftops.

Vex (club in ELA) was the starting point as sound waves crossed the 6th street bridge from East Los Angeles to Hollywood, Chinatown, Pasadena, Downtown and beyond. The days of wine and rosaries play in the head like a silent film-punk rock music playing over the memories.

The UNPOPULAR CULTURE series chronicles a specific and significant period of PUNKS THAT ROCK, COOL CATS AND BAD DOGS.

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