Chicano Punks, Party Crews & Queer Homeboys Get Spotlighted in This East-LA Art Exhibition

Lead Photo: Photo by Janette Beckman
Photo by Janette Beckman
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Eastside Los Angeles may not be thought of as a mecca of arts and culture, but it is historically one of the country’s most vibrant and unique epicenters of youth subculture. From zoot suits to Chicano punks, rockabilly to Morrissey, LA’s Latino stronghold has given birth to and sustained some of the world’s most fascinating examples of youth rebellion and self-expression.

So leave it to a local cultural institution like the Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College to bring the unique history and aesthetic of the neighborhood into a comprehensive gallery exhibition. Titled “Tastemakers & Earthshakers: Notes from Los Angeles Youth Culture, 1943-2016”, the multimedia installation draws from diverse collection of paintings, photographs, fashion, and music to trace the evolution of LA youth culture from the time of the infamous Zoot Suit Riots of the 1940s up through the present day.

“Tastemakers & Earthshakers” isn’t exclusively Latino, but in its effort to reorient the dominant Hollywood narrative around LA youth culture – focused so much on blonde beach bums and wealthy suburbanites – it ends up giving plenty of space to the city’s uniquely Chicano spins on self-expression. Featuring work by contemporary artists like Yvette Mayorga and Alonso Garzon, alongside throwback wardrobe items and stock photos, the exhibition reads like a time capsule of LA’s one-of-a-kind youth culture, and the Latino lives that shaped its past and present.

Here’s a look at what you can expect from this worthwhile project.

“Tastemakers & Earthshakers: Notes from Los Angeles Youth Culture, 1943-2016” runs from October 15, 2016 – February 25, 2017 at the Vincent Price Art Museum in Los Angeles County.

Vincent Valdez, "Kill the Pachuco Bastard"

 2001, oil on canvas, 41 x 80 inches. Courtesy of the Cheech Marin Collection.

Associated Press Photo

Deputy Sheriff Bartley Brown of East Los Angeles inspects the haircut of prisoner Alex “Largo” Rodriguez, who is wearing an $85.00 zoot suit June 7, 1943.

Gusmano Cesaretti, "Mosca 1975 East L.A."

1975, archival pigment print. Courtesy of the artist.

Janette Beckman, "The Rivera Bad Girls East LA 1983"

1983. Courtesy of the artist.

British Knights shoes, 1987-88.

Courtesy of Mario Ybarra Jr.

Gregory Bojorquez, "Rocking Out At The Roxy, Sunset Strip"

2010, archival pigment print . Courtesy of the artist.

Salomón Huerta, "Three Horsemen"

1992, oil on panel, 84 x 96 inches. Collection of Catalina Huerta.

Shizu Saldamando, "Morrissey"

2005, ball point pen on handkerchief, 16 x 16 inches. Courtesy of the Jaime Garcia Trust.

Alex Donis, "Officer Moreno and Joker"

2001, oil and enamel on Plexiglas, 41 x 28 inches. Collection of Marc S. Arranaga.