Unpopular Culture: Diane Gamboa

The photographic works of longtime Los Angeles artist Diane Gamboa, are available for viewing on the official KCET website as part of their Unpopular Culture series. Gamboa’s photos focus on L.A.’s punk underground of the late 1970’s - specifically, the role young Chicanos played in the scene as band members and fans. It’s hardly ever mentioned or pointed out, but the Mexican American community of California had much to do with the founding of the state’s original punk scene - something Gamboa’s photos so beautifully illustrate. Bands like The Brat, Plugz, Bags, Stains, Nuns, Los Illegals, and the Zeros broke new ground - bringing fresh rhythms and sensibilities to a scene usually thought of as the turf of disaffected white youth. Back in the late 1970’s, after seeing the likes of the Plugz perform a twisted anarchistic cover version of La Bamba by Ritchie Valens, and witnessing the maniacal stage persona of Bags front woman Alice Bag (Alicia Armendariz) - my life was literally changed forever.

Ironically, after we must have crossed paths a million times as denizens of L.A.’s early apocalyptic punk scene, I only just met Gamboa in late 2005 when we both exhibited artworks at Both Sides of the Border - a major exhibit of Chicano and Latin American art held here in L.A. Along with Gamboa’s photos, the KCET Unpopular Culture webpage sports a solid list of links - including a link to my own Art For A Change website for its documentation of the punk portraits I created as a participant in the 1970’s L.A. punk scene. KCET also supplies links to the websites of Alice Bag, The Plugz and many others, downloadable music by The Brat and Thee Undertakers, and related useful resources.

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