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Channel Surfing: Channel One Unites Underground Cultures in L.A.’s Chinatown

Documentation of the Lupe Rosales installation at CHANNEL ONE.

Documentation of the Lupe Rosales installation at Channel One.

JAZMIN ROMERO

This coming weekend the annual L.A. Art Book Fair will take place at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo District. Also this weekend in Los Angeles is Channel One, which is going down over two days inside of a storefront located above a bakery in Chinatown, about a mile away from the book fair. The event features art, vendors, and performances all with a wide subcultural focus that dovetails with many of the concerns touched on by the book fair itself. If you are going to LAABF, you should probably schedule a trip to Channel One, which is conveniently located two stops away from the fair on the L.A. Metro Gold Line.

Perhaps the fulcrum point of the event is an installation by the artist Lupe Rosales, the creator of the important archival Instagram accounts Veteranas and Rucas and Map Pointz Project. Both pages richly chronicle a history of Chicanx and Latinx youth culture in Southern California. “She’s incredible,” the artist Sonya Sombreuil Cohen—who curated the vendors for the show and operates the Chinatown space housing the event, which is normally used as an artist studio and headquarters for her clothing brand Come Tees—told me this week over the phone. “It’s my first encounter with social media really being used as an archiving site, and as an archiving tool, to reach out to people and make it open source.”

For Channel One, Rosales will present a piece centered around L.A. party crew flyers from the ‘90s, which itself was a fascinating and underappreciated part of the larger electronic music community at the time. For a period, the party crew scene was focused on afternoon “ditch parties” that played out a bit like backyard raves for school-skipping teens. “I think for Lupe, there’s a real social resistance that was very much part of the partying they did,” Sombreuil Cohen said. (She added that name for the show itself was selected to be “suggestive of the kind of party crew culture—they all have great names and they all sort of have the same opacity, like Channel One, you don’t know what it’s referring to, what media it is, but it sounds like a legend.”)

In addition to the installation, there will be vendors, mostly from the punk and self-publishing communities, including new work by Sombreuil Cohen and offerings from Justin Cole Smith, Emma Kohlmann, and many more. There will also be two days of events. Friday sees a film screening from Jazmin Romero accompanied by a live soundtrack and poetry readings by Sarah Gail Armstrong, Deanna Urbine, and Brenzy Solorzano. Saturday, Romero’s twin sister Jezenia will be releasing a new addition to her mixtape series Hot 93.2. In tribute to the iconic L.A. radio DJ Art Laboe, Romero will be setting up a live recording booth with the help of L.A. radio station KChung. They will be recording live dedications all night, to be used on future mixtapes.

For the curious cultural consumer, the event offers plenty of breadcrumb trails to explore deeper zones of underground and youth culture–for instance, the Romero twins, along with Urbine, played in the legendary 2000s punk unit Crazy Band. Talking about the show, Sombreuil Cohen pointed to entry points as varied as “the East L.A., party/rave scene from the ‘90s, but also these small bands from the early 2000s and what those artists are doing now.” Speaking about Rosales, Sombreuil Cohen remarked that “she to me is emblematic of someone who is a nexus of a lot of different kinds of subcultures—she’s queer and Latino and she’s an artist—that’s a modus operandi that I really care about, sort of not being subscribed to any one thing.”

Channel One takes place at 943 N Broadway, Suite 206, above Wonderbakery in Chinatown Los Angeles from 1-8:30 p.m. Friday, Noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, and Noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Next door, the venerable Los Angeles boutique Ooga Booga will be running extended hours.

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