Six L.A. Organizations Fostering Change Through Art at Frieze L.A.

Non-Profits at Frieze Los Angeles 2024 Photo by Casey Kelbaugh. Courtesy Casey Kelbaugh and Frieze.

There is a long tradition in Los Angeles of creating social change through art. Whether that be L.A’s  expansive history of musical protest, the prolific Chicano art movement, or the city’s graffiti and tagging culture. For its Los Angeles fair, Frieze is hosting five L.A. based nonprofits and a bookshop whose social justice oriented work aims to give back to their communities and foster local artistic connection.

AMBOS (Art Made Between Opposite Sides) is a project invested in creating community and providing resources to artists across the US-Mexico border. Founded by Tanya Aguiñiga, a Tijuana raised artist who spent much of her early life crossing the border to get her education, AMBOS aims to “humanize the act of border crossing” through working with local artists and facilitating workshops, public art-pieces, and demonstrations. One such endeavor, the “Border Quipu,” a project based on the “the Andean Pre-Columbian organizational system of recording history,” brings participants from both sides of the border together to literally tie the knot. Facilitated by AMBOS volunteers, border commuters tie two strands of thread together and answer a question about their experiences on a postcard. Later on, these threads eventually are combined to make a Quipu. AMBOS’s website documents this practice up until 2018. The non-profit has also helped produce works which have been shown at a long-list of prestigious art institutions, such as the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the DePaul Art Museum.

Gallery 90220, Frieze Los Angeles 2024 Photo by Casey Kelbaugh. Courtesy Casey Kelbaugh and Frieze.

Gallery 90220 is a space for BIPOC, emerging and early-career artists located in South Central L.A. The name, a nod to the 90220 zip code which covers much of Compton and southern Los Angeles County: a historical hub of Black and now Latino life in Southern California, is emblematic of the social geography the non-profit hopes to serve. Founded by Compton-raised David Colbert Jr, Gallery 90220 is an exhibition space, community hub, event organizer, and safe haven for artists of color. It has also helped facilitate and host a number of podcasts and youtube series. The artist Ashley Cole will be curating her first ever show at the gallery in two weeks titled “no faces,” a exhibition of black abstract artists.

GYOPO is a Korean art collective aimed at providing space for the artistic and cultural minds of the Korean diaspora in Los Angeles. The collective organizes a variety of events, including film screenings, literary readings, curator and artistic talks, and community forums. Recent events include a discussion of “transnational queering,” a presentation of work and screening by renowned Korean filmmaker and multimedia artist Hayoun Kwon— her first screening in Los Angeles, and a reading by the acclaimed poet and translator Don Mee Choi. 

Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND) curates and supports public art projects and programs in the L.A. area. It is aimed specifically at supporting artists who are immersed in Southern California Communities on an intimately local level. LAND has supported projects such as a “Sunset Activation + Performance” at Los Angeles State Historical Park and a “Multi A Multi-Site Ephemeral Portrait of Los Angeles” by local artist Felix Quintana.  

People’s Pottery Project, Frieze Los Angeles 2024 Photo by Casey Kelbaugh. Courtesy Casey Kelbaugh and Frieze.

Founded in 2019, People’s Pottery Project is an artistic bastion for social justice and healing in Los Angeles. The Glassell Park pottery studio employs women, trans, and non-binary people who have formerly been incarcerated, giving them a living wage while teaching them professional pottery skills. The studio also puts on classes for the community at large.     

Reparations Club is an independent, Black-Owned bookstore located in South-Central Los Angeles. Established in 2019 with the aim of using the business model of a Bookstore to facilitate specifically Black community growth, Reparations Club has become a staple of the neighborhood and Los Angeles at large. Alongside selling predominately BIPOC literature, the space hosts readings and community events regularly, including the rapper Noname’s monthly book club. It has also recently hosted events with acclaimed intellectuals and authors such as Maura Cheeks, Sophia Elhillo, and Tanisha C. Ford. 

Written by Theo Meranze

Reparations Club, Frieze Los Angeles 2024 Photo by Casey Kelbaugh. Courtesy Casey Kelbaugh and Frieze.