Downtown’s new Institute of Contemporary Art.

As the year comes to a close, take time to explore the city’s richly hued contemporary art scene, one that engages and inspires in these hectic times.

Downtown’s art scene further expanded this fall with the opening of the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA, formerly the Santa Monica Museum of Art) in a rehabbed garment factory. Easy to find, it’s across from the Greyhound Bus Station on 7th Street and close to the Row DTLA. ICA’s galleries are housed under an impressive and soaring bow-truss ceiling.

ICA’s current exhibition presents the outsider art of Martin Ramirez: His Life in Pictures, Another Interpretation, in association with the SoCal-wide Pacific Stand Time: LA/LA.

Despite Ramirez’s lack of formal training and limited access to materials, his intricate drawings convey a stirring vision. The Mexican national grew up in Jalisco; he was incarcerated in a northern California mental hospital for more than 30 years under a questionable schizophrenia diagnosis by doctors who did not speak Spanish. Later in life, one of his doctor’s saved and championed his work; he recognized Ramirez’s uncanny artistic abilities, despite his raw materials of makeshift canvases pieced together from found paper, medical charts and paper bags.

The Getty sponsored Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is ongoing through January—there are 76 thematically connected exhibitions across Southern California exploring the work of Latino artists and the links between Latin America and Los Angeles.

At the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery in Barnsdall Art Park, Condemned To Be Modern features work by 21 artists who explore the history of modernist architecture in Los Angeles and the city’s always evolving built environment.

The Autry Museum of the American West presents photographs culled from the archives of La Raza, the influential bilingual newspaper that was the journalistic voice of Chicano activists. (Check pacificstandardtime.org for a full list of exhibitions and events).

Famed muralist and collagist Shepard Fairey, of Echo Park’s Subliminal Projects, takes on dissent and other current issues via Damaged, his warehouse-sized solo exhibition of more than 200 works now on view north of Chinatown.

Mixed media works, sculptures and installations fill the space, along with many of Fairey’s most recognized stencils. The show was organized with help from Detroit’s Library Collective. A 28-page newspaper called The Damaged Times accompanies the exhibition with articles by Fairey and others, voicing concerns and calls to action regarding today’s broken and acrimonious political situation. Damaged is open 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Wednesday – Saturday through December 17th at 1650 Naud St. located north of Chinatown.

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