Southern California is a pretty great place to live, an even better place to go to college, and quite possibly the best place in the world to go to art school — at least if the unparalleled proliferation of world-class undergrad and MFA programs is anything to judge by. This month, it's the post-grads that get all the love, as the BOOM Southern California MFA Invitational lands at the Pacific Design Center's Blue Building. The installation's home base is den contemporary, but this literal explosion of more than 90 freshly minted artists spreads out from there, taking full advantage of the warren of lofty and quirky exhibition spaces throughout the second floor. It remains to be seen whether any institutional trends emerge between and among Art Center, CalArts, Cal State Long Beach, Cal State Northridge, Claremont, Otis, UCLA, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, and UC Riverside. But an unbridled energy, penchant for innovative and nontraditional materials, comfort with experimentation, and taste for the big, bold, wild, and weird seem to permeate throughout. So while the days of the art market's feeding-frenzy at the MFA trough in the search for the next big thing may have been curtailed by economic deflations, that's no reason to dampen audiences' spirit of adventure and discovery. den contemporary at the Pacific Design Center, 8687 Melrose Ave., W Hlywd., Tues.-Fri., 11 a.m.-5 p.m., thru Aug. 24; free.

Tuesdays-Fridays. Starts: July 27. Continues through Aug. 24, 2012

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