Artists Develop Public Art and Performances Re-envisioning Little Tokyo
July 1, 2018
Little Tokyo Service Center
231 E Third Street, G106
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Contact: Mark Robbins, firstname.lastname@example.org
New Series of Workshops and Performances Include Contributions of Little Tokyo Residents and Community Members
LOS ANGELES – Four artists are bringing new projects to Little Tokyo in Downtown Los Angeles as part of Little Tokyo Service Center’s (LTSC) inaugural +LAB Artist Residency. During their 3-month program, Susu Attar, Dan Kwong, Tina Takemoto, and Kuniharu Yoshida will create visual and performing art pieces to the residency’s theme of “Community Control and Self-Determination.”
These projects are developing in a time when the historic neighborhood faces ongoing changes from outside the community. Amidst continuing construction of market-rate housing and the new metro station, and changes in the resident, employee, and visitor makeup, these projects use art to reconsider who gets to determine the shape and future of Little Tokyo.
The four projects are as follows:
Conceptualizing Borders: Susu Attar, a multimedia artist working with the Japanese American Community and Cultural Center, will create painted Noren, the Japanese style fabric hung in doorways, to hang throughout the community marking borders and entryways.
“My project is a reflection on the growing problem of displacement in Los Angeles and its current impact on legacy communities like Little Tokyo.”
Attar will host workshops including “Ideation and Identity” on July 7 from 1 – 3 p.m. at 341 E First Street, and “Tea Afar” on July 14 from 6 – 9 p.m. at the Japanese Tea Garden at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (244 S San Pedro St.)
FSN Open: Tina Takemoto, a filmmaker working with Visual Communications, is using archival research and DIY filmmaking workshops to create a multisensory timeline and cinematic portrait of Little Tokyo’s First Street North block, visually depicting its rich history.
“Walking along the sidewalk of East First Street, I was inspired by the inscriptions commemorating the early decades of Little Tokyo,” explained Takemoto. “My project expands this timeline to connect Little Tokyo’s prewar era with its rich histories of Bronzeville, anti-Vietnam War protests, Redress, and current struggles for self-determination and community control.”
Takemoto’s workshops include a Handmade Film Workshop with FilmMobile on Thursday, June 28 from 3 – 5 p.m. at Visual Communications (in the rear of the building on 120 Judge John Aiso St), and Food on First: a DIY Art + Film Workshop with Susu Attar on Saturday, July 21 from 1 – 3 p.m. at 341 E First Street.
My Home Little Tokyo: Kuniharu Yoshida, traditional calligraphy artist working with Sustainable Little Tokyo, is directing a calligraphy program for local seniors under the theme, “What is your message?” and creating pop-up street performances.
“These expressions of art will be displayed throughout Little Tokyo to empower and brighten the community,” said Yoshida. “I believe that art can move a human heart and can essentially change the world.”
Yoshida’s pop-up performances will take place on Tuesday, July 17 at 7 p.m. at the Tuesday Night Cafe (Aratani Courtyard, 120 Judge John Aiso St.), and on Saturday, July 21 at 1 – 3 p.m. in front of the Japanese American National Museum (100 N Central Ave).
Tales Of Little Tokyo: Dan Kwong, a performance artist working with the Japanese American National Museum, is conducting story-circles to collect personal memories about Little Tokyo from seniors and younger generations, and will create a theatrical piece.
“Little Tokyo is a precious and vibrant community with over 130 years of history,” said Kwong. “Our stories are at the heart of that history, and collectively they become the voice of our community. This project aspires to give that voice a hearing.”
Kwong’s story circles will take place every at 1 – 3 p.m. every Tuesday through Friday afternoon (Wednesdays from 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.) in the Araki Classroom at the Japanese American National Museum (100 N Central Ave). A public staged reading of the theatrical piece will be presented on July 28 & 29.
More information about LTSC’s +LAB Artist Residency program can be found at: https://www.ltsc.org/artist-residency/
From left to right in the photo- Kuniharu Yoshida, Yaeko Aihara, Tina Takemoto, Dan Kwong and Susu Attar, gathered at the weekly artist residency luncheon where a Little Tokyo citizen is invited to share their history and memories with the artists.
Yaeko Aihara is a long time Little Tokyo resident, stakeholder and community member. She has been a member of the Koyasan Buddhist Temple for over 50 years along with her family and her family owns a local business that has been in Little Tokyo just as long. She is originally from Seattle and was interned at Crystal City during WWII. She is also a Japanese American National Museum volunteer. She has truly seen the community change vastly over many decades and has experienced much during that time.