Spaces to Grow, Spaces to Protect: An Arts and Community Conversation with Place-Makers
Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at 7:00 - 9:00 pm
Far East Lounge
353 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Capacity is limited. Informal seating is available on a first come, first served basis.
On Tuesday, October 8, Visual Communications will present a special panel of arts educators, activists, and curators and their role in nurturing and supporting community artists as part of the new Sustainable Little Tokyo series “ART4FSN” in Los Angeles Little Tokyo.
The special program at the Far East Lounge, “Spaces to Grow, Spaces to Protect: An Arts and Community Conversation with Place-Makers,” presents a complement of leaders of locally-based arts organizations that engage with members of culturally underserved neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles to encourage creation, activism, and social change. From Boyle Heights to the Crenshaw District, and from Little Tokyo to Chinatown, “Spaces to Grow, Spaces to Protect” will seek to investigate the ways in which arts and activism spans the wide range of issues that impact communities of color throughout greater Los Angeles and beyond.
“Without a space through which to nurture, incubate, and celebrate our community’s artists, a community for artists of color cannot grow and add much-welcome dimension to the long-cherished goal of cultural plurality,” remarked Abraham Ferrer, Visual Communications staff member. “Yet the need for “space” —regardless of a physical or online one — to create and present stands in increasingly sharp relief compared to equally-needed institutions that are in short supply in our communities, whether it be a grocery store, a bank, a low-cost public health facility, low-income housing, and other establishments that give Angelenos dignity and enfranchisement in our society. We’re thrilled to join with our friends and colleagues at Sustainable Little Tokyo’s Arts Action Committee, as well as with our friends and colleagues of neighboring arts organizations, to celebrate the importance and value of cultural ‘place-making’ and to affirm our collective role as ‘change-agents’ of cultural plurality throughout Los Angeles and beyond.”
The “Spaces to Grow, Spaces to Protect” panelists comprise a broad range of curatorial, institutional, and community-based organizations, and include:
• Betty Avila, who grew up in the northeast Los Angeles neighborhood of Cypress Park. Her work has centered on the intersection of the arts and social justice, with particular focus on community building, public space, and youth empowerment. She has held positions with the Getty Research Institute, The Music Center and Levitt Pavilion. Avila joined Self Help Graphics & Art’s leadership in 2015, an organization with a 46-year nationally-recognized artistic legacy of empowering the Chicana/o and LatinX communities of Los Angeles through the arts. She sits on the boards of the Center for Cultural Innovation and Arts for LA. In 2017, Betty was named one of C-Suite Quarterly Magazine’s NextGen 10 in Philanthropy, Arts and Culture and an Impact-Maker to Watch by City Impact Labs.
• Ben Caldwell, a Los Angeles-based arts educator and independent filmmaker, studied filmmaking at UCLA at the same time as Charles Burnett, Julie Dash and Billy Woodberry, as part of a group of young artists who were to change African American independent filmmaking — a cultural phenomenon referred to as “The L.A. Rebellion.” Caldwell’s work has been shown nationally and internationally, most recently at Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery and at the Tate Modern. Caldwell taught for 15 years at CalArts, where he was a major founding force in the CalArts Community Arts Partnership (CAP). In the mid-1990s Caldwell founded the KAOS Network, a community art/tech accelerator center dedicated to providing training on digital arts, media arts and multi-media, in the heart of Leimert Park, in Los Angeles’ Crenshaw District.
• Sonia Mak, an independent curator and museum professional, is one of the founding curators of the Chinese American Museum and Art Salon Chinatown. She has been active in the Los Angeles art & culture scene for over 20 years. She is currently the development manger at the Vincent Price Art Museum and curates art exhibitions with a focus on Asian American artists at Art Salon Chinatown, which she cofounded in 2018.
• Nobuko Miyamoto, a song/dance/theater maker, and Artistic Director of Great Leap, an arts organization that 40 years ago found a home and launching pad for arts projects at Senshin Buddhist Temple in South Central Los Angeles. She now co-produces FandangObon, an Eco-Arts Fest at the JACCC, using participatory dance and music to bring Mexican, Japanese, African and Muslim Americans into one circle.
• Hipolito (Polo) Munoz, attended Queen of Angels High School Seminary, a preparatory high school nestled in the historic San Fernando Mission. After serving in the U.S. Navy, he attended Cal State University Long Beach where he received a Political Science BA focused on International Relations and a minor in Communications. He worked with Scholastic Book Fairs in developing the Latino school market in the Los Angeles area. His first production, “Flamenco Dreams” (2003) was distributed through Universal/Vivendo in partnership with Miles Copeland’s CIA distribution company. He is the Co-Founding Partner and Producer at Open Perspective Media, which produced LA Business Today, a talk show distributed on PBS Affiliate KLCS TV. He is also publisher of the online magazines, Latino Weekly Review and Landscape Latino. He serves as Vice President of the Board of the KLCS Education Foundation and also serves on the Board of SEEfest Film Festival. He is the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Creating Creators.
• Steven Wong, currently the curator at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, was the Interim Executive Director and curator at the Chinese American Museum where he developed and implemented both contemporary art and history exhibitions. Previous to his work at CAM, he was the Director of Digital Literacy Initiatives at the Little Tokyo Service Center, and has lectured at UC Santa Barbara and was an adjunct professor at Ventura College and Pasadena City College.
“’Space to Grow, Spaces to Protect’ provides a fitting kick-off to our re-configured slate of place-based arts action in Little Tokyo,” said Scott Oshima, Lead Community Organizer at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center and chair of SLT’s Arts Action Committee. “The new series, ART4FSN, is an eclectic slate of programs and events that offer a sustained, impactful lead-up to the 2020 City Council election, and our continued fight for First Street North — a block critical to the past, present, and future of Little Tokyo. We are excited to partner with Visual Communications to welcome colleagues, visitors, and Little Tokyo community stakeholders to celebrate and affirm our place here in our communities, through the broad range of our artistic expressions.”
The “Spaces to Grow, Spaces to Protect” program on October 8, 2019 is presented by Visual Communications as part of the series “ART4FSN,” organized by the Sustainable Little Tokyo Arts Action Committee and slated for select Tuesdays, now though November 2020 at various venues throughout Los Angeles Little Tokyo. For more information on the “ART4FSN” series, click here.