Visual Communications "Centers the Masses" in Little Tokyo's 341 FSN Storefront Starting April 5

Contact: Visual Communications, (213) 680-4462

2019_00_CENTERING Web Landing Page.jpg

Los Angeles, CA - Visual Communications, the nation’s premier Asian Pacific American media arts organization, will embark on “Centering the Masses,” a unique nine-week pop-up series at the 341 FSN storefront space in the heart of Los Angeles Little Tokyo’s historic district beginning April 5 and running through May 30, 2019.

 “Centering the Masses” will bring together artists, cultural workers, entertainment professionals, and civic personalities to celebrate and explore all the ways that motion pictures and media artworks impact our lives. Through intimate conversation, screenings, and visual art presentations, this project will be a space to address the current realities of a community that sits at the crossroads of shifting racial, generational, and economic conditions.

 “For as long as Visual Communications has existed as an organization, community displacement and the unfortunate side-effects of ‘community redevelopment’ has served as a cautiously-regarded inspiration for many VC productions,” said Abraham Ferrer, Visual Communications’ Archives & Distribution Manager. “Seeing as how Little Tokyo is once again enduring profound changes in its economic, cultural, and political landscape, it’s time for us to once again do what we do best here at VC — utilize our expertise in harnessing the media arts — to cast a considered eye on the ongoing changes we see around us; and celebrate what makes this community special.”

 “Centering the Masses” will be composed of a photographic exhibition curated from Visual Communications’ Asian Pacific American Photographic Archive; a set of mini-series that capitalizes on diverse forms of media arts forms and practices; and a range of “one-off” programs organized by community partners whose own struggles with gentrification, cultural preservation, and empowerment find a shared identification with the Little Tokyo neighborhood.

 Anchoring “Centering the Masses” will be “Out of the Shadows: Building Community Through the Arts,” a photographic exhibit conceived and curated by Yuri Shimoda, whose ongoing work as an archives intern at Visual Communications will bring added understanding and significance to the images being used from VC’s Photographic Archive. The images being selected span a wide range of human and creative experiences — from film, music, performance, food, art — and will on display at 341 FSN throughout the run of the series. In tandem with a special “tribute wall” constructed as an appreciation to the men and women who produced the seminal Asian American vernacular GIDRA, the visual arts offerings at 341 FSN provide a tantalizing prelude to Visual Communications’ large-scale photographic exhibit with the Japanese American National Museum, “At First Light: The Dawning of Asian Pacific America,” slated to open at JANM on May 25, the final weekend of “Centering the Masses.”

 A team of curators will present a wide range of mini-series programming that promise to demonstrate the wide range of “media art” events, including programs that provide new methods of communication production:

 MONDAY NITE VC: REWIND (April 15, April 22, April 29, May 6, May 13, May 20) VC’s popular artists’ talk-and-show series from 1998 through 2003 will return with a new generation of guest artists to share their stories and experiences, led by series founder Walt Louie. The series will welcome contemporary luminaries of mainstream and independent media, community activists, educators, and preservationists.

 BULL & PUPPY: CURIOUS CONVERSATIONS WITH STORYTELLERS (April 9, April 23, May 14) Locally-based mystery author and editor Naomi Hirahara will organize a series of conversations with local and regionally based authors, essayists, and cultural historians, Hirahara will illuminate the multi-ethnic layers that inform the many places in which communities recognize Little Tokyo as both cultural center and outlier

 LUCHA LA MIC (April 10, April 24, May 15, May 29) The APA-centric Potluck Podcast Collective will present a series of live podcasts featuring special guests in deep conversation around important issues of Little Tokyo and other communities. Slated for select Wednesdays, “Lucha La Mic” will engage podcasters with compelling and sometimes provocative guests before a live audience.

 LITTLE TOKYO: ADJACENT (April 13, April 27, May 4, May 22) Visual Communications will highlight its award-winning filmography of documentary, experimental, animated, and narrative films examining the relationship between APA peoples and communities. Looking at other communities of color adjacent to Little Tokyo, “Little Tokyo: Adjacent” will celebrate what makes our communities vibrant.

 MY FAVORITE THINGS (April 11, April 25, April 30, May 16, May 28), a “peoples’ showcase” mini-series set for select Thursdays, during which VC will invite individuals, filmmakers, activists, and stakeholders from various endangered communities to host a commercial feature-length film that moved communities, sparked their creativity, or prompted them into action.

 As part of the 35th edition of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (May 2 through 10, 2019), “Centering the Masses” will include special retrospective programming throughout the Festival Week Opening Weekend (May 3 through 5), including a memorial tribute program to the late academic and arts advocate Dawn Mabalon; and thematic screening programs built around works from vanguard VC artist incubator initiatives including the Filmmakers Development Program, Digital Histories, and Armed With a Camera Fellowship for Emerging Media Artists.

 The Film Festival and “Centering” organizers will additionally team up to present a special off-site presentation at the Tateuchi Democracy Forum, located around the corner from 341 FSN. The special program, “Re-Scored: A Film and Music Performance,” is set for Sunday, May 5, 7:00 PM and will feature a selection of locally-based musicians who will re-imagine, compose, and perform new soundscapes and musical scores for a selection of works from Visual Communications’ award-winning filmography.

 And finally, series organizers have invited a select group of community and academic organizations to come to 341 FSN and organize a series of one-day programs that will complement the themes presented in “Centering the Masses.”

  •  The UCLA Asian American Studies Center will organize a trio of events in anticipation of its 50-year anniversary this fall: an interactive Minecraft workshop that enables participants to explore the Japanese American relocation and internment experience (April 14); a mediamaking bootcamp utilizing digital filmmaking technologies (April 20); and a book launch of a new publication, Mountain Movers: Student Activism and the Emergence of Asian American Studies (May 25).

  •  Nikkei Progressives will organize a program in celebration of the ongoing “Families Belong Together” quilt project (April 21); and a community forum examining the long yet successful struggle for redress (May 18).

  •  WAPOW will present a May 11 seminar on community stakeholdership, community change, and regenerational action.

  •  The Asian & Pacific Islander Americans in Historic Preservation will present a day-long program that dissects the formation of Filipino communities in Los Angeles (“Little Manilas”) from the 1920s through 1950s.

“Centering the Masses” will be presented at 341 FSN, 341 E 1st St, Los Angeles, CA 90012 except for the special collaborative film/performance program “Re-Scored” set for the Tateuchi Democracy Forum on Sunday, May 5 at 111 North Central Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90012.  Unless where otherwise indicated, the gallery exhibit of “Out of the Shadows” will be open Thursday through Sundays, noon through 6 PM. For mini-series and single-day events, doors open one hour before showtime. To download an event calendar and for latest updates visits

VISUAL COMMUNICATIONS (VC) is the first non-profit organization in the nation dedicated to the honest and accurate portrayals of the Asian Pacific American peoples, communities, and heritage through the media arts. VC’s mission is to develop and support the voices of Asian American and Pacific Islanders filmmakers and media artists who empower communities and challenge perspectives. Visual Communications is funded in part by the Aratani Foundation, California Arts Council, Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Angeles, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and VC Stakeholders and community partners.

 341 FSN is a collaborative and experimental space designed to explore community control and self-determination in Little Tokyo and First Street North. 341 FSN is owned and operated by Little Tokyo Service Center.

 As an organization promoting positive social change in Little Tokyo and beyond, Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) explores how art and culture can enrich our work. +LAB is an initiative that allows us to join forces with artists and cultural institutions to find imaginative ways to empower the Little Tokyo community.

— 30 —