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Artistic Little Tokyo

“Windows of Little Tokyo,” presented by the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center and Sustainable Little Tokyo, opened April 28 and runs through Oct. 21.

An opening reception and walking tour will be held on Saturday, May 19, from 2 to 5 p.m. at Far East Lounge, 353 E. First St. (between Central and San Pedro).

Little Tokyo transforms into an outdoor art exhibition with 11 artworks displayed on windows across the historic, 134-year-old Japanese American neighborhood.

The sites, artists and artworks:

• Little Tokyo Branch Library, 203 S. Los Angeles St. “This Place Is an Altar” by Kenji C. Liu, a digital collage representing four communities with historic roots in the multiethnic greater Little Tokyo area: Japanese American, African American, Mexican American, and Tongva. Liu is a graphic designer and poet, author of “Monster I Have Been,” “Map of an Onion” and others.

• Café Demitasse, 135 S. San Pedro St. “Spirit of Nebuta” by Chiho Harazaki, based on an enormous Nebuta float bearing the fierce likeness of samurai Shingen Takeda, which first appeared in the Nisei Week Parade in 2007. Informed by her experiences living in both Japan and America, Harazaki’s subject matter includes a variety of cultural, historical, architectural, and lifestyle elements.

• JACCC, 244 S. San Pedro St. Artwork by Nancy Uyemura. Starts July 21; Windows of Little Tokyo Halfway Reception will be held at Far East Lounge.

• Brunswig Square, 211 N. Central Ave. “Little Tokyo Stance” by Audrey Chan, a figurative homage to generations of Japanese Americans who have loved and labored on behalf of their historic community: the Issei pioneers, the artists, and the Asian American activists. Chan is a Los Angeles-based artist whose research-based projects articulate political and cultural identities through allegorical narrative and the feminist construct of “the personal is political.”

• Aloha Café, 410 E. Second St. “Pink Ribbon Scarf” by Nak Bou, a visual conversation rooted in the spirit of Little Tokyo’s multicultural communities and their histories. A Cambodian American visual designer and illustrator living in the Bay Area, he grew up influenced by major Western art movements but always found Japanese art exceptional.

• Café Dulce, 134 Japanese Village Plaza. “In Living Culture” by Jared Yamahata, a dynamic explosion of icons to invoke the growth and energy that Little Tokyo continues to promote. The design is influenced by the diverse communities that make Los Angeles a unique cultural family. A graduate of CSU Long Beach with a BFA, Yamahata has created illustrations for publications in the U.S., Asia and Spain.

• Anime Jungle, 319 E. Second St. “Amaterasu” by Jaimee Itagaki, a series depicting the sun goddess and genesis creation goddess of Japan as a samurai warrior/goddess fighting to protect Little Tokyo from hostile takeover. Born in Boyle Heights, Itagaki has lived and worked in the Arts District as a commercial and fine art photographer for the past 21 years and was among the artists recently evicted from the 800 Traction building when it was purchased by a multi-billion-dollar corporation.

• Future Maison Akira Creation, 226 E. First St. “where water touches land” by Heather M. O’Brien and Jonathan Takahashi. O’Brien is a founding member of the Los Angeles Tenants Union and an assistant professor in the Department of Fine Arts and Art History at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. Takahashi is an artist, educator and organizer born and raised in Los Angeles. He currently lives and works between Los Angeles and Beirut.

• Koban, 307 E. First St. “Ensō/Circle” by Angelica Villegas and Jen Cienfuegos. Inspired by the ensō symbol and the juxtaposition of Little Tokyo’s past and present, this piece celebrates the community’s 134 years of strength and resilience. Villegas is a multi-disciplinary designer with expertise in digital, print, and large-scale, high-traffic window display designs. Cienfuegos is a detail-oriented designer whose expertise lies in manipulating typography, grid systems and spatial relationships in order to create beautiful and functional print and web artwork.

• Far East Lounge, 341 E. First St. “here far home” by Rina Nakano. Polaroids of the residents of Little Tokyo, who show continuous curiosity for advancement and health, determination to preserve the Japanese and Japanese American culture, and resilience towards the city’s ongoing development. Nakano is a Japanese-born artist who uses photography and performance as her main mediums of expression.

• JANM Democracy Forum, 100 N. Central Ave. “Little Tokyo Noren” by Miyo Stevens-Gandara, who utilized the structure of a Japanese noren (doorway hanging) to present imagery that represents events that occurred in the Little Tokyo community, and specifically, events that have impacted the future of the Little Tokyo. Stevens-Gandara is a Los Angeles-based artist working in photography, drawing, embroidery, and various printmaking mediums.

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