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FtF, VC Present ‘Bronzeville, Little Tokyo’

A scene from “Bronze, Bass, Jazz,” a 360-degree video presentation, part of “Bronzeville, Little Tokyo.” (Photo courtesy of Javier Barboza/FfF Media/Visual Communications)

FORM follows FUNCTION (FfF) and Visual Communications (VC) invite audiences to travel back in time to reflect on the Bronzeville era of Little Tokyo.

Utilizing 360-degree video and an interactive projection mapping installation, “Bronzeville, Little Tokyo” will reflect on a moment of transformation for this neighborhood. Artists from various disciplines have come together to present this two-day program, which will take place on April 29-30, at two significant sites on Historic First Street North: the northeast corner of First Street and Judge Aiso St.

“First Street North is an integral part of L.A.’s history,” says Francis Cullado, executive director of VC. “The Bronzeville period of this neighborhood can unite current audiences with interests in music, Asian American history and African American history. We’re proud to use these new storytelling techniques to connect generations and communities. We hope this type of programming can inspire additional artistic collaborations in our city.”

“I am inspired by Little Tokyo and its rich legacy,” says Maya Santos, FfF creative director. “I want to continue sharing these stories with new audiences and help preserve what is special about the area. The Historic Nishi Temple and Union Center Courtyard were the main evacuation sites in Little Tokyo during Executive Order 9066 of 1942. It’s important to remember that when the U.S. government forcibly removed the Japanese community from their homes, families gathered at these ‘assembly centers’ before they were sent to internment sites.”

Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple on First and Central in Little Tokyo (currently the Historic Building of the Japanese American National Museum) will be the site of “Memory Bank,” a unique projection map installation designed by Eddy Vajarakitipongse (yaknowlike studios) and Maya Santos (FtF). Audiences can experience audio-reactive visuals that change as orators and poets share their reflections on the neighborhood.

This two-day interactive open mic will be documented to help share stories and memories of Bronzeville and Little Tokyo as a video after the event. Audiences of all ages are invited to be part of this unique space for storytelling.

Audiences can also experience the debut of “Bronze, Brass, Jazz” a 360-degree video piece. The three-minute animated dreamscape is co-directed by Javier Barboza (Kaleidoscope Media Studio) and FtF’s Santos. It is inspired by late-night jam sessions at breakfast clubs, and fabled stories about jazz great Charlie Parker, from his memorable stay at the Civic Hotel (First and San Pedro) to a brief residency at the Finale Club (230½ E. First St.).

On Sunday evening, audiences can enjoy live performances at the Union Center Courtyard on Judge John Aiso Street (between First and Temple). The Bronzeville Union (Josef Leimberg, trumpet; Josh Johnson, saxophone; Mark de Clive-Lowe, piano; Trevor Ware, bass; Dexter Story, drums) will take audiences back in time with their musical performance, treating audiences to ’40s jazz flair, then and now.

Actors Cecelia Antoinette and Chazz Clarence Ross will read excerpts from “Bronzeville,” a play by The Robey Theatre Company, co-written by Tim Toyama and Aaron Woolfolk, directed by Ben Guillory.

“Bronzeville, Little Tokyo” is made possible with support from the California Arts Council and Little Tokyo Service Center. For more information, visit or

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