Thirty-seven years ago Lydia Takeshita and her college students formed what would become the LA Artcore Center, presently located in Japan Town in downtown Los Angeles, and later added the Brewery Annex location in Lincoln Heights. Takeshita is the founder, executive director, curator and administrative chair for the nonprofit art organization that provides gallery exhibition space for emerging and unknown artists.
ARTILLERY: You’re the founder of LA Artcore Center, which is now 37 years old, which means you’ve been in an executive position for that long. What keeps your work from being monotonous and tiresome?
TAKESHITA: I have all these positions. I don’t have enough time to be bored. I’m too busy! But you know, really, I love it. It’s not just passing the time. There’s always great pleasure in interacting and meeting new artists.
Who comes to the gallery?
I have a sign out front. It’s primarily visitors from Little Tokyo. It’s just amazing. A lot of people from China—just yesterday some Australians. Maybe 95% are tourists.
Is there an unknown artist that exhibited at LA Artcore Center then went on to become famous?
Yes! Mark Steven Greenfield and also Kamol Tassananchalee. You see, Kamool is an interesting person because his grandfather was an artist for the Royal family in Korea.
How do you seek out international artists? How do they learn about your organization?
By accident (laughs). In the early days, when I lived in Seoul, Korea, the Liberal Arts were required by all students. So there, they have a tremendous interest in the arts. You’d be amazed how many universities offer only art. So many [Korean] professors came here looking for places to show. So I didn’t formalize anything. The Korean artists just started coming. Then Japanese artist Yoshio Ikezaki, who occasionally teaches at the Art Center in Pasadena, started showing his work and he’s the one that initiated the exchange show with Japan. Now Nobu Kano, a current Japanese artist will be leading 12 artists to show at Artcore in August. And now for the first time we’re doing an exchange with Taiwan artists.
What is the criteria for an artist to get a show here at LA Artcore?
There’s no criteria. It’s just a space provided for working artists. When they think they are ready to show, they contact me. You see, this is it, people contact me. And people who come here aren’t necessarily beginners. There are some mid-career artists. Really just anybody.
What if you don’t like the work?
Well it’s too bad. (laughs)
You still will show it?
(laughs) Oh sure.
But what if you think they are awful? Like they have no talent?
Oh, well that’s different. We still don’t turn them down. I encourage the artist and keep them on file. I have to judge when they are ready to have a show. I might push them a little bit, in a better direction.
A mission of LA Artcore Center is to be community-oriented and diverse in their exhibitions, would you say that was your vision and mission from the very beginning?
Yes, it was totally open from the very beginning.
Where is LA Artcore going now. Is there anything new on the horizon.
For all these years the first batch of board members were just talkers, and artists are the worst at making money (giggles). So it was really long, maybe 20 years, where the money was always running out. Now we have a new board, with a new president, Norman Ishizaki. They are ready to go. They want to keep developing this.