Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in Los Angeles

Cultural festivals, exhibits, music and more through May 2018
IDENTITY LA at Grand Park | Photo courtesy of International Secret Agents, Facebook

The Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) is presenting special events across Los Angeles in honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. This celebration honors the people rooted in the diverse cultures of the Pacific Rim and the vast Asian continent. The history, culture, and traditions of this region enrich our city and the many Angelenos who trace their origins from East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, Australia, Papua New Guinea, and the Pacific Islands.

Read on for highlights of the numerous festivals, performances, film screenings, and cultural activities taking place throughout the city. For the full calendar of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month events, visit the DCA website.

Wu Bin, "Ten Views of a Lingbi Stone," China, Ming dynasty, Wanli reign, 1610, © Ornan Rotam, courtesy Slyph Editions

Wu Bin & Young Il Ahn - LACMA

On view at LACMA through June 24, Wu Bin: Ten Views of a Lingbi Stone showcases the most extraordinary painting of a stone ever created in China. Ten Views of a Lingbi Stone (1610) is a Ming dynasty handscroll comprising 10 separate views of a single stone from the famous site of Lingbi, Anhui Province. Also including superb examples of Lingbi and Taihu stones and contemporary Chinese ink paintings depicting stones, this exhibition explores the history of collecting strange stones in China and the relationship between stones, Daoist cosmology, and classical Chinese poetry.

Acknowledged as a child prodigy, Korean American artist Young Il Ahn carried out his most prolific work in Los Angeles since his arrival in the U.S. in 1966. Since then, Ahn’s works have consistently focused on his interest in the local surroundings rather than the country he left. The first-ever introduction of a Korean American artist at LACMA, Unexpected Light (through July 22) showcases many works from Ahn's best-known series, Water, which was inspired by a near-death incident on the Pacific Ocean in 1983, as well as his most recent works.

"Rembrandt and the Inspiration of India" - Getty Center (through June 24, 2018)

Late in his career, Rembrandt created a series of unusually meticulous drawings depicting emperors and courtiers from Mughal India. Now on view at the Getty Center through June 24, Rembrandt and the Inspiration of India explores the Dutch master’s careful studies of imperial Mughal portraiture and places them within a broader circuit of cross-cultural exchanges. By juxtaposing Rembrandt’s drawings with Indian paintings of similar compositions—and pairing Mughal artworks with European prints that inspired them—fascinating stories unfold about the flow of art and ideas across time and oceans.

"Soul Mining" - Vincent Price Art Museum (through July 14, 2018)

On view at the Vincent Price Art Museum through July 14, Soul Mining looks at the influence of Asian labor and culture in the Americas with artists from Asia, Latin America, and the United States. Works on display uncover histories of forced migration, political struggle and transformation, and offer personal narratives to reconcile with these collective experiences.

"In Search of New Markets" - Norton Simon Museum (through Sept. 3, 2018)

Now on view at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, In Search of New Markets: Craft Traditions in 19th Century India explores the historical sources and practices that informed the production of ceramics and wooden furniture in colonial India. The exhibition, which marks the first time that several of these works have been on view at the museum, also reveals the distinctly modern modes of promotion and distribution that were used to generate demand for them.

CHINAWEEK 2018 (May 1-14, 2018)

Now in its third year, CHINAWEEK is a week-long series of events designed to bring the most current information and trends about China and Chinese culture to the western world via Los Angeles, the U.S. gateway to China. Events will take place throughout Greater Los Angeles across nine sectors including: arts and culture, business, education, entertainment, environment, public affairs, science and technology, tourism, and philanthropy.

Check the CHINAWEEK calendar for a complete list of events, such as the Sichuan Summit - a tasting, chef demo and panel moderated by Jonathan Gold at the Million Dollar Theatre on May 4. 

"Pathways to Paradise" - Getty Center (May 1 - Aug. 5, 2018)

By exploring the terrestrial and celestial realms, Pathways to Paradise: Medieval India and Europe highlights the spiritual motivations for creating and owning portable and devotional artworks. Also taking place at the Getty Center this month:

May 12: Midori Takada - Experience a mesmerizing blend of rhythms from around the world in this rare U.S. performance by the acclaimed Japanese composer, multi-percussionist, and theater artist.
May 12-13: The Origami Garden - former NASA laser physicist and one of the world's foremost origami artists/theorists, Robert J. Lang creates a large-scale origami work starting with a six-foot square sheet of paper.
May 23: India & the World - Naman Ahuja, curator of Indian art at Jawaharlal Nehru University, discusses his recent exhibition India & the World, which presented extraordinary masterpieces to place Indian history in a global context.

Music in the Chinese Garden - The Huntington Library (May 2-30, 2018)

One of L.A.'s most spectacular gardens, Liu Fang Yuan ("Garden of Flowing Fragrance") at The Huntington Library is one of the largest Chinese-style gardens outside of China. Designed to promote the rich traditions of Chinese culture, the 12-acre garden combines the botanical with the artistic and scholarly, featuring lakes, pavilions and bridges. Enjoy traditional Chinese music in the Garden of Flowing Fragrance from 1-3pm every Wednesday afternoon in May.

"SOFT POWER" - Ahmanson Theatre (May 3 - June 10, 2018)

What begins as a contemporary comedy explodes into a futuristic Chinese musical in this time-bending, genre-busting World Premiere play (with a musical) from Tony Award® winner David Henry Hwang (Yellow Face, M. Butterfly). A beloved East-meets-West musical, China's 21st century rise, and a theatre company gala collide to make mayhem—and some beautiful music. Inspired by the West's often ridiculously inauthentic portrayals of Asia, Soft Power (May 3 - June 10) is a Center Theatre Group commission and the first collaboration between two of America's great theatre artists: Hwang and Tony Award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home).

"Together We Speak" - L.A. City Hall (May 3-28, 2018)

On view in the Bridge Gallery at City Hall,Together We Speak features 2D portraits and artwork of key Asian Pacific American female activists and advocates in Los Angeles who have demonstrated the power of speaking up and making change to showcase diverse stories of empowerment and leadership through portraits, story blurbs and an interactive social media #TogetherWeSpeak.

Asian Pacific Film Festival (May 3-12, 2018)

The 34th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival will be presented May 3-12 at select cinemas, including the Regal L.A. LIVE in Downtown L.A. Since 1983, the festival has presented nearly 5,000 films, videos, and digital mediaworks by Asian international and Asian Pacific American artists, and additionally features seminars and panels, in-person guest appearances, and filmmaker awards. The Film Festival continues to be the largest festival of its kind in Southern California and is the premier showcase for the best and brightest of Asian Pacific American and international cinema.

Chinatown After Dark (May 3, 2018)

Chinatown After Dark is taking place on Thursday, May 3 at Far East Plaza from 6-10pm. The monthly event features innovative chefs testing out new menu items and pop-up concepts. Chinatown’s regulars promote specials and other incentives. Each event features music performances from DJs to vocalists to instrumentals.

Soundscape | Photo courtesy of USC Pacific Asia Museum

Soundscape - USC Pacific Asia Museum (May 4-5, 2018)

Soundscape is a concert exploring the similarities and differences in Chinese and Mexican music traditions in the beautiful USC PAM courtyard. Featuring musicians Jie Ma (pippa) and Martin Gallardo Jr. (percussion), this program is in conjunction with the third annual CHINAWEEK.

Taiko Drum Extravaganza - Grand Annex (May 5, 2018)

Taking place in the Grand Annex at the historic Warner Grand Theatre, the Taiko Drum Extravaganza features master drummer Kris Bergstrom teaming up with Mochi Mochi and Grand Vision's Team Taiko for powerfully positive and inspirational drumming, and an on-stage mochi-making experience. Everyone eats!

Fiesta Matsuri - JACCC (May 6, 2018)

Fiesta Matsuri combines the Children's Day celebrations of two global cultures - Kodomo no Hi in Japan and Dîa de los Niños in Mexico. Both holidays celebrate the growth, happiness, and success of children. Taking place at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center in Little Tokyo, Fiesta Matsuri is a fun-filled day that not only fosters an appreciation for Japanese American tradition but also connects participants to the diversity derived from multiple generations and ethnicities. With workshops and activities designed for children of all ages, Fiesta Matsuri engages families with culture and community, and also serves to create new ties and promote understanding among a diverse group of people.

"In the Fields of Empty Days" - LACMA (opens May 6, 2018)

Opening at LACMA on May 6, In the Fields of Empty Days explores the continuous and inescapable presence of the past in Iranian society. The exhibition will examine this appropriation of the past - largely in the context of the present - by assembling 125 works of art in a variety of media, including photography, painting, sculpture, video, posters, political cartoons, animation, and historical illustrated manuscripts.

National Poetry Slam Champion, Jonathan Mendoza at Sunday Jump | Instagram by @thesundayjump

Sunday Jump: Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Show (May 6, 2018)

As the only Filipino-founded open mic series in Historic Filipinotown, Sunday Jump aims to provide a safe space for marginalized voices to express free speech and uplift their communities every first Sunday of the month. Everyone is welcome to the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Show, taking place from 5-7pm at the Pilipino Workers Center on Sunday, May 6.

Yuja Wang in Recital - Walt Disney Concert Hall (May 8, 2018)

Yuja Wang has ascended to the very heights of world’s top keyboard virtuosos. In the intimacy of a solo recital at Walt Disney Concert Hall, you can focus on every detail of her miraculous playing.

"Mulan" Sing Along - Griffith Park (May 11, 2018)

Celebrate the 20th anniversary of Mulan during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with this special outdoor screening and sing-along at Griffith Park. Fearful that her ailing father will be drafted into the Chinese military, Mulan (voiced by Ming-Na Wen, singing voice by Lea Salonga) takes his spot by impersonating a man and goes off to train with fellow recruits. Accompanied by her dragon, Mushu (Eddie Murphy), she uses her wits to help ward off a Hun invasion, falling in love with a dashing captain (B.D. Wong) along the way. Doors at 6pm, movie starts at 8pm.

JANM Free Family Days: Identity, My-dentity (May 12, 2018)

On Saturday, May, 12, the Japanese American National Museum (JANM) presents Identity, My-dentity, a celebration of Asian Pacific Islander American Heritage Month and the JANM exhibition, hapa.me – 15 years of the hapa project. Crafts, performances, storytelling, and other activities will explore themes of identity and personal heritage.

IDENTITY LA at Grand Park | Photo courtesy of International Secret Agents, Facebook

IDENTITY LA - Grand Park (May 12, 2018)

Taking place on Saturday, May 12 at Grand Park in Downtown L.A., IDENTITY LA celebrates the best in Asian Pacific American culture, arts, food, and music. Headliners include Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park, multi-platinum Korean American hip-hop artist Jay Park, and acclaimed DJ duo Hotel Garuda. IDENTITY LA will feature a wide variety of food trucks and cuisine curated by Roy Choi, the acclaimed chef and restaurateur behind the famed Kogi BBQ truck. IDENTITY LA is free and open to the public.

Mitsuko Uchida - Walt Disney Concert Hall (May 17-18, 2018)

LA Phil conductor Gustavo Dudamel and legendary pianist, Mitsuko Uchida – one of the world’s foremost Schumann interpreters – reveal the Romantic great, with a program at Walt Disney Concert Hall that features his only Piano Concerto and Symphony No. 1, “Spring.”

"Don't Believe the Hype" - CAM (opens May 18)

Opening May 18 at the Chinese American Museum in Downtown L.A., Don’t Believe the Hype: LA Asian Americans in Hip Hop looks at hip hop in Greater Los Angeles as a site of resistance, refuge, and reinvention for today’s Asian American communities. Don’t Believe the Hype brings together 14 of the most historic and important Asian Americans in the L.A. hip hop movement. 

InFocus: Asian Cinema - South Park Center (May 19, 2018)

On Saturday, May 19, NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA) spotlights Asian cinema with a selection of short films from Asian filmmakers, along with a selection of local and international independent films. Taking place at South Park Center from 4:30-11:30 p.m., the festival includes BAFTA-nominated filmmakers, the debut short film from Blake Harrison (star of the BBC show The Inbetweeners) and a short film from best-selling author and YouTube star Will Darbyshire.

The evening begins with InFocus: Asian Cinema, a collection of short films made by Asian filmmakers from all over the world - many of whom are now based in Los Angeles - covering stories of identity, cultural assimilation, family and tradition. The program continues with the world premiere of Captain Hagen’s Bed & Breakfast, a wild, quirky and insightful relationship comedy about four couples who all find themselves at a bizarre B&B over a long weekend. The evening concludes with a narrative shorts program about connections made and experiences shared between friends and strangers alike. 

LA Made: Hula O Hoaloha - Central Library (May 20, 2018)

Experience traditional Hawaiian dance and music with Hula O Hoaloha at the landmark Central Library. Hula O Hoaloha ("Friends of the Hula") will perform dances from the two categories of Hula: Hula Kahiko (Ancient Hula) and Hula Auana (Modern Hula). Throughout the presentation, the audience will learn about the history, the stories, the costumes, and the music associated with Hula. RSVP at Eventbrite.

Bamboo - Craft & Folk Art Museum (opens May 27, 2018)

Opening May 27 at the Craft and Folk Art Museum on Museum Row, Bamboo explores historical and contemporary Japanese bamboo basketry. Influenced by utilitarian woven forms to exquisitely crafted Chinese tea ceremony baskets, the art form developed into a distinctive Japanese style with a diverse range of functional and sculptural forms. A major selection of historical and contemporary works from the Los Angeles-based Cotsen Collection form the foundation of the exhibition, demonstrating the techniques and approaches utilized by bamboo artists over the years. The exhibition culminates with a large, site-specific bamboo installation by Japan-based artist Akio Hizume.

"As We Babble On" - East West Players (opens May 31, 2018)

Opening May 31 at the David Henry Hwang Theatre, As We Babble On explores the pursuit of success, its costs, and whether the whole adulting thing is ever going to happen. Benji, a first-generation Asian American comic book artist, struggles in New York City when his dreams are pulled from under him and an ex-boyfriend resurfaces. As the unconventional path of his bestie Sheila takes a left turn, and his half-sister Laura unexpectedly finds herself on the fast track to success, each begins to unravel. Written by Nathan Ramos and directed by Alison M. De La Cruz, As We Babble On is a production of East West Players in collaboration with the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Pacific Islander Festival - Aquarium of the Pacific (June 2-3, 2018)

Now in its 15th year, the two-day Pacific Islander Festival will feature various cultures, including Hawaiian, Samoan, Tahitian, Fijian, Tongan, Chamoru, Kiribati, Marshallese and Maori. Discover the rich and diverse cultures of the Pacific Islands through traditional music, dance, and cultural crafts. Enjoy hula, Tahitian drumming, Hawaiian games, and artisans demonstrating traditional weaving. Taking place at the Aquarium of the Pacific from 9am to 5pm on both days, the Pacific Islander Festival is included with General Admission to the aquarium.