Celebrate Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in Los Angeles

Cultural festivals, exhibits, music and more through May 2019

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, download the 2019 program.

Kaiju vs Heroes JANM Japanese American National Museum
Kaiju vs Heroes Print by Brian McCarty | Photo courtesy of Japanese American National Museum

Kaiju vs Heroes - JANM (Through July 7, 2019)

Take a journey through the world of Japanese soft vinyl kaiju (monster) and hero toys, courtesy of toy designer Mark Nagata’s unrivaled collection of vintage figurines. Born out of the cultural ashes of World War II, these distinctive toys became both a means for Japanese Americans to reconnect with their culture and an apt metaphor for postwar relations between the United States and Japan. Kaiju vs Heroes: Mark Nagata's Journey through the World of Japanese Toys is on view at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo through July 7.

In conjunction with Kaiju vs Heroes, JANM is hosting a day-long Kaiju-Con on Saturday, June 15 that will include a vendor hall, workshops, panel discussions, and demonstrations all related to kaiju and Japanese toys. The day will culminate in a special free outdoor screening of Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) at 8:30 p.m. on the JANM plaza. Tickets are now on sale at the JANM website.

Gajin Fujita, "The Saints," 2008
Gajin Fujita, The Saints, 2008 | Photo: USC Pacific Asia Museum, Facebook

Tsuruya Kōkei: Modern Kabuki Prints Revised & Revisited - USC Pacific Asia Museum (Through July 14, 2019)

Celebrating the 30th anniversary of this contemporary artist’s first solo show—held at USC Pacific Asia Museum in spring 1989—Tsuruya Kōkei: Modern Kabuki Prints Revised & Revisited displays 77 prints by the acclaimed artist, who is widely celebrated as one of Japan’s leading contemporary print artists. The British Museum lauded Kōkei for producing Japan’s “most notable Kabuki prints” in the post-war era. The exhibition also features contemporary artists like Gajin Fujita that reinvent the use of kabuki theater and woodblock printing in their art.

York Chang: The Signal and the Noise at Vincent Price Art Museum
York Chang: The Signal and the Noise | Photo: Vincent Price Art Museum

York Chang: The Signal and the Noise - Vincent Price Art Museum (Through July 20, 2019)

York Chang makes conceptually driven work which considers the relationship between image and text, and how collective action is influenced by spectacle and new forms of propaganda. In The Signal and the Noise, on view at the Vincent Price Art Museum in Monterey Park, Chang employs mixed media as interventions into information systems, appropriating newspapers, graphic displays, found images, and sculpture.

LACMA "The Banquet of Seowangmo (Xiwangmu), Queen Mother of the West"
Image: The Banquet of Seowangmo (Xiwangmu), Queen Mother of the West, Korea, Joseon dynasty (1392–1910), 18th–19th century, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with Museum Funds | Photo: LACMA

Chinese Art Galleries & Korean Art Galleries at LACMA (Through July 27, 2019)

The Chinese art galleries at LACMA highlight several beautiful examples of Song (960–1279) and Yuan (1260– 1368) dynasty ceramics, and examples of contemporary Chinese art.

LACMA has the largest Korean art galleries of any museum in the U.S. On view now are spectacular examples of Korean paintings, ceramics, textiles, and Buddhist art from the Three Kingdoms Period (57 BCE–CE 668) to the present. The Chinese and Korean galleries are expected to close to the public in July 2019 for the construction of the new building that is expected to open by the end of 2023.

LACMA Power of Pattern robe
Robe (Chapan), Central Asia, third quarter of the 19th century, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, promised gift of David and Elizabeth Reisbord | Photo: LACMA

Power of Pattern - LACMA (Through July 28, 2019)

Central Asia’s textiles are rich with patterns influenced by the various cultures that traveled through or settled along the historic Silk Road. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, the region experienced a renaissance in ikat, a technique where silk threads were bound and resist-dyed before weaving into cloth. Power of Pattern: Central Asian Ikats from the David and Elizabeth Reisbord Collection showcases more than 60 examples of visually dynamic ikat robes and panels. Organized by motif, the exhibition examines how the region’s textile designers, dyers, and weavers used improvisation and abstraction to create unique designs.

Hammer Projects: Yunhee Min at the Hammer Museum
Hammer Projects: Yunhee Min | Photo: Hammer Museum

Hammer Projects: Yunhee Min - Hammer Museum (Through Oct. 27, 2019)

Yunhee Min adapts the vibrant abstract imagery of her paintings on canvas to the steps of the Hammer Museum’s lobby staircase - it's the first Hammer Project to be oriented on the floor rather than the walls. Born in Seoul, South Korea, Min has been a longtime resident of California and an active participant in the Los Angeles contemporary art community. Her examination of the impact of the Light and Space movement on generations of artists in Los Angeles is evident in her newest washy, layered, and brightly colored paintings.

Huntington Library Chinese Garden Pavilion Bridge
Pavilion of the Three Friends and the Jade Ribbon Bridge at Garden of Flowing Fragrance | Photo: The Huntington Library

Music in the Chinese Garden - The Huntington Library (May 1-29, 2019)

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.

Hui Tou Xiang dishes
Photo: Hui Tou Xiang, Facebook

CHINAWEEK (May 1-19, 2019)

CHINAWEEK is an annual series of events designed to bring the most current, relevant, multidisciplinary information about China and Chinese culture to the western world via Los Angeles, the U.S. gateway to China. Events will take place throughout the greater Los Angeles region 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 LA Times Food Bowl Night Market: Dumplings, Noodles & Rice at Grand Park on Saturday, May 11.

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival 2019
Photo: Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (May 2-10, 2019)

The 35th Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival will be presented May 2-10 at select cinemas, including the Regal L.A. LIVE in Downtown L.A. Since 1983, the festival has presented over 4,000 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.

Los Angeles City Hall

Hear Me Roar - Bridge Gallery at City Hall (May 2 - June 4, 2019)

Sponsored by the Pacific Bridge Arts Foundation, Hear Me Roar is an exhibition celebrating the strength, vivacity, and ferocity of the Asian Pacific Islander woman. The artwork features stories of women from all generations as told by the API community. On view through June 4 at the DCA Bridge Gallery, located on the third floor of L.A. City Hall.

Victoria Lautman Chand Baori stepwell
Victoria Lautman, Chand Baori (built c. 800 with an 18th-century addition; Abhaneri, Rajasthan, India). 2014. Digital print | Photo: UCLA Newsroom

India’s Subterranean Stepwells: Photographs by Victoria Lautman - Fowler Museum (through Oct. 20, 2019)

Stepwells are monumental man-made water storage systems unique to India, built at least as early as 600 CE. These magnificent inverted constructions extend down to the water table, ranging from three to 13 stories deep. Villagers, religious pilgrims, and transient traders once descended into the stepwells to find clean water and a cool, quiet reprieve from the heat above. Journalist Victoria Lautman first encountered these subterranean architectural marvels 30 years ago, and has since documented more than 200 sites—some preserved as heritage sites and some restored as functioning community wells and active shrines, while others remain forgotten and derelict.

India’s Subterranean Stepwells: Photographs by Victoria Lautman is a selection of 48 photographs that surveys 16 sites built between the 9th and 18th centuries. The exhibition will be on view at the Fowler Museum through October 20.


MAMMA MIA! at East West Players (May 9 - June 9, 2019)

On the eve of her wedding, a daughter’s quest to discover the identity of her father brings three men from her mother’s past back to the Greek island they last visited 20 years ago. The magical, disco-era music of ABBA sets the scene for this infectious tale of love and frolicking fun, creating an unforgettable musical experience that will leave you dancing in the aisles! Previews of MAMMA MIA! at East West Players are May 9-12. Tickets to Opening Night on May 16 include a pre-show cocktail hour and post-show reception with the cast and creative team.

Pacific Bridge Arts Foundation IDENTITY LA 2019
IDENTITY LA 2019 | Photo: Pacific Bridge Arts Foundation

IDENTITY LA - Ford Theatres (May 11, 2019)

Pacific Bridge Arts Foundation in collaboration with the City of Los Angeles presents IDENTITY LA: A Night Celebrating Asian American Pacific Islander Women. The free open-to-the-public event celebrates the city’s diverse AAPI community and culture, specifically influential women, during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. Taking place at Ford Theatres on May 11, headlining performances include Grammy-nominated artist TOKiMONSTA, and support from soulful songstress MILCK, R&B pop-star Sophia Black with a full-line up of internationally renowned artists. The special concert event will also include a wide range of art exhibits, as well as special honorees of trailblazing women within the community.

LA Phil Lang Lang
Lang Lang | Photo: LA Phil

Lang Lang & Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2 - Walt Disney Concert Hall (May 17 & 19, 2019)

Gustavo Dudamel leads Haydn’s magnificent final symphony. Superstar Lang Lang joins in for Beethoven’s first-written, but second-published, piano concerto - a delightful, bracing statement to Vienna that the composer/pianist had arrived. There will be two performances of Lang Lang & Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 2 at Walt Disney Concert Hall, on Friday and Sunday, May 17 and May 19.

LA Phil Conrad Tao
Conrad Tao | Photo: LA Phil

Beethoven: Piano Concertos 1 & 3 - Walt Disney Concert Hall (May 18, 2019)

American pianist/composer Conrad Tao performs Beethoven’s delightful First Piano Concerto, and Italian virtuoso Beatrice Rana, who performed Tchaikovsky at the Hollywood Bowl in 2017, tackles Beethoven’s heroic C-minor Concerto.

UCLA Taara
UCLA Taara | Photo: Fowler Museum, Facebook

Fowler Out Loud: UCLA Taara and Naya Zamaana - Fowler Museum (May 22, 2019)

Part of the Fowler Out Loud concert series, this South Asian double-feature at the Fowler Museum will showcase a unique collaboration between the award-winning competitive South Asian classical dance team UCLA Taara and Naya Zamaana, UCLA’s premier South Asian a cappella team. UCLA Taara combines several Indian classical dance styles to create innovative routines, while Naya Zamaana performs arrangements infused with Bollywood and western popular music to create a fusion unique to the world of a cappella. The one-hour performance starts at 6pm and the museum galleries are open until 8pm.

Storyteller Barbara G. Wong
Photo: Barbara G. Wong

Tales of Asia and the Pacific Islands - Central Library (May 25, 2019)

On Saturday, May 25 the Central Library welcomes storyteller Barbara G. Wong, who will tell wonderful tales from China and Hawaii—magical stories about dragons, sharks, magic pots, mysterious paintings, and more! Free and open to all ages.

Zhu Jinshi, "Wave of Materials," 2007
Zhu Jinshi, Wave of Materials, 2007, Xuan paper, cotton, bamboo, thread, stones. Courtesy of Zhu Jinshi and Pearl Lam Galleries.

The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China - LACMA (June 2, 2019 - Jan. 5, 2020)

Opening at LACMA on June 2, The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China features 21 of the most important and influential Chinese artists working today, including Ai Weiwei, Cai Guo-Qiang, Lin Tianmiao, Song Dong, Xu Bing, Yin Xiuzhen, Zhan Wang, Zhang Huan, and more. The Allure of Matter features 34 works from the past four decades, in which conscious material choice has become a symbol of the artists’ expression.

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Chinatown After Dark (June 6, 2019)

Chinatown After Dark is taking place on May 2 and June 6 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.

Arugakki making mochi
Arugakki making mochi | Photo: Taso Papadakis, k--b.org

Arugakki & Mochi-Mochi - Grand Annex (June 8, 2019)

Arugakki returns to Grand Annex at the historic Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro. Arugakki & Mochi-Mochi features master drummer Kristofer Bergstrom with Grand Vision Foundation's Team Taiko and friends performing their newest works for Japanese drums, including their one-of-a-kind mochi-making extravaganza. Everyone eats!