OBITUARY: Lydia Takeshita, Founder of LA Artcore Gallery

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Lydia Takeshita, the founder and executive director of LA Artcore Gallery in Little Tokyo, passed away peacefully on April 23 at the age of 92.

Lydia Takeshita

The gallery is located in Union Center for the Arts, formerly Union Church, along with East West Players and Visual Communications.

Institutions and individuals that have worked with Takeshita for many years issued statements on social media mourning her passing.

LA Artcore: “It is with grief and sadness that we mourn the passing of Lydia Takeshita, LA Artcore’s founder and executive director since 1979. Through four decades, she carried LA Artcore through high times and low times. Her service to underserved artists all over the world belied a gifted curator whose preternatural ability to recognize and pair art and artists have become her legacy.

“A survivor of the Japanese internment of 1942, Takeshita returned back to Los Angeles, where she enrolled and studied fine art at UCLA. She immediately took a professorship of fine arts at Cal State L.A., where she became a respected educator who developed numerous professional artists.

“After completing her tenure, Takeshita took to running LA Artcore full-time which she had helped form with her students. She relocated it to Downtown Los Angeles on Mateo Street in what is now the Arts District and what was then a burgeoning neighborhood teeming with artists and art spaces. She was 92 years of age at the time of her passing.”

Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs: “Takeshita was the founder, executive director, curator, and administrative manager of LA Artcore. Takeshita was also a former professor of art at the California State University, Los Angeles for 34 years.

“LA Artcore is a non-profit arts organization formed by Takeshita that focuses on providing exhibition space for emerging and unknown artists. Under Takeshita’s tutelage, LA Artcore held over 1,600 exhibits, established an in-house publication, Visions Art Quarterly, created the LA Artcore’s International Exchange Program which ushered in renowned artists like Kamol Tassananchalee, Yoshio Ikezaki, and Nobu Kano, and collaborations with artists from Thailand, Italy, Korea, San Luis Obispo, and Albuquerque.

“Takeshita’s passion and work added vibrancy to the fabric of the Los Angeles arts community she inhabited. Her love of art and the community she created will continue to animate our city for years to come. She will be missed.”

Downtown LA Art Walk: “Thank you, Lydia Takeshita, for your life’s dedication to the arts and artists of Los Angeles and beyond. May you R.I.P.”

Visual Communications: “Our longtime neighbor Lydia Takeshita, founder and executive director of LA Artcore, passed on at the age of 92. Lydia and Artcore have been an inseparable component of the Union Center for the Arts ever since they, East West Players, and Visual Communications moved in together back in 1998. Condolences to Lydia’s family, staff, and the extended LA Artcore community.”

Stand With 800 Traction Avenue: “Lydia helped give birth to the Arts District as such. She was a fixture in Little Tokyo and at the LA Brewery. She supported the residents at 800 Traction during their fight to stay in their homes. She will be missed. Her legacy in the L.A. arts scene will live on. Rest in peace, Lydia. Thank you for everything you did in your amazing life. Thank you!”

Sixty29 Contemporary: “It with a heavy heart we send our deepest condolences to the entire LA Artcore family and all the friends and artists touched by Lydia’s decades of joyful enthusiasm, energy and passion for the arts. She was truly one of a kind and a local institution onto herself. We will we’ll miss her dearly. Bye Lydia!”

East West Players: “We are sad to hear of the passing of a Union Center for the Arts great, LA Artcore founder and executive director Lydia Takeshita. Our condolences to her loved ones and the LA Artcore community. #restinpower”

Little Tokyo Service Center: “Deeply saddened to hear of Lydia Takeshita’s passing. Our hearts go out to LA Artcore and the Takeshita family.”

Form Follows Function: “She was a gracious and inspirational figure in the L.A. art scene. She was briefly featured in FFF’s ‘Union’ discussing the Union Center for the Arts and was such a pleasure to work with. R.I.P. Condolences to Lydia’s friends and family.”

Artist Mike Saijo: “Lydia Takeshita, director and founder of LA Artcore, just passed away today. She established one of the first nonprofit art galleries in Los Angeles in 1979 to support artists. Forever grateful for giving me my first exhibition, opportunity to travel to Thailand to participate in international artist exchange program, and many solo exhibitions like Spiritual Legacy Exhibit last year.

“So glad we were able to conduct a silk dye workshop at LA Artcore couple months ago and spend some time with her. We recently went to breakfast together and I couldn’t believe how much she can eat for being so little. I asked her, ‘How do you stay so healthy and have so much energy?’ She said she cut out meat from her diet and does a lot of gardening. Thank you, Lydia, for all you’ve done for us. We will miss you lots.”

Painter and butoh dancer Ibuki Kuramochi: “Dear Lydia Takeshita passed away today. She helped my visa and we had lunch together several times. She is a legend of the L.A. art world. She always said ‘Mata ne’ (See you again) when I left her gallery. She’s an angel. I miss you, Lydia. I respect you so much as an artist, as a woman and as a Japanese. I’m so sad. I can’t stop crying. I’m grateful to have met her. Rest in peace.”

Tuesday Night Project: “The whole Tuesday Night Project family is sending some love to our neighbors as we mourn the loss of Lydia Takeshita, founder and executive director of LA Artcore at the Union Center for the Arts. Lydia’s work brought artists from around the world into Little Tokyo through her exhibitions and we know that her legacy will live on in the spirit of the courtyard and building we call home.

“We’re grateful to have her energy, stewardship, and vision embedded in our work.”

Takeshita, a California native and a resident of La Cresenta, was preceded in death by her brother, Carl (Tayeko) Takeshita. She is survived by her brothers Byron (Aileen) Takeshita and Roy (Arlene) Takeshita, many nieces and nephews, and other relatives.

Services will be held on Friday, May 10, at 3 p.m. at Fukui Mortuary, 707 E. Temple St., Los Angeles, with Rimban William Briones of Los Angeles Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple officiating.

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