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The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles

University Times

The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles

University Times

Band of Vices: Curating art as an form of empowerment

As we celebrate Black History Month, it’s important to support our community black-owned businesses.
Sydney Wanguhu
Works are shown to the public at Band of Vices from Wednesday to Saturday between noon and 5 p.m.

Los Angeles native Terrell Tilford is the owner and creative director of Band of Vices. The Black-owned art exhibit was founded in 2015 and is located on the lively street of West Adams Boulevard.

Curating art has been a hobby for Tilford since he was 16, collecting posters, prints, and pieces from greats out of his mother’s garage. With over 30 years in the business, the 54-year-old has enjoyed providing that space for others in the art realm and giving a sense of community to artists of color. He happily considers himself a “social advocate for visual artists.” Visit Band of Vices, which is open from Wednesday to Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m.

We had the chance to talk to him about his gallery and its impact on the West Adams community.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity…


The museum’s mission is “to harness the power of all of our differences to create a greater whole. We support strong voices and community.” Why did you think West Adams was a fitting location to pursue that?

I have historically always opened galleries in communities that consist primarily of Black and brown people. Very often, we walk into other spaces and no one speaks to us. They certainly don’t validate us [either]. There are gatekeepers of our own culture that are not kept by us and it’s important for me to make all of that accessible for these artists’ voices, visually, and to be expressed and for there to be a platform.

Do you only focus on curating local artists or is it open to all?

We get 300 to 500 submissions a year from around the world. While we may start with our focus on Black and brown artists first and foremost, we’ve shown artists from virtually every country in the world in this space.


Los Angeles native Terrell Tilford founded the Black-owned art exhibit Band of Vices in 2015 on West Adams Boulevard. The 54-year-old considers himself a “social advocate for visual arts” and has particularly looked to highlight the works from artists of color. (Sydney Wanguhu)



What are some of the best and most challenging moments about running Band of Vices?

When people come in with no expectations and discover something completely different. I love that because it’s not about me. It’s about telling a story. But the challenges are purely economic and getting the press to maintain eyes on us. We’re a damn good art exhibition space, but we don’t get the exposure. [Band of Vices] has impacted those who have come into the space, and when you’ve done the work, that should speak for itself.

How would you describe the team that works here?

Everyone has a role, but everyone can play all the roles as well. That’s how we’re all going to scale up as well. I also tell people you’re never going to be asked to do something that neither I nor my partners haven’t done as well. My partners come in in a suit and we’ve been under the toilet trying to clean so there’s no egos. We create a family within this space and work at [and] it’s a bit of a privilege to be in this space.

Any advice for aspiring artists who are working towards having their artwork displayed in art galleries?

Be tenacious. You are your biggest fan, so be an advocate for yourself. Make sure you do your research on the galleries you want to show your work. The gallery is not the end all be all to anything.


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