Band of Vices Founder and Creative Director Terrell Tilford - The Interview

June19art1webSince opening their West Adams location in May of last year, Band of Vices has emerged as one of the most relevant and well-curated independent art galleries that South Los Angeles has to offer.

From the Afro-Futurism of April Bey to the Multidisciplinary Surrealism of Chelle Barbour to the essential portraits of February James, Band of Vices has consistently championed emerging and under-represented artists. The heart and soul of the gallery is founder and creative director Terrell Tilford, whom I had the pleasure of speaking with about the gallery's history, mission and upcoming exhibition this June.

TNN: When and where did your journey begin as a gallery owner?

Terrell Tilford: In 2003 I opened up my first art gallery in what is called Picfair - Mid-City right at Pico and Hauser. We were there for years, and then in 2010 I closed the company altogether -- Tilford Art Group -- to refocus. I got burned out, I was doing too many shows and representing too many artists. Then in 2015 I got reenergized and rebranded Tilford Art Group as Band of Vices and we opened up at Grand and 8th Avenue, downtown in a 13th floor loft space. That became the genesis for this new version.

TNN: Is there a particular mission or vision with Band of Vices you can share?

TT:   The vision is a platform for underrepresented,

emerging, self-taught and mid-career artists. We use the term “disrupting the model” in describing Band of Vices. We’re a nontraditional gallery business that wants to do collaborations with other galleries and other artists because we recognize there's only so much any gallery can do for an artist representing them exclusively. We’re regularly working with other organizations, other galleries, other institutions and working to amplify an artist in every way possible.

TNN: Can you speak to the current state of the African American fine art community?

TT: Historically this is an absolutely incredible time for contemporary artists of color, particularly artists of African American descent. For example, you have Amy Sherald and Kehinde Wiley painting the portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama. Being included at the National Portrait Gallery is a huge jump in recognition of black artists. Many of these artists have been a part of dominant galleries for years, but for so many other African American artists, we provide a platform for them as well, for people to say, "I see you and recognize you in a way that I haven't done before." It's creating a greater conversation. While it's a component of our programming, it's not our exclusive programming. It’s a lot like our neighborhood West Adams, which has traditionally been a lower income Latino and African American community. If you give people an opportunity, a voice that is not exclusive to a homogenized group of people, then other people will naturally respond to it and go, "Oh my god, I didn't know.”

TNN: So what’s next for Band of Vices?

TT: We are very excited to introduce the photography of Ali LeRoi. He's a known producer, director, and writer and an incredible photographer. We are bringing in our first full-fledged photography exhibition called "In These Streets: From East Africa to South Central Los Angeles.” This is a journey and documentation through some of the toughest neighborhoods you will ever find throughout East Africa, juxtaposed against some of the street life in South Los Angeles, in particular the aftermath of the murder of Nipsey Hussle. There's so much integrity and so much life that still exists in these photographs that we wanted to show how the hardships can actually still have a level of beauty to them at the same time. Not everything has to be downtrodden and distraught for us to not still see the humanity within these people, and that's what a great deal of these photographs exemplify. There are some that will be very hard to stomach. Some of the harshest conditions, that some of these countries have not really addressed. So we wanted to show that aspect as well. It's going to be photography, with multimedia incorporated as well.

"In These Streets: From East Africa to South Central Los Angeles” opens Saturday, June 8, 6-9pm, and will run until July 6. There will be an artist talk on Saturday, June 22, 4-6pm.

For more information, visit




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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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