ANATOMY OF A 'SECRET SOCIETY' WORDS & PHOTOS BY DIANE ABAPO
There are some nights that are simply better expressed through photos. I shoot like I blink. Quick moments that I spot and the pressing of a button to help me remember later on. This past Thursday night was the first pop-up art event held by Illuminated LA at NOLA's A Taste of New Orleans in the Little Tokyo arts district as part of this year's first Downtown LA Artwalk. Organized by its two founders, artist Seth 'MeexOne' Wilder and food writer Adam Rubenstein, the restaurant served as the backdrop for a series of live art and musical acts including sketch/paint artist Nora Ann-Francis Martin-Hall, rapper Kyle 'Verbs' Guy, and Hawaii-bred group Analog Dive.
One goblet of Chimay and a glass $3 beer later (provided by District BBQ next door, also owned by restaurateur Jason Ha) found me surrounded by a flurry of friends and artist folk. DeVon, Arthur and Umi of our TDG x SR HOMME collaboration stopped by just in time to see VerBS freestyle on stage before Osa Virtuoso's live set. I introduced MeexOne to the guys before he returned to his large canvas to continue his signature black-and-white patterned piece. Next to MeexOne was artist George "iFryOka" Dominguez, hunched on the ground as he proceeded to master a drip-down painting with a crowd of onlookers surrounding him. Ironically enough, we met Dominguez's cousin Johnny Reyes of "Sh*t Latina Girls Say" YouTube fame by chance outside of NOLA's after using a reference from the original version to say bye to a friend.
On the way to indulge in some dessert at Pie Hole as an intermission to the night, we ran into MeexOne who moseyed his way along to a nearby liquor store around the corner to pick up an energy drink for a friend. Two slices of savory handmade pie later, we waltzed back to 'A Secret Society' through District BBQ to meet up with our resident videographer, Eddie Saucedo at one of the tables. While accompanying a friend to buy a pitcher, I stood next to rapper Yelawolf unknowingly as we both stood mesmerized by the footage of a man paragliding as it played on the projector screen behind the counter. Three minutes and a bucket full of regret later, the rapper made his quiet exit from the venue holding onto his beer.
Outside in the patio area adjoining District BBQ and NOLA's was a succession of Illuminated LA artists who were selling portions of their work - including new friend, photographer Denny Kim. Kim's scenic views from his travels of cities including Tokyo and Chicago instantly made its way to my memory bank.
Many thanks to Rubenstein and MeexOne of Illuminated LA for a memorable night spent in one of Los Angeles' hidden pockets. Sometimes all it takes for a good night is a pair of eyes and open ears. And a few rolls of film.