COURTESY ONG KING ARTS CENTER
Coco Chandelier performs at Ong King's anniversary party during First Friday. Some 15 artists will take the stage at Ong King, including The Genie, slam poet Quentin Talley and the Amazing TJ in his farewell performance.
‘We want it to be about the performance’
The Ong King Arts Center will burst out with "OPEN Stage"
Skateboarders are so unwelcome in many parts of Honolulu that even carrying a skateboard can attract suspicious or hostile glances, but the Ong King Arts Center isn't one of those places.
Place: Ong King Arts Center, 184 N. King St.
Time: Art gallery opening 5 to 9 p.m. Friday; performance from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Admission: Free until 9 p.m.; $10 after
"Come on in," was the greeting on Sunday when Jonathan Heraux, co-founder of Ong King and emcee of the gallery's weekly "Sunday OPEN StAGE" night, noticed a man standing in the doorway, a skateboard under his arm.
Heraux not only welcomed the man, but also invited him to ride his board across the hardwood floor.
The skateboarder accepted the offer, capped his ride with a flashy reverse, and received a round of applause.
The indoor skateboarding demo was an ad-libbed extra in a casual but well-moderated showcase of semiunderground talent that has been going on in this second-floor spot near River Street for a year now.
Heraux and partner See/Cristian Ellauri celebrate Ong King's anniversary with a First Friday party showcasing 15 artists and performances by The Genie, Quadraphonix, the Cherry Blossom Burlesque, Giinko Marischino with Coco Chandelier and national slam poet Quentin Talley.
The late-night show will also feature the Amazing TJ in his farewell island performance, the duo of Lyz Soto and Jamie, and a preview of MC See's one-man show, "Dicho Inquietos (Un-Quiet Truths)."
In the last "Sunday OPEN StAGE," the cavalcade of performers included a pair of poets who combined poetry and dance, a tap dancer, a blues singer/comedian, a female singer/songwriter, a male singer/songwriter and a young man who read his latest poem from his notebook.
The level of professionalism varied. One performer plugged in his CD and suggested that anyone who didn't already have a copy should rectify that deficiency as soon as he was done. Others were working out new material or still finding their comfort zone as public performers.
Several seemed to be regulars with established followings.
Heraux told one member of the audience that "anybody can play drums," gave the guy a couple of quick pointers as he pushed him behind the Ong King drum set, and had him play long enough to more or less prove the point.
Everyone got a polite hearing. Everyone got applause.
"We want (the evening) it to be about the performance," Ellauri explained. Bars and lounges often host jam sessions, open-mike nights and karaoke as a way of cutting overhead by getting performers to provide free entertainment while customers pay standard drink prices. But as Ong King doesn't sell alcohol, Ellauri pointed said, people go there for the art and the entertainment, not to get rowdy, and those under 21 can be welcomed.
And in the unlikely event that a Sunday night comes up short on poets, musicians and tap dancers, Heraux and Ellauri are a show in their own right. Heraux, percussionist of Quadraphonix, is Ong King's resident drummer. Ellauri is a commanding beat-boxer and performance poet; his freestyle recitations of passages from Shakespearean plays were among the most artistically impressive contributions to Sunday's show.
The doorway that leads to Ong King, a second-floor hideaway on King Street near River Street, is easy to miss, and the neighborhood can be intimidating after dark, but it should be quite a party.
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COURTESY ONG KING ARTS CENTER
Quadraphonix is a mainstay at Ong King Arts Center. No small reason is that its drummer is Jonathan Heraux, co-founder of Ong King.
First Friday lineup
Time: 5 to 9 p.m. Friday
Place: Downtown/Chinatown district
» The ARTS at Marks Garage, 1159 Nuuanu Ave., 521-2903
» The Art Board, 1170 Nuuanu Ave., #104, 536-0121
» The Cathedral Gallery, 1184 Bishop St., 536-7036
» The Contemporary Museum at First Hawaiian Bank, 999 Bishop St., 526-1322
» Nuuanu Gallery at Marks Garage, 1161 Nuuanu Ave., 536-9828
» Daspace, 1192 Smith St., second floor, 351-4960
» Chinatown Boardroom, 1160 Nuuanu Ave.
» The Exhibit Space, 1132 Bishop St., 599-5009
» Hawaii State Art Museum, 250 S. Hotel St., 586-0900
» Louis Pohl Gallery, 1111 Nuuanu Ave., 521-1812
» Ramsay Museum, 1128 Smith St., 537-2787
» Bethel Street Gallery, 1140 Bethel St., 536-7036
» Jeff Chang Pottery, 808 Fort Street Mall, 599-2502
» Pacific Traditions Gallery, 19 N. Pauahi St., 531-5122
» Pegge Hopper Gallery, 1164 Nuuanu Ave., 524-1160
» Studio of Roy Venters, 1160 and 1160-A Nuuanu Ave., 381-3445
» Kim Taylor Reece Gallery, 1142 Bethel St., 546-1144
» The Art Treasures Gallery, 1136 Nuuanu Ave., 536-7789
» Carlos M. Chee Studio/Gallery, 111 Nuuanu Ave., suite 210, 233-8457
» Mark N. Brown Gallery, 1170 Nuuanu Ave., #103, 227-1710
» Che Pasta Café, 1001 Bishop St., 524-0004
» Hanks Cafe Honolulu, 1038 Nuuanu Ave., 526-1410
» One Night Stand in the Chinatown Courtyard, 1126 Smith St., 262-5930
» rRed Elephant, 1144 Bethel St., 545-2468
» Tea at 1024, 1024 Nuuanu Ave., 521-9596
» Duc's Bistro, 1188 Maunakea St., 531-6325
» HASR Wine Company, 31 N. Pauahi St., 535-9463
» INTO, 40 N. Hotel St., 536-2211
» New Life Gallery, 1190 Nuuanu Ave., 531-0303
» Keiki Photography, 1123 Bethel St., 531-5859
» Mercury, 1154 Fort Street Mall, 521-2519
» Pipedreams, 181 N. King St., 587-7776
» Sourcing Asia, 1133 Bethel St., 585-8505
» Urban Nomad, 1023 Smith St., 391-9328
» thirtyninehotel, 39 Hotel St., 599-2552
» Kaimalino Designs, 3 N. Pauahi St., 537-2248
» J Salon, 1128 Nuuanu Ave., Suite 103, 550-4441
» Jo Fraticelli's Nesting House, 1151 Bethel St., 393-6075
» Next Door, 43 N. Hotel St., 548-NEXT
» Upside-Down Pilates Studio, 116 S. Hotel St., #201, 779-1934 (entrance above Price Busters, buzz 201 for admittance)