Final Friday @ Ong King


POSTED: Friday, November 06, 2009

There's a tightness in his voice, a tinge of regret, as Cristian “;See”; Ellauri talked about “;what a good run”; Ong King Arts Center had over the last four years.

The center, a partnership between street performer and actor Ellauri and musician Jonathan Heraux, will close its doors for good on Nov. 15. Tonight's First Friday gallery walk will be its last.

“;There's not another place like this, not only in Hawaii, but in most cities, where it's just about free expression. That's the business model,”; Ellauri, best known as MC See, said last week of his venue that features visual art, dance, theater, poetry and music. “;People say they wanna come do a play, or a dance performance, or whatever, and I say yes to everybody. This is not a high makamaka art place.”;





        » Where: Chinatown Arts District

» When: 5 to 9 p.m. tonight


» Cost: Free


» Call: 521-2900




Ellauri admitted a couple of factors contributed to the end of Ong King's run. One is all too familiar: The economy. The other is the changing face of venues in the River Street section of Chinatown.

Ellauri said “;there seems to be less space for arts-centered entertainment”; as new bars open nearby.

“;Most places just try to do art and music so customers can buy drinks or eat a meal,”; he said. “;We like that ours is not a bar atmosphere. It's just about the art.

“;We feel like it's been a beautiful four years. A lot of artists have found a voice and space here. But it's really not about this one place closing. It's about people (continuing to) find ways to express themselves.”;

Next for Ellauri is a move to San Francisco, where a larger theater and arts scene awaits. Heraux is thinking of opening a bigger venue, possibly at the old Studio One location in Chinatown, if he can find partners.

“;The Ong King concept could come back,”; Ellauri said.

Many regular performers at the venue, such as poets Kealoha and Bridget Gray, musicians Taimane Gardner, Ariel Eisen and Christina Nelson and the Shakti Dance Movement, wanted in on tonight's schedule, so each will have limited time to pay their respects. MC See “;will be doing theater and stuff,”; while Heraux's band, Quadraphonix, and Breathe of Fire will perform as well.

Visual artists featured tonight are Luc Beauchamp and DAL, with juggling by Loco Moco.




Other Highlights

        » The ARTS at Marks Garage (1159 Nuuanu Ave., 521-2903): Hawaii artists explore community and communication, and their relation to print in “;comPRESS,”; presented by Honolulu Printmakers.

» Black Cat Studio and Art Gallery (1157 Bethel St., 524-7580) presents “;The Awakening,”; the first collaboration between painter Andy King and graphic artist Basil Sakamoto. Proceeds from First Friday art sales and tattooing for the month of November will benefit Kenneth Brimer, a leukemia patient who travels to the mainland for treatment.


» Mendonca Building Courtyard (1126 Smith St., 262-5930): Alyssa Ferguson and her Pink Zen jewelry pay their first visit to the courtyard; other highlights include Martine Aceves Foster's floral photography, digital photography by Nancy Mueting, Jules Schaper's batik paintings and music by Otis Schaper.


» Louis Pohl Gallery (1111 Nuuanu Ave., 521-1812): “;No Plan B,”; a group show of works by iconic artists Satoru Abe, Harry Tsuchidana and Warren Stenberg.


» Peggy Chun Gallery (1161 Nuuanu Ave., 545-4810): “;Kino Wa'a,”; a thesis show by University of Hawaii-Manoa MFA student Richard Kupihea Romero.


» The Contemporary Museum at First Hawaiian Center (999 Bishop St., 526-1322): Works by Hiroki, Setsuko and Miho Morinoue.