The night began with a star-studded red carpet entrance, with Pan-Africanism sprinkled throughout (Photo by Kristina Dixon)

The 3rd Annual Wearable Art Gala was held at Santa Monica’s Historic Landmark Barker Hangar, on Saturday, June 1st.

Presented by WACO (Where Art Can Occur) Theater Center’s, Art Directors Richard Lawson, President and Tina Knowles-Lawson, Vice President. Shea Moisture and Community Commerce served as presenting sponsors and the official gala auction galleries were Gallery Myrtis and Fort Gansevoort.

The night began with a star-studded red carpet entrance with Pan-Africanism sprinkled throughout.  Celebrity friends and family included Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams, Earvin “Magic” and Cookie Johnson, Glynn Turman, Essence Atkins, Kym Whitley, Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, Saweetie, Stix, Robin Givens, Jidenna, Vanessa Bell-Calloway, Daniel Kaluuya, Kendrick Sampson, Chloe X Halle, Marsai Martin, Chris Tucker, Lil’Rel, Affion Crockett, JD McCrary, Viola Davis, DeWanda Wise, Lena Waithe, Steve and Marjorie Harvey and many more.

Attendees mingled in the AT&T ‘Dream in Black’ lounge while sounds of creole and hip-hop music performed Mudbug Brass Band, violinist Ezinma and DJ Millie.

The showroom, where Blu Ivy posed in front of artist, Twany Chatom’s “Braiding Hour / New Growth,” also displayed the wearable art pieces created by Crystal Paris’ “Circle of Life Collection”. Fashion of Zulu and the Kikuyu tribes, inspired the designs along with Disney’s “The Lion King”.

Gala Master of Ceremonies was Tiffany Haddish, who wore a red and black feathered dress and matching crown on the red carpet and changed for the gala into a gold sequence gown.

Honorees for the night included Tyler Perry, who was honored with the Trailblazer Award, Betye Saar for the Art Icon Award, Felicia Horowitz for the Everyday People Award and Richelieu Dennis for the Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

“The Lion King” Broadway’s award-winning Best Musical was a highlight, “Shadowland” from Broadway’s “The Lion King” performed by Sydnee Winters and dancers in African inspired costume designs wowed the audience. Cellphones lit the room up when Maxwell closed the night with his R&B classic “Pretty Wings”.


From left are Magic Johnson, Cookie Johnson, Tina Knowles-Lawson and Richard Lawson at 3rd Annual Wearable Art Gala. (Photo by Kristina Dixon)

Celebrity live auctioneer, Star Jones hosted the auction. Popular pieces included “Trayvon Martin Skittles,” handcrafted artwork made of skittles by artist, Harold Caudio and a Nipsey Hussle artwork made of broken glass by artist, Tiffanie Anderson, auctioned off at $15,000. Tyler Perry and Felicia Horowitz started a bidding war for $60,000.00.

Tina’s Angels and Richard’s Warriors joined the couple on stage where Knowles Lawson cried and thanked guests for supporting WACO Theater Center.  “The WACO Theater is where art can occur just like this gala everything about the place is about art, visual arts to fashion and music, for the fusion of all that but for a good cause, we do a lot of community work, we mentor kids, it’s a great place you should stop by and check it out.” stated Knowles Lawson.

Angela Rye stated, “Shout out to Ms. Tina and Mr. Lawson for all they do to create and spread art and love culture in our community and this is a great opportunity for us to come and support them and the kids lives they touch every single day.”

“This gala is youth focused; that’s what WACO stands for. The reason people are here, everyone of these creators knows whats it’s like to not have all the resources available and to have someone believe and invest in you and that’s what WACO stands for,” said, Jidenna.

WACO Theater Center is dedicated to the empowerment of artists within a diversified pool of LA communities. The mission is to create a space where art can occur and students are taught to develop their true purpose and awaken their individual power source which fuels their art. Funds raised from the gala will benefit theater, arts and outreach programs for WACO Theater Center.