Where Art Can Occur (WACO) Theater Center celebrated its 5th annual Wearable Art Gala last night in Santa Monica at the Barker Hangar. The gala was hosted by the WACO Founders and Co-Artistic Directors Richard Lawson and Tina Knowles Lawson, longtime champions of art and mentorship, who opened the visual and performing arts center in 2017.

For the fifth anniversary gala, the wearable art theme is Step Into Harlem Nights. The event brought Harlem to Los Angeles, recreating the big ballrooms, jazz clubs, speakeasies, iconic restaurants, and theaters where artists such as Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald performed.

We had the opportunity to interview some of the amazing stars from last night’s gala. Angela Bassett, Kelly Rowland, Issa Rae, Michelle Williams, Marsai Martin, Doechii, Baby Tate, and more stopped by to chat.

Keke Palmer hosted the 5th annual Wearable Art Gala auction. Special performances by Grammy and Golden Globe Award winner Andra Day as well as a musical tribute by Chloe Bailey and Halle Bailey. Debbie Allen Dance Academy showed up and showed out. Chicago Philharmonic Composer-in-Residence Marcus Norris conducted the dynamic South Side Symphony, Daytime Emmy Award winner Obba Babatundé and Grammy-nominated Jazz and R&B Music Hall of Famer Freda Payne did not come to play last night. DJ Millie provided an eclectic soundscape of music for guests, inspired by artists of the past and today.

Critically acclaimed actor and Golden Globe Award winner Angela Bassett received the Film & TV Icon Award, recognizing her career achievements in television and film and her continuous support for young artists. This year’s Art Icon Award will go to the internationally-celebrated contemporary artist and the U.S. State Department Medal of Arts award recipient Mark Bradford.