Some people made it their new year’s resolution to be more healthy or adventurous, but I decided to be more socially-active in my own community. Luckily for me, a 10-day event series called Into Action was happening in Los Angeles from Jan 12 - Jan 21. Thanks to a colleague of mine working the event, We Take Note was invited to cover Into Action and write about our experience.
By Ashley Coffey
January 26, 2018
We Take Note was invited to attend a special press preview of Into Action on the evening of January 12. Upon arrival, I was greeted by the talented Hadas who introduced us to some amazing creative entrepreneurs. Both Ashley Lukashevsky and Candace Reels are powerhouses who champion for feminism through art + activism. I knew I would be in good company after meeting them. We Take Note's trusted photographer Vanessa Acosta then met up with me shortly thereafter and we all headed into the exhibition space. The gallery was still a work in progress, but I loved it. Since this was an intimate preview of the art, only a select few publications were in attendance like Playboy and LA Times. It was an honor to also be there with these notable outlets and I was excited to explore more as the week went on.
Opening night had arrived and to say that I was excited was an understatement. With the walls of the gallery space fully ready to be seen by the public, I decided to invite an influencer friend and We Take Note collaborator Morgan Ryan. Since I had seen the gallery (almost) in its entirety last night, it was refreshing to see what someone who was new to the exhibition space thought of it. She was blown away and surprised that something as extravagant as this was happening in Chinatown. That night, the Black Eyed Peas hopped on the stage and displayed their new AR comic book titled, Masters of the Sun. The crowd was enamored by the technology and the new single that the trio also released titled, Street Livin’.
For me this was day three, but surprisingly I was still excited to head to Into Action. Because of the size of the space, I was able to see something new each time I visited. Today, I was able to get a bit of cardio in, but not from walking to exhibit to exhibit. Instead, I did some “Street Dance Activism” led by Shamell Bell. Although Shamell and I work on a project with Common, it was great to see her in her element as she took over the LA bridge. 50+ people were dancing as a form of resistance and everyone from 7-year-olds to 40-year-olds were sweating out their frustrations with today’s world as they hit the dougie and danced to afro-latino music. Afterwards, I was compelled to listen to speakers discuss dignity for incarcerated women because of a recent prison trip I took with Common + YG. Not only were women on stage at Into Action discussing their horrendous experiences in jail, but they are also working to present a solution. Their #Cut50 campaign is aimed at decreasing the amount of inmates in prison by 50%. This may sound like a lofty goal, but I feel like it’s achievable especially with the exposure the campaign was receiving at Into Action.
Today was Martin Luther King Jr. Day and a friend of mine was hosting an event called #MLKNow in NY so I made sure to wake up early to catch that before heading to Into Action. Although I tried my best to steer clear of TV, when I heard Jussie Smollett from Empire would be performing a song or too, I made sure I went to check it out. He performed a few high-spirited songs from his forthcoming project. Then the talented Goapele hit the stage. At that point, it was standing room only and the crowd was filled with influential up-and-coming musicians from the LA area like Hugh Augustine. The vibe was definitely right when Goapele sang Closer everyone united and the Into Action warehouse was filled with an extremely positive energy.
At the five day mark, I wouldn’t say I was losing steam, but I definitely only had energy to attend a panel called “State of Hate: A Discussion on Dismantling White Supremacy.” I’m glad I attended, not only because of the discussion, but because one of my favorite counterculture artists Shepard Fairey was speaking. He has always been a champion for change in the art world, but it was refreshing to see him speak about being white and how he’s interested in alleviating the world of white supremacist ideals. As the panel came to a close, I ran into the effervescent Rosario Dawson. She was attending the event with her daughter she posed in a Boomerang for my Instagram. It was definitely an unexpected surprise.
There were many pieces of art at Into Action that I felt connected to, but the ones I was most excited for were those by Ernesto Yerena. Thanks to our photographer Vanessa Acosta, we were connected to this talented artist and even featured him on our site. Now, he was being featured at Into Action and tonight of all nights, that was a special achievement. Activist Dolores Huerta was in attendance for a screening of Dolores, a film about her life working alongside Cesar Chavez. Although many recognize Chavez for his achievements, it was powerful to see a female activist being recognized. She later posed in front of one of Yerena’s pieces of work and it was such a clandestine moment. Yerena himself is an activist as well as an artist so it was powerful to see this moment manifest at Into Action.
I decided to combine the last few days of my Into Action experience into one because I was prepping for Sundance Festival and enjoyed the event via Instagram Live. I’m so grateful that I was able to be engaged without being in attendance. I was able to see a cool conversation with A-Trak and DJ Kittens, watched women walk for the Women’s March and even saw Wilmer Valderrama discuss voting power. John Legend shared some poignant words as well and Vic Mensa shared his latest video for "We Could Be Free." By the event's end, I realized how grateful I was that an event happened in my city. My wish is that this event tours to different cities and shares its beauty with people all over the country. If you missed the event, make sure you check out Into Action and learn how you can get involved.