Dissident Display

These young and influential individuals show what it takes to shake up the D.C. arts scene.
Sunday, September 14, 2008

Eric Brewer, 39, Adrian Loving, 37, and Ayo Okunseinde, 34

The fashionable, charismatic men of Dissident Display have injected the D.C. art scene with a dose of coolness. They throw underground parties, such as when they converted an empty retail space on 14th Street NW last May into a concert/art event called "Underwater."

"Three or four years ago, you didn't have the art scene that exists today where people will take abandoned spaces or places in transition to have spontaneous art gatherings to promote artists and the idea of socializing around and about art," says Brewer, top right.

Dissident Display operates an art gallery at 416 H St. NE, where they threw a 25-year-anniversary tribute to the hip-hop documentary "Wild Style" last fall. (The top floor of the building houses the group's commercial arm, which they pitch as a one-stop shop for video production and Web design.) "Because our space is not so sterile," Okunseinde, top left, says, "it gives access to people who might be intimidated by the white walls of art museums."

This spring, Dissident Display launched Scene, an online art magazine. Scene features three-minute video interviews with creative types as disparate as a tattoo artist and a National Gallery of Art curator. The secret to moving between such different social circles? Portray an image of success, Loving says. "We're sort of like self-styled celebrities."

-- Rachel Beckman

© 2008 The Washington Post Company