Venice fundraiser benefits civilians caught in the crossfire in Iraq and Syria

Ken Chen, Alexis Wong, Kurt Spencer and Joel Korpi are raising funds to help war refugees

Ken Chen, Alexis Wong, Kurt Spencer and Joel Korpi are raising funds to help war refugees

By Michael Aushenker

Ken Chen lives in Venice and Joel Korpi is from Austin, so it’s only fitting that Big Red Sun is the venue for the DJs’ “Art Plus Music” fundraiser this weekend.

The eclectic Rose Avenue furniture shop originated in the Texas capital, but it’s the Venice venue which on Saturday hosts a night of turntables and fun, with all proceeds benefitting International Relief Committee and their work with refugees of the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

At “Art Plus Music,” artist Gabriel Palma live paints as local DJs, headed by Chen (a.k.a. DJ Sleeper) and Korpi (Stadium), perform.

A photography exhibit features “surrealist photography conveying the emotions we’re trying to evoke, contemplating things going on in the world outside of Los Angeles,” said Korpi, who is organizing this event with Alexis Wong, Ann Kim, Kurt Spencer and Chen, a DJ backed by Santa Monica-based event sponsor Red Bull.

After witnessing the disturbing news coming out of the Middle East, the organizers — all members of Reality L.A., a nondenominational Christian church in Hollywood —decided to become proactive under the name Humanitarian Relief Project.

“We actually met someone at our church who is a refugee from Iraq,” Korpi said of Fadi Shaya, a 22-year-old kidnapped three times by ISIS. “He’s working three jobs to raise the money to get his family out of there.”

Shaya will speak at Saturday’s event.

Last year, Wong graduated from University of San Francisco, where she majored in international relations and minored in Middle Eastern studies. She applied her education as liaison between potential organizational recipients of “Art Plus Music.”

“I took the lead on that because it was something I knew a bit about,” said Wong, whose goal is to raise at least $2,000 by event’s end.

“It’s crazy hearing his story of how hard it is for the refugees to get asylum. It costs tens of thousands and takes two years to apply for refugee status,” said Korpi, who sees an urgency in rallying. “ISIS is not just attacking Christians; they’re attacking anyone who is not signing up to join them.”

“Art Plus Music” runs from 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday at Big Red Sun, 560 Rose Ave., Venice. Donation: $15 or $150 with food and beverages included.