WOS (Windows of Soul) 2015 took place on the infamous city block of Walnut Ave. Walnut Ave, located in the Wilbur Section of East Trenton, is quite possibly, the most infamous block in the east ward. It’s one well known for illegal activities and unfortunately, its murder rate. This block is in pain…and it has been for a very long time.
We wanted to originally focus on walnut in 2013, during the seconded installment of WOS, but was unable to make it happen at that point, partly due to politics and contracts which bonded us to downtown Trenton. It was always a goal to do this block. The sheer number of abandoned properties and the strong community was enough to keep attention on the struggling block.
SAGE partnered with the Arts council of Princeton ( http://artscouncilofprinceton.org/ )to fund WOS. With a grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and matching funds from individual donors, we had enough funding to put this project together. During the summer, the WOS team was composed. One Trenton Project which consists of Caitlin Fair and Kimby Heil handled community outreach. Both Hands Artlet, spearheaded by artist/teacher, Bentrice Jusu, covered photography and event documentation. TCNJ Bonner Center provided volunteers for community cleanup and Artworks Trenton hosted the opening artshow that kicked off the weekends festivities.
Saturday, Oct 17th, bright and early that morning, we begin the install of art on the abandoned buildings. TCNJ Bonners and kids form the community produced art on canvas and paper donated by HomFront Artspace, while Graham Apgar of Sage Guerrilla gardening unit broke ground on a new community garden entitled,”Graffiti Garden”.
Leon Rainbow, with assistance from TCNJ students produced a mural book-ending the garden titled “Section Love”. The mural was a homage to the wilbur section and the strong sense of community which connects so many individuals within the neighborhood.
Wils Kinsey, Lori Johansson and their team of volunteers oversaw the install of artwork on the abandoned properties. With a boom truck and tons of art being turned out from the kids in the community, there was no shortage of art and Wils and company kept up a steady pace, installing throughout the weekend.
Ahmad Shakur, SAGE resident DJ an his team musicians held down the music. Classic Hip Hop, House, R&B and Funk was the soundtrack for the weekend…keeping this running smooth and chill.
Sunday, Oct. 18th, the final day of event and the one with heavy attention on the music performances. Local and a few regional acts performed to a steady crown of onlookers and spectators. Ahmad kept the grooves going while Wils and company continued with the install. One trenton project hosted the community BBQ and books and breakfast programs, which passed out children books to the neighborhood kids.
“Reach the world but touch the hood first”… a quote from Brooklyn emcee/actor, Mos Def, define SAGE Coalition’s mission; to never forget were one comes from while striving for something better than what is given. Many born under depressed conditions find it is difficult to raise above what most would consider a dead end socially, spiritually and economically. Windows of Soul is the visual representation of the aforementioned quote. With its 4th installment now complete, SAGE and company looked to go above and beyond our previous community beatification endeavors. This one felt more like the first and more organic than the previous two. I believe its because this one, like the first, had nothing to prove…other than to provide art to those with limited access to it. The kids, parents and all that participated enjoyed themselves and the feeling of connectivity was apparent.
“Windows of Soul” exceeded all of our expectations.We were all riding high from the weekend. Thanks to all who came together to make this happen. Addison Vincent and Jesse Vincent from the Artworks Trenton family, you guys are the “Wonder Twins”. Graham Apgar for keepin’ it real with the “Graffiti Garden”. To my native brother, Leon Rainbow, I think you will forever understand that “Wilbur Section” and “East Trenton” are truly different, but its all love. Wills Kins aka..”THE FOREMAN” for always coming through in the clutch and keeping things in order with the install. Kimby Heiland Caitlin Fair of “One Trenton” for the continued outreach leading up to this project and making Sunday super chill with “Books and Breakfast”.Ahmad Shakir for always setting the mood(Respect the DJ). To my brother Earlie Harrell for keeping the flame going. You are the realist my G. To Bentrice Jusu of “Both Hands” and Aine Mickey for documentation and helping build up this event with your unselfishness in adding light to the hood. To my SAGE Coalition brother Jonathan Conner, the “Larry Bird” of Street-art…salute. To Lori Johansson, Nikki Nailbomb, Drew Glenn and the entire Championship Sports Bar & Grill family for supporting and always being there when needed. Christopher Michael Jones, Mike Murphy, Andrew Wilkinson, Lauren Otis, Kate Graves, Kelvin L. Smith, Chelsea Perron,Elizabeth Amaral, and Marge Caldwell-Wilson for helping, supporting and always representing. To the Bonner Scholars for coming out and being apart with your community service and art output…and all the artist that submitted work and came out to celebrated community with us…thank you. To the community of Walnut Ave and Wilbur section and anyone I may have forgot to add…Salute, Thank You and One Love. Trenton still making it. It Don’t Stop!
Some of the photos in the gallery are courtesy of Scott Ketterer -The Trentonian
To check out the full gallery go to: