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MLK Memorial Wall 2016

MLK Memorial Wall 2016

Original Wall from 2005

The year was 2005. Leon Rainbow and William Kasso, two local artists, collaborated on their first mural together. At the time, each artist was only acquainted for a short period; less than a year, and each of their names was beginning to rise in the local art scene. The idea came up to produce this mural while brainstorming different opportunities to evolve their work, while watching graffiti bombing videos at Kasso’s apartment. The opportunity to work together on a groundbreaking project like this was tremindous. That project was the Martin Luther King Memorial Mural.

The original mural, which was created in the 1970s by an unknown artist, was falling apart. It was simple in execution; red brushed block letters with a white background. The two artist designed the new mural with the intention on focusing on MLKs image and message.

Original wall by unknown artist

Original wall by unknown artist

The two worked for hours…12 to be exact..in 115 degree heat. They battled a swam of bees…and a rain storm. But alas, after a full day of trails and tribulations, the wall was complete. It was met with great fanfare and press coverage. The mural put the two graffiti artist in the local limelight and got the kind of attention that most in the graffiti scene would cloak themselves from…it made there faces known.

Since ’05, many murals and projects from each passed. In the fall of 2016, the two artist, now season wall art veterans and each with international recognition, decided to redo the MLK wall, which fell to years of decay and neglect. With proceeds raised from a Go Fund Me campaign, the two artist set out to update this iconic mural yet again.

Leon focus was the background imagery and quote, while Kasso focus was on the portrait. The quote:

“When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love”. This quote in particular was chosen due to its promotion of standing together in the face of evil and wickedness.”

“Its a great quote, especially in the way it promotes a healthy way of solving conflicts”, say Leon Rainbow.

Leon chose a bright red font for the quote that was balanced out by a baby blue colored sky and titanium white fluffy clouds. Kasso’s portrait centered the wall with a straight forward rendering of Dr. King, while in giant bold white and red letters, the word DREAM stretched across the right half of the mural.

This was a quick production…taking all of two days to produce. During their time working on the mural, the two artists shared tons of laughs and good vibes, no different than 11 years prior. The community response was at first, not so pleasant…mainly because they thought the artists were removing the previous work out of disrespect. Once the community dialogued with Kasso and Rainbow, did their collective fears began to ease.

The work ethic of these two artists and the energy it takes to constantly answer the call to create these masterworks is phenomenal. The neighborhood and city of Trenton owes a huge debit of gratitude to these gentlemen. Art is life and its consistently provides an outlet to many who otherwise have no voice. Its the missing positive link in a chain forged out of hopelessness. Art matters. Trenton matters. Art is the message…and S.A.G.E. Coalition is the method.

-Earlie Harrell, Director of Urban Affairs, S.A.G.E. Coalition Inc.

Windows of Soul This Weekend!

Another year, another chance to rock great artwork on blighted buildings. Windows of Soul is all about transforming blight into beauty. Join us in bringing some positive culture to struggling neighborhoods. You can submit art to be pasted up on vacant buildings, or join us for workshops, music and more. It all goes down this weekend, Sept. 17th and 18th on Walnut Ave, between Chambers and Monmouth St, Trenton NJ.

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To the East… to WALNUT!!

There’s a little spot in Trenton, a couple blocks east of the train station, not far from the place Jay-z nodded to when saying, “East Trenton Grew Me..” But apparently not too close to there either, as Leon Rainbow found out the hard way. When he tried to quote that line in a mural in the neighborhood, residents there wouldn’t have it. “Put Wilbur Section Up!” they said. Man, do they love The Section.. and we love it too, after all, that’s where our candle-making-international-director-of-urban-affairs Messiah hangs out, and that’s where our resident-DJ-and-shade-tent-lender ItsJustAhmad hails from, and that’s where we did our last Windows of Soul street art festival. Recently, SAGE artists Áine Mickey and Graham Apgar have been going out there on a mission to turn the vacant lot at 131 Walnut Ave into a garden. It’s more of a park actually, a place for people to hang out and be around nature, and a chance for youth to be involved in making a creative change in their neighborhood. This project is all about the kids. It’s an after-school/summer program for all those uppity youngsters of all ages, who wander around Tha Section from 7 to 9pm on summer nights (perfect time to get to work!) We’ve already planted a dozen trees, and we’re building a B Home, a fire-pit and some planters. The program is made possible by the Arts Council of Princeton, who have been kindly helping us find some funding for it. Áine is currently building our relationship with them, so we can do even bigger things on this block in the future. She’s also our in-house documentary photographer.. check out her what she’s captured so far:

Windows Of Soul 2015 Recap

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:

http://media.trentonian.com/2015/10/17/photos-from-sage-coalitions-windows-of-soul-4-in-trenton/

Call for art: submissions for Windows of Soul 2015

Calling all artists…

Call for art

S.A.G.E. Coalition currently seeks art submissions for the fourth annual Windows of Soul in Trenton, New Jersey. Windows of Soul is a 3 day art extravaganza geared at community renewal!

Kicking off Friday,October 16th with a gallery showcase, featuring notable submissions from 6pm-9pm at TrentonWorks Gallery. Saturday, October 17th and Sunday, October 18th we  install artwork on the panels and doorways of neglected properties, then commence with a Block Party!  The weekends festivities will take place on the 100 block of Walnut Ave in East Trenton. Help transform the city! S.A.G.E. members and volunteers will display arts submissions in our signature urban outdoor art gallery  — a bold community plan mounting artwork in the windows and doorways of Trenton’s abandoned buildings.

At Windows of Soul, urban infrastructure becomes the community’s public canvas.  Art and urban development collide.  Dazzling, colorful aesthetics breath life into Trenton, invigorating culture and social progress.

This year, S.A.G.E. aims to paint every inch of the block. We need art.

Grace Trenton’s skyline with your artistic vision.  Please, submit paintings, stencils, pastels, stickers and other visual media to:

One Trenton Project
2 Highland Dr.
Yardly, Pa. 19067

Drop off location and time:

Trenton Works Gallery
5 South Broad St.
Trenton, NJ
Oct. 12 – Oct. 15, 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.

For more information, contact S.A.G.E. Founder, Will “Kasso” Condry:

(609) 222-9334

Email questions to:

sagecoalitionnj@gmail.com

Check out previous Windows of Soul events:

http://sagecoalitionnj.com/windows-of-soul/

Pork Roll Wars This Saturday!

11061688_10100612948014309_7533594459906796373_nThis weekend our very own Gandhi Garden will be hosting the Trenton Vegan Pork Roll Festival! There are actually a bunch of Pork Roll Festivals going on in Trenton on May 23rd, so check them all out. But as far as ours, it will be all about vegan food, potluck style, and everything DIY. “I don’t know what to expect,” says organizer Graham Apgar. “This event is more of a grassroots effort. I want people to bring vegan food, drinks, or things for us to grill and cook and share. One goal I have is to perfect our Vegan Pork Roll recipe. We’ll also have a jam session if people want to bring instruments, and we’ll be making our own T-shirts, so bring your own shirts to print on!” There you have it, folks, all we know for sure is it’s going to be delicious. The official time is 12-5pm, but come earlier if you want to join the Guerrilla Gardening Unit for some harvesting and garden prep (starting at 8am as always)  Hope to see you there!

Guerrilla Gardening Begins..

GG_Unit_webWe’ll be doing Guerrilla Gardening sessions all through the Spring and Summer, starting this Saturday, April 4th, from 8-11am, and continuing every Saturday until Nov. 7th. Whether you’re into art, gardening, or civic engagement, come check out the Gandhi Garden, and it’s offspring.. Shaolin, the Merchant St. Lounge, and The Oasis. Over the last few years, we’ve been creating these gardens and parks downtown as a public service and a form of street art. This year will be a little different, as the art studio 219 is no longer a presence on the block. Still, there are many reasons to come back out here (like planting some sh*t!) We welcome anyone who wants to contribute.

The plan for this Saturday is to take an observational tour of the gardens, identify key areas we want to work on, and think about how to make the gardens more self-sustaining, so we can spread out and make even more gardens! After the tour, we can do a little bush-wacking (bring some pruners or clippers if you have em) and other clean up work.. Maybe even have a little bonfire on the block. We’ll see..

Check the flyer for more info.. Learn more about the S.A.G.E Guerrilla Gardening Unit Here »

 

Permie Alert

permaculture_film_screening_march_2015_flyer_web Graham and Dirk are doing a permaculture film screening and discussion at The Hive on Monday, March 9th. Permaculture is a design process where we work with nature and our community to create efficient systems for living.

Check out the flyer or read more about it over here »

Windows of Soul This Weekend

WOS3_flyer_back_web10410105_10152845033636967_1645778020037307279_nWindows of Soul 2014 kicks off this weekend! Join us this Friday, Nov. 14th at 6pm for Inked Up at Gallery 219, and then Saturday and Sunday, join us for an art festival like no other as we deck the windows of on N. Stockton St. with amazing artwork. It’s all part of Windows of Soul Initiative. Read more about this years event here »

Windows of Soul: Stockton Street Needs Your Art!!

10641033_10152831952141967_4559132867471407981_n Windows of of Soul is back! We’re looking to cover the boarded up windows of vacant properties Stockton St, Trenton NJ with inspiring artwork! Help us do it by submitting your art, then come to the event to celebrate! Please Contact Us if you would like to set up a time to bring art to the studio. Click to learn more about the Windows of Soul Initiative »