Skip to content

Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Art and Culture of the DJ

What is happening peoples?

Our resident DJ, Ahmad Shakir, is about to start registration for his S.A.G.E. series of DJ classes entitled: “The Art & Culture of the DJ” this week. Classes will run on Saturday’s starting February, 18th 2017 to March, 18th 2017

Classes are design for ages 13yrs & up

Pricing is crazy simple: ($300) for 6 one hour classes. Pre-registering will save 50% ($150) until Feb. 12th. After February 12th they’ll be ($300).

Register here

Get at me and let me know if you’re interested!

Contact: DJ itsjustahmad(Ahmad Shakir)djahmad.sageclass
+1 (609) 807-8609

The No Face of Gentrification

nofacewall.trenton.2017.sagecoalitionI came to Trenton on a short trip to see my daughter and to tie up some loose ends a few days ago. It was indeed a quick trip (less than 36 hours). Before I headed back to Vermont I decided to take a wall for ol’ times sake. This idea had been incubating since the fall and was prompted by many issues that had been developing, some of which had influenced my need to move. So many things were going awry. My home was in foreclosure…my organization, SAGE Coalition, was at a crossroads…and my quality time with my daughter was constantly compromised. I was dealing with a lot. During the fall, after spending time with Jennifer Herrera, associate director of the Anderson Freeman Resource Center at Middlebury College in Vermont, I was reintroduced to Hayao Miyazaki films; one in particular being the masterpiece, “Spirited Away”. A character in the film called No Face really stuck out to me. The design was simple yet powerful. No Face is a spirit in the Japanese anime film. He is shown to be capable of reacting to emotions and ingesting other individuals in order to gain their personality and physical traits.

I wanted to represent this character on a wall. At the time, I didn’t know in what context. After being educated about the different appearances and forms No Face can conjure by University of Vermont (UVM) undergrad and self proclaimed “Spirited Away” expert, Alexa Herrera, I proceeded to show No Face in a more aggressive form, given that the theme of the wall was gentrification. I chose to represent No Face as a metaphor for the aforementioned; swallowing up everything around him in a selfish greedy frenzy. Gentrification is a multi-faceted phenomenon that can be defined in different ways. According to wikipedia, gentrification is defined as: “A process of renovation and revival of deteriorated urban neighborhoods by means of influx of more affluent residents, which results in increased property values and the displacing of lower-income families and small businesses”

The building that was selected for the endeavor is as dilapidated as it gets; paint chipping…garbage everywhere. It was a supreme eye sore…but it was also placed in the middle of a city block with tons of traffic passing by, which made it ideal. Onlookers and passersby cheered as Earlie Harrell and I primed and began to layout the wall. Jennifer documented the process via iPhone and even the local city police showed up in support. The officer arrived after someone called in to report that the building was broken into and being vandalized. After a brief conversation, I assured him that I was not trespassing inside, but helping to ease the stress of looking at the building that was obviously not upkept or properly maintained by whoever owned it. The officer went on to say: “I rather see this art than the ugliness that’s currently present”. Needless to say, I was given a pass…and I continued to paint.

The mural only took two hours to produce. As quick as the mural went up, is also how quickly gentrification can spread; not in a literal sense, but defiantly in a metaphorical one. Ironically, artists like myself are used to seed the process of gentrification; we make the areas in distress more palatable for the masses. Like most low income residences and small businesses gentrification affects (click here to know more about it), we are swiftly moved out and out-priced as well.

There are talks of an impending “arts district” on E. Hanover St. in Trenton, NJ, the same block Sage Coaliton made famous with our frequent gallery shows, community gardens, and music showcases. Unbeknownst to us at the time, we were laying the foundation for “urban development”…and the possible displacement for the blocks inhabitants. We were the first to feel the affects of “urban renewal”.

It was never our motivation or ambition to pass judgment on who deserves what. As SAGE, we just spread the possibilities that can come from living an artistic lifestyle. Gentrification was lying in wait for us too. We became just as much victims of the process as anyone.

As the quote by Vietnamese communist politician, Khang Kijarro Nguyen, which capped off the wall reads: “Excessive gentrification destroys the biodiversity and ecosystem of a community.”…and if we are not careful, it will do the same to the city of Trenton, NJ. Gentrification is not coming…it’s already here.

As Nina Simone said, “an artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times.” This mural does just that.

-William G. Kasso -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.




The Buddha Of Woodbury

Kasso just did a massive Buddha-themed wall down in Woodbury, NJ. Here are some pics, taken by the talented Habiyb Shu’Aib. The artist describes: “For those that have been following me via social media, know about the mural I recently completed in Woodbury, NJ entitled “The Buddha Of Woodbury.” In collaboration with the Woodbury FAF, who champions initiatives rich in arts, culture, and sustainable design as a catalyst for community development and economic revitalization. They execute these initiatives by creating engaging places and innovative experiences that transform the lives of the community. SAGE Coalitionand FAF first collaborated 4 years ago at their inaugural festival, were SAGE members demonstrated our artistic skills via live painting, welding, and music performances.”

Read the whole post »

Gandhi Prints for TASK

2015-10-28 10.43.29_resizedYou know, too many non-profits become soulless, self-preserving entities these days. It’s time to begin the SAGE holiday tradition of fundraising for other non-profits. Our friend Howard Michaels has created these matted and framed prints of SAGE artist Will Kasso painting Gandhi at the Gandhi Garden. He’s selling them for $75 each, with $20 going towards the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen.. Which is perfect, cause that’s where I’ve been eating lately! You can buy one by filling out our contact form.

Case statement on attaining an art studio in Trenton

white paper

Case statement

SAGE white paper

S.A.G.E. Coalition’s case statement details building-acquisition implications within Trenton, N.J. The problems negatively impact our ability to contribute to the Trenton community.

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. If you need help for redesigning a home garden and outdoor space , you can check this out here! 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 »

High Grade Artistry hits the Road

A few of of at SAGE are involved in an effort to take our Trenton-based art outside the city limits, to other areas of the country where we can network with other artists and spread our creative energy. We’ve already linked up with emerging art scenes in Boston, NY and Philly, but we want to take it even further. The High Grade Artistry Tour is being crowdfunded right now.
Click here to support us through IndieGoGo »

Watch the video below for more info.

Help Trenton Tour Its High Grade Artistry! from Black Collar Biz on Vimeo.

Trenton’s Daughter.. All Grown Up

1782078_498837216899490_1475934720_nOur featured artist of the month of June is no other than Trenton’s own, Tamara Torres. The opening reception is June 20th, 2014 at Gallery 219 at 6pm-9pm. DJ ITSJUSTAHMAD on the 1s and 2s. Read more about it here »