Bringing Trenton Back to Life
By Bri D’Anton
As you enter Gallery 219 in Trenton, NJ, you are immediately surrounded by art. Whether it’s a hanging piece on canvas, or the gallery walls themselves, the only thing lacking is the floorboards. These talented rising artists left no stone unturned when they took this building and went to work with the S.A.G.E. Coalition. Created in 2012, the S.A.G.E. Coalition is a non-profit based in Trenton, NJ dedicated to beautification projects, whose “goal is to remind those in economically depressed neighborhoods that unity and pride can thrive through creative problem solving and civic engagement.” It promotes anything creative, whether it’s murals, 3D work, or music. With Trenton being in such bad shape, they are working towards slowly bringing the city back to life.
Since its inception, the coalition has grown into a diverse group of visual artists, engineers, fabricators, musicians and teachers dedicated to the rebirth of Trenton and all other struggling urban zones. With Trenton experiencing challenging times, they are working towards slowly bringing the city back to life. Two of their signature projects are Windows of Soul andThe Ghandi Garden.
Windows of Soul is a unique project aimed at bringing life to blighted urban neighborhoods. The yearly event features the installation of artwork in the windows of abandoned buildings in local neighborhoods. Boarded up windows along the side of a street are painted or pasted with art, beautifying the area.
The Ghandi Garden on East Hanover Street is mix between a garden, art gallery, venue, and public park filled with found object art. It is a place where locals can come to congregate.
Chelsea Perron, one of the featured artists of Gallery 219, painted not only a vast mural on the walls of the space but pieces of the hallway as well. Her work was featured on the flyer advertising Soul of The Message 2014, the annual exhibit that showcases work by the artists involved with S.A.G.E. Here is why she decided to work with them.
“I felt like I finally found a group that saw the potential in investing hard work and time into something really worth while. Here were just a couple of ordinary guys who had the same crazy passion for art that I do and saw that they could make a difference.
The state that Trenton is in makes most people want to look the other way. They choose to ignore it’s poor looking neighborhoods because it’s something that seems like it’s too late for help. In reality though, the neighborhood is more than ready to be taken over with love and art.
S.A.G.E. Coalition looks at it as an opportunity to prove ourselves. Sure, it’s going to take a while, but just in a day, like with the event Windows of the Soul, we were able to move beautifying Trenton forward; imagine what we could do with weeks and months. We have that spark to look over the fear that says Trenton is too late to fix or it’s too big of a project. We all just have to want it.
That’s one of the hardest parts about this movement. It’s difficult to get people who want to take just a little time out of their schedule to share some ideas and art with the group.
From my own personal experience, I can say in the short time I have been with S.A.G.E. Coalition, I feel like I’ve really made an impact. I didn’t even know that I had that power! You think what you share with them is small but it ends up really making a difference. That’s what happened to me.”
Working with the S.A.G.E. Coalition is one that will give back as much as it is given. Just a little bit of time out or your weekend can help give this city back the vitality it was once known for.
Check Out Their Events Here and learn how you can volunteer and support the movement.