When we painted the Patterns of Life Trailer for Shelley Elle. She asked us to paint the staircase to her living room in her house. After a brief discussion we decided to create a politically charged piece. We talked with he about her political views. I talked with Luis and he wanted to have more of a creative role in this project so we decided to split the responsibilities. Luis worked on getting the custom stencils together and I worked on putting together the background and design elements. We wanted to have bright colors in the background and neutral colors for the main images to really make them stand out. We really like how the finished piece came together.
SAGE Coalition is the heart and soul of the capitol city of Trenton, NJ’s arts community. With its recent mural production, “City of Dreams”, it further reiterate that sentiment.
Sponsored by the ETC (East Trenton Collaborative) and designed by William Kasso, the idea came about while discussing different visions for a youth themed mural. Kasso, who has a long storied history in the production of youth murals, brought up the idea of a kid blowing bubbles over a city landscape. He then enlisted his longtime friend and frequent collaborator, Leon Rainbow, to co-produce.
Leon Rainbow drafted up an abstract surreal background, full of bright yellow, oranges and reds, along with a festive cityscape to balance out Kasso’s massive image of S.A.G.E. member, Rocky Kelly’s daughter, Dreamy.
The bubbles were created with the help of children during a after school art workshop sponsored by the East Trenton Collaborative and Habitat for Humanity. Kasso, Rainbow and Earlie Harrell lead a workshop of roughly 20 students to create dramatic images of bubbles with blue hues and abstract patterns.
The bubbles were installed within the mural using a high density adhesive called Nova Gel. Once the bubbles were placed, Rainbow finished off the background while Kasso continued to work of the image of Dreamy, which stretched from the top of the wall down. The entire figure measured about 25 ft once completed.
The two artist worked in unison while Cynthia Groya, a Harvard University undergrad, documented the process.
Rocky Kelly, S.A.G.E. holistic health guru, wrote the passage to sum up the vision behind the mural, which reads: “In the City of Dreams, a dream can be fulfilled as easy as a child blowing a bubble. It is the power of your intent that will determine how big or small your dreams become”.
The entire production took 4 days; capped off by Earlie Harrell…aka…Messiah, slapping on a few layers of clear coat to seal the wall.
Leon Rainbow and William Kasso. Many call them the dynamic duo of the Trenton Art scene. Each artist has created more works of public art in the capital city than any other artist before or since. Its a pleasure to watch these two artist work their magic…especially in a city like Trenton, NJ; a city struggling to regain its former identity of prosperity and glory.
“Trenton makes the world takes”. That statement is world renown..and so are its artists. The City of Dreams is not only a beautiful piece of public art, but also a vision of what could be.
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 tremendous. 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.
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.
I knew Debbie Schaeffer from Mrs.G’s Appliances for a few years and we always talked about doing a collaborative event. So in 2011, she contacted me about painting a fridge at an Breast Cancer Awareness event in October. We did a contest in the local schools and had the finalists come out and paint their designs on refrigerators. The event was called “Paint Fridge Pink” . It was a great event and it was really fun working with the art students at her Lawrenceville, NJ store. This year we decided to revisit the idea. We had an event at her new location and broadcast it Live on Facebook. I focused on the theme Peace, Love, Cure . The fridge will be auctioned off to benefit Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.
Created this namesake mural on a shipping container for Lot 323- an urban garden/park with an industrial motif- an inviting area to gather, play, remotely work, relax and enjoy light fare and entertainment. A fun “Third-Space” that’s FREE for the public to enjoy as well as available, by reservation, for emerging artists and musicians, other arts and cultural organizations, schools and educational groups to promote their programs and engage their audiences. LOT 323 will be an open flow-through park monitored in part by the City of Woodbury Police Department. The space will be outfitted with furniture that is designed to be played with, painted, written and/or climbed on. The focal point of the area will include a performance stage, which will repurpose surrounding architectural elements.
Bale came to me and said that he had a mural project that he had a project for a church. So I met him one afternoon and we started driving. An hour and a half later we arrived in Downingtown. I just expected it to be local..hahaha. After talking with Mike Banka and Tony Brantzig from Hopewell UMC, Downingtown, PA . They told us they wanted us to paint a 50 ft container that was going to be shipped to South Africa full of supplies and installed and converted to a classroom. We were so excited! It was such a cool concept to have our work in South Africa. I always say that my art will travel places I never dreamed of. After submitting some sketches we were able to start painting. The way things were scheduled we wound up painting it on one of the hottest days of the Summer. We stayed hydrated and had a pop-up tent near by to save us from the scorching heat. We chose to do a warm and cool concept to really make the featured pieces pop. We had lots of fun playing with different patterns and designs. Houston we’ve landed!
In May 2016 I went to see my Dad in Yuma for Memorial Day. So I decided to meet up with my friends Isaias Crow and Pose 2 and get some walls in. We started in San Diego.
Then we went to stay in Rosarito, Mx for a few days at Pose 2’s beach bungalow. I had an amazing time the ocean, landscape, and people were so chill in Mexico. We did a 3 man wall in the compound. Next we went to look for a wall in the city of Rosarito. We were able to get permission for a large wall at a fish taco spot..Win, Win! We were able to paint the 100ft +x 10ft wall in a day in a half. I think we all learned a lot, created and stretched out of our comfort zones. I really needed this trip to Mexico to bring my creative energy back to life. Not one I will soon forget!
The last part of my trip was spent visiting my dad and benching trains in Yuma, Az. It was a slower tempo then i am used to and I got some much needed rest. I was able to paint a piece or two on my own in Yuma. Kwatsan Nation!