Community members gathered on Wednesday, November 9th to celebrate the unveiling of the Peace In Our Streets mural. The project, a collaboration between Capital Health, Isles Inc., East Trenton Collaborative, and the Trenton Cycling Revolution, is a work of art dedicated to fostering peace and unity throughout the Capital City. The mural was created by Leon Rainbow, in collaboration with Dean “Ras” Innocenzi and Johnathan Conner. The mural, an installment of Rainbow’s “Increase the Peace” mural series, features bicycles as it will be housed at the Trenton Cycling Revolution’s Community Outreach Garage.
Per Stacy Heading, the Youth Services and Outreach Manager at Isles, “We want to put together something that is filled with peace for the murals for everything that’s going on right now. So we said we were going to call it “Increase the Peace”, but each one has a subtitle to it.” Heading went on to explain that the The Peace In Our Streets mural comes as the concluding piece of a three-part series designed to promote harmony and community. The first mural, housed at 33 Tucker St. in Trenton, was entitled “Increase the Peace: It Starts With You”. The second piece at the Ike Williams Center was named “It Starts With Love”. The second piece was created in part by the Mayor’s youth team and was designed to foster self-love and love for the community. The culminating mural, the “Peace In Our Streets” piece, was the final installment of the series.
The “Peace In Our Streets” wall was completed in part by the Isles’ Evening Reporting Center. This opportunity gave youth in the city the opportunity to work with Leon directly to help bring this mural together. Anthony Richards, the coordinator for the ERC noted “when they finish, they take pride in it. It’s something that they really enjoy doing.”
In reflecting upon the mural, Mayor Reed Gusciora stated “about 2000 years ago in the Italian city of Pompeii, it was covered with ash from a volcano. When they first started uncovering it, they weren’t looking for government meeting notes, they were looking for the art and beauty that represents the society that we live in. This is so representative of Trenton and how it brings us together at the same time. It’s a life lesson for our youth to really think about ourselves, our community, our place in community, learn from our community, and keep the peace. So this is such a powerful message, and everyone in the city should be here to see it.”
According to the artist, Leon Rainbow, “It’s helpful to promote peace, there’s so much negativity that goes own not just in our city but in the whole country. I really want to try to push that message out there as much as possible and really get the young people involved as much as possible.”
Leon Rainbow is a Trenton-based artist whose unique blend of graffiti, street art, and other artistic mediums has become a staple in the Trenton community and beyond. From alleyways to museum galleries, Rainbow’s work captivates artists and invites them to explore the deeper meaning behind many of his works. Rainbow incorporates aspects of social justice, current events, and community into his art as a means of spreading a message to a wide variety of people. Leon Rainbow’s work connects and inspires, bridging the gaps between fine arts and graffiti along the way.
The mural was housed at Trenton Cycling Revolution’s Community Outreach Garage (COG), hence why so many bicycle-themed elements were incorporated into the design. According to Wills Kinsley, the COO of Trenton Cycling Revolution (TCR), “I was bringing out all my tools and fixing bikes and I mentioned ‘hey, we could do this all the time if we had a space, somewhere we could set up,’ and [the East Trenton Collaborative] said ‘we have a garage, I don’t know what’s going on with it.’ So we worked it out, we got the keys this time last year, and with huge help from the TCR board and the community, we got this space completely cleaned out, painted, and started a community bike shop.” Today, Trenton residents can visit the Community Outreach Garage to access the resources needed to access biking as a fun and affordable means of transportation.
The unveiling of the mural ended with a handprint ceremony, where attendees were invited to paint and stamp their hands on the mural, signifying the unity the artwork hopes to bring to the region. According to Stacy Heading, “Leon and I coined this, this is a handprint ceremony, which is the part that brings us all together as one.” One by one, the ceremony attendees made their mark on the mural, signifying our connectivity as one community. These beautiful works of art across our city serve as a reminder everyone could use: we are all one.