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Mercer County Selects Artworks to Install Community-Themed Public Mural on Cass Street

originally published: 04/08/2024

Mercer County Selects Artworks to Install Community-Themed Public Mural on Cass Street

(TRENTON, NJ) -- Mercer County and the Mercer County Division of Culture & Heritage (MCDC&H) announced that Artworks, the Trenton-based visual arts center, has been selected to design and install a public mural. The mural to-come, entitled "Breaking Barriers", will visualize the power art has to connect a community.

“Artworks has been a valued community partner for many years, and I’m excited to see work begin on the project,” said Mercer County Executive Dan Benson. “Public art provides an opportunity for a community to express its values, its passions, and its hopes. This mural will serve as a lasting testament to the incredible creative talent in our Capital City.

In a ‘Call for Artists’, the MCDC&H opened submissions for the Mercer County Cass Street Prison Mural Project (MCCSPMP) to professional, practicing artists and artist teams living or working within the tri-state area (NJ, NY, CT and PA). Qualified artists were asked to propose an original design to be installed on the exterior 319 ft (w) x 19 ft (h) wall of the New Jersey State Prison located at 600 Cass St, Trenton, NJ.

The County received over 50 proposals. All qualifying proposals were then reviewed by a committee composed of public art experts, an arts administrator, a NJ State Prison representative and the MCDC&H. The committee narrowed the proposals down to six finalists, who then presented their proposals live in Phase II of the process.

After a thorough deliberation, Artworks came out on top.

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“Artworks Trenton’s proposal stood out for its ability to capture the essence of what the grant aims to achieve,” Samuel Kanig, Program Coordinator at The Center for Community Engagement at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) and a MCCSPMP Committee member said. “I'm excited about the collective of artists that will be working on the mural and the creativity they individually bring to the project. The Cass Street Mural is sure to be an inspiring community landmark.”

A team of seven artists will be working together to represent Artworks on this project. Artists collaborating on this design are Jonathan “LANK” Conner (Project Manager), Leon Rainbow and Jose “Busta” Bustamente (Lead Artists), Dean “Ras” Innocenzi, Dave “Mek” Klama, Alia Bensliman and April Cooper.

“Artworks is thrilled to have been selected for this project and is proud to be working with an amazing group of local artists led by Leon Rainbow and Jose Bustamente,” Conner said. “We look forward to creating a beautiful mural that represents the city and can be enjoyed by Trentonians for many years to come.”

Artwork’s concept for the mural is a celebration of arts and culture in the City of Trenton. In their proposal, the team described the upcoming mural design as a representation of the power that art has to “break down barriers: mental, cultural, spiritual, financial, and institutional.”

Each of the seven artists involved in the creation of this mural plans to bring a different perspective to their design, both through different artistic styles and through their individual cultural backgrounds. Together, the artists plan to make a connection between the diverse artistic styles and backgrounds of the group and the diverse community of the capital city.

"I was delighted to serve on the Art Selection Committee with our colleagues at Mercer County Division of Culture & Heritage,” said Stephanie Nerbak, Artist Services Manager at the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. “This project was a perfect fit for the team at Artworks Trenton. Their knowledge of the city, engagement of community members and local artists, combined with their strong design will make a terrific contribution to the neighborhood of South Trenton.”

Artworks will spend the Spring and Summer months workshopping and installing this mural, with an anticipated completion date in the Fall of 2024. To follow along with its development, follow Mercer County Culture and Heritage Commission on their Facebook or Instagram pages.

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“The Mercer County Division of Culture & Heritage is looking forward to seeing Artworks’ mural design come to life,” Idamis Pérez Margicin, Division Chief of Mercer County’s Division of Culture & Heritage and MCCSPMP Committee member said.

The MCCSPMP is made possible by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts, and is being administered by the Mercer County Division of Culture & Heritage on behalf of County Executive Dan Benson and the Mercer County Board of Commissioners.



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