West Windsor Arts is proud to welcome back the Trenton Community A-TEAM for an exhibition from August 30 to October 29, in the West Windsor Arts gallery, to highlight their artists. The opening reception is Sept 11 from 4 to 6 pm at West Windsor Arts, free and open to the public. The A-TEAM Artists of Trenton began as a group of artists who regularly use the services of the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK). The artists’ cooperative formed in 2001 and meets weekly at the multi-purpose room at TASK. Working in a supportive environment, the A-TEAM work together as a group to support and encourage each other’s success.
One of the highlighted artists that is featured in the exhibition is Charles ‘Cha Cha’ Smith. His piece, Entering the World emulates the very ‘out of this world’ feeling that comes with the idea of space. At the young age of nineteen, Smith was taught the shape of stars and from there his art was touched by the celestial beyond. “At first, I did cities, then I caught on to space ideas. I made spaceships. I can also make cars and robots. I make some crazy robots – weird faces and crazy hats. I draw robots that look out-of-this-world and cars that could be on the moon,” Smith says. “I was always into space because we’re living on a planet and we’re in space.”
Another one of the featured artists included in the exhibition is Herman ‘Shorty’ Rose. His piece, Pretty Lady is a picturesque portrait that could be mistaken for a photograph. It is embellished with a smooth circular frame that accents the colors in the artwork. Rose learned how to make frames along with other things in his twenties while he was in jail. Along the way, picking up the ability to use whatever resources he had on hand,” I use any kind of paper and plastic garbage bags and tape. I sew the frames together with string and a needle I made from a piece of plastic. Glue would mess up the pictures. I pick pictures that I think go well with the frames, and I coat them with clear tape so they last.” In 1998, he was introduced to the soup kitchen where the A-TEAM was born. Starting as someone to go to for framing, Rose found his artistic side with the A-TEAM. “By the grace of God, I’m gonna keep doing my art ‘til I can’t do it no more. When I’m doing art, I feel perfect.”
Also included as an artist in this exhibition is Lisa Lewis. Her piece, Storm is a textured mixed media painting that captures the sharp movements of what could be seen during a storm. Lewis was inspired by her husband to start doing art. She had done it before as much as the average person would do, but did not feel confident enough to truly pursue it until he gave his support. While studying for her GED test, Lewis was at the soup kitchen and eventually joined the A-TEAM. “I love being on the A-TEAM because it’s like a big extended family. I never set my alarm clock except for the A-TEAM on Tuesdays.” She continues to explore her creativity and help others find that spark within them. “I’m going to keep doing art in the future. It’s a positive outlet; that’s what I think.”
Exhibiting Artists: Dolores Frails, John Hayes, Carol Johnson, Warcheerah Kilima, Deborah Kisela, Lisa Lewis, Ethel Mack, Frankie Mack, Paul Norris, Jim Prokolyshen, Herman “Shorty” Rose, Charles “Cha Cha” Smith, Demond Williams, and Emery Williams.
About West Windsor Arts: West Windsor Art’s mission is to provide high-quality cultural programming that brings people together and transforms the world around us by inspiring, educating, and promoting the arts and art appreciation for our diverse community. For information on the West Windsor Arts, please visit www.westwindsorarts.org. West Windsor Arts is located at 952 Alexander Road, West Windsor, and is a five-minute walk from the Princeton Junction Train Station. Office and gallery hours: by appointment. Call 609.716.1931 or write firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Trenton Community A-TEAM: The Trenton Community A-TEAM supports, develops, and promotes self-taught, local artists because art can be transformative by reframing the artist’s connectedness to self and others and by enhancing community pride. For more information on the Trenton Community A-TEAM please visit https://www.tcateam.org. Trenton Community A-TEAM is located at 51 North Stockton Street, Trenton. Call 609-421-0793 or write info@TrentonCommunityAteam.org.
Featured images by: Charles ‘Cha Cha’ Smith (above), Herman ‘Shorty’ Rose, and Lisa Lewis (below)