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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I still think this was my best article, written for the DownTowner.

By Robert Chilson
The bonfire pit created by Trenton Atelier with recycled elevator cable and a car tire rim was burning firewood that sent smoke wafting into the clear blue sky, but you did not have to look up through the roofless run down factory on Montgomery and Allen streets to see shining stars. That’s because if you were standing in the middle of the building; they were all around you at eye level.
On the wall of the factory also known to artists as “The Galamo” the words “welcome to my art show” were written in blue and green spray paint. The 16-year-old who wrote those words was Kamau Monroe, also known as SPX, and Oct. 8 was his art debut.
Monroe’s mother moved out of Trenton to Hamilton two years ago but he refuses to leave; sneaking back into Trenton by bus, bike or his feet. Monroe started out spray painting hats for people downtown when he was spotted by twin brothers Erik and Bryan Hendrickson of Trenton Atelier.
The twins invited Monroe to tour Trenton Atelier on Allen St. and when they showed him the roofless rundown factory that the owner lets them use across the street; The Galamo was born.
Several weeks later, with yellow spray paint speckled all over Monroe’s face, his dream to transform the building into one big work of art came true as he stood smiling ear to ear welcoming people into his masterpiece.
It was opening night 6 p.m. when Nakiel Butler from the Trenton Boys & Girls Club showed up with a busload of teenagers; all of whom are members of The Verses of the Soul Poetry Club.
Monroe’s mother Katurah Monroe couldn’t have been prouder. She homeschools her son and has always encouraged his artistic endeavors. Another dream of young Mr. Monroe’s is becoming reality in the near future; he is going to be teaching art to his peers in a Trenton after school program.
“He loves Trenton and wants to spark an art renaissance among his fellow young people here,” Monroe said.
Monroe’s father lives in Baltimore but Monroe has no shortage of strong male role models around him. One of Monroe’s favorite people in the world is Trenton graffiti legend Leon Rainbow, who took Monroe under his wing and is helping him perfect his craft.
At opening night Monroe was asked “what do you want to do with the rest of your life?” Without hesitation Monroe replied, “I’m doing it.”