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I loved art class in 3rd grade–I enjoyed sketching and painting under the gentle guidance of a friendly teacher. But somehow in adulthood, I haven’t given myself as many opportunities to make visual art as I’d like. Now that’s changing, with Art Chill Night at Championship Sports Bar & Grill.
Every Monday night at 8pm, this Trenton dive bar turns into an adult version of your 3rd grade art class, but with significantly more booze. The event’s organizer, Lori Johansson, is one of the affable employees of Championship Sports Bar & Grill. She’s a performer in the local band “Molly Rhythm,” an art school grad, and one of the artist of the (former) Hive Community of Art & Design. When you show up, she’ll set you up with some paper and pencils, and maybe even a shot glass full of crayons (or you can bring your own art-making material). You can sidle up to the bar (there isn’t much other seating here), get a glass of something, and start working away. Lori is happy to give you a prompt or even help you with some of the tips she learned in art school–or you’re welcome to work on your own. She’s an encouraging and enthusiastic presence–if she thinks you’ll appreciate it, you may find her gently spurring you to develop your drawings further. I half-expected to get a gold star when I finished.
This is called “chill” for a reason–it’s a deeply relaxed atmosphere. Mondays are Champs’ quiet nights, so most of the patrons are there just to work on some art and chat. If someone wanders in, they’ll quickly find a pencil in their hands, working on their next masterpiece. It’s surprising how much the art-making brings everyone together. Of course, the pencils and paper mean that nobody is staring at their phones, which makes casual conversation so much easier. The music is at a reasonable volume, and the drinks are dirt cheap. But you may find yourself making art next to one of Trenton’s established artists. Trenton muralist Jon “LANK” Conner was working on a water color still life of his beer can when I was there.
Championship Sports Bar & Grill has neither sports nor a grill. There are a few TVs (muted), but under current management this is a place more likely to watch The Daily Show than the NFL game. Most of the TVs are plugged into retro video game systems (free)–so after a few too many glasses of wine (which I had to drink out of a mason jar due to the paucity of wine glasses at this dive) I re-lived the other part of my own 3rd grade by playing Super Mario Bros 3. You can also go play pool at one of their two pool tables ($1/game) or play ping-pong. They also have a collection of board games. Oh, and the grilling? Champs doesn’t serve any food, but you’re more than welcome to bring in something from a nearby restaurant (I recommend this fabulous Jamaican which is next door) or order delivery from any number of the local Latino restaurants that we feature on this site (many of whom deliver).
So come relax and have a drink at Art Chill Night.