And now 2$ON The Prince, whose given name is Kourtney Brown, has created a new layer.
2$ON grew up in East Chattanooga, a 15-minute drive from Alton Park. Following a competitive application process, he was awarded an arts residency—funded by Artists at Work—to work with TPL and the community to activate the Alton Park Connector with stories from and about community members.
2$ON interviewed three long-time residents—entrepreneurs, activists, and amateur historians—of Alton Park about their first jobs; fond memories of playing outdoors; living in multigenerational households in the tight-knit community; old-fashioned child-rearing tactics; environmental issues in the community; violence on tv, in movies, and on social media; how distrust in civic institutions stems from a long history of disinvestment and discrimination; an organized walkout to save a school from being closed down; and about how automation led to job losses in local factories and mines.
Eventually, TPL hopes to add signage along the APC greenway showing photos of Alton Park residents and inviting visitors to scan QR codes to connect to 2$ON’s story archive so they can walk along—virtually, at least—with local residents as they tell their own stories in their own words. In the meantime, you can hear 2$ON’s interviews by visiting Stories of Resilience. Depending on several factors, not the least of which is the availability of funding, 2$ON plans to add more stories to the collection.
2$ON, who normally works in mixed media, pop, and street art, says he was excited for the challenge and a chance to expand his portfolio.
He laughs recounting the moment he realized he was an artist. “I think I was 7 or 8. I used to go to classes and after-school programs at the community rec center, and one time I remember walking by a counselor who was on a break. He was just sitting and drawing in a notebook. He was drawing Spiderman, and it was so good. I asked him to teach me to do that. He didn’t really seem like he had time to sit there and teach me, but he told me to go home, get the comics section of the newspaper, choose one I liked and then try to draw it. Not trace it but just try to draw it. So, I did. I drew, like, Garfield or something like that, but it is really when I first felt that calling to be an artist. And I do think artists hear a calling.”
From then on, he doodled and drew all the time, even when he was supposed to be paying attention in school. He gained a following. He became known around school as the artist. “Anytime the class needed to do a project or a teacher asked one of us to come up with something artistic, all the students would say: ‘Kourtney should do it!” It just kind of stuck,” he recalls.
He fondly remembers that his great grandmother—whom he credits with helping to raise him—was the first person he showed his work to. She encouraged him to keep going. His parents wished he’d concentrate on academics and choose a more financially secure profession, but he knew this is what he was called to do. He kept going.
His artist’s name emerged over time. He remembers his skateboarding friends were all looking for ways to distinguish themselves, hone individual style, create their own “brand.” He started with the name Black Rebel (and he currently posts on Instagram under the handle @blkrbl.fvr), but eventually evolved into 2$ON The Prince when he learned that “Tucson” comes from a Native American word meaning “the black base of a mountain.” He liked the strength and majesty it conveyed; he adopted it and creates all his art under that name.
After graduating from high school, he found Studio Everything on Glass Street in Chattanooga and, in particular, artist-in-residence Rondell Crier, who became his mentor and showed him how art can be more than just a creative outlet for an individual; it can positively impact a community as well. Art can be a force for good.
2$ON felt so welcome and inspired at Studio Everything, the he showed up day after day and stayed late into the evenings. Crier gave him a key to the building so he could come and go as he pleased. 2$ON says so many good things came his way because of Crier including, he believes, the connection to and opportunity to work with TPL, which came together in a magical way.
Shortly after losing his beloved grandmother in 2022, he received the good news about his commission from TPL and Artists at Work. It was as if she made it happen to give him a sign to keep going, he remarked.