Talented Teens Rally For a Cause at Green Teen Music and Arts Festival

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Some of the art on display at this year's Green Teen Arts and Music Festival

The Green Teen Music and Arts Festival is back with a whole new roster of talented kids ready to share their work for a good cause.

At the event, around 25 artists ages 13 to 19 show and sell their work while a dozen bands and other acts perform to raise money toward planting trees locally and around the country with the charities Friends of Liberty State Park and American Forests. In the past three years, the event has raised nearly $10,000.

The fourth annual event marks the first time that neither of the founders, siblings and McNair Academic High School alumni Katie and Hart Welles, is in Jersey City to organize the event (Hart is studying at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken; Katie is in her freshman year at Smith College). Now McNair senior Morgan Steadwell, 17, has stepped in, working in close collaboration with Katie Welles who helps organize the event from afar, as well as with Georgia Sebesky, a sophomore at High Tech High School in North Bergen, and about 15 volunteers.

“Collaborating with Katie on this project has been a blast,” says Steadwell, who has been involved since the festival’s start when it was first located at Grace Church Van Vorst. “It’s a bit more stressful not having Katie with me in Jersey City but we constantly texted and emailed each other about important things for the event, so her not being here hasn’t been as rough.”

The event has grown exponentially since its inception, a trend Steadwell says the organizers would like to continue. “The age range of our performers and artists ranges from 13 to 19 but we make a couple exceptions for those who are a bit older or younger depending on how much we have scheduled for the event,” she says, adding that “most involved teens are (local) but we try to involve teens from outside of Jersey City as much as possible too.”

Some highlights from the show include abstract work and self-portraits by Tariq Elmetwally and Ian Ceill from St. Peter’s Preparatory High School and ink prints by several McNair students including Melissa Aranda, Jennifer Zuniga and Lester Sanchez.

Other participating artists include: Eamonn Dwyer, Matthew Brown, Kyle Lupo, Owen Lynskey, Tim Critchlon, Joseph Siocha, Griffin Otterbein, Devir Carrera, Miguel Vidal, Ciaran Freeman, Cameron Antonio, Andrew Petrick, Alex Sabatell, David Kong, Sweta Patel, Andy Conte, John Filalr, Christian Blauch, Danica Sapit, Liam O’Donnel and Mia Malmad.

On the music side, Steadwell is most excited about experimental jazz group Kadian Quartet.

“I think that will be very fun to see and listen to,” she says. “There are so many teens with extraordinary talent that are involved in Green Teen this year so I’m really excited to see everything fall into place!”

The festival will also feature performances by: Rest Ashore, Aly Batty, Fiscall Cliff, Perennial Reel, Beata Sneling, Ben Vock, Marina Wardell, Drashti Patel and Bryant Magdael, Danielle Paredes, Mourous Alba and Treble Makers.

Steadwell stresses that the festival will be a testament to teen collaboration in general and her generation’s ability to give back. “The festival really shows how teens can work together with their community and make a positive change in the environment in which they reside,” she says.

“The young people of Jersey City are made to sound worse on paper than they are in real life. In reality, Jersey City is the home to incredibly talented young individuals who strive for success. I feel like most of the achievement of our young people is overshadowed by the false belief that all Jersey City teens and young adults follow a life of misconduct and mischief.

“The festival showcases fabulous work and music made and performed by talented teens from all areas of Jersey City and exemplifies the fact that Jersey City is the home to accomplished young people,” she says. “If Jersey City were to focus more on the positive actions of our young individuals then we, as a city, would benefit exponentially.”

The Green Teen Music and Arts Festival will be held tonight from 7 pm to 10 pm at Art House Productions, located at 1 McWilliams Pl. Admission is a suggested donation of $5. For more information, visit the festival’s Facebook page.

Check out photos from last year’s event.

Photos courtesy of Morgan Steadwell

Summer Dawn Hortillosa

is a freelance arts and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in the Jersey City Independent, The Jersey Journal, the International and other publications. She is also a creative writer and theatrical director.