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Students, alum help create this weekend's PKX Festival

The PKX Youth Committee, made up of Poughkeepsie High School students and alumni, had fun planning, creating art and attending the first annual arts-focused PKX Festival continuing through Saturday, Sept. 17, along Main and North Cherry Streets.

Wonderland was the theme of this inaugural festival featuring community-wide art, musical performances, workshops and a public art installation, inspired by the area. PKX serves as a building block to develop a student-led arts district in and around the Trolley Barn Gallery dubbed the Youth Arts Empowerment Zone.

The PKX Committee is The Art Effect’s youth training program where participants learn public speaking skills, conduct presentations to government officials and learn about place making - a people-centered approach to planning, designing and managing public spaces. They used all these skills to plan the festival, working beside artist duo BoogieREZ and Curator Alison M. Glenn to create and curate various art experiences at the festival.

“Community art-making is at the heart of the PKX Festival,” Art Effect Executive Director Nicole Fenichel-Hewitt said. “From painting the pavement to workshops, music, face painting, juried exhibition, and partner booths — there is something for everyone.”

PHS graduates shared their excitement seeing this festival take off.

“Wonderland is a place full of imaginary beauty and strangeness,” Chanel Reed said. “Seeing all of these artists give us their own definitions of ‘wonderland’ makes me very excited and motivated for this amazing show.”

Jadeen Sampson, who plans to pursue a visual arts degree at Purchase College, hopes the festival will give the public a better representation of what Poughkeepsie is all about. He and Keli Faircloth had visitors join them in painting their own planets.

“Seeing the exhibition come together makes me proud of myself and my colleagues because we put so much effort and heart into this festival,” Sampson said. “The main goal is to do it again, we want it to be a success.”

Some of Sampson’s favorite art pieces are paintings by Art Effect alum Morgan Suter.

“They’re really euphoric,” he said. “She has beautiful work.”

For Sampson, the committee allowed him to focus on his art and said his bosses supported his and the other students’ endeavors. He also helped recruit many of his fellow students to join.

“They’re very supportive of everything, they’re more like mentors than bosses,” Sampson said. “I feel like the program honed my skills.”