Clearly overwhelmed at being selected as this year’s winner of the Annual PATH Holiday Poster Contest, Jersey City eighth grader Renfrew Maristela says he thought a long time about the meaning of the poster rather than about any particular event that inspired him.
His poster, depicting a snowman waiting for a PATH train with the New York City skyline in the background, will be displayed in PATH stations and on rail cars throughout the holiday season. It was unveiled Dec. 5 during a ceremony at the Journal Square Transportation Center in Jersey City.
His poster shows a significant talent for perspective, which may be due to the fact that his father Angelo is an internationally established fine artist. His classic-style works have appeared in galleries from Qatar to New York City, and recently were on display in the Philippines embassy in New York City.
In the late 2015, Angelo, together with his wife, Lynn, relocated to America. He has been part of seven group exhibits: one in New Jersey, four in New York City, and two in Florida. They have three children: Racco Angelo, 17, and currently on TASC class at Hudson Technical School; Renfrew Cephas, 15, in eighth grade; and Ressu Gaella, 9, in third grade.
In addition to Renfrew, who attends P.S. 23, Cora Kerr of P.S. 16 was named the winner in the grade 3-5 category and Skyla-Jean Woomer of P.S. 28 was chosen in the category for students in grades K-2. Cora and Skyla-Jean’s posters will also be displayed in PATH stations.
This year, there were more than 350 entries from Jersey City students, from which the three winners were selected.
“We are delighted to continue to share this holiday tradition with the community and the students of Jersey City schools,” said PATH Director/General Manager Michael Marino. During the holiday season, 6.7 million commuters take the PATH trains, all of whom will have an opportunity to view these works.
This year’s event included a musical performance by the Jersey City Arts Vocal Program, in the concourse area of the Journal Square station, and PATH officials and representatives of Jersey City Public Schools honored Renfrew, Cora and Skyla-Jean at an awards luncheon that followed at PATH headquarters.
Each of the winners received four tickets to the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and complimentary 10-trip PATH SmartLink cards, provided by the Port Authority, to get the winners and their families to and from the show. The Port Authority also gave the winners $50 American Express gift cards, and they received art supplies from the Jersey City Visual and Performing Arts Department and Jersey City Board of Education.
Over 350 posters were submitted
PATH’s annual holiday poster event, which began 28 years ago, features the artwork of local students from 30 Jersey City elementary and middle schools. Through a partnership between PATH and the Jersey City Board of Education’s Visual and Performing Arts Department, and with the guidance of their art teachers, the students this year submitted more than 350 holiday posters.
“It gets harder to pick a winner, since the quality of submissions is only getting better each year,”
Marino said. “This is always the highlight of the year.” Marino said people have asked him about when the poster would be selected. “We kick off our holiday season with this.”
The ceremony included the official unveiling of the poster on a specially decorated holiday train which PATH passengers later got to ride on for the rest of the day.
“We’ve been doing this for 28 years; this is my fourth year,” he said. “This doesn’t happen without the cooperation of the schools.”
Renfrew, surrounded by local media, said he’s still uncertain about what career path he intends to take, even despite his obvious talent in art.
His father, Angelo, said he would like his son to seek some other career. “Being an artist is a hard life,” he said.
Al Sullivan may be reached at email@example.com.