Arts & Entertainment

Katie Reo of South Plainfield to Showcase Artwork at NJPAC's Upcoming Late Winter Exhibit

Katie Reo
Katie Reo's charcoal drawing will be on exhibit at NJPAC beginning Feb. 5.

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Katie Reo, a senior at South Plainfield High School (SPHS), will have her original artwork featured in the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s (NJPAC) 2017 Late Winter Exhibit being held in conjunction with Art Educators of New Jersey (AENJ) this month.

Reo’s charcoal drawing, which was one of just 20 selected from hundreds of submissions sent in by high school students throughout the state, will be on display in the lobby of the Newark-based center’s Victoria Theatre, beginning Feb. 5.

“It feels amazing,” said Reo of having her artwork selected. “I never thought my artwork would be exhibited. It has been a dream come true.”

Sign Up for E-News

For the NJPAC Late Winter Exhibit, a total of 30 pieces were selected - 10 vertical and 20 horizontal – with the only criteria being the size of the artwork, which could not exceed 18 x 24.

“That makes it very interesting because students are submitting work in all mediums which always makes the selection process difficult,” said Allison McLaughlin, Advanced Studio teacher at SPHS. “It is always an easier to task to compare two paintings or two drawings, but when you are comparing paintings to collages or drawings to prints, that is not an easy task. They are comparing works in all different mediums.”

Reo’s drawing took two weeks to complete and was created for a class project in which students were asked to make a charcoal portrait from a photo in their portfolio. “Charcoal and chalk are my favorite mediums. I always love how messy it is and it is a lot of fun to use,” Reo said, adding that she found the portrait of the baby she drew on Pinterest.

Last year, a different one of Reo’s charcoal drawings earned honorable mention at the duCret Annual High School Art Show and, initially the high school senior planned to submit that piece to the NJPAC exhibit. At the advice of McLaughlin, however, Reo entered her charcoal drawing of a baby instead.

“I really encouraged Katie to submit this particular piece because I felt it really demonstrated how much she had refined her charcoal drawings. Charcoal is a difficult medium to work with, I find it difficult to really capture small details, but by looking at Katie's drawing, you wouldn't think that was true,” McLaughlin said.

“My favorite part of this project was watching Katie work on the eyes. As soon as she gave the drawing the eyes, it really came to life. It is remarkable how realistic they look, how smooth the skin appears and how soft the hair seems,” added McLaughlin. "To be able to capture so many different features so accurately in such a free flowing medium, that is really a testament to her ability.”

“I loved the eyes of the baby and the hair. I've never drawn a baby before so I thought it would be a fun challenge,” said Reo.

As a member of AENJ, McLaughlin can provide her students with the opportunity to submit work to shows like NJPAC along with the upcoming Middlesex County Youth Art Month Show at Middlesex Community College and NJPAC Spring Show as well as the duCret High School Art Show and the Congressional Art Competition.

“Not only does AENJ provide these wonderful shows which showcase our talented students, they also provide professional development for teachers and scholarships for our students,” McLaughlin said. “I try to provide all of my students with various art opportunities and encourage all of my students to participate in these art shows because they are a great way for them to showcase their tremendous talent outside of South Plainfield.”

According to Reo’s mom Sandy, her daughter began showing an interest and talent for art back when she attended Kennedy Elementary School and, often, would sit and paint or draw for hours at a time. A little over a year ago, she began taking private art lessons with Sandra Cerchio of Scotch Plains and, over the past year has painted murals for a community service project at the Mountainside-based Image Center. Additionally, Reo recently sold her first piece of artwork, a charcoal drawing of singer Dave Matthews, to a family friend.

"Katie amazes me every time she draws or paints,” said mom Sandy. “I'm so very proud of her and look forward to seeing where her talent takes her.” 

Following graduation, Reo plans to attend a community college while working to build her portfolio. Her goal is to go on to study art at New York’s Pratt Institute or School of Visual Arts and maybe, one day, work in a museum. Additionally, she hopes to continue making her own works of art.

“I would also love to have my artwork shown and for people to enjoy it,” said Reo, adding that her advice to others looking to pursue their talent and interest in art is to ‘go for it.' 

“Even if you feel like you're not good enough you should still try. If you are passionate about art then draw, paint, or sculpt as much as you can,” she said. “The world needs more art!”

A reception showcasing the artwork of Reo and other selected for the NJPAC Late Winter Exhibit will be held Sunday, Feb. 5 at 11 a.m. in the Victoria Theatre Lobby, 1 Center Street, Newark. The public is invited to attend. Admission is free.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Plainfield


South Plainfield – John T. Felz, Jr., 71, passed away at his home on Thursday, June 14, ...
Read more

Letters to the Editor

Letter from Roberto Sayers

June 20, 2018

Letter to the editor,

It is uncontainable to see what the country is doing to the children that are been separated from their parents.

No matter what’s your political affiliation or none for that matter, we should not be silent about the abuses of holding children behind chain link fences with Mylar blankets. It is not acceptable to hold babies, toddlers and children’s away from ...

Community Happenings

South Plainfield Jr. Baseball - Father's Day Classic

June 14, 2018

It's that time of year again for the SPJBC's 10th Annual Father's Day Classic Tournament.  Featuring a Round Robin format for 2018 that includes the following:

~Every team guaranteed at  least 4 games (weather permitting)

~Team Awards for 1st & 2nd Place Playoff Winners

~Maximum 5 Teams per age group

Saturday, Sunday & Monday June 16-18, ...

South Plainfield Elks Honor Students of the Month

June 18, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - On Tuesday, June 12, the South Plainfield Elks honored the winners of the Grant School Character Education Monthly Pillars.  The students and their families were treated to a pasta dinner cooked and served by the Elks Youth Activities Committee and the students were given Junior Citizen of the Month Certificates.

The winners were as follows: 

Caring – ...

Holy Savior Academy’s Championship Cheerleaders Seek Funds for New Equipment

June 18, 2018

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The Holy Savior Academy Cheerleading Squad has kicked off a fundraiser to generate $5,500 for the purchase of much-needed equipment, such as new tumble mats, sound equipment, and more for the award-winning squad.

“The group of twelve girls range from 1st through 4th grades,” said parent Marybeth Parache, who is heading up efforts to raise funds.  ...

Wrestling Ring Presentation

June 20, 2018

The South Plainfield High School Wrestling Team,  who have earned the title of “Three Peat Champs”,  received their State rings on Sunday, June 10, 2018.  Presentation of the rings an plaques were given by SPHS Wrestling Coach Pavlack an assistant coaches.   Funding  for the rings were donated by the South Plainfield Wrestling Club,  who has been one of ...

Inclusive Playground Ribbon Cutting Tonight - June 20

Nixle Alert - Official ribbon cutting at 6:30 om tonight to open inclusive playground at Willow Park.  All are invited to attend, A special storytime will follow.

Upcoming Events

Fri, June 22, 7:30 PM

Crossroads, Garwood

Benefit Concert

Giving Back


Sat, June 23, 2:00 PM

South Plainfield

SPARC Reaching Out


Sat, June 23, 7:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Southern Maryland Blue ...


Sun, June 24, 1:00 PM

TD Bank Ballpark, Bridgewater

Somerset Patriots vs. Southern Maryland Blue ...


Weinberg, Diegnan Bill to Establish University-Based Consortium on Media Innovation Advances

TRENTON –A bill sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Patrick Diegnan that would establish a state university-based consortium to advance research in the field of media and technology was passed from the Senate Higher Education Committee today.

“The state’s traditional newspaper market has been upended by changes in ...

South Plainfield and SP BOE Working Together to Strengthen School Security

South Plainfield, NJ - On Monday evening the Borough Council hired two new police officers. These hiring’s will allow two additional police officers to be stationed at South Plainfield Public Schools and will supplement the already strong security measures enacted by the Board of Education and the South Plainfield Police.

The hired officers are part of an interlocal agreement ...

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (William Morrow, 2018)


A friend, whose opinion on literature I respect greatly, reported to me recently that she had just finished reading A.J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Of it she said, “I wish I hadn't finished it,” which I interpreted to mean, “It was so good I'm sorry that I finished it.” ...


The South Plainfield Public Library will be open this Sunday, June 24 from 1:30 PM – 5 PM.  This is the last Sunday the library will be open until September.  During July and August, the library will be closed on Sundays, but the rest of the hours during the week will remain the same.

Come join us Monday, June 25 at 6:30 PM for Monday Night Movies.  The selection this week ...

Suburban Woman’s Club Ends Its Year with a Big Banquet

Our country has a long and rich history of service clubs contributing to the growth of their communities but there have been signs in the past two decades that interest in these groups is waning.  Not so at Suburban Woman’s Club of South Plainfield.  Thanks to the efforts of Membership Chair Grace Bertucci, this past year seven new members joined this relatively small group of ...

Press Releases

HK Truck Center names Vanessa Ciervo Chief Operating Officer

June 21, 2018

South Plainfield, NJ - HK Truck Center announces Vanessa Ciervo as Chief Operating Officer.

Chief Operating Officer will be the 6th position Vanessa has held within her 18-year tenure. As COO, Vanessa will ensure the successful management of all five departments within the medium-duty truck dealership. “This promotion was necessitated by our rapid company growth over the past few ...

Cool Ways to Save Money This Summer

As the summer temperatures rise, home cooling costs rise as well. But there are ways to help save money without sweating the heat:

To increase your cooling system’s efficiency by as much as 20%, get it checked out for summer.  A technician will clean the condenser, make sure you have the optimal amount of refrigerant, and ensure the airflow over the coil is ...